Unusual Grapes, Particularly Delicious

From our Hang Time tasting on August 4, 2016…

Today we’ll taste wines made from grapes your Momma never told you about to celebrate the inner wine geek in all of us. Also called “fringe wines”, today’s offerings are made from a single variety of grape.

Chile starts the show with Viña Mayu Pedro Ximenez 2015.  PX, as it’s affectionately called, is an offspring of an Arabic table grape grown in Spain, famous for its use in sweet sherry.  In Chile, the grape is an important component of pisco, the local brandy.  This version comes from the extreme Elqui Valley on the fringes of the Atacama Desert (home of the world’s largest astronomical project, a massive radio telescope with 66 antennae; Mayu is the Incan name for the Milky Way). Expect a stylish wine with flowers, fruit, fresh acidity, and minerality, a good partner for seafood.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Müller-Thurgau, a grape developed in the 1880s to combine the flavor and aroma of Riesling with quick maturation.  You may not have had a slightly sparkling version like the Fritz Müller Perlwein Müller-Thurgau Trocken 2015.  Because of its tendency towards heavy yields, the grape became used for bulk wine in the 1980s and fell into disfavor.  Here you taste its revival, a spritzy quaffer made from low yield vines. It’s a fruity, vibrant, balanced wine for use in cocktails or as an aperitif.

Rosé is a hot item these days, and one of our most interesting hails from the volcanic soils of the Canary Islands, made from the indigenous grape Listán Negro.  This husband and wife team has made it their life’s mission to identify, preserve, and propagate native grapes (82 so far), Viñátigo Rosado 2015 is a clean, crunchy wine with fascinating briny and red fruit flