Sometimes you want to uncork a left-of-center wine, something a bit obscure. When you’re in an exotic frame of mind, mainstream varietals just won’t do.
Here are five intriguing wines that are decidedly left of center, most under $20:
Mathis, 2012 Sonoma Valley Grenache, 14.6%, $27. This grenache is weighted to blackberry and plum. Notes of strawberry, black cherry and black pepper spice. Bright acidity. Crisp finish.
McManis, 2015 River Junction California Viognier, 13.5%, $13. This is a tasty viognier with some gorgeous fruit behind it — apricot, peach and nectarine. It all rides on bright acidity. Lingering finish. Lovely.
Enotria, 2012 Mendocino County Barbera, 14.8%, $19. This tasty barbera is weighted to black fruit, although it has a streak of red currant running through it. The red wine, with jammy fruit, has notes of smoke and toasty oak. But the barbera is kept in check with its crisp acidity. It’s a knockout, Graziano at his best.
Cycles Gladiator, 2014 Central Coast Petite Sirah, 15%, $11. A hefty petite sirah with boisterous fruit and spice. Aromas and flavors of blueberry, plum, toasty oak and cracked black pepper. This is a feisty petite sirah, with plenty of pepper to give it kick.
Kaiken, 2015 Salta Argentina Torrontes, 13.5%, $12. This lovely white has notes of tropical fruit, mineral and a hint of peach. A steal for the price.