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500! Now Official

February 1, 2016 28 comments

As many of you know, I got the bug of The Wine Century Club for the endless quest to try wines made from as many different grapes as possible  – yes, you can call me a grape geek, I don’t have an issue with that.

Back in August of last year I wrote a post about reaching the 500 grapes milestone and submitting my application for Pentavini level at The Wine Century club. Two days ago, I got a suspiciously promising envelope in the mail, and there it was:

The Wine Century Club Pentavini CertificateWell, it is nice to get an acknowledgement for your geekiness in the form of this cool paper; it also reinforces desire to continue the quest. You can see my grape count in the right column of this blog page – yes, I got a long way to go to get to the next level, but it is a fun journey. At this point, The Wine Century Club doesn’t have a designation for the 600 grapes level – but it doesn’t make the process any less fun.

To look at things seriously, this is nothing more than a form of an adult fun, just another way to collect the experiences. There is no need to congratulate with this achievement, really. But I will be happy to be a source of encouragement for all the grape aficionados out there; if you want to leave comment, tell me about your own journey in the Wine Century Club quest, no matter how many grapes you tried so far. Grape geeks, rejoice! Cheers!

 

500!

August 18, 2015 26 comments

century_club_seal_smallHere we are – another post about stats, right??? Before you click away, can I ask for a minute to explain myself? 500 has nothing to do with views, followers or any other blog statistics, no, not at all. These 500 has a bit more interesting meaning (dare I suggest so). It is actually not even 500 but 517 to be precise (but I think 500 looks cool in the title), and if you didn’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about the grape counter which appears in the right column of this blog, and it is also related to The Wine Century Club.

This post is well overdue – I submitted my Pentavini application back in March (didn’t hear anything yet). I was planning to write a few more posts explaining in greater detail how I finally got to cross the 500 grapes boundary before I would write this very post. One post was supposed to be about a great Hungarian wine tasting last June (2014) where I picked up 5 new grapes – that post never happened, unfortunately.

Finally I gave up on trying to catch up on all the “shoulda, coulda”, and moved right to this post.

When I started the Wine Century Club journey about 8 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine that I will get hooked on it so well; even when I crossed 300 grapes mark, I didn’t see it possible to get to the 500. Nevertheless, here I am, at 517, and I’m sure there will be more.

I know that many of my readers are participating in The Wine Century Club. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, you can find all information here. The Wine Century Club is a free and open “self-guiding” group of “grape enthusiasts” (yes, you call us geeks) – people who obsess themselves with looking for and tasting as many grapes as possible – and of course having fun while doing that.

The grape hunting becomes an obsession when you scour the back label, producer web site and everything else possible on Internet to find information about the grapes used to make that bottle of wine. Once you figure out the grapes (if you are lucky enough to do it for the given wine and given vintage), your job is not done – you still have to figure out if you didn’t have already the same grape under a different name (simple example – Grenache and Garnacha), or may be this is still the same grape, only with a slightly different spelling. Once all the checks pass successfully, you can add the grape to you collection.

Today it is a lot easier to “collect the grapes”, compare to the time when I just started with the Century Club. Information is more readily available, and also there are lots more grapes which were almost extinct, but now reborn, replanted and becoming tasty differentiators for the winemakers. And more often than not, these obscure wines are a pleasure to drink. They often offer surprising depth of flavor and nuances which make this grape journey really a pleasant experience. I had wines made from Pigato, Pugnitello, Coda di Volpe, Bobal, Trepat, Listan Negro and many others, and they were delicious – what else do you need from a bottle of wine?

If you will get hooked on this Wine Century geekiness, you should know that there are some shortcuts you can take. Well, there is one shortcut which is legal – Giribaldi Cento Uve wine from Piedmont in Italy, which is made out of 152 varietals (though 50% of grapes in that wine are Nebbiolo, and the other 51% comprise 151 varietals) – however, you need to have at least the first level (100 grapes) to make this shortcut legal. I did took it, and you can read about it here.

