Unusual Wines
Diversity in Wine

S ome wines are just unusual, they do not fit easily into the classifications used on this site of varietal, place or label.
But they find a home here.

Retsina Greece
Available everyday throughout Greece, this style of wine is made nowhere else. What makes it unusual is the wood that flavours it. Whilst the rest of the world argues about nuances of difference between oak grown in France and elswhere, the Greeks inherited a tradition of using pinewood barrels, and still today Retsina is flavoured with pine resin, giving what is often described as an 'acquired taste'.
You either love it or loathe it. I am firmly in the first camp; For me nothing beats sitting under the shade of vine leaves in a Greek island taverna with a 50cl crown cork topped beer bottle of cold local retsina.
Fair Valley South Africa
In the new South Africa many wineries are finding ways to empower their workers. Charles Back,owner of the famous Fairview winery in Paarl acquired a neighbouring farm of 18ha which he been sold on terms to Fairview workers who have named it Fair Valley. Their company The FairValley Workers Association has 'the responsibility of generating income for the future development of our farm.' They say 'this is our first wine, a Bush Vine Chenin Blanc made from grapes grown in the coastal region. We are proud of our wine and invite you to enjoy the fruits of our labour'.
Their first 1998 vintage is made at Fairview from bought in chenin blanc grapes, but they are planting that uniquely SA varietal Pinotage.
Spice Route South Africa
Andrews Hope is the inaugural vintage from The Spice Route Company. Andrews Hope takes its name from the home of Jabulani Ntshangase, South Africa's first Zulu vineyard owner, and equal partner in The Spice Company. One of the other partners is Charles Back of Fairview - see above.
Cataclysm California
The previous wine was a first vintage. This wine is the last! The Cataclysm from J Lohr Winery in San Jose, California tells the story on the label. Looking like the graph from an earthquake monitor it reads Caberbet Sauvignon from one of Napa's premiere vineyards. Harvested on 17 October 1989, the day of the San Francisco earthquake. The traumatised vines were then chainsawed and replaced by Merlot: the ultimate in stressed vines. Hasta la vista Cabernet!
Also shown is the wordfree back label with the trembling vine giving up it's fruit. If the labels also look stressed its because they were fastened with superglue.
Te'j New York
The historic honey wine of Ethiopia is now being made in the traditional way in the USA.
Est! Est! Est! Italy
In 1110 Bishop Johann Fugger was travelling from Ausberg to Rome for the coronation of Emperor Henry V. The German was a wine-lover and sent his servant Martin a days journey ahead to find suitable inns to stay. Martin was instructed to write the word Est on the door of the inn with the best wine. When the good Bishop arrived at the small hilltop village of Montefiascone, overlooking Lake Bolsena some sixty miles from Rome he found Est! Est!! Est!!! written above the door of the inn. And it was true. The wine was so much to the Bishops taste he stayed there until the end of his days, drinking the fine wine of the town. And he is still there; his tomb can be seen in the church of St. Flavio, with Martin's inscription.
Est. Est. Propter Nimium
Est Hic Jo. Defuk Dominus
Meus Mortuus Est

'On account of too much Est Est Est
my master Johannes di Fugger died here.'
(Defuk being the Italian form of Di Fugger)

The Bishop specified in his will that a barrel of the wine should be poured over his tomb annually on the anniversary of his death, a custom that continued until the towns Bishop specified that instead of wasting the wine it should go to the local seminary for the benefit of the young priests - which it does to this day.
The wine is a pleasant dry fruity blend of Trebbiano and Malvasio varieties.

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10 May 2000