Each month, Tasting Table’s Monthly Editions explores a single topic from a variety of delicious angles. Our April 2012 issue, Wine, dives deeply into our favorite bottles.
All month long we’ll be talking about the best ways to experience the grape--both at its source and in your home--with useful advice from the country’s finest wine experts.
To pop the cork, peruse our picks for the most exciting wine regions, from Spain to the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California. Cheers!
CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
This remote cluster of islands never suffered damage from Phylloxera, the tiny insects that wiped out European vineyards in the 19th century. So the Canary Islands boast ungrafted vines and unique terroir (grapes are subject to both ocean breezes and volcanic ash).
Where to Stay: The island of Tenerife has the most options, including the super-luxe Ritz Carlton (rates start at $280 for one night). Visit the other islands via short ferry rides.
Where to Eat: The famed Spanish chef Martín Berasategui is the driving force at Tenerife’s M.B., with a menu specializing in seafood (about $170 per person for dinner).
What to Drink:Los Bermejos Winery’s options are diverse: start your meal on the islands or at home with a funky sparkling wine, Espumoso Brut NV ($45 for 750 ml; click here to buy).
SIERRA FOOTHILLS, CALIFORNIA
There are gnarled Zinfandel vines growing in the Sierra Foothills that were planted not long after the Gold Rush began. But this sprawling region’s newer granite-soil vineyards are luring winemakers back to the home of the mother lode.
Where to Stay: The brick façade and stately dining room of Amador City’s Imperial Hotel ($105 to $145 for one night) are pure Old California.
Where to Eat:Andrae’s Bakery serves rich Kobe-beef pastrami ($7) on its own freshly baked bread.
What to Drink: The 2009 Clos Saron Pinot Noir ($55 for 750 ml; click here to order), made from fruit grown in vintner Gideon Beinstock’s ungrafted vineyard, shows that the grape’s earthy, mushroom-scented side can indeed be achieved in California.
LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK
Vineyards weren’t planted on the North Fork of New York’s Long Island until the late 1970s. Recently, a group of winemakers has revolutionized this fledgling region, experimenting with little-known grapes, incorporating unorthodox techniques and unearthing the region’s best vines.
Where to Stay: A luxuriously renovated Victorian mansion, the Jedediah Hawkins Inn ($350 for one night) offers a glimpse of the region’s elegant past.
Where to Eat: The Fifth Season’s perpetually changing market menu ($22 to $30 for main courses) combines the freshest local ingredients with the best local bottles.
What to Drink: The innovative 2010 Channing Daughters Mudd West Vineyard Blaufränkisch ($27 for 750 ml; click here to buy) gives Austria’s signature red grape an unexpected yet ideal home in Long Island’s cool Northeastern soils.
The side of an active volcano probably isn’t the most responsible place to plant vines. Sicily’s Mount Etna sure is an exciting place to visit, though. These days, American sommeliers have been eagerly preaching the gospel of Etna’s red wines. But there are tremendous white wines here too, made with local grapes Carricante and Catarratto.
Where to Stay: Up the smoking volcano is the teeny town of Linguaglossa. Its chic whitewashed Shalai hotel is an ideal jumping-off point for a wine tour.