Second shortcut exists, but it is illegal (The Wine Century Club rules prohibit using of it). Another Italian wine, Vino Della Pace Cantina Produttori Cormòns Vino Blanco, is made out of the whopping 855 varietals. This wine is produced from the experimental vineyard called The Vineyard of the World, where all those 855 (or more) varietals are growing together. Most of the information about this wine is available only in Italian, but if interested, search for it by the name, you will be able to find some bits and pieces (here is one reference for you). If you are curious to see the list of grapes, I got it for you here – you can count on your own. I have a bottle of this wine, but as usual, I don’t know what would be the right moment to open it (hopeless, I know).

Last piece of advice in case you will embrace this fun journey or you are already in, but stumbling: pay attention. Yes, pay attention to the back labels and wine descriptions. During recent Provence tasting I found out that there is a grape called Tibouren which is very often used in Provence Rosé – I would guess that I had it before, but never paid attention to. Another example – Turley Petite Sirah Library Vineyard. This particular wine is a treasure trove for the grape hunters. Here are the grapes which can be found in that bottle: Red – Petite Syrah, Peloursin, Cinsault, Syrah, Mission, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Carignan, Grenache, and Zinfandel; White – Muscat Alexandria, Muscadelle, Burger, and Green Hungarian. 14 different grapes in one bottle of wine, and many of them are very rare – not bad for a bottle of wine. And by the way, Turley Petite Sirah Library Vineyard is one delicious wine.

In case you might find it helpful, I recently updated the page which contains information about all the grapes I tried for The Wine Century journey, together with the names of the wines which I had. I have to admit that there are still 3 grapes from the original table (the one which I downloaded when I just started with the Wine Century Club) which I still was unable to try – Arvine Grosso, Irsai Oliver and Plavac Mali – they are extremely hard to find in the US. Well, the journey is not over…

What can I leave you with? Go get a bottle of wine made from the grapes which you never had before – there is a good chance you will enjoy it. The grape journey is one of the most fun journeys you can take – let’s drink to the never ending pleasures of discovery! Cheers!

Valentine’s Day Wine Experiences

February 19, 2015 15 comments

Valentine's Day wine line upLast week I gave you some recommendations for the wines to serve on Valentine’s Day. Now, let’s see if I followed my own recommendations.

Of course the plan was to start the evening with the Champagne – and then there was a … but. I recently got my hands (told you many times before  – I love my friends) on the very interesting sparkling wine from UK. What was the most interesting for me even before I tried the wine is that it contains one of the extremely difficult to find, rare grapes called Schönburger. As I mentioned last time regarding my quest to complete all the grapes in the original Wine Century Club application, Schönburger was one of those “last standing”, extremely difficult to find grapes – and the Carr Taylor Brut was the only wine containing Schönburger, which Wine-Searcher was able to find pretty much anywhere. In case you are curious, Schönburger is a rose grape created in 1979 in Germany as a cross of Pinot Noir, Chasselas and Muscat Hamburg, As an added bonus, the Carr Taylor Brut contained another grape I never heard of, another cross from Germany called Reichensteiner.

Okay, now that I provided a full disclosure, let’s talk about the wines. NV Carr Taylor Brut Sparkling Wine, England (12% ABV, $35) was an excellent start for the evening. Fine bubbles, very intense, very reminiscent of Champagne. Hint of toasted bread on the nose and may be a touch of almonds. The palate had all the toasted and yeasty notes, packaged together in compact but bright way – the wine had no sweetness, but nevertheless was perceived as a fuller body than a typical Champagne. I would gladly drink this wine again any time – if it would be available in US. Drinkability: 8-

Now it was the time for Champagne – Pierre Peters “Cuvée de Réserve” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (12% ABV, $55) – very classic, a hint of brioche on the nose, and nice toasted notes on the palate. Quite honestly, after the first sparkling wine, I wanted a bit more life in the glass – this was clean and fine, but more of the usual. Drinkability: 7+

Our next wine was a white Burgundy. Considering my limited experience with Burgundy, I was concerned if 10 years old wine would hold well (all of you, Burgundy buffs, please stop laughing out there – I’m still learning), so the Valentine’s Day seemed to be quite a good occasion to find out. This 2005 Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard La Romanee, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, France (13.5% ABV, $65) was outright delicious – beautiful nose of fresh apples, and then apples and honey on the palate – full bodied, supple, with perfect lingering weight in the mouth – this was really a treat. Too bad it didn’t last – but this was definitely an excellent wine. Drinkability: 8

