Vino File: Wine on the wild side
When it comes to selecting wines for her Polaris-area Vino 100 shop, Liz Avera gets picky. She's limited to choosing 100 wines under $25, plus a couple extras. Boring doesn't make the cut.
"We have to cover the whole world in 100 wines," Avera explained. That means she wants more than run-of-the-mill cabernets or chardonnays. She's into the new and different - wines that are emerging, undervalued and generally unknown.
The shop's angle is education - reds and whites are rated on their flavor and body and arranged on a sliding scale along the wall. And with the little-known grapes Avera often hones in on, there's a lot of explaining to do.
Avera picked three of her current "odd" favorites. Her selections include two from the Bierzo region, an old vine area in northwest Spain that's being revived. The third is made from Marsanne grapes, commonly found in the northern Rhone region but now being raised and harvested in California.
Abad Dom Bueno Godello (2007)
Region: Bierzo, Spain
Flavors: Smells floral, but has a flinty edge and finishes with an acidic snap
Pairs well with: Shellfish or an herbed chicken dish
Who'll enjoy it: White-wine drinkers who enjoy pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or Chablis
Liz Avera's advice: "It's actually my staff pick. I love it because it's so complex. Nobody's heard of godello, the grape, but it's really cool."
Abad Dom Bueno Roble (2005)
Region: Bierzo, Spain
Flavors: Light-bodied, but packs a meaty punch, with dark fruits and a mineral taste
Pairs well with: Roasted or grilled gamey meats with mushrooms
Who'll enjoy it: Red-wine drinkers who want to go a little lighter for spring, especially malbec lovers
Liz Avera's advice: "The grape is mencia. It's like a sirloin in a glass, I tell people. It's kind of got the meaty edge that syrah has."
JC Cellars Marsanne (2006)
Region: Dry Creek Valley, California
Flavors: Smells like peaches, but has a thick taste of almond and minerals
Pairs well with: Creamy, saucy dishes or a coconut-flavored chicken or curry
Who'll enjoy it: Fans of Italian whites, or chardonnay drinkers who don't like its oakiness
Liz Avera's advice: "It's the white wine for red wine people, in the spring. It's so thick, it's almost oily."