Unusual Varietals
Diversity in Wine
Page 8

Albalonga is a Riesling-Sylvaner cross planted in Germany's Rheinhessen area. It is susceptible to Botrytis, of which this wine is a result. Trockenbeerenauslese means shrivelled dried 'trocken' beeren 'berries' especially selected 'auslese'.
This wine had a burnt orange colour, and an intense sweet flavour cut by good acidity level. A wonderul after-dinner sipping drink.
Graciano is an aromatic grape that used to be one of the important constituents of the blend that makes Rioja. But its low yield and susceptibility to disease means only a few acres are left. This label is from an unusual Graciano varietal wine form Rioja. Also grown in California under the name Xeres.
Western Cape
South Africa
Colombard is mostly grown in South Africa (and France) for making Brandy, but here it produced a delightful light crisp fruity white wine.
Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot is another minor variety from Bordeaux that makes up a minute part of some Bordeaux blends. But on the evidence of this rare pure varietal example from Argentina, where it has been grown for over 100 years, then it is Bordeaux loss.
Winemaker Alberto Arizu named the wine after his wife Alicia. He hand crafts small quantities of wines near Mendoza.
I found this wine extraordinarily satisfying. It has a complex silky-smokey texture. I brought it to an 'offline' (meeting of people who met through the web) at a London restuarant. Tom Cannavan subsequently described it on his website thus "Lujan de Cuyo (Argentina) "Alicia" Petit Verdot 1998 This is one of a small range of bottlings "liberated" from the private cellar of winemaker Alberto Arizu by UK merchant Adnams, who discovered these experimental barrels made from his ultra-premium grape selection and persuaded him to sell a few cases. Weighing in at 20 ($32US) which puts it close to the top of the Argentina price range, you would expect a lot from this wine. It has a wonderfully creamy, dusty, blue/black fruit nose. There are damsons, blueberries and dusty plum-skins. It has a deep, deep creamy palate with a raft of soft, velvety fruit coating the tongue with concentrated bitter-sweet flavours. Rich and long, it is perhaps a little one-dimensional, but who cares with such hedonistict depth and purity of fruit. Superb." he writes tasting notes better than I do and I agree with his every word.
Visit Tom's Wine Pages where you can read notes of our offline. thousands of tasting notes and join in discussions on the forum.
Saperavi Kakheti
Said to be the oldest grape variety in Georgia, dating back to 5000 BC. This is a teinturer grape - one of the few red grapes that have red juice, indeed the name means 'dyer'. Wine made from this grape is reputed to age for up to fifty years and is at its best from four to thirty years. I drank this much too young, but it was a very pleasant complex fruity and rather rustic red.
Also grown in small quantities in New York, USA, Finger Lakes region and Australia's N.E. Victoria.
Matrassa Kakheti
Another red grape from Georgia. Deep red, not much nose, or a very strong flavour, but a very pleasant dinner with with a hearty meal.
Jancis Robinson in her indispensible book Vines Grapes and Wines reports this grape is usually made into sweet wines as the grapes achieve high sugar levels. Here it was made dry with and alcohol level of 13%.

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9 July 2000