Time for the reds, don’t you think? Remembering the pleasure of the Antica Terra Ceras Pinot Noir (here is the post in case you missed it), I wanted to try another Pinot Noir from Antica Terra – this time it was 2011 Antica Terra Botanica Pinot Noir Willamete Valley (13.2% ABV, $75). The nose was very similar to the Ceras – cranberries, touch of forest floor, lavender, bright and intense. On the palate, this wine had much bigger shoulders than Ceras. Ceras Pinot Noir need no breathing time – it was ready to drink from the moment the bottle was opened. Botanica needed a bit of time. After about 20 minutes in the glass, it showed its structure, dark concentrated fruit, touch of coffee, earthiness, all with a perfect balance, and again, finesse. Drinkability: 8

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And then there was Opus One. 2001 Opus One Napa Valley (14.2% ABV, $250). Quite honestly, when I learned that we will be opening Opus One, I was a bit concerned. Yes, this is one of the legendary California Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and yet when I tasted it before, I was not blown away. And when you are not visually excited about $250 bottle of wine, you feel that something is wrong with you, don’t you think? Bottle is opened, and wine is poured in the glass. Based on the color, the wine looks like it was bottled only yesterday – dark, very dark garnet. On the nose, the wine was somewhat muted but pleasant – touch of black fruit and eucalyptus. On the palate, the wine was simply closed – and aggressively tannic, with a touch of green brunches on the finish. Well, to the decanter, of course. After about an hour in decanter, the wine definitely changed for the better, showing touch of cassis and coffee notes on the palate – the tannins still stayed, but reduced, and the finish became spicy, peppery if you will – still not leading to the “wow” which you want to find in the bottle like that. Oh well. Drinkability: 7+

As we were waiting for Opus One to come around, another bottle was pulled out – 1996 Robert Sinskey Vineyards RSV Stag’s Leap District Claret Napa Valley  (13.9% ABV, $55). This wine amply compensated for the Opus One shortcomings – in a word, it was delicious. Perfectly young appearance in the glass was supported by the fresh fruit on the nose. And the palate had cassis, touch of mint, mocha, sweet oak, silky smooth tannins, perfectly layered and perfectly balanced. This was Napa Valley Cabernet at its peak, and it was not afraid to show it. Drinkability: 8

Logically (Valentine’s Day!) we had to finish on a sweet note. This was my first experience with Austrian dessert wine, and it was also a first experience with Kracher – I only heard the name before, but never tasted the wines. 2011 Kracher Auslese Cuvée Burgenland, Austria (12% ABV, $22) had everything you want in the dessert wine and nothing you don’t – delicious light honey notes, lychees, vibrant acidity, lemon peel – it was an outstanding way to finish the evening. Drinkability: 8

That is the story of our Valentine’s Day wine experiences. Well, I can’t leave with the wines alone – the food was delicious too, so let me at least share some pictures – I spent time working on them, you know. Here we go:

And we are done here. So, what were your Valentine’s day wine highlights? Cheers!

 

Grenache! Grenache? Grenache!, Few Rare Grapes and a Recipe

January 27, 2015 20 comments

Grenache tastingWhat’s up with Grenache? One of the most planted grapes in the world, a star of Spain, and often a foundation of greatness in the wines of Australia, France, California and Washington. A grape with the range of expression from light, fruity and frivolous to the dark, firm, brooding and confident. Yep, Grenache is well worth an oenophile’s attention. And a special wine dinner.

The theme was set, and then the dinner’s day arrived. This time around, we were a small group (6 adults), so we decided to skip the usual formal blind tasting with the multiple glasses, and instead simply integrate the tasting (still blind) into the format of the dinner. Each couple brought a bottle of Grenache wine, wrapped in  paper bag. The wines were numbered at random and then poured one by one. All in all, quite simple.

