· Dry Riesling – an excellent example is Dr. Burklin-Wolf’s estate riesling from the Pfalz region of Germany. Professional wine folk love dry riesling’s illusion of sweetness, it is not austere as in the past and works wonderfully well with challenging cuisine such as far eastern (Thai, Chinese)
· Priorat, in northeastern Spain, is a hilly, remote region south of Barcelona. The Priorat provides us with concentrated complex reds that are always unique as they are always a different blend of both native (garnacha, carineña) and international (syrah, cabernet) grape varieties. Not inexpensive but can be better buys than comparable red Bordeaux or California cabernets. The Font de la Figuera and Clos Martinet Bru are favorites.
· Michigan wines! It’s not just a responsibility but a delight to “buy and sell local.” Northern Michigan, specifically the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas, produce excellent white and sparkling wines, and a few fine reds as well, such as cabernet franc. Labels to look for include Two Lads, Left Foot Charley, L. Mawby and Black Star Farms.
· Southeastern and southern Italy: the provinces of Abruzzo, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily are ripe with new development and vineyard investments. Look for negroamaro and primitivo grapes to provide deep rustic reds. In Sicily, nerello mascalese, frappato, nero d’avola and syrah are grapes making sophisticated and affordable wines as well.
· For Pinot Noir lovers, New Zealand is slowly sharing some of its top labels. There not inexpensive, but this is the trickiest red grape to grow, so one pays for dependable quality. Two Paddocks and Paddy Borthwick are both worth a look.
· Greece! Modern Greek wine is a revelation, particularly the white assyrtiko from Santorini (Sigalas), red rapsani from Mount Olympus, naoussa from the Northwest (Kir-Yanni) and muscat from the island of Samos.
· Quality red blends from the southern Rhône and satellite areas in the Languedoc-Roussillon abound. Dependably a mixture of grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and more, they offer authentic value and easy-drinking spice. Big labels that deliver include Delas and Perrin and there are many good wines from smaller producers.
· South Africa is a “don’t miss” opportunity that many operators neglect. The diversity of sauvignon blanc and syrah alone is eye-opening. The Excelsior and Brancott lines are solid values; Rudi Schultz and Thelema deliver on the premium end.