Bottom Line/Personal: Everyone knows there’s great wine in France and in California, but there are all sorts of great wines in some hidden places all around the world. Makes for a really interesting time.
I’m Sarah Hiner, president of Bottom Line Publications, and this is our Conversation With the Experts, where we get the answers to your tough questions from our leading experts.
Today I’m talking to Amy Dixon. Amy is the former buyer and fine wine expert at Stew Leonard’s wine stores, one of the top 10 retailers for wine in the country. She is currently managing a portfolio of fine wine collectors at Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines in Darien, Connecticut.
Amy lost 98% of her eyesight in 2007. Now, in addition to being a wine expert, she is a paratriathlete on Team USA, and she’s also on the watch list for their cycling team. You can learn more about Amy and all of her cycling and wine expertise at BlogSpot.BlindSommelier.com. Welcome, Amy.
Amy Dixon: Thanks for having me.
Bottom Line: It’s my pleasure. So France, California-those are easy, but there are some really great wines from other parts of the world.
Bottom Line: What’s your favorite hidden gem?
Dixon: Honestly, I’m actually going there next week—Canada, of all places.
Bottom Line: Really?
Dixon: Canada produces some extraordinary wines. One of the things about global warming, it’s been great for wine. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, they were growing some Riesling and cool-climate grape varieties up in Canada very successfully. Now, sadly, global warming has sort of progressed, and it’s almost three, four, five degrees warmer than it was 15 years ago. Therefore they’re able to produce some world-class wines up in Canada-specifically Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and a little bit of Cabernet Franc and Riesling. And the wines are extraordinary. They’re not inexpensive. I would say to find a decent bottle, you’re looking at $20, $25 a bottle. But really worth the investment.
Bottom Line: And how about where can you find some great bargain wines that are high quality?
Dixon: New Zealand, for sure. People know New Zealand for high-quality Sauvignon Blanc at very good prices, but they also produce world-class Pinot Noir there. It’s actually the lowest-latitude growing region in the entire world. It’s very, very close to Antarctica, believe it or not. On the south island, there’s a place called Central Otago that has a beautiful microclimate for growing Pinot Noir at very, very attractive prices.
Another region that I would highly recommend-people know Chile is producing some really great wines, but Argentina, and more specifically Patagonia in South America produces some excellent values.
Bottom Line: I hear there’s a little-known place in France that actually has some high-quality value wines.
Dixon: Oh, absolutely. The southern French region of Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon region produce wonderful wines. You can find something under $10, $15 that would easily cost you $30, $35 from California. Great Cabernet Sauvignon, great Syrah, great Grenache. Extraordinary wines with great complexity and a lot of character for very, very good prices.
Bottom Line: What’s the most surprising place that grows good wine?
Dixon: Honestly, I would probably say Canada, because traditionally they grew cool-climate varietals that were a little bit sweeter, and now they’re producing beautiful dry wines in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Bottom Line: Great. Thank you, Amy Dixon. Follow Amy, the Blind Sommelier. So the bottom line on finding some great wines that aren’t French and aren’t American? There’s some great values in Canada. You would never believe that Canada can now produce some great dry wines. You can also go to New Zealand and even South America—not just Chile. Go for the Argentina. Buy Patagonia, they’re producing some terrific, terrific wines.
And if you really want to stick to being a French snob, you can go down to Provence. They’re having some very surprisingly inexpensive but great wines. This is Sarah Hiner with Bottom Line Publications.