But before we got to the Grenache, I wanted to share two special bottles. Don’t get all jumpy at the word “special” – it means different things for different people. Your idea of special bottle might be Chateau Latour, Penfolds Grange or Amarone from Quintarelly – well, if you want to share any of those with me, I’m available any day of the week. However, my idea of special is often limited to something simply unique and different, such as “rare grapes”, for instance – an opportunity to add to my grape count and reach the coveted Wine Century Pentavini (500 grapes).

Along these lines, the first “special” was the white wine from Spain, which was made mostly from Roussanne, but also contained the grape called Albillo2011 Navaherreros Blanco de Bernabeleva Vinos de Madrid DO (14.5% ABV, $14.99, 50% Roussanne, Albillo, Macabeo and other varieties) had beautiful golden color, inviting nose of white fruit, touch of vanilla. Full bodied, creamy, luscious on the palate, touch of earthiness and baking spices, touch of vanilla, good acidity. (Drinkability: 8). This was definitely a delicious way to start the evening.

The next wine was Rosé. It was not just some generic Rosé – it was actually made form the grape which is practically impossible to find, at least in US – and it was on my “target” list for the very, very long time. Just to explain – if you will look at the original Wine Century Club application, you will find 186 grapes listed there, so we can consider those 186 to be a mainstream. In that list, there are still 6 grapes which I never tasted. Well, let me take that back – now there are 5.

There is a good chance that you heard of or even tasted the wine called Picpoul de Pinet, a light, crisp white wine from Rhone made from the grape called Picpoul Blanc. Picpoul Blanc has a cousin, a red grape called Picpoul Noir, which is literally impossible to find. During one of my countless searches online, I found that Picpoul Noir Rosé was available in one (!) single store in US in San Francisco – and luckily, I had a friend there who was kind enough to get it for me. Here is what I thought of the Rosé made out of this super-rare grape: 2013 Julie Benau Pink Poul Rosé Vin de France (12.5% ABV, $17, 100% Picpoul Noir) – restrained nose with a hint of strawberries. The same restrained profile continues on the palate – limited fruit expression, medium to full body, good acidity, food friendly. (Drinkability: 7+)

Okay, now we can finally talk Grenache, which I mentioned 3 times in the title of this post, right? I think when it comes to the range of expression among 7-10 most widely known red grapes, Grenache offer the most versatility, competing may be only with Syrah. From over the top dark chocolate, tar and sweet cherries to the soft, earthy and even acidic, Grenache can showcase quite a range of winemaking styles and terroirs. Thinking more about our tasting, it served exactly as a confirmation to this statement.

The first Grenache we had was that exact over the top style – dark, concentrated, firm, loaded with sweet pleasure in every sip. The second Grenache couldn’t be more different than what we experienced – smoke, mushrooms, forest floor, earthiness, herbs – a restrained beauty which I would never even think of as Grenache – but it was. And the last bottle was all too shy and closed at the beginning, showing again differently from the first two – but as it opened up, it became a younger brother of the first wine – same traits, only dialed down. The 3 bottles we chose completely at random managed to demonstrate that tremendous Grenache range. When we removed brown bags, we learned that we traveled from Spain to Washington and then to France – a very interesting journey.

Here are a bit more formal notes for the the wines, in the tasting order:

2007 Vinyes Doménech Teixar Garnatxa Vella Montsant DO, Spain (14.5% ABV, $75) – Delicious! Dark chocolate on the nose, very intense, ripe red fruit. The same continues on the palate – firm texture, dark chocolate, touch of plums, earthiness, perfect balance and long finish. 8+/9-

2008 No Girls Grenache La Paciencia Vineyard Walla Walla Valley (14.2% ABV, $65) – very interesting. Both nose and the palate show a profile of concentrated Oregon Pinot Noir. Smokey fruit, earthiness, very concentrated, touch of coffee, licorice, raspberries, sage and lavender. Very unique. 8

2012 Domaine La Manarine Côtes du Rhône (14% ABV, $16) – closed nose, similarly closed palate. Opened up after a while, just enough to show some dark fruit (plums, cherries) and a touch of chocolate on the palate. 7+

Okay, enough about wines. Now, this was a dinner, and I promised you the recipe, remember? The dish I made, and the recipe I would like to share will perfectly pair with the cold weather, and it is one of the ultimate comfort dishes ever – braised short ribs. Starting from the ease of cooking and the simplicity of the recipe, and then admiring the goodness of the smell during the long, slow cooking – this is definitely one of the ways to properly spell the word comfort.

