In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre comments that "vintage variation is part of what makes wine so fascinating, if sometimes frustrating." His focus is on Austria, where he says vintners are becoming more adept at ripening their grapes even in challenging years. As a result, quality at the higher end is becoming more consistent. From the "particularly ripe and successful" 2011 vintage McIntyre picks the "textbook" Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Grüner Veltliner and the Hermann Moser Grüner Veltliner Per Due.
In McIntyre's view, Austrian reds are also worthy of attention. He compares them to wines from northern Italy or the Loire Valley of France – medium-bodied with relatively high acidity. His top picks are the 2011 Netzl Carnuntum Cuvee, the 2009 Leo Hillinger Hill Side, and the 2008 Neckenmarkt Blaufrankisch. McIntyre warns, however, that Austria's reds "can struggle with green flavors from under-ripe grapes, so you might find one you like and then try it again a year later and wonder, 'What was I thinking?'"
In The Sydney Morning Herald, Huon Hooke reports that Australia's 2011 vintage was a shocker. Unrelenting rain throughout summer blasted the eastern half of the continent. But Hooke believes there's mounting evidence that the vintage is "a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat." After attending a tasting of McLaren Vale wines for the Scarce Earth classification (a regional initiative to encourage single-vineyard wines of extreme quality and fidelity), his judgement is: "Those 2011s, wow!"
The selected 2011 wines won't be released until May next year, but among the 2010 Scarce Earth wines, Hooke recommends d'Arenberg's The Blind Tiger, Shipster's Rapture and The Garden of Extraordinary Delights; Penny's Hill Footprint Shiraz; Chapel Hill The Chosen Road Block; and Dowie Doole California Road.
Pass the pinot:
On his blog, Wine Anorak Jamie Goode considers what Burgundy wines are available for £15 ($25). Burgundy is a region that has been the source of some of his great wine-drinking experiences, he says, but it's expensive. Goode has been drinking the 2009 Louis Jadot Cote de Beaune Villages but reports that it "doesn't deliver enough of the lovely aromatics that pinot is capable of." He thinks it might be better to go for some of the less-expensive New Zealand pinot noirs.
The spice grape:
On Forbes.com, Katie Kelly Bell reports on a recent challenge which pitted white wines against mouth-numbing spicy food. "Albariño stole the show with its intense ripe fruit, high acidity and high viscosity,” says Bell. She recommends three albariños from Rias Baixas in Spain: the 2011 Bodegas As Laxas (green crisp edges that call to mind ripe apple and citrus); the 2011 Marques de Vizhoja Senor da Folla Verde (only 70 percent albariño, but racy, ripe and very balanced); and the 2010 Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas (picture a platter of peaches dusted with lemon zest).