Bierzo produces some excellent Mencías, red wines that tend to be a bit more powerful than those from neighboring Ribeira Sacra and are somewhat easier to track down. Rising star Gregory Pérez, a native of Bordeaux, is definitely a producer to watch: Look for the rich, concentrated old-vine bottlings from his Mengoba winery.
Wine insiders are buzzing about Sicily, especially wines from the region around Mount Etna on the northeast coast, where quality is soaring. Ambitious producers like Tenuta delle Terre Nere and Il Cantante are leading the way with indigenous grapes such as Nerello and Nero d'Avola (both red) and Catarratto (white).
In southeast Portugal, producers Herdade do Mouchão and Quinta do Mouro are making fantastic, fruit-driven, ripe, concentrated wines. At Quinta Dona Maria, winemaker Julio Bastos (formerly of Quinta do Carmo) is creating superb wines from some of the region's best vineyards.
Finding Great Values in Italy and France
This region on the central coast of Italy offers some of the best values in the country. Wineries like Illuminati and Cataldi Madonna make excellent Montepulciano d'Abruzzosfood-friendly, berry-rich reds.
Right Bank appellations like Côtes de Castillon and Fronsac are becoming a terrific source for affordable wines. Young superstar producers such as Guillaume Halley, Thibault Despagne and Thierry Valette are names to know.