Braised short ribs

Doesn’t it say “comfort”?

Here is the recipe:

Braised Short Ribs

Prep time: about 1 hour. Cooking time: 4-5 hours

Yield: 10 servings of two ribs each

8-10 lb beef short ribs – I don’t go specifically by the weight – I generally like to cook considering 2 ribs per person

1 bottle of red wine – Pinot Noir or Beaujolais

5 medium yellow onions

8 sticks of celery

4 large carrots

BBQ/Grilling spices – I use Penzeys spices

4 tbsp Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Serve with: mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.

First of all, decide on what spices you want to use. I generally combine different Penzeys spices, but really – feel free to use anything you have:

Penzey spices

Next, take the meat out of the fridge and line it up on the prepping board, then sprinkle with the spices on both sides, add salt and pepper as needed:

Let meat warm up to the room temperature. Preheat over to 325ºF. While the meat is warming up, you can start working on your “trifecta”. Dice the onions and start sauteing them in the skillet or dutch oven with 2 tbsp of olive oil on the medium heat. Dice carrots and celery. Once onions become soft and translucent and then start gaining color (usually takes about 20 minutes), add carrots and celery and sauté all together for another 10 minutes, then set aside.

roasted carrots, onions, celeryNow, put remaining olive oil into the dutch oven, and heat it up to the high heat. Start searing the short ribs, meaty side down first. You might have to work in the batches, as you want all of the ribs to be nicely seared on both sides:

Roasted short ribsOnce all the ribs are seared, combine them all in the dutch oven, then add the onions, carrots and celery:

short ribs are doneAdd a bottle of wine, cover, put it in the oven and forget it for the next 4-5 hours (you really don’t want to rush this process). When done, you probably will find something like this:

short ribs are doneAs you can imagine, hearty Grenache is a perfect pairing for such a hearty, homey dish – but of course this shouldn’t be your only choice.

Here we are, my friends. A few rare grapes, an amazing range of Grenache wines, and winter-storm-alleviating-ultimately-comforting dish. Stay warm and drink well. Cheers!

 

Just Arrived…

October 29, 2013 48 comments

When I saw a big sturdy envelope yesterday in the mail, my first thought was “is that the…” – and yes, it was – my Quatro certificate from The Wine Century Club!

Wine Century Clun Quattro Certificate

Wine Century Clun Quattro Certificate

Yes, I know that I tasted over 400 grapes, but somehow getting this piece of paper felt very good. And while I was thinking about the next level, the coveted 500, or Pentavini as it is called in The Wine Century Club, I didn’t feel encouraged – now I do. Thus you should expect to see more posts about obscure grapes and wines on this pages. But this is what makes it fun!

Join The Wine Century Club and start your journey now – you can thank me later! Cheers!
 

Spotting Rare Grapes

March 28, 2013 7 comments

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!

Study of Grapes, 152 at a Time

July 31, 2012 6 comments

How do you experience 152 grape varieties, all at the same time? Easy. You get a bottle of Giribaldi Cento Uve wine and … voilà!

As you probably know, I’m an enthusiastic member of the Wine Century Club – a virtual club dedicated to the grape adventures. I already talked too many times about virtues of the Wine Century Club, thus I’m not going to bore you with those details again. Instead, let me focus on only one, dare I say it, sacred bottle of wine – 2005 Giribaldi Cento Uve Langhe DOC.

What makes this wine “sacred”? It is made out of 50% Nebbiolo and the other 50% containing additional 151 (!) varieties, so it can really help you to advance in the quest for higher levels of The Wine Century Club membership (except that it doesn’t count towards the first level of membership with 100 varieties). The wine is almost impossible to find in US – except one wine shop in Colorado which actually carries it (if you are interested, the wine is available from The Vineyard Wine Shop, 303-355-8324). When I called the store to order this wine, gentleman who answered the phone, Matt, said that he is quite convinced that they don’t have any wine under such name – after checking his computer, he was surprised more than me by actually finding it. At $60 + $20 for the shipping, this was definitely worth the experience.

