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This Week's Tasting

Delicious Grapes You've Never Heard Of
October 11, 2017

The third installment in an occasional series wherein we introduce you to intriguing wines from grapes you might not know. This week one white, five reds, some favorites, some new discoveries.

Vintners

     

Dr.Sebastiano Gulino set out to correct history by restoring the Albanello grape variety. Mid 19th century experts called Albanello the greatest dry white produced in Sicily, but then the phylloxera epidemic virtually wiped it out. Sebastiano replanted the proper clones in the perfect soils for the grape. The result is the 2015 Cantina Gulino Albanello Pretiosa. This wine amazed all of us with its rich flavors and balance. Perfect with oysters.

Grignolino is one of those Italian grape varieties grown in only one area for a specific style for specific foods. Still, the 2015 Crivelli Marco Grignolino d’Asti can be said to be a lot more versatile. It is light in color and weight, yet it gives us terrific aromatics and flavor combinations. Just serve this with roast chicken and be amazed.

The Nero di Troia grape is many thousands of years old. It is only grown on the rocky limestone plain of Murgia in northern Puglia. The city of Troia was founded here by the war hero Diomedes after sacking Troy, having sex with goddesses, and drinking wine. Later on Athena made him a god. The Botromagno winery in the Murge hills specializes in ancient native Puglian varietals.The 2015 Botromagno Nero di Troia Murgia Rosso is a medium bodied wine with dark fruit, tobacco, spice and complexity.

Back in Piedmont, we find Croatina.. Its origins are not well known except we are pretty sure it has nothing to do with Croatia. La Colombera is a winery just outside of Tortona where Piercarlo Semino and his daughter Elisa are dedicated to producing only native varietals. They do it very well. The 2011 La Colombera Croatina Arche has a lot going on with rich red fruit flavors and spice.

        The Spanish use the Graciano grape in Rioja blends. By itself it is a bit like Merlot but more creamy than fruity and very smooth. We have tasted very few from Spain, mostly with a fair amount of Spanish oak. We don't know how it got to Australia. But Paxton, a fine producer in South Australia's McLaren Vale, makes it into something very special.

Petit Verdot is the last and smallest proportion of a Bordeaux blend. It used to be added for its dark color and vibrant acidity. It was thought too shrill to make on its own. But For A Song, a micro-producer in Washington's Columbia Valley made making something extraordinary from it. We have not tasted anything like its composed nutty quality, certainly not at $20.

 

White

2015 Cantine Gulino Albanello Pretiosa: Bright straw, green highlights. Rich fruit aromas, honeydew, apple framed by a zip of lime and salinity. The flavors are rich, mineral and balanced with refreshing acidity. The salinity sneaks out of the finish starting with the second taste. Great seafood wine. Very Good to Excellent  21/bottle 18.90/mixed case 17.85/case

Red

2015 Crivelli Marco Grignolino d’Asti: Light cherry red. Robust and fresh aromas and flavors of strawberry, black cherry, balsam and tar. Soft fine tannins in a silky finish. Very Good to Excellent 24/bottle 21.60/mixed case 20.40/case

2015 Botromagno Nero di Troia Murgia Rosso: Dark red fruit, tobacco, spice, and complexity. Layered texture in the finish. Very Good to Excellent  21/bottle 18.90/mixed case 17.85/case

2011 La Colombera Croatina Arche: Deep red. Plums, blueberries, wild cherry with herbal balsamic and nutmeg notes. White pepper and integrated tannin. Harmonic, intense and persistent. Very Good to Excellent  27/bottle 24.30/mixed case 22.95/ca

2016 Paxton Graciano - Biodynamic; Aroma: Heady herbal rather fresh, lighter, pretty; Mouth: Sweet clean smooth, very gentle ; Very Good Plus 19.99; Mixed Case, 17.99; Case, 16.99

2012 For A Song Petit Verdot; Color: very dark red black, not quite opaque; Aroma: earthy nutty, Rather dense, nutty with a sweet plum character; Mouth: juicy and rich very dense, herbal, softened acidity, thick, fine tannins on the finish, good length with a very light wood; Very Good Plus 21; Mixed Case, 18.9; Case, 17.85

10/11 Delicious Exploration Case: Special, two each of the above wines - $229

Instore only - 10/11 Delicious Exploration Pack: Special, one each of the 

 

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           - Len Rothenberg

 

(c) Federal Wine and Spirits Inc. 2017