All posts filed under: Unique Varieties

Iberian varieties victorious for Lodi’s St. Amant Winery

If you enjoy port, the rich, fortified wine of Portugal’s Douro Valley, you’re already a
fan of Touriga. Touriga Nacional as it is known in Portugal is one of the five classic grape varieties that are blended to make Port wines. The Touriga variety that won this year’s Best of Show Red made its way from Portugal to UC Davis where it was selected by St. Amant Winery’s late Tim Spencer and planted at an estate vineyard in Amador County in 1980.

Climate change a double-edged sword for Amarone producers

This year the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella marks its 50th anniversary, a milestone that coincides with the release of the challenged 2014 Amarone della Valpolicella vintage one that allowed the top performing wines presented during the anteprima tastings to stand apart. Due to wet conditions that delayed ripening and diluted fruit concentration, the consorzio wisely moved to reduce the 2014 production of Amarone by approximately half.  As a result, there were 50 percent fewer wines presented at the anteprima in January when 43 wines were poured at the blind tasting in comparison to 83 in 2017. My list of the wines that scored 89 points or greater can be found below. While vintage conditions in Valpolicella have become increasingly variable, according to University of Verona Professor Maurizio Ugliano climate change is actually working to hasten the drying process that is so critical to the production of Amarone. Regulations stipulate that producers are allowed to cool the air in the fruttai or drying rooms using fans but they cannot artificially heat it.  As such, warmer conditions …

Aszú revolution: Modern styles redefine Hungary’s historic elixir

From grapes desiccated by noble rot in the Tokaj wine region of Hungary burst forth a plethora of traditional and modern wine styles. Rarest among them is the world’s sweetest and most complex grape elixir, Eszencia: a honey-like nectar once reserved for royalty that’s been coveted for centuries. The long history of wine made from aszú fruit (originally meaning “dried grapes,” the term has evolved to include grapes with high sugar levels affected with noble rot, or Botrytis cinerea) in Hungary dates to the mid-16th century. By the year 1737, a three-tier classification system of the Tokaji vineyards was in place—notably predating the sweet wine classification of Port by several decades and Sauternes by more than a century. Sweet and aszú Tokaji wine styles rely on clean fruit, botrysized bunches, or individual aszú berries. The latter are picked in multiple passes through the vineyard and then worked into to a paste or dough; varying amounts of this material are then macerated in fermenting must or wine. The two main grape varieties allowed are Furmint and …

Campania Update: Focus on Falanghina del Sannio DOP

If you’re keeping tabs on wine quality in Southern Italy with its myriad indigenous grape varieties and oftentimes limited access to distribution, this update on the Sannio DOC should prove to be useful. Through a combination of research trips to Campania and the opportunity to judge the Radici del Sud “Roots of the South” wine competition which has been held in different venues in the town of Bari, Puglia since 2006, it provides a look at the key factors for the region and a snapshot of wine quality.

Veneto Consortium Debuts at 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference

The Prosecco wines of Italy’s Veneto region, home to the country’s greatest concentration of winegrowing areas designated as DOC and DOCG, are charming the socks off consumers in mature markets like the United Kingdom and besting other sparkling imports in growing markets like the US. Bubbles from the Veneto may be trendy but they’re no “it girl.”  Their quality and appeal are definable and they’re not the only wine style that stands to benefit from the collective efforts of the newly-formed (IDVES) or Consortium of Italian Wine and Food of no less than 21 premium producers who have allied to promote the region’s gamut of wine styles. In a country that produces one quarter of the world’s commercial grape varieties and where the global demand for Brunellos and Barolos often outweighs their supply, the traditional wines of the Veneto have stood the test of time. The ancient method of appassimento which produces both dry Amarone and sweet Recioto wines serves as proof that although popularity may wane, quality never really goes out of style. As a …

Lugana’s Turbiana Isn’t Trebbiano

The gentle, rolling terrain and southern shores of Italy’s Lake Garda are home to a unique indigenous white grape variety—Turbiana. Mistakenly referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana, the Turbiana grape is a relative of both Verdicchio and Trebbiano, but it’s genetically different from both, and the wines
produced from it differ as well.