Wines Born With the Power of Speech

I’'ll admit I’'m jaded.  Although I’m lucky enough to be able to sample a sizable percentage of the world’s elite wines on an annual basis, I’d have to say that there’s a certain predictability to these wines.  If you start with a great site, an intelligent winemaker, and an owner who can afford labor-intensive vineyard work and risk-tasting at harvest-time to ensure getting sufficiently ripe fruit, it’s hard to go wrong, even in a so-so growing season.  When wines from world-renowned producers and vineyards are not superb, that’s real news.

Whether I’'m tasting in the cellars or in my own dining room, the wines that excite me are more likely to be the surprises, the outperformers, the ones that overdeliver for the price.  Needless to say, once you venture beyond the high-priced wine real estate, these gems are tough to find.  You have to dig up a lot of ground to unearth the treasure.  It’'s a thrill when it happens.

The fact is that no matter how much you love foie gras, truffles and lobster, sometimes you just want a juicy burger.  Besides, big-name, “important” wines are demanding—intellectually as well as financially—at least when imbibed on a regular basis.  A tangy Beaujolais, a glossy Argentine malbec, a mineral-driven riesling can be just as satisfying, and you can afford them on a daily basis without feeling that you’re compromising.
Another advantage of expressive wines like these, wines that immediately communicate their personalities, is that you can serve them with dinner tonight.  On the other hand, classic high-priced worthies like Bordeaux, Burgundies and Italy’s Killer Bs (Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino) are usually dominated in the early going by their new oak component or their powerful structure of tannins and acid.  They need years to harmonize in bottle and to develop the aromas, flavors and textures that have earned them a place in the wine pantheon. If you pop them right away, you’re getting a tiny fraction of the fireworks you’ve paid for.  

Here are some wines that you can enjoy right now, with an emphasis on warm-weather whites and rosés: