It’s being a while since I talked about new additions to my “grape collection”. No, I didn’t stop looking for the new grapes (I think this will go on forever), I just couldn’t get around posting about the new grape discoveries.
Actually, one of the “pushers” for this post to come out was the fact that subject of Wine Century Club became very popular in my close “blogosphere”, the blogs I’m reading on more or less the regular basis. Oliver of The Wine Getter just crossed his first hundred grapes – here is the post where he explains what makes him going with the Wine Century Club. Here is account of another blogger, GourmetVicariously – she is undertaking the Wine Century Challenge in Australia, and you follow check on her progress here.
So for my own update, I finally submitted my Quattro application, and I’m inching little by little closer to the Pentavini status. As I didn’t post on this subject for a while, today’s update includes 22 grapes, a lot of them came through after the VinItaly and Gambero Rosso tastings I recently attended. Below you will see some pictures of the wine labels, and the names of the grapes and the wines follow right after. Another challenge for me will be to update my grapes of the world table, but I will worry about it later. This same table might be a good resource for you in terms of searching of the new wines and the grapes. Also, if you are using Pinterest, please make sure to check the Wine Centurions shared pinboard, and feel free to join in and start contributing the rare grapes information. Also, if we are talking about resources for the aspiring Wine Centurions, here is the link to all the Wine Century Club posts in this blog, hope you will find it helpful.
Here are the labels:
And the grapes:
Groslot – Sparkling Brut Rose Bouvet ‘Excellence’ NV Bouvet-Ladubay
Carricante – 2010 Planeta Carricante, Sicilia IGT, Italy
Le Crescent – Boyden Valley Winery Cowtipper, Vermont
Rougeon – Palaia Joyful Pink, Hudson Valley, New York
Prensal – 2010 Binigrau Nounat Vi de la Terra Mallorca, Spain
Marquette – 2010 Lincoln Park Vineyard Maquette, Vermont
Turbiana – 2009 Lugana Superiore Il Rintocco
Malvasia di Candia Aromatica – 2011 Lusenti C.P. Malvasia Frizzante Emiliana
Caberlot – 2009 Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot
Trebbiano Spoletino – 2010 Tabarrini Adarmando
Verdiso – Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Jeio NV
Cesanese di Affile – 2010 Casale della Ioria Cesanese del Piglio Camponovo
Malvasia Puntinata – 2011 L’Olivella Frascati Superiore Racemo
Bellone – L’Olivella Frascati Superiore Racemo
Cesanese – 2008 L’Olivella Lazio Rosso “>”
Durello – Lessini Durello DOC Spumante 36 Mesi
Lambrusca di Sorbara – 2011 Chiarli 1860 Lambrusco di Sorbara del Fondatore
Lambrusca Grasparossa – 2011 Chiarli 1860 Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Vign. Enrico Cialdini
Ginestra – 2010 Marisa Cuomo Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva
Fenile – 2010 Marisa Cuomo Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva
Ripoli – 2010 Marisa Cuomo Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva
Perricone – 2010 Firriato Ribeca, Sicily
If you are not going through the Wine Century club challenge yet, you should really consider doing that, and if you are already living through your obsession – good luck in your journey and remember to have fun! Cheers!
During 2011 I wrote a number of posts for the project called The Art Of Life Magazine – of course talking about my favorite subject, wine. The project closed, but I still like the posts I wrote, so I decided to re-post them in this blog. Also, in that project, posts were grouped into mini-series, such as “Best Hidden Secrets” you see here – I will continue re-posting them from time to time.
Also note that the series was written for a slightly different audience – I hope none of my readers will take offense in the fact that sometimes I’m stating the obvious…
We are continuing our “secrets” discovering journey, this time moving few thousand miles mostly east of Veneto, Italy, which was our last stop. Now we are in the fertile mountainous region called Caucasus. To be more precise, our destination is Georgia, a small country with a rich history (the subject of Georgian Wines was already discussed in this blog, but recent encounter with Georgian Wines convinced author that this subject is worth talking about again).
For the sake of this blog, we will of course focus on the part of Georgian history which relates to wine. For beginners, Georgia is widely considered a cradle of wine making. According to Wikipedia, wine production started in Georgia more than 8,000 years ago. With all due respect to so called “old world” of wine, that beats France, Italy and other European countries by about 7,000 years.
Of course, truth to be told, multiple thousand years of history don’t translate directly into today’s advantage. For instance, majority of the countries which existed thousands years ago are not even remembered today. If everything goes well, that long history can only translate into traditions – good or bad, but traditions are just what they are: “typical ways of conducting certain activity”, or “an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling, or doing”, according to the definition from Merriam-Webster.
Fast forward to the middle of 20th century, and Georgian wine making traditions came under attack by soviet regime and Georgian wine making industry became literally non-existent. Fast forward once again, to the last decade of the 20th century, and traditions came back into play, helping to re-born Georgian wine industry. Of course, once former soviet union collapsed and Georgia became independent, freedom had a “drugging” effect. Tremendous amount of mediocre (at the best) wine was produced, all in attempt to “get rich quickly”. This situation backfired, and Georgian wines went into “ignore” category without any chance to rise to prominence (disclaimer: these are observations from US-centered wine market).
Luckily, traditions, based on real, rich history and pride came to the rescue. Fast and greedy mostly disappeared, and real wine makers and businessman took their place. Those thousands years of history and traditions became multiplying force for skills, craftsmanship and ambitions, and now started bringing us world-class wines. It is still very difficult to buy good Georgian wines in US, you have to really know where to get it, but hopefully this situation will change. Hmmm, may be we don’t need that to change? Let’s keep it secret, so those in the know can continue enjoying first-growth Bordeaux quality wines at one hundredth of the price?
Time to talk about wines – after all, we need to put some substance behind the nice words. Let’s start with… Champagne? Err, Sparkling wine, of course, as Champagne can only come from Champagne. Enters Bagrationi 1882, which makes sparkling wines using traditional “Méthode Champenoise” for more than 100 years. Round, soft and creamy, with perfect acidity, bright and refreshing, this sparkling wine will successfully compete with any of the actual Champagnes and other sparkling wines. In the blind tasting (non-professional), 2007 Royal Cuvee was the best out of the 8 sparkling wines, including classic Champagnes (you can read about it here).
Moving along, let’s talk about some of the most unique wines I ever had a chance to taste. Pheasant’s Tears winery (as well as some others), produce wines using thousands-years old (talk about traditions) technology – the grapes are crushed and fermented for prolonged period of time in the clay vessels called Qvevri. The resulting wines, made from different indigenous grapes, such as Kisi, Rkatsiteli, Tavkveri, Saperavi and others, are very different from most of other wines. Both whites and reds show very nice tannins which come from prolonged contact with skin and seeds (no oak aging whatsoever), as well as great level of complexity somewhat similar to good Madeira. This wines should really be experienced, as words can’t do them enough justice.
Last for this post, but not least, I want to mention true world-class winemaker-made classic wines. You know, those wines which are happily associated with winemaker or lead producer, such as Michel Roland, Christian Moeux, Helen Turley, Andy Erickson ( Screaming Eagle) and many others. These wines are made by David Maisuradze out of the classic Georgian red grape called Saperavi. Both Mukuzani and Saperavi are truly amazing wines, with perfect layered dark fruit on the palate, perfect structure, powerful tannins and excellent balance. 2005 Mukuzani shows more tannins at this point (it was aged for 24 month in the oak), and while it can be definitely enjoyed right now, it needs another 10-15 years to truly shine. Get it, if you can!
Georgian wines came back to the wine lovers to take the place they really deserve, the product of love and obsession supported by deep roots and traditions. While not easy to find, they are definitely worth looking for. Make an effort, find the bottle, try it, and send me a “thank you” note later on, as I’m sure you will be inclined to do. To the wonderful wine discoveries!
We like puzzles. We like those little challenges, which are innocent but give us a sense of fight, achievement and winning. Here is a little puzzle for you – let’s see how well do you know grapes. Please name a grape which starts with ”O”, 6 letters. I will give you couple of minutes, take your time. Done? What it is? I’m sure some of you could’ve known it, but I honestly think that majority would not.
I don’t want you to feel discouraged. There are about 8,000 different grapes in the world (or more), and about 1,600 of them are used in winemaking, so chances of knowing all of them by a one person are slim to none. Okay, so what is my point, you ask?
The whole point of this little puzzle exercise was to show you an opportunity. An opportunity for an exciting journey and discovery of new experiences. This is an easy journey, which doesn’t require months of planning and tons of special equipment. You can start it any day by joining Wine Century Club. You can download an application, check-mark at least 100 grapes you tasted in your life (doesn’t have to be single grape wines – all blends are perfectly ok), and voila – you can become a member.
I started this journey about 4 years ago. It was relatively simple to get to the first hundred grapes. By the time I received the certificate, I found out that the club now has a new level – Doppel, which requires tasting of 200 grapes. New challenge, great! I started a new journey which was not as simple, and … yes, you got it right – by the time I got to the 200 grapes mark, Treble and Quattro levels appeared! I got to the Treble mark last year, and it was quite hard – had to start including clones in order to get there. But – if you are a ”life traveler”, your arrival to a specific place only means an opportunity to start going to the next destination – so I kept on going.
Just to make myself clear – the point of all this “wine century” journey is not collecting accolades or feeling unique and special. Not at all. The whole point of this journey is a discovery. I can’t tell you how many amazing wines I tried along the way – if you are looking to expand your “grape universe” and collect new experiences – this is definitely what you can achieve with this exercise of purposefully seeking new grapes and unknown bottles.
Trying to reach the ”Quattro” I decided that this shouldn’t be set as a hard task, definitely should be enjoyed more and taken easier than before. I don’t call it a ”quattro journey”, I do very limited updates, and only keep the total grape counter, which you can see at the top of the page if you’re reading this post on the web site.
Nevertheless, it seems to be a good time to provide and update and change the grape counter, as I tasted a number of new wines (read: grapes), at Michael Skurnik tasting and not. First, an answer to the puzzle. The name of the grape which starts with ”O” and consists of 6 letters is Ortega – it is used in Germany and produces wines similar to Riesling. Overall, here are 10 new grapes to add the list:
Resi – 2010 Chanton Weine Resi Visp Wallis AOC, Switzerland
Vidiano – 2010 Alexakis Vidiano, Greece
Malagousia – 2010 Alpha Estate Axia White, Greece
Clairette Rose – 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Cuvée Speciale Vieilles Clairettes’
Doña Blanca – 2009 Godelia Bierzo Blanco, Spain
Bacchus – Château de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV
Folle Blanche – Château de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV
Ortega – 2006 Anselmann Trockenbeerenauslese Ortega. Pfalz, Germany
Ojaleshi - 2005 Marani Ojaleshi, Georgia
Agraman – 2009 Barkan Classic Merlot Agraman, Israel
And here are some pictures for you:
In case you want a head start on the project, I decided to share the list of grapes and reference wines - you can find a full table here. Note – if “reference wine” is empty next to the grape, it means I didn’t try that grape yet (example: Picpoul Noir). Conversely, if you got a suggestion for me as to where I can find an appropriate wine, I will be very appreciative…
That’s all for now, folks. Look for that unknown bottle on the shelf – who knows, you might find your best wine experience ever. Cheers!
When you run a wine tasting, one of the great ways to keep people engaged all the time is to ask questions – trivia type and not. One of the simple warmup questions I like to ask the audience is “What do you think, how many states make the wine in the US? This sounds simple enough and goes into “your guess is as good as mine” category. People usually start with some random number (trying to put sense into it, though), and sometime someone will say “all 50″ – often just as a joke . Actually, it is the correct answer – for w while, all 50 states produce some wines.
So did you ever think of exploring and experiencing the wines of all 50 states? I’m sure that you had California, Oregon, Washington and New York wines, but what about the other 46 states? Last week in Florida, I came across Lakeridge Winery Southern Red Premium Table Wine produced in Clermont, Florida. This wine allowed me to add one more grape to the grape count – Muscadin. And this wine prompted this blog post and the table which I would like to share with you, which lists my experiences with the grapes and wines of all United States to the date:
|Truro Vineyards, Nashoba Winery|
|Fingerlakes, LI, Hudson|
|Chrysalis, Williamsburg Winery|
What is your experience with wines of 50 states? Can you count and share? It is definitely a fun exercise and it might bring some good memories back while you will be at it. Happy counting! Cheers!
Among many good wines of recent (yeah, I’m really behind in my writing) there were few of new grape encounters which I want to share with you. First is 2004 Ambasciatore Friularo Bagnoli DOC, made out of the grape called Friularo. I have to tell you that I actually have one problem with this wine – it is not available in US (if you know otherwise – please let me know), and I brought only one bottle from Switzerland (it is an Italian wine which I got in a supermarket in Geneva). This wine was beautiful, layered and powerful, very balanced, with great amount of dark red fruit, all complemented by great acidity and good tannins. This wine would age perfectly, so quick expedition to Geneva or any other place where this wine can be found, sounds like a good idea.
Next three wines were also very good – and they are all available in US, plus all three would be perfect for the summer day, so you can also expand your wine horizon and have good wines at the same time. Starting with the white, 2009 Petite Burja Vipavska Dolina from Slovenia was very nice and unusual – good acidity and sweet herbs on the palate. This wine didn’t have any pronounced sweet fruit notes, but instead it had well defined sweet herbs, may be cucumber-sweet. Very easy to drink. I have to note that this wine also sports one of the most unusual labels I ever saw – it seems that the winemaker had a problem with the getting the modern printer, and had to use a very old one, incapable of producing any graphics (or may be wine maker also used to be a computer engineer, who knows…).
Moving from White to Rose, the next wine is 2010 Contini Nieddera della Valle del Turso IGT – nice and light, with medium body, good refreshing acidity, showing notes of cranberry – very good wine for a hot summer day. Nieddera actually is a local grape which was used for production of this wine.
