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Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - the Write-Up Part 1  Add/Read Comments

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This months topic seems to have got the regulars well and truly buzzing. The bottom shelf hunt for unusual and obscure grape varieties has unleashed some superb wines. As everyone�s favourite Sister wrote 'There are about 600 wine grape varieties in the world and yet I challenge you to find more than two dozen in your local wine store or supermarket - and that's if it has a good selection.'

That was the thought behind setting the March theme as 'obscure reds'. While we all fall occasionally into buying the 'safe' and the 'trusted'. I thought a little push to try something new would invigorate our wine-trying habits and perhaps discover a gem amongst those 600 odd varieties. Cabernet was banned, as were Merlot, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and a few other easily found varieties. From the 36 wines sampled in this WBW we managed to make a small nick in the 600 by sampling 36 different varieties amongst the blends and single varietals. There is some really obscure stuff amongst them!

The wines hailed from most of the wine producing countries of the world - as expected Italy featured highly with 11 wines. This demonstrates the wide variety of fascinating varieties grown in the Peninsula - and there are a great many more waiting to be discovered. Spain did not do as well as I anticipated. There was nothing from England; although that was less of a surprise, while just one wine was reported in as corked.

Although its called Wine Blogging WEDNESDAY contributions started arriving several days before the 9th - pro-active Barbara receives bonus points for being the first off the block reporting on her Winos and Foodies site about the Morris Durif 2000 from the Mornington Peninsula, Australia. The wine managed to 'spike her interest' in the variety and she is off to find a de Bortoli version. Great stuff. (As I write this late on Friday I am still receiving entries!)

I was thrilled when Tim agreed to provide this blog-happenings first PodCast via his excellent site - WineCast He entertainingly covers two Italian wines. One is made from Negroamaro, the other from Nero d'Avola, His third wine is from Portugal and the Castelao grape, which is also known as Periquita/Mortagua/Jono de Santarem. Excellent. You don't need an IPOD to listen to a podcast - I hear Tim's audio file through windows media player (my news feed aggregator downloads the file automatically). The casts are short pithy and informative.

Nero d�Avola (aka Calabrese) from Italy proved popular - Nose in Glass found a version (Villa Tonino Nero d�Avola, 2002) as did Cuisine Capers (Corvo Rosso, 2000, Sicily) . Irene thought the Corvo 'stood up well to the barbecued ribs and brisket that I picked up and brought home on my way back from the airport. It's a dark red wine with a fruity nose, with a very well balanced flavor and just a touch of roughness to it.' But the Tonino version had 'No pretensions' but was 'a little lacking in adornment.'

Nose in Glass has been brimming with enthusiasm and inspiration this week. So much so that she selected a second wine - a Californian 'Port'. This is made from a host of grapes Touriga, Souzao, Tinta Cao, Alvarlhao, Zinfandel and Bastardo. No problem with a little Zin in a blend! This melange certainly boosted our grape count.

Spice Tart - screen shot of their WBW entry
Two wines also from the Cincinnati Wine Garage. They kick off with an 'A' - Rubrato dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2002, Italy from Aglianico di Taurasi 'a big, alluring wine' and end with a 'Z' - Monarchia Zweigelt 2001, Hungary. which was 'interesting, but not compelling enough to re-order' . This was the only entry from Eastern Europe which came as a little surprise but indicative of their distribution - they are not that prevalent in the UK as they used to be.

Back to Italy with Molly at Spice Tart for St.Pauls Exclusiv Legrein, 2001, Tyrol, Italy. I have sampled some excellent wines made with Legrien in the past and was delighted that this version pleased Molly and Chris with its 'dried plums and bittersweet chocolate' flavours.

Still in Italy Margaritasandmadhatters puts forward Pervini Primo Amore Primitivo di Manduira, 20002.. Now is Primitivo the same as Zinfandel, which just happens to be on the banned list? It matters not for as their post states 'My only defence is that it is obscure to me. European wines and red wines are the areas to which I have been exposed the least and this wine is both! Surely the courts will have mercy on me!� We will show mercy but I am forced to do a hearty tsk tsk ;-)

An even bigger tsk tsk for late arrival Amuse-Bouche who shows a little confusion over the difference between red and white grapes. I wouldn't think of banning any entry especially as the Jacques Puffeney Arbois Savignin 1989, Jura, France. is very obscure - a fortified wine that I never heard of. The Savignin grape is white but who has ever heard of it?

Another slice of knowledge imparted via a great Jeff Burns Wine Rant. I didn't realise that Lemberger is actually Kekfrankos/Blaufrankish. He selected the Kiona Lemberger 2002, Washington, USA. 'This wine has a surprising amount of character for it's price with baked plum - don't forget the allspice - nose, huge blueberry mid-palate with enough tannins to dry the mouth, and a long smooth finish.'

Sadly our only off wine (oxidized) was from This Heaven. It should have been a delightful Torti Bonarda 2000, Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardy, Italy. but it was undrinkable.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - the Write-Up Part 1:

» WBW#7 Write Up is Posted from Vivi's Wine Journal
Quite a turnout for Andrew's edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday - Obscure Red Varietals. There's an extensive, well written summary of the event posted on Spittoon and, with over 600 varietals to choose from, the 36 entries turned out [Read More]

This entry Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - the Write-Up Part 1 is under WineBloggingWednesday


An interesting tidbit from about Durif:

"Just over 3,200 acres of grapes identified as Petite Sirah are presently planted in California. Although only a portion of these vineyards have been surveyed, recent DNA evidence from research led by Dr. Carole Meredith at the University of California at Davis has confirmed most plantings to be the same grape as Durif. About 10% however, is Peloursin, which, observed in the field, is practically indistinguishable from Durif, even by expert ampelographers."

I'm curious to know if the Durif from Aussie is Petite Sirah or Peloursin..

Hi Beau, The CSIRO (Australia's main scientific research institute) has confirmed via DNA fingerprinting that the Durif clones that were imported in the early 1900's from France to the Rutherglen region are in fact comprised of Durif rather than Peloursin.

Thanks for the info Cam. I learned something on a Saturday - now that's rare!

Hi Andrew -I'm back from holiday and now have lots of WBW reading to catch up on. The Morris durif is from the Rutherglen region. I'm amazed at the number of grape varietals out there I've not heard of before. Congratulations on a job well done.

Just found your site. Perhaps too late regarding the lesser known reds, but in the state of Missouri, USA, Norton is our grape of the past & future. Suspect would be very difficult to acquire in Europe (reports of planting in France in late 1800's) since demand exceeds supply locally.
"...aromas of coffee & mint...intense raspberry or cassis, brickish red color...heavy oak aging the norm..."