WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

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WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:25 pm

Chatting to John Fiola yesterday, he posed a question about a name for Zinfandel that none of us chatting could answer - it was not one of the synonyms that readily roll off the tongue. The answer was so obscure, I've lost it. John knew the answer because he had in his hands the hefty new tome, Wine Grapes (a complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties including their origins and flavours) by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz. He bought his copy on the day it was released!

Coincidentally, at the beginning of November Julia was one of three guest overseas judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and I was privileged to be invited by Julia to a wine tasting held after the awards were completed and before she left NZ to return to the UK. The premise was each of us bring along a bottle of obscure wine. Whoever brought along the best quality / rarest wine would win a copy of the book that Julia had arranged to be shipped out to New Zealand. Sadly, that was not me.

Anyway, I posted the brief notes that follow to my blog and suggested to John FIola I would post them here. So many blogs on the Internet these days, easier to just reproduce here, so ... these are the wines in the order I tasted them. If the grape variety is in the wine's name, it is underlined.

Whites

Rippon Vineyards Osteiner 2010 - Central Otago, NZ
Just 1-ha in New Zealand, and 1-ha in Germany, makes Osteiner very rare indeed. This light bodied wine is floral, fresh and fruity with lively acidity when chilled.

Bodegas Terras Gauda La Mar 2009 - Rias Baixas Spain
Golden coloured with a smoky aroma, this aromatic wine has lovely concentration and tropical fruit freshness, a toasted lime and coconut allure and an earthy, flinty undercurrent. Made from 85% Caino Blanco, 10% Albarino and 5% Loureiro, this was one of my favourites and a deserving book winner.

Saladini Pilastri Pecorino 2011 – Offida, Italy
A little wet wool / lanolin nuance to the bouquet, concentrated bright palate with a full-bodied finish, reminiscent of a good, textural Pinot Gris but with fresh salivating salinity.

Rebula 2000 Slovenia
Made from 100% Rebula, this clear amber gold-coloured wine seemed oxidised and past it to me but Julia said it was ‘the style’ and she enjoyed it.

Domaine Belluard Les Alpes 2009 – Vin de Savoie, France
100% Gringet. Almond scent, quite leesy in palate with slightly rancid nut flavours.

Domaine Belluard Le Feu 2009 – Vin de Savoie, France
Same producer, same variety as previous wine (100% Gringet) but such a contrast in style, this emanates a fuller, fatter more enticing aroma. Flinty in the palate with a chalky texture and a fresh citrus (lemon / lemonade) finish.

Les Cretes Petite Arvine 2009 – Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Golden in colour with a rich bouquet and textural palate full of fleshy stonefruit, an underpinning of lime and a fresh, lively finish. I think this was the other book winner as it turned out two books had been couried to NZ.

ManzWine Cheleiros Dona Fatima Jampal 2011 – Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal
Poached pear and baked apple scent, rich in the palate, a little gravelly but the fruity traits prevail, finishing dry with a touch of salinity. Some question as to whether marginally corked, but look past that to find a fascinating wine.

Pyramid Valley Savagnin Rose 2010 - Marlborough NZ
My favourite of all the whites, this has a rich concentrated aroma and an equally concentrated palate. It’s dry with textural complexity, light mouth-coating viscosity, stonefruit nuances, wild yeast flavours and a slightly salty finish. Savagnin Rose is described on the bottle as a non-musqué progenitor of Gewurztraminer.

Reds

Quinta dos Roques, Alfrocheiro Preto 2007 – Dao, Portugal
Purple violet. Earthy savoury and very dry with noticeable tannins and underlying acidity indicating the wine still needs time, but there is a delectable salty savouriness that says this wine would be excellent with the right food.

Suhu Punta Leo Gracin Babic 2008 – Croatia
A dark red wine with a ‘pongy’ aroma that reminding me of NZ reds of 25+ years ago. But that’s where the similarity ends. A clean, fruity wine with a touch of spice and underlying acidity.

Silver Heights Family Reserve 2009 - Ningxia, China
A Bordeaux blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10%, Cabernet Genischt (the rare one), this to me had a deep Bordeaux varieties scent accented with pencil shavings. Dark in colour and dry in the palate with earth, herbs, stewed red fruit and a peppery bite, it’s a wine that needs to accompany food.