Last but not least is 2006 Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura Rouge, which is made out of three gapes – Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir (Trousseau is a new grape). This is a bio-dynamic wine, and it is very unusual in its flavor profile – but it is light enough to be enjoyed during summer (as soon as you will train your palate a bit on bio-dynamic wines – I will explain myself in one of the future posts very soon).
Four new grapes, four very interesting wines – very happy with this journey so far. Try to find them and experience for yourself – I’m sure you will not regret. Cheers!
As you know, I’m still counting the new grapes as I come across them. Recently, I was able to add a few to the collection, which I’m happy to report on. I also want to note, that it is quite a rare case when all the new grapes are red (I think there are simply more white varietals used in the wine making), but it happened to be so. Without any particular order, first is the red grape called Hondarribi Beltza, which was one of the grapes used in 2010 Ameztoi Rubentis Rosé Getariako Txakolina wine form Basque region in Spain. The wine is difficult to find, but it worth seeking – very easy to drink, lightly fizzed (should be rather called effervescent), refreshing – perfect wine for the hot day.
Next wine comes from Switzerland (as usual, courtesy of my friend Patrick), and it is made out of the red grape called Plant Robert. 2007 Plant Robert J-F. et J. Potterat Villette AOC, Cully is very nice, somewhat similar to wines made out of Gamay grape, however, this wine is more spicy and structured than a typical simple Gamay wine. It is very balanced and pleasant to drink (definitely an 8 in Drinkability terms). It is a pity that the wine is not available in US – it is great sipping wine which will also work quite well with wide variety of foods.
Next new grape is called Trepat and it again comes from Spain (as our first grape). I don’t know what is so special about many of these “unknown grapes”, but this 2009 Trepat Josep Foraster, same as many other rare grapes, is very elegant and spicy (of course always possible that my palate is off), with lots of dark fruit and structure on the palate.
So these are the 3 new grapes – so we need to talk about the “old ones”. The old ones are clones – but they are prominent clones. One of such clones makes the wine called Brunello di Montalalcino, and this clone is called Sangiovese Grosso. It is related to the main grape of the Chianti wines, Sangiovese, however, it has a lot more structure and power than regular Chianti wine. I had Brunellos many times, and it has very distinct taste, so this is simply logical to use Sangiovese Grosso as the grape in it’s own right.
Last but not least, another “old grape” is called Tinta de Toro, and it is used in the Toro region in Spain. Technically, Tinta de Toro is a clone of mainstream Spanish grape variety called Tempranillo, which is the main grape in Rioja and Ribero del Duero regions. Toro produces very dense and powerful wines, which require time to mellow out. I had Toro wines before, but my recent experience with the wine called 2007 Teso La Monia Alabaster (there will be a separate post about it) from Toro DO (which is considered best wine produced in Toro region) convinced me that this grape also deserves its own place in the grape quest, as it has lots of differences with the regular Tempranillo.
With the addition of these 5 grapes, I’m inching forward to the next level with 317 grapes accounted for. It’s a long journey to the 400 spot, but it is real fun – let the grape quest continue.
Yes, I have to honestly admit that I enjoyed that Treble journey. I happened to discover real gems along the way, such as Nielucciu, Grolleau, Grignolino, Pigato, Pugnitello, Romorantin and many others. What now?
As it often happens with me, I decided not to decide. I don’t want to set my mind on the “quattro journey”, as level of obsession will go again ( as it was with Treble) really high. At the same time, the need to look for “what is actually inside of that bottle, may be it is a new grape?” became really ingrained into the DNA, and nothing I can do about it.
The decision is to take it as it goes. I’m not going to spend hours on internet, looking for the grapes I need to try to advance to the next level. At the same time, I’m going to keep paying attention to “what’s inside”, and continue counting the new grapes. To reflect that, “Treble count” on the front page is now “Grape Count”, and it will keep ticking.
And to make an early advance, I was quite lucky (thanks to my friend Zak) to attend a big wine tasting event (one of the posts in the near future will be raving about amazing wines we tried), so the grape counter is advancing by 8 – here is the list:
Gamay Saint Romaine: 2010 Domaine Robert Serol Cote Roannaise Rose “Cabochard”
Tressalier: 2009 Domaine Nebout SAt. Pourcain Blanc Tressalier des Graviers
Mondeuse: 2008 Roger Labbe Mondeuse
Colorino (Tintoretto): 2010 Terenzuola Rosato “Merla Rosa”
Albana: 2009 Fattoria Zerbina Albana di Romagna Secco “AS”
Vespolina, Uva Rara: 2004 Vallana Boca
Prugnolo Gentile: 2006 La Spinetta Il Gentile di Casanova
I’m looking forward continuing this journey - and of course, I will report along the way on all discoveries. Let’s go…