How to travel the (wine) world, sip by sip

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(BPT) - Adventure is back in a big way. But if you’re like most of us, you don’t have enough frequent flier miles (yet) to hit every far-flung locale on your post-pandemic bucket list. Refreshing your browser for hotel deals in Reykjavik? Right there with you. Diving into a great book set in Kenya or tasting tapas at an Andalusian outpost? Sounds like it’s time to take your armchair exploring up a notch with a trip to the global wine aisle. Nothing brings you closer to the heart of a place — its people, its terrain, its story — than a handcrafted local wine.

Explore beyond the usual

It’s easy to fall into old patterns, reaching for the same wine that reliably suits your weekend take-out. No judgment here. The sea of options lining the typical wine shelf can wash over even the savviest of connoisseurs, rendering most of us incapable of making a seemingly simple decision about what to drink. Wait, isn’t wine supposed to be fun? (Yes!)

Like the exotic destinations that beckon from afar, the wine-less-traveled requires an open mind and a willingness to explore. We’ve rounded up our favorite must-pour bottles from unexpected regions in the New World, so put down that trusty bottle of Chardonnay, pack your proverbial bags, and follow us to the barrel rooms of Mendocino, Mendoza and Maipo Valley.

Discover the California region you haven’t sipped yet

When we think of New World wines, the kind made in places that have been crushing grapes for merely a few centuries — compared with the millennia-deep heritage of the Old World — California is undoubtedly the Northern Hemisphere’s crown jewel. We’ll head there first, but to an out-of-the-way spot along the North Coast that remains unconfined by convention and unfettered by throngs of tourists. Welcome to Mendocino County.

This tranquil enclave — an early pioneer of organic viticulture agriculture in the U.S. — is home to Bonterra Organic Estates, a regenerative- focused B Corp winery that has been crafting organically farmed wine since 1987. Along with a well-known collection of everyday wines made from organic grapes, Bonterra produces limited-release, single-vineyard wines from its Regenerative Organic Certified™ sites in Mendocino County.

Pour now: The Butler, Single-Vineyard Red Cuvée, Mendocino County, 2020

A shining star in Bonterra’s trio of single-vineyard offerings, this Rhone-style blend is a memorable expression of Butler Ranch Vineyard, an impossibly steep site where every grape is harvested by hand. Layered aromas of dark fruit and cedar box are woven over a complex amalgamation of black currant, pepper and herbs. $60

Travel to the edge of the earth to fill your glass

The Southern Hemisphere is no stranger to rugged adventure and off-the-grid exploring. The wines of Argentina and Chile represent the jaw-dropping topography of the Andes Mountains and the vast expanse of earth that journeys to the outermost stretches of humanity. Welcome to South America.

Mendoza may have put Argentina on the world wine map, but it’s Luján de Cuyo — a sub-region of Mendoza where the vines rest at altitudes close to 3,500 feet — that draws us in. Italian immigrants, awed by the soaring terrain, powerful winds and pure water from mountain snowmelt, planted the first Malbec grapes here over a century ago. Today, Bodega Trivento crafts its Golden Reserve Malbec from 60- to 100-year old vines tended by generations of family farmers.

Pour now: Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, 2020

A vivid interpretation of Luján de Cuyo’s legendary vineyards, this hand-harvested Malbec is aromatic and full-bodied, with enticing notes of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and plum. Don’t miss the soft tannins and plush, velvety finish. $20

On the other side of the Andes, we venture into Chile’s Maipo Valley, home of Cabernet Sauvignon royalty. Visionary winemaker Don Melchor Concha y Toro first planted vines from Bordeaux here in 1883. More than a century later, the inaugural vintage of his namesake Cabernet Sauvignon from Don Melchor Vineyard in Puente Alto delivered an unequivocal benchmark for Chilean wine.

Pour now: Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, D.O. Puente Alto, Maipo Valley, 2020

Steeped in heritage and brimming with elegance and power, this quintessential Chilean Cabernet is intensely aromatic, with bursts of red fruit balanced by floral notes of violet and rose. Consider this a splurge-worthy luxury that will age well for another 35 years. $150

As we all dream of our next great adventure, these wines bring the world’s most intriguing destinations a little closer to home.