Bodega Mustiguillo Finca Terrerazo El Terrerazo 2010 - Utiel Requena, Spain
This has a deep saturated purple red colour with earth, dried herbs, dried currants, vanilla on the nose and a juicy sweet-fruited palate with a touch of pepper and underlying vanillin oak. Made from Bobal, which contributes to much of the bulk wine in Spain, it is obscure as fine wine. Becoming more and more concentrated in the glass, this was my favourite red.

Les Cretes Vigne la Tour Fumin 2005 – Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Violet red, pencil shavings on nose, firm yet fine tannins, slightly oxidative style.

Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano 2008 - Alto Adige, Italy
Deep earthy wine with underlying acidity, firm tannins, some minor Bretty notes,

Sweet

Trentham Estate Noble Taminga 2008 – Big Rivers, NSW, Australia
Golden coloured, richly aromatic, bright acidity in the palate to tame the concentrated raisin-like flavours. Orange peel and marmalade on the finish. This was the wine I took becuase I knew it was extremely rare and I knew where to procure a bottle. Taminga ia a grape variety 'developed' in Australia by the CSIRO, to produce a white grape that retains its acidity in the hot climate areas, consequently it works well as a sweet wine, but only a couple of producers making it AFAIK.

There are two versions of the book, the US version and the UK version. Evidentally the only difference is the slip case and cover design - the text is identical. Even so, the US version is $20 cheaper through the online book store here - with free international delivery to boot.

Hope you have enjoyed reading ... and hopefully John Fiola will post that name for Zinfandel.

Sue
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Hoke » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:01 pm

Thanks, Sue. I'll look for these write-ups on Nat's page. :mrgreen:
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Otto » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:36 pm

Slovenian Rebulas are nice. But who is the producer of the one you had?
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:46 pm

Some names I am familiar with. Just purchased a 100% Bobal which flew off the shelf downtown after a couple of tastings.
Savignin can have an oxidised taste about it but no mention here Sue?
Pecorino can be delicious imo.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:55 pm

Otto - I don't have the producer of the Rebula. I will try and find out.
Bob - no oxidsed taste unless mentioned and definitely not in the Savignin I tasted.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:42 am

Sue Courtney wrote:Otto - I don't have the producer of the Rebula. I will try and find out.
Bob - no oxidsed taste unless mentioned and definitely not in the Savignin I tasted.


Savignin doesn't taste oxidized per se, but it is common in the Jura to vinify it "sous voile," which is pretty much the same method used for Sherry: it's kept under a veil of yeast (the "flor") and never topped up, affording it some amount of oxidation. Vin Jaune is the classic example of sous voile Savignin.

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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:46 am

Mark and Bob,
The Rose in 'Savagnin Rose' refers to the colour of the grapes, not the colour of the wine. It is different to the popular 'Savignin Blanc' of the Jura.
The Pyramid Valley website references Alsace and indicates grapes were whole bunch pressed without settling, indigenous fermentation of 15 months, in 500L puncheons, 5% new and no fining agents used.
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Hoke » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:17 am

Fascinating, Sue. Love hearing about esoteric varieties---and there are some very esoteric ones here.

Let's see---the only ones I've had---knowingly, I mean, not just an unrecognized part of a blend--are the Pecorino, Rebula, Petite Arvine, Savagnin (which I agree can be very interesting), Bobal, Fumin, and Rotaliano (also good.) The rest are mysteries to me.

By the way, would that Zinfandel name be from the original Croatian, Crljenak Kastelyansky (or some similar spelling, as I don't have Croat spellcheck)?
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:42 am

Hoke wrote:By the way, would that Zinfandel name be from the original Croatian, Crljenak Kastelyansky (or some similar spelling, as I don't have Croat spellcheck)?


I hope John Fiola will chime in with the key name for the Zin. It's not CK.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby TomHill » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:56 am

Sue Courtney wrote:
Hoke wrote:By the way, would that Zinfandel name be from the original Croatian, Crljenak Kastelyansky (or some similar spelling, as I don't have Croat spellcheck)?


I hope John Fiola will chime in with the key name for the Zin. It's not CK.

