We all know that Cabernet Sauvignon is king, and other varietals such as Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. What what others are trendy, ones which are growing in popularity. Here's my list, with wineries specializing in them.
Grenache - This is the principal grape of the South Rhone Valley. It produces medium bodied reds with nice supple fruits and rich aromatics. It makes a tasty and more consistent alternative to the more variable Pinot Noir.
Specialists: Ocelli Cellars (Grenache is all they make. Reviewed July 2017), Rotie Cellars ("little g." Reviewed December), Beresan (To be reviewed in March), Rasa Vineyards ("Primus inter Pares" Reviewed September).
Mourvèdre - This is the other main variety of the South Rhone and also of Bandol. It is typically medium to full bodied, with a spicy, smoky character. It goes well with grilled meats.
Specialists: Rotie Cellars ("Dre." Reviewed December), Tapteil (October, 2017), Mark Ryan ("Crazy Mary." To be reviewed April).
The above two varieties are often used in the so-called GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre).
Malbec - This is an increasingly popular varietal, with many generic versions on the market (Waterbrook, reviewed in the February issue) largely due to the ubiquity of Argentina Malbecs. It is also included in "BDX" blends, even though little Malbec is grown in Bordeaux today. Most French Malbec comes from Cahors in the Lot Valley, where it is called "the black wine."
Specialists: Flying Trout (August 2017), Seven Hills, Flying Trout (May 2017), àMaurice (December 2017).
Carmenère - This has been called "the lost grape of Bordeaux," almost extinct there, wiped out by the phylloxera devastation of the 1870's. It produces intense wines, smoky, perfumed (roses, violets), peppery (a distinct trait) that lend themselves well to flavorful dishes. Because of limited production and high grape prices, Carmenère is not cheap.
Specialists: Beresan ("Snowy Owl" label, to be reviewed March), Bartholomew (to be reviewed March), Tertulia (Phinny Hill Vineyard), College Cellars (one of the Best Buys in this variety).
Petit Verdot - This is another variety that has largely gone out of favor in Bordeaux. Most of the vines were killed off by the deep freeze of 1956 and little was replanted. It does well in Washington State, producing deep, perfumed wines.
Specialists: Seven Hills Tero Estates, Tierra Labrada (One of the best versions of this variety in Washington. Reviewed October 2017).
There is one white variety worth mentioning as there is a growing trend toward drier whites.
Albariño - This is a grape originating in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. It produces aromatic, chalky (from limestone cliffs) almost bone dry wines, ideal with seafood.
Specialists: Castillo de Feliciana, Adamant Cellars (July 2017), Coyote Canyon (May 2017).