value-winesTimes they are a changin’ for the American wine consumer as we welcome another year.

Rarely in history has the global demand for fine wine across all styles and price-points been at the feverish level at which it currently burns, as increasing numbers of people across all demographics explore this rich vinous firmament.

Naturally, this market surge produces a double-edged sword in which ever-growing numbers of consumers covet the sometimes miniscule amount of nectar produced by tiny vineyards or illustrious estates (see the exponential rise in Chateau Lafite-Rothschild’s price among others for instance).

Furthermore, the cellars of even the most ardent and well-heeled investors in the West are taking on a new look as the once-dormant Asian market makes its presence suitably felt, particularly for luxury labels.

Where to turn?

Fortunately, the global response has been a virtual affirmation of capitalism as the tapestry of wines available from both traditional and emerging wine nations and regions gleams with the white gold of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner for instance, or the haunting crimson of a Portuguese Touriga Naçional.

With the notable exception of Australia, whose market share was usurped by cheaper to produce and export Cabs, Merlots, and Chardonnays from Argentina and Chile, the “New World” wines of the Southern Hemisphere continue to produce the fruit-forward style currently en vogue for everyday wines as well as characterful offerings from their own specialties Malbec, Carmenere, and Torrontes.

California is beginning to take note that the grapes it made famous in this country can be made into quality wine of a similar style for one-third the price.  Even their northern neighbors from Oregon and Washington are cashing in.

Europe’s “Old World” is fighting back with a vengeance however, fueled by a new generation of vintners, often second generation, trying to meld the latest innovations in viticulture with the time-honored adherence to the concept of terroir.

Whether from long-neglected regions in Southern France or once-unfashionable pockets in arid Spain (perhaps the greatest source of value in the market today), or forgotten grape varietals, the options afforded today’s wine drinker in worlds old or new provided he nurses a healthy curiosity and remains open-minded, are nearly limitless.

Francois Montand Brut Rosé: wonderful brut sparkler made by the Champagne method, ideal for parties or special occasions alike.

Rainer Weiss Grüner Veltliner: dry and spicy, Austria’s national grape is one of the most food-friendly wines imaginable.  Yellow fruits &dried herbs.

M. Gassier “Cercius” Blanc: floral with tropical fruits but finishing with a sharp finish, blend of Grenache Blanc and Sauv. Blanc from So. France.

Nisia Old Vines Verdejo: from 100yr old vines in Rueda, Spain this delivers spicy melon, white fruits, and blossoms with an uncommon richness

St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge: spicy with jammy black fruits from one of the best producers in the Rhone Valley.  Syrah/Grenache blend.

O. Fournier “Urban Uco” Blend: equal parts Malbec/Tempranillo this busts with red fruit and cedary herbs to give it a pleasurable earthiness.

Juan Gil Monastrell: fraught with chocolaty black fruits and creamy oak, this is a high-octane fruit-bomb that craves any and all grilled meats.

Ch. de Lascaux Rosé: from Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, this is a spicy dry rose that’s equal parts refreshing and food-friendly (i.e. grilled chicken).