A Taste For The Esoteric

A taste for the esoteric sends enthusiasts of all kinds to the edge of their interest in an attempt to find the latest and greatest, the most obscure, or anything to invigorate their curiosity. Whether your curiosity lies in art, music, books, wine etc. the obscure can be found, but you must know where to look.

As a musician with mercurial taste, living in the East Bay has served me well. Between Down Home in El Cerrito and Amoeba in Berkeley, my recorded music needs are fulfilled. A year-long fixation on the Bon Scott years of AC/DC and early ZZ Top recently gave way to a dormant bluegrass obsession that has lead me deep into the catalog of the old guard (namely Tony Rice) and the new guard (the Punch Brothers).

For wine enthusiasts though, look no further than the southeast corner of our Berkeley retail shop. There, you will find selections from the Basque region of France, and more specifically the new arrival from Domaine Bru-Baché—the 2009 Jurançon Sec ($16.95). Jurançon is deeply engrained in French wine culture and history. This village in the southwest of France was one of the first appellation controllées and wine has been made there since the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, the regional aristocracy identified and valued premier parcels in Jurançon, thus introducing the idea of cru vineyards.

The sweet wines of Jurançon are made primarily with the Petit Manseng grape. This small, thick-skinned variety hangs on the vine until December before being harvested. The sec is made of Gros Manseng and presents a character as unique as the appellation is obscure. The classic lime-green tint in the glass gives way to a zingy, exotic palate of fresh-cut, zesty citrus. A persistent herbal, resin, juniper finish makes this a perfect quaffer—great as an apéritif with some cheese and olives.

Having one glass just to say that you’ve now tasted Jurançon won’t be sufficient, you’ll start wanting more and more of this wine. Act soon—not much is made which means it will only be in our shop for so long.

What are you favorite esoteric wines? Don’t hesitate to respond in the comments section below…



  1. Andrew says:

    Ah, Tony Rice. Good stuff! Wines… most of the esoteric wines I’ve were during a trip to Spain. Really unique and interesting stuff. We had one particular rose that I simply could not classify. It was not red, wine or rose in style, just way different (and esoteric!). Too bad we don’t get more Spanish wines around Berkeley.

  2. Lynn says:

    One that comes to mind I recently tasted is from our own Santa Clara Valley. Kirigin Cellars has been around since 1916, started by a man from Croatia. They make a dessert wine called Vino de Mocca infused with coffee, chocolate and a tad of orange. I’m not sure I would truly classify this as a wine due to the additions, but when mixed 50/50 with their Champagne (they can call it Champagne as they were grandfathered in), it is a satisfying dessert.

  3. Brittany says:

    Vin de paille, straw wine, golden dessert wine from the Jura. It must be the recipe for ambrosia, hidden among a mat of straw. Difficult to find in the US, found it at a festival celebrating vin jaune in the Jura.

  4. Jerry Horner says:

    There are many wonderful Swiss wines almost unknown anywhere else. We ate at Rochat (formerly Girardet) in Crissier and discovered wines of superb quality, especially Syrah in the Valais (this is the Rhone after all). And there are many others! Really worth a trip.

Leave a Reply