Interestingly enough, finding this wine and drinking it was the easiest part – the tough (seriously tough) part was figuring out what grapes I already tasted and what grapes I can actually add to my list. As this is one of the coolest parts of Wine Century Club membership ( figuring out what is what in the grape world), let me explain it with appropriate level of details.

To begin with, the web site for this wine states that it contains 152 varieties. The list of grapes is nowhere to be found on the winemaker’s web site. The only place on internet where you can find the list is at the Indian Wine Academy. Well, list is a list, you say, right? Yes, but not precisely. As I need to properly account for all the grapes I already tasted, I need to go through that list very carefully, line by line. As soon as I started going through the list, I noticed duplications (same grapes listed twice, like Gamay, for instance) – I called it a red flag and decided that the right thing to do is to contact Giribaldi, the winemaker. After 2 or 3 of my e-mails went unanswered, I decided that it is a time to … get an audience support? No, call a friend! And as I happened to have a good friend in Italy, Corrado, I asked him to help me to get to the correct list. This was not easy, but after a few conversations with the winery, he was able to get full description of the wine, including the list of grapes.

Yay? Nope. The list of grapes was … identical to the one published on the site of the Indian Wine Academy! Fine. From here on, I had to figure it out myself. I converted the list to the Excel file, and sorted it alphabetically. Then I had to figure out how to get from 156 varieties listed to the 152 which we know this wine has. It later downed on me that 156 varieties  include Nebbiolo and 4 Nebbiolo clones , therefore if we will take all 5 Nebbiolo varieties from consideration we will get to the target number of 151. Whew. Tired of me yet? No? Let’s continue.

Next step was to remove obvious duplicates, then go through the list again. For every grape I didn’t know, I used Internet resources to verify that such a grape exists (i.e., referenced at least once on one or more sites). Here is the good list of references in case you ever need to conduct a search on grape etymology (Italian grapes, if you will):

After all the cleanup, removing duplicates, fixing the spelling and checking the references, I got to the final list of 138 grapes (don’t ask me where the 14 went – let’s keep it a grape mystery), out of which I was unable to find any references for the grape called Michele Pagliari – therefore I’m keeping it on the list, but not counting towards the new grapes. In case you want to see a transition here is an excel file for you – note that is has multiple spreadsheets inside starting from full list. Here is the list of those final 138 grapes.

Legend: letter N next to the grape stands for Nero (red), B is for Bianche (white), Rs is for Rose. Showing in Bold are the grapes which I count as new grapes for my grape count.

Aglianico N Michele Pagliari N
Albarola N Montepulciano N
Albarossa N Moscato bianco B
Aleatico N. Moscato giallo B
Alicante Bouschet N Moscato nero di Acqui N
Ancellotta N. Moscato Rosa Rs
Arneis B Muller Thurgau B
Avanà N Nascetta B
Avarengo N Nebbiolo  N.
Baco Nero N Nebbiolo ( Bolla) N
Barbera bianca B. Nebbiolo ( Rosè) N
Barbera N. Nebbiolo (Lampia) N
Becuet N. Nebbiolo (Michet)N
Bianchetta Tevigiano B Negrette N
Bianchetta Veronese B Neretta cuneese N.
Bombino Bianco B Neretto di Bairo N
Bombino Nero N Nero Buono N
Bonarda Piemontese N Nero d’Ala N
Bosco Nero N Nero d’Avola N
Brachetto N. Neyret N
Bracciola N Pampanuto N
Brunello N Pecorino N
Bussanello B Pelaverga (di Pagno) N
Cabernet Franc N Pelaverga N
Cabernet Sauvignon N Pelaverga piccolo N
Canaiolo B. Petit Arvine N
Canina N Petit Verdot N
Cannonau N Pigato B
Carica l’Asino N Pignola Nera N
Carignano N Pinot bianco B
Catarratto comune B Pinot Grigio G
Catarratto Nero N Pinot Nero N
Chardonnay B. Plassa N
Chatus N Pollera 1 N
Ciliegiolo N. Portugieser N
Colorino Nero N Primitivo N
Cornalin Prosecco B
Cornarea N Quagliano N
Cortese B Raboso Veronese N
Corvina Nera N Rebo Nero N
Croatina N Refosco da Peduncolo Rosso N
Crovassa N Riesling B
Dolcetto N Riesling italico B
Doux d’Henry N Riesling Renano B
Durasa N Rossese bianco B
Durasca (Dolcetto di Boca) N Rossese N
Enantio N Ruché N
Erbaluce B Sangiovese N
Favorita B Sauvignon Blanc B
Franconia N (Blaufränkisch) Schiava Gentile N
Freisa di Chieri N Schiava grossa N
Freisa di Nizza N Schiava N
Gamay N. Sylvaner Verde B
Gargiulo N Syrah N
Grechetto N Teroldego Nero N
Grignolino N Timorasso B
Grillo B Tocai Friulano B
Incrocio Manzoni N Tocai Rosso N
Lambrusca di Alessandria N Torbato B
Lambrusco Maestri N Traminer aromatico Rs
Lumassina N Trebbiano Toscano B
Maiolica N Uva di Troia N
Malvasia di Casorzo N Uva rara N
Malvasia di Schierano N Uvalino N
Malvasia Istriana N Veltlimer Fruhrot  N
Malvasia nera lunga N Verduzzo Trevigiano B
Manzoni bianco B Vermentino B
Marzemino N Vespolina N
Merlot N Zweigelt N
Grand total for the new grapes – 67. I think it is a pretty good leap in my grape counting adventure.

