Having now held two in the series The A-Z of Abstruse Grape Varieties, we've arrived at the letter G. It's been an eye-opening experience: those attending have found plenty to wax lyrical about.
Since the aim of the series is to bring to people's attention lesser known grape varieities and to try to encourage people to put wines made from them on their shopping list, we thought it a good idea to let everybody know what's been tasted and to highlight those wines selected by popular vote to go forward into a showcase dinner.
But why wait for that? Be adventurous! Try them! The Festive season approacheth. Any of these bottles will add interest to your entertaining. The most popular ones appear in red.
Azienda Guerrieri Bianchello del Metauro 2006, Marche
Light, citrussy fruit. Grapefruit. Very clean and refreshing. Very localised grape variety – only available here and on the island of Ischia IF Biancholello is the same grape.
Chapel Down Bacchus 2005
Zesty fruit. Herbaceous edge. Think Riesling + Sauvignon. Some SO2. Widely planted in the UK.
Albanella/Pinot Nero (75/25)
Fattoria Mancini Roncaglia 2006, Pesaro
£8.99 Berkmann Wine Cellar
A bit “thick” perhaps over-pressed. Well-rounded. Improved for standing.This was the wine that I gave a lot of info about on site.
Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko 2006
Very aggressively acidic. My note: needs food – think rich Greek.
Only grown in Greece and little outside of island group around Santorini. Some experiments with oaking.
Burgans Albarino 2006, Rias Baixas
Good body and length. Nicely developed minerally fruit with flowery aromas. Seems to me better than alvarinho (as it is known in Portugal’s Vinho Verde.) Only grown in NW Iberia.
Malvira Roero Arneis 2006
Perhaps too alcoholic for its fruit. Nutty; slightly baked apple.
Rescued from extinction in the late 60’s by Vietti who bough all stocks and showed that this white nebbiolo need not just be used to soften Barolo. Tends to oxidise quickly. Rarely encountered outside of the Roero Hills.
Antao Vaz/Arinto (60/40)
Pera-Manca Branco 2002, Evora, Alentejo
£19.75 Fortnum & Mason
Candied peel, grapefruit, delicate vanilla and spice from very slight oak. Very, very classy. A testament to what first rate wine making can do in an arid area. Neither grape is encountered outside of the region much. Some Arinto further towards Lisbon in Bucellas.
Concha y Toro Lot 406 Carmenère 2005
Ripe upfront fruit with grassy, leafy finish. Like a reasonably classy claret from a lesser appellation. Used to be grown in Bordeaux. Wiped out by Phylloxera. Currently only Chile and Argentina.
Notios Agiorgitiko 2004, Nemea
Quite astringent. Fruit a bit shy perhaps, but tarry and would be brought out with right food. Probably the second greatest Greek variety after Xinomavro. (We’ll get there eventually.)
Terredora 2005 Aglianico, Campania
Structured on highish acidity rather than tannin. Earthy fruit. Not grown outside of area. Best examples = Taurasi.
Muchao 2002 Alentejo
£19.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
Widely planted; rarely encountered as the principal variety. Very fruity. Perhaps a bit obvious. Maybe it might evolve. Off the wall.
Alessi Intervineas Lazio Aleatico 2005, Lazio
Wonderfully defined, rich fruit. Wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity. Normally from Puglia; this was a fantastically “lifted” example.
D - G
Grüner Veltliner 'Alte Setzen' Huber
Almost the national grape of Austria, but little planted outside. Once had a reputation for being terribly acidic; good examples – like this one – are well rounded and have excellent, minerally fruit. Slightly grassy, with a citrus twist.
Erbaluce di Caluso, Sperino, 2006
£9.95 Liberty Wines
Unknown outside of Piedmonte. Sperino has an avowed intent to champion the cause of lesser known grape varieties. Piercing acidity makes this an ideal choice for shellfish or for dishes where lemon features. (What? You haven’t been to The Chemistry of Food and Wine?)
Sannio Falanghina, Vesevo, 2006
£8.29 Liberty Wines
Highly scented fruit (white flowers) with a zesty, grapefruit twist – slightly bitter on the finish. A grape variety unknown outside of the south of Italy.
Fiano di Avellino, Vesevo, 2006
£10.49 Liberty Wines
Lovely fat fruit, with a creamy, slightly hazelnut flavour. An excellent alternative for White Burgundy lovers. (No, you’ll never mistake it for one… but it’s in the same sort of arena.) Another variety unknown outside of southern Italy.
Greco di Tufo
Greco di Tufo, Vesevo, 2006
£10.49 Liberty Wines
A grape of – you’ve guessed it – Greek origins. Southern Italy again. Tangerine peel, orange flowers – tightly structured, and a great wine with food.
Fox Label Dornfelder, Rainer Lingenfelder 2002
Deserves to be better known; people don’t trust the idea of German red – they’re the ones missing out. Light, slightly smoky, curranty fruit with a hint of rose petals. Serve lightly chilled, if you like, and treat as if a super-rosé. Fantastic with charcuterie/salumi.
Le Cousin Rouge, NV, vielles vignes Grolleau (demeter)
£11.00 Green & Blue
A grape variety from the Loire, seldom encountered. Certainly a talking point, dividing our intrepid tasting group down the middle. There’s something almost cidrous about its flavours.
Cilieglio (too irresistible to include once found to worry about alphabetical purity)
Pincipio, Antonio Camillo, Cilieglio, 2006
£8.35 Green & Blue
Normally kept in the shadows as a minor part of Tuscan blends. Our bottle showed that there’s a strong case for it being given the starring role. As the name suggests, it displays cherry-like flavours (rich black and a hint of amarena).
Entraygues le Fel, Mousset, 2005
£8.15 Green & Blue
A real star of the tasting: spicy, Syrah-like fruit and well-rounded tannins combine with a gamey, earthy quality to make this look like a wine with a much heftier price tag.
Langhe Freisa, GD Vajra, 2003
£19.95 Liberty Wines
Freisa is a grape grown in Piedmont and generally produces raspberryish wines that are drunk young (and sometimes frothy). It is highly unusual to come across a Freisa with the concentration of fruit (and colour) of this wine.