Wine Varietals To Try in 2022
Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to the wines you drink and serve? When we find wines we love, it can be easy to fall into patterns of enjoying the same varietals over and over again. However, the possibilities are nearly endless for new wine grapes, varietals, and regions . . . and the New Year is a great time to improve your palate and your viticultural knowledge. We have the list of must-try wine varietals to help you expand your wine repertoire.
If you love Pinot Grigio . . .
Try Arneis. Arneis is a wine grape originally from the Piedmont region of Italy. It is known for being crisp––much like many styles of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris throughout the world––but also has beautiful floral notes. Arneis will typically be more full-bodied than lighter Pinot Grigio and will have more apricot and pear notes alongside the acidity and brightness many Pinot Gris lovers enjoy.
The Carrega Malabaila family has owned this property in Piedmont’s Roero district since the 15th century (winemaker Lucrezia Carrega Malabaila is the family’s 65th generation!). This 100% Arneis is from a single vineyard (named “Pradvaj”) which is known for its sandy, mineral-rich soil that produces a structured, straw-colored wine with notes of stone fruits such as peach and nectarine as well as Meyer lemon and mineral.
If you love Sauvignon Blanc . . .
Try Albariño. This white white grape is originally from Northern Spain’s region of Galicia and is popular in both Spain and Portugal (where it is often referred to as Alvarinho). Albariño is incredibly light and high in acidity––much like Sauvignon Blanc––and similar to Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño exudes citrus undertones. Instead of the bell pepper and green notes of many styles of Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño has notes of apricot and peach.
After growing grapes in Spain’s Rias Baixas for more than 100 years, the Castro family founded Bodegas Tomado de Castro in 1998. Winemaking duo Carlos Castro and his daughter Elizabeth organically farmed, hand-harvested, and sorted all grapes; their wines are fermented using native yeasts. The 2019 Silfide Albariño has yellow nectarine, lemon, and kiwi notes followed by a crisp, saline finish.
If you love Chardonnay . . .
Try Chenin Blanc. This white wine grape is originally from France’s Loire Valley, but is now prevalent in the US, South Africa, and Australia. Chenin Blanc is a highly malleable grape––which allows winemakers to determine much of its final flavor profile––but generally is known for its full body and fruit-forward nature, much like Chardonnay. (In fact, it’s not uncommon for winemakers to blend Chenin Blanc with Chardonnay for a beautiful, fuller-bodied and aromatic white wine.) As with some styles of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc often has notes of apple, quince, and pineapple; it typically expresses these characteristics alongside notes of mineral and honey.
California’s Clarksburg AVA gained its nickname “Littler Vouvray” for its ability to produce stunning Chenin Blanc (much like the Vouvray region of France’s Loire Valley). This 100% Chenin Blanc underwent stainless steel fermentation and three months of aging on the lees; the result is a lively and refreshing wine with bright apple and citrus aromas alongside notes of apple and lime.
If you love Pinot Noir . . .
Try Grenache. Both Pinot Noir and Grenache grapes can produce lighter-bodied red wines with notes of bright fruit such as cherries. Both can also be crafted into slightly more full-bodied, seductive, and silky wines. If you are a Pinot Noir fan, chances are you love its smooth texture and balance of acidity; Grenache (which is originally from Spain) can offer these delightful characteristics as well along with hints of raspberry, strawberry, and even white pepper.
This 90% Grenache, 10% Carignane comes from the AOC property in the acclaimed Collioure district of the Languedoc. Vines cling to slopes that are so steeply terraced, they cannot be harvested by mechanical means. These hand-harvested grapes produce a wine rich with wild blackberries, red fruits, dried floral notes, and cacao.
If you love Zinfandel . . .
Try Amarone. The Zinfandel grape thrives in hot regions such as Central California, where it ripens in the blazing sun and develops high levels of sugar. These sugars produce a rich, fruit-forward wine with high levels of alcohol.
Italian Amarone is made from the Corvina grape in the Valpolicella province of Verona. Harvested grapes are dried for roughly 120 days to allow a concentration of flavors; this produces a full-bodied wine that is high in alcohol (typically more than 15%; legally, a minimum of 14%). Amarone is known for its raisin and black cherry notes alongside chocolate and brown sugar.
Just 1,400 bottles were produced of this wine, which comes from the Mezzane Hills of the Valpolicella wine region. The 2015 San Cassiano Amarone Selezione di Mirko is a blend of 80% Corvina Grosso, 10% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara and was fermented in small French oak barrels before aging 24 months in 80% new French oak. The result is a wine with notes of red cherry, leather, vanilla, and dried tobacco leaves alongside velvet tannins.