What is left to tell you? The tasting notes, of course. Considering that this wine is very close to Barolo (uses the same main grape, Nebbiolo), we decanted the wine prior to the tasting for about 3 hours. The wine showed considerable dry, very balanced, good tannins, sour cherries (we are going nicely alongside of typical Barolo, right?) and the showing flowery undertones after the sip – not your typical Barolo anymore. I guess those 151 grapes affect the taste, at least a little bit. All in all, this was a very nice wine. Drinkability: 8.

That’s all for now, folks. Consider starting your own grape adventure – the fun is all yours. Cheers!

Wine Century Club 7th Anniversary – Celebrating Grape Geeks Around The World

June 13, 2012 1 comment

As you already know from my previous post, last Saturday grape geeks all over the world celebrated 7th Anniversary of the Wine Century Club. Based on the current count, total of 179 different grape varieties were tasted by people participated in the festivities. This number can and will be adjusted based on some people reporting at the later time. You can find detailed report here.

Celebrating this kind of events needs a company (how many bottles can I open otherwise?), so I was lucky enough to be invited to the friends’ house for dinner, so we had an opportunity to drink a few bottles of wine. In no particular order, here are some notes for the wines we tried.

Let me start with 2004 Heretat Mont-Rubi Durona from Spain (13.5% ABV) – I got this wine from Wine Till Sold Out, and I really wanted to try it for a while, especially due to the fact that I never had one of the grapes in this wine, Sumoll. This red wine is a blend of 30% Sumoll, 20% Cariñena, 20% Garnacha, 20% Syrah and 10% Merlot. It had a very interesting herbal nose of sage and may be some oregano ( lightly hinted), and some nice red fruit on the palate, medium body, well balanced with pronounced tannins – I think it can still age for a while. Drinkability – 7+.

To tell you the truth, we actually started dinner from this light and simple NV Rosati Prosecco DOC (11% ABV) – it was rather a typical Prosecco, soft and round on the palate, with good acidity, drinkable but not exiting or thought provoking (Drinkability: 7-). This wine was of course made out of Prosecco grapes, which are also known as Glera.

