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asturias, chile, dão, itata, portugal, slovenia, spain -

In a wine world dominated by the same grape varieties made in more or less the same way, it’s always exciting to discover something different. More unusual, esoteric varieties are often connected to the history of a region, made by experimental mavericks, and stand out for the individuality of the wines. Take, for instance, Fran Ascencio and his Urogallo winery (named after a spectacular looking local bird) in Asturias in northern Spain. Asturias is a cool, wet, beautiful region, between Basque Country and Galicia, rising from the Atlantic Ocean into the Cantabrian mountains. It’s most famous for its cider as...

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alcohol, bugey, côte roannaise, itata, nebbiolo, rheingau, savoie, valtellina, washington -

A couple of years ago, I tasted a wine from Napa which shall remain nameless and which had a relentlessly high alcohol of 15.8%. Not only did this level of alcohol cause the wine to be out of balance, it's dangerously high: a glass, let alone a bottle, would get you drunk. The wine was borne out of the trend in the late 1990s and 2000s for high-alcohol wines. The grapes are left on the vine for a long time to build up sugar levels, in the belief that it results in more flavor in the wine. Some producers and...

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