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Fact Sheet: Fashionable Wine

Some wine fashions can last a very long time--red Bordeaux has been stylish for almost 300 years. Some can be as fleeting as last season's hemline. Remember when white wine spritzers were big, before giving way to $10 Chardonnays, which later gave ground to anything labeled Merlot, which is about to cede its position to Syrah/Shiraz? If you think of fashion as being equal parts timeless style and fresh discovery, then wine is your drink. The tens of thousands of different wines that are bottled each year mean there is always something new to taste, something likely to catch on--hopefully for all the right reasons.

Perennially Stylish Certain wine regions, such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Tuscany, turn out top-quality wines that remain fashionable year after year.

Future Fashions Once-obscure wine regions (Italy's Campania, Spain's Priorato) are producing gorgeous new bottlings that are certain to be tomorrow's most fashionable wines. These include reds and whites from regions such as Galicia and Rueda in Spain, as well as from  southern Italy. Reds from Chile and Argentina also look promising, while in France, Rhône reds, like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, are among that country's most sought-after "new classics."  The following selections include perennial classics as well as tomorrow's top bargain bottles.

10 TOP BOTTLES

ALWAYS IN STYLE

Bollinger NV Champagne ($45) From a 173-year-old family firm (a rarity in Champagne), this Pinot Noir–based wine is among the richest, toastiest and driest nonvintage Champagnes on the market.

1999 Sassicaia ($125) This Cabernet-based wine from Italy's Bolgheri Coast created the Super-Tuscan style with its first vintage (1968). The seamless, juicy 1999 is as aristocratic as its creator, Marchese Incisia.

2000 Shafer Red Shoulder Chardonnay ($37) This opulent, dense and sought-after Chardonnay is made in the cool Carneros region of California's Napa Valley.

FASHION FORWARD

1998 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs ($30) Champagne isn't the only fashionable sparkling wine. This dry Blanc de Noirs from Napa Valley is a mix of red fruit and citrus flavors framed by a background of oak.

2001 Burgans Albariño ($15) Grown on the rainy, green Galician coast, Albariño is Spain's breakout white grape. The best-selling Burgans shows why. Lean and taut at first, it reveals more and more with each sip.

2001 Martínsancho Verdejo ($12) This white wine from the Rueda district of north-central Spain is made from one of the most fashionable grapes in its native region. The Martínsancho bottling is full-bodied and intense with a peach and floral aroma.

2001 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca ($15) Had enough Chardonnay? This luscious and exotic California white is made from one of Italy's oldest grape varieties.

2000 Olivier Cuilleras Visan ($16) The Côtes-du-Rhône region is packed with wine bargains waiting to be discovered--like this Châteauneuf-du-Pape taste-alike blend of Syrah and Grenache.

2000 Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($30) Made from a blend of up to 13 grapes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape may be the most fashionable wine that no one understands. This Grenache-dominated bottling exudes a nose of spices, crushed black cherry and raspberry.

2000 Veramonte Primus ($20) This Super-Chilean red blend has mellow tannins and a soft, rich texture.

Published September 2002
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