What can be better on a hot summer day than … yes, you are correct – Rose? Not much. Rose as a category is a perfect summer wine, enough refreshing but also having a substance which some of the white wines are lacking. This 2011 Sauska Villanyi Rose from Hungary (12.5% ABV) is a blend of 35% Blaufrankisch, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah and 7% Pinot Noir. This wine had lots of cranberries both on the nose and the palate, medium body, very refreshing acidity – yes, just perfect match for the summer day. Drinkability: 7+

The next wine was 2009 Calina Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle del Maule, Chile (13.5% ABV). This wine was somewhat typical of Cabernet Savignon, with the green notes and hint of black currant. It was soft and drinkable, however after being open for a while, the wine developed quite a bit of sweetness, which is definitely not the best characteristic in my book of wines. Drinkability: 7-

Last, but not least was 2008 Tohani Domain Princiar Tamaioasa Romaneasca, Romania (11.5% ABV). To tell you the truth, I bought this wine just for the new grape, Tamaioasa Romaneasca, as in a lot of cases sweet wine of unknown pedigree are cloyingly sweet. This wine was definitely a great surprise – hint of white peaches on the nose, fresh and delicious white fruit on the palate, good acidity, very balanced – definitely great wine for the money ($11.99). Drinkability: 8-.

We also had NV Ramos Pinto Collector port, which was outstanding – reasonably (not overly) sweet with the hint of smokiness – definitely a very good port. The reason I don’t mention it in the same way as all other wines is that I was unable to find the exact grape composition for this wine, outside of the statement that indigenous Portuguese grape varieties had being used.

This is it for now, folks. 12 different grapes, 2 new grapes for my grape count (Sumoll and Tamaioasa Romaneasca). Journey continues – hop on! Cheers!

Start Your Grape Adventure Today – Wine Century Club Turns 7!

June 8, 2012 1 comment

Any of you who followed this blog for a some time probably noticed a substantial number of posts on the subject of unusual grapes (and you probably even noticed a Grape Count right on top of the blog page, which currently stands – for a while, I have to admit – at 372.

I caught this bug, called Wine Century Club some time in 2008 by looking through someone’s web site. The name “century” actually has nothing to do with time – in order to become a member of a club you are supposed to try 100 grapes ( not independently – any kinds of blends are totally fine) – this is where the “century” is coming into a play, and then download and fill up an application marking the grapes you tasted, and then submit filled application back to the club. Club operates totally on the honor system – nobody will be asking for a proof of you actually having those grapes and wines – however, rumor has it that if you will lie in your application, your palate will be cursed forever…

I submitted my application at the end of 2008, and then in January 2009 I received my membership certificate. At that time there were 529 members in the club and there was only one single level of membership. Today, the club has 1,158 members and 5 levels of membership (there is an addition of Doppel, Treble, Quattro and Pentavini levels which are awarded after trying 200, 300, 400 and 500 different grapes, respectively).

What makes me so excited about the Wine Century Club? In a few words, it is sense of discovery, adventure and experience. You discover new tastes, you look for new wines. Sometimes, you get to play a grape detective. Is this grape indigenous? Is this another name for the same grape, like Tempranillo and Tinto Fino, for instance? Or sometimes it is simply “what are the grapes in this wine? I don’t read in this language…”. And then you get to experience new wines, educate your palate a little more, and extend your sense of taste – all in all, there is a lot of “good” in this simple grape hunt.

Tomorrow, June 9th, club members around the world will be celebrating 7th Anniversary. You can ( and should!) join the celebration too. All it takes is going to the wine store and asking for the bottle of wine made out the most unusual grape you never heard of before. And – voila, you get to experience new wine – and may be you will be even like it!

You might even decide to join the club – in this case, you can find a lot of helpful information at the Membership page of the Wine Century Club. Feel free to also use my table which lists all the grapes and many of the relevant wines I have tried to the date.

If you are already a member, join the celebration tomorrow. If you are not the member yet, join the celebration first, and then you can become a member. And whatever you do, have fun with your wines! Cheers!

 

Across: Grape, Starts With “O”, 6 letters

April 15, 2012 4 comments

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:

Resi2010 Chanton Weine Resi  Visp Wallis AOC, Switzerland

Vidiano2010 Alexakis Vidiano, Greece

Malagousia2010 Alpha Estate Axia White, Greece

Clairette Rose2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Cuvée Speciale Vieilles Clairettes’

Doña Blanca2009 Godelia Bierzo Blanco, Spain

BacchusChâteau de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV

Folle BlancheChâteau de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV

Ortega2006 Anselmann Trockenbeerenauslese Ortega. Pfalz, Germany

Ojaleshi 2005 Marani Ojaleshi, Georgia

Agraman2009 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!

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