The study of wines is an ongoing journey. Poetic as it may sound, this statement perfectly captivates the cardinal spirit of wine studies – constant exploration. Explore 3 off-the-beaten-path regions, all of which present wines of equal match to some of the most famous wines of the world, with us. Pick them proudly as your choice of wine in any upcoming wine dinners, and let yourself and your fellow wine lovers be surprised by the time-tested quality of wines of Morgon, Gattinara and Coteaux du Layon.
Morgon, Beaujolais, France
Beaujolais has a lot more to offer than their Nouveau bottlings. There has been a reawakening of interest in wines from the 10 crus of Beaujolais, where one can find 100% Gamay candidates that can match up respectably against top red Burgundies at same age. The 1,100-hectare cru of Morgon is the largest of the 10 Beaujolais crus.
Together with Moulin a Vent, Morgon bottlings are considered the most ageworthy among the 10 crus. In the heart of Morgon lies the lieux-dit of Côte du Py, which is regarded as the source of the best of Morgon. The slopes of Côte du Py is made up of decomposed shale, and its south-facing aspect allows for optimal ripeness.
The wines of Morgon tend to show pure, compact sour cherry, kirsch and crushed violet aromatics when young. With age, they tend to develop Pinot Noir-like complexity – nuanced savouriness, satin-smooth texture and delightful depth.
Gattinara, Piedmont, Italy
Barolo and Barbaresco have long been recognized for their ability to raise Nebbiolo into wines fitting for kings – “The Wine of Kings”, “The King of Wines” – both references fittingly depict the superior wine quality from Piedmont’s most prestigious DOCG regions. In the vicinity of Barolo and Barbaresco, if one moves north, Gattinara DOCG lies just about 100km away and it was the historical centre of top Nebbiolo reds back in the 1800s. Nebbiolo is locally called Spanna in Gattinara DOCG. It is the predominant variety in wines of Gattinara – when not used as the sole variety, it may be blended with Vespolina or Bonarda di Gattinara to up to 10%.
Since Gattinara gained its DOCG status in 1990, there has been a slow yet gradual renaissance of quality wine production from the region. Today, the historic winery of Nervi – now in full ownership of Roberto Conterno of famed Barolo producer Giacomo Conterno – represents and showcases the potential of Gattinara wines.
Coteaux du Layon, Loire, France
Situated on the left bank of Loire Valley, Coteaux du Layon as an appellation is dedicated exclusively to the making of sweet wines from Chenin Blanc. All thanks to unique geographical features which include a network of local river systems, and an undulating series of hills protected from continental dry winds from the North and East, quality vineyards for sweet wines in Coteaux du Layon experience optimal conditions for the development of botrytis every Autumn.
This gives wines that are unctuous, luscious, complex with an ethereal mix of tropical fruit, dried fruit, mushroom and honeyed characters; all of which are nicely outlined by vibrant acidity typical of Chenin Blanc. The perfect alternative to the sweet wines of Sauternes.