If you like Rioja/Tempranillo, try Colombard
Rioja wine is quintessentially Spain. Made with a blend of grapes (the primary varietal being their indigenous Tempranillo), this medium-bodied wine is well-known and loved for its elegant structure and cherry-vanilla fruit. Each Rioja is classified by the style of oak-aging -- basically, the longer it sat in oak, the higher the quality. The younger, base-level wines (simply called ‘Rioja’) have more fruit and less tannins, while bigger expressions of Tempranillo (‘Gran Reserva’) have more body and aging ability. All Riojas play nicely with Spanish seafood paella, turkey chili, or a grilled ribeye.
If you love Rioja’s structure, poise, and drinkability, jump continents and enjoy a crisp glass of Colombard in the South of France. Even if you’ve never dabbled with this fuller-bodied white, it has a familiar taste: “Colombard grapes are often blended with other well-known varietals [Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Chenin Blanc] to give the wine complexity,” says Sager. Colombard has low acidity and is easy-drinking, yet still has a lot going on with its flavor and aromatic mix of apple, lemon, tangerine, ripe stone fruit, spice, minerals, and even beeswax.
Colombard, Producteurs Plaimont, IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2017 ($8): This crisp white is an apple-and-pear fruit basket to the face with green and flinty flavors intermingling for complexity. Enjoy as an aperitif or with fish and mussels.
Mont Gravet 2017 Colombard, Cotes de Gascogne ($9): The Gascogne region is home to enough sun and humidity to grow ripe, concentrated grapes. The final wine is bright, fragrant, and fruit-forward with a creamy richness popping up at the finish.