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Wine Review: Try new wines as New Year's resolution

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The new year to most people presents an opportunity for a fresh start. It is a time to break old habits, plan to lose weight and exercise more.

To wine lovers, it is a new vintage year to look forward to and a chance to reminisce on the fine wines you enjoyed during the past year. Might I suggest a simple New Year's resolution that is both enjoyable and easy to keep? Try some wine varieties that you have never tried before.

Here are some suggestions.

First up is an interesting white wine variety from Spain, an albarino that’s often overlooked by vintners because of its finicky behavior. Modern farming has tamed and tempered this grape, resulting in an exceptionally fine wine.

The variety displays the elegant aromatic aromas of citrus, white summer fruits and the sensation of freshly cut flowers. The flavor is ablaze with apple, peach and pear all backed up by a noticeable citrus after taste. The finish is long and fruity, ending with a note of lemon peel. This is an excellent variety, which will expand your wine horizon way past that of other common white wines. Two albarino wines I recently tasted and liked are the Attis 2018 Albarino ($16) and the Burgans 2017 Albarino ($12). They’re both about as true to the style as one can get.

Next up is my favorite white wine: viognier. Viognier was the most prized and expensive white wine in the world, before it’s reign came to a crashing end with the Great French Wine Blight of the late 1800s. While a cure for the blight was finally found, the variety almost disappeared because viognier grapes were so hard to grow. The variety was resurrected in the late 1970s by grape growers of several nations, most specifically the United States and South Africa. In present history, viognier is finding new converts every day.

The wine displays a room-filling aroma of wild flowers, honeysuckle and tropical fruits that give the impression of sweetness. However, the wine is totally dry. The flavor is not as big as the aroma, but it’s more subdued and fruity, accenting the flavors of apricots and peaches with a hint of vanilla in the background. The finish returns the floral sensation and is incredibly long for a white wine. Viognier is one of those wines that will go with almost any food that calls for a white wine and even some that don’t. It can almost be called the zinfandel of white wines because of its ability to accompany anything. Among the viognier wines that I have sampled is the Cline North Coast Viognier 2018 ($15), which is a great example.

Where there is white wine, there will surely be a red. In this case, not only is there a fine red wine but an equally fine mystery as well. The wine is the plavac mali, which is a dry, deeply colored red wine that prominently displays the aroma and flavor of raspberries and plums wrapped in a whisper of oak, ending in a dynamic blast of summer berries.

And now for the mystery. The plavac mali is native to Croatia but recent DNA tests have proven, beyond any doubt, that the plavac mali is the same grape as the good old American zinfandel. While they are the same grape, the place where they are grown and the winemakers’ hand make a big difference in the final wine. From its homeland of Croatia comes the Grgich Vina Plavac Mali ($54), a dry red wine that beautifully displays the classical style in the aroma, flavor and finish. This wine may be costly, but it is well worth it.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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