Cheers,
Sue


According to Janciis' book, that key name for Zinfandel would be Tribidrag. That was the original/ancient name for
the variiety before the Croations started calling it CK.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby TomHill » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:00 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:Savignin doesn't taste oxidized per se, but it is common in the Jura to vinify it "sous voile," which is pretty much the same method used for Sherry: it's kept under a veil of yeast (the "flor") and never topped up, affording it some amount of oxidation. Vin Jaune is the classic example of sous voile Savignin.
Mark Lipton


Mark,
Been reading the new Sherry book. Terrific read & very detailed. According to the authors, the yeast that appears in the Jura is biologically
different from that in the Sherry region. Technically, anyway. But the effect is the much the same...mostly to protect the wine from
oxidation and other harmful beasties.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:37 pm

TomHill wrote:
Mark,
Been reading the new Sherry book. Terrific read & very detailed. According to the authors, the yeast that appears in the Jura is biologically
different from that in the Sherry region. Technically, anyway. But the effect is the much the same...mostly to protect the wine from
oxidation and other harmful beasties.
Tom


Not very surprising, Tom, as I don't think many would confuse vin jaune with Sherry :mrgreen: I wonder if there's anything special about those yeast species that they float atop the wine, or would any self-respecting Saccharomyces do so? Clearly, more research is called for!

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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby TomHill » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:46 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
TomHill wrote:Mark,
Been reading the new Sherry book. Terrific read & very detailed. According to the authors, the yeast that appears in the Jura is biologically
different from that in the Sherry region. Technically, anyway. But the effect is the much the same...mostly to protect the wine from
oxidation and other harmful beasties.
Tom

Not very surprising, Tom, as I don't think many would confuse vin jaune with Sherry :mrgreen: I wonder if there's anything special about those yeast species that they float atop the wine, or would any self-respecting Saccharomyces do so? Clearly, more research is called for!
Mark Lipton


Mark,
You should get a copy of the new Sherry book. It goes into quite a bit of detail on the nature of the flor yeast and how it
protects the wine from oxidation and how it scavenges up all the other sugars and glycerol in the wine.
I think you'd enjoy that discussion.
Like you, I'd always read that the flor yeast in the Jura is the same stuff in making fino sherry. The authors go to great detail to dispell that myth.
Like you, I never got much similarity between VinJaune and Fino.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Peter May » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:15 pm

I've had several of the varieties list above and not even heard of others.

I'm surprised Petite Arvine won as I don't think its as rare as others listed there (certainly not rarer than Osteiner), Petite Arvine is a Swiss variety, I've not encountered an Italian bottling yet.

Taminga is on the wine list of a country pub near where we live, a nobly rotted dessert wine by Trentham Estate.

Cabernet Genischt is actually Carmenere according to the new book. I recently got a Chinese 100% Cabernet Genischt and was thus rather disappointed on reading the entry.

I've just returned from collecting an order at my local independent wine shop and picked up a bottle of 100% Clairette (French) - which I've seen in blends but not as a varietal before.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:45 pm

Hi Tom,
Yes that's it. Tribidrag. The ancient name for Zinfandel.

Hi Peter,

Didn't know that Cabernet Gernischt = Carmenere, but I don't own a copy of the book yet. That wine was also unusual in that it was from China.
Julia picked the winners: rarity and quality taken into account.

As a result of this tasting I found there is a winemaker in Marlbrough who is importing some exciting and unusual wines into NZ, mainly for his own drinking pleasure, but also for education for other winemakers and MW students.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Peter May » Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:50 am

If you're intending buying the book but aren't in a hurry I'd wait a while because I'd hope/expect a second printing would fix the errors with the binding of the grape family trees which currently are too close into the spine to fully read.

If you can't wait then check www.thebookdepository.co.uk (or dot com) which has the book with 34% discount (against Amazons 30%*) and gives free worldwide delivery and also takes payment in NZD - currently NZD$153.84 for the book.

And there's a Kindle ebook edition too.

*although thebookdepository is now owned by Amazon.
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Re: WTN: Some unusual varieties to celebrate Wine Grapes

Postby Sue Courtney » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:07 pm

Thanks Peter, I appreciate your comment about the binding and will be waiting. How long before a second printing do you reckon?
Currently my best price is the American version for $149 NZD from fishpond.co.nz.
Both bookdepository.co.uk (redirected to from bookdepository.co.nz) and another, fishpond.co.nz, seem to be fierce competition when it comes to price. And I wonder if prices fluctuate according to exchange rate? Bookdepository.co.uk gives me a cheapest price of NZD $161.23 for the American verison. The UK version is NZD $191, almost $22 more than it was a month ago!

I’ve found a really neat website called bookish.co.nz that does a price comparison across about 10 sources.
http://www.bookish.co.nz/isbn/978006220 ... ne-grapes/

This capability for online purchasing must be a real worry to traditional brick and mortar stores.

Cheers,
Sue
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