There’s something exhilarating about finding an undiscovered wine – one that isn’t being talked about in mainstream wine publications or on wine influencer accounts. When we get comfortable with our taste preferences, we tend to stick to the same bottles, producers, or regions, making it tough to stumble across new bottles. The thing is, many small wineries don’t have the resources or accolades needed to make it onto wine store shelves or restaurant wine lists beyond their local markets. As a result, there are tons of undiscovered wines out there! Here is a list of the best value and tastiest hidden gems that this wine-loving author has found in her quest to support small wineries. Plus, they’re all available to purchase in the US!
Overall Best Value & Tastiest Hidden Gem: Galen Glen Stone Cellar Grüner Veltliner 2020 – $23.99
Wine from Pennsylvania!? Do they even make wine in Pennsylvania? They sure do. Surprisingly, this state is ranked 5th in the nation for wine production by volume. One producer, Galen Glen Winery, is doing incredible things with dry, aromatic white wines. They were the first commercial vineyard east of the Rocky Mountains to plant Grüner Veltliner in 2003, and since then, they have received numerous awards and accolades for it. Forbes Magazine calls their Grüner a “benchmark.” James Suckling lauded the “striking resemblance” between their Rieslings and Grüners to the dry wines made in Austria and gave their 2017 vintage 90 points. Still, Galen Glen flies completely under the radar! Galen Glen’s Stone Cellar Grüner Veltliner is zippy, with notes of grapefruit and white pepper. For a perfectly Austrian meal, try it with pork schnitzel. At under $25 a bottle, this Grüner is truly an incredible value.
Best Value: Weis Vineyard Dry Rosé 2020 – $19.99
Weis Vineyard is a Finger Lakes gem. Peter Weis, a native German from the Mosel, moved to upstate New York to be with his wife, Ashlee, and together, they launched their own winery in 2016. While the wines are influenced by German winemaking methods, there is something distinctively “Finger Lakes” about them. Perhaps it’s the trademark cool climate acidity balanced with just enough residual sugar to keep the wine from tasting like a sour patch kid. Sure enough, this 2020 Dry Rosé has beautiful acidity, backed by just a touch of sugar (11 g/L). Made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir, this rosé has bright red fruit notes with a whiff of herbaceousness. This is your spring 2022 rosé.
Photo by Thomas Def on Unsplash
Best Value Runner Up: Thalvin-Alain Graillot Syrah du Morocco Syrocco 2018 – $15.93
If you’ve never tried a Moroccan wine, this Syrah is the place to start. The grapes come from a vineyard in the Zenata region between Casablanca and Rabat, which is heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean breezes and tends to be fitting for Rhône varieties that prefer cooler temperatures and drier late summer conditions. Sourced from 500 meters above sea level, the grapes are destemmed and fermented in closed concrete tanks. After a 10 day maceration, the wine is drawn off the marc and aged in stainless steel and neutral French oak. This “Syrocco” has notes of cherry, lavender, and licorice. On the palate, there is perceptible but pleasant oak. It finishes in true Syrah style, with a pepper punch. Trying a new region is always fun – especially when you can do it for under $20.
Tastiest Hidden Gem: Ordinary Fellow Colorado Riesling 2020 – $31.50
Colorado isn’t considered the premier winemaking land in the US, but if you think about it, the climate is great. Plenty of sunshine, cool nighttime temperatures, and low rain. The Ordinary Fellow is a winery that was started by Ben Parson, who opened Denver’s Infinite Monkey Theorem urban winery known for its canned wine production. Parson’s new business venture, The Ordinary Fellow, is a nod to an old English pub, and totes the same “pinkies down” mentality of Infinite Monkey Theorem. The fruit for this Riesling is sourced from their vineyards in southwest Colorado and is fermented in their winery in Palisade. The wine has mouth-puckering acidity, supported by a luscious bouquet of orange blossom, lemon, and anise. It shows beginning signs of petroleum aging, which should deepen with age.
Tastiest Hidden Gem Runner Up: Straka Eisenburg Blaufränkish 2018 – $23.99
The first thing you’ll notice about this Austrian Blaufränkish is its beautiful blue-purple color. The parent of both Gamay and Zweigelt, Blaufränkish is often left out of the spotlight of its more well-known children. But this bottle under $25 shows why it deserves a little more credit. Weingut Straka, located in Burgenland south of Vienna, farms organic fruit that spontaneously ferments in old oak casks. The wine continues to age in stainless steel before a small dose of sulfur is added at bottling. The result is a wine that sings. It has the body of a California Pinot Noir with the tannin of a left bank Bordeaux and the pepper of a Syrah. Flavors of blueberry, black cherry, and tree bark will dance on your tongue and leave you wondering where you’ve tasted these combinations before. Was it eating blueberry pie on your summer trip to Maine as a kid? Was it that earthy beet salad your grandma used to make? Or was it the Northern Rhône you had last Thanksgiving? This Blaufränkish will make you nostalgic, and then, after pausing to appreciate its idiosyncrasies, it will make you calm.
And here are two bonus wines:
Best Undiscovered Summer Rosé: Castello delle Regine Rosato 2021 – $13.99
This rich fruity rosé from Italy is an undiscovered treat with notes of pomegranate, dark cherry, and lilac. Enjoy when you want a twist on the every day rosé.
Best Undiscovered Greco Bianco: Enotria Cìro White – $12
This exciting medium bodied summer white from Calabria, Italy pairs well with picnics, fish, and light meats. Think honeysuckle, citrus, beeswax, and white flower.
Charlotte is a Master of Science candidate in Wine and Vineyard Sciences in Bordeaux, France. Her passion for wine developed thanks to a bartending gig at a little French wine bar in Washington, DC. Eventually, she quit her desk job to manage the wine bar full time. Hailing from Northern Vermont, she is fond of outdoor hockey rinks, local ski hills, and farm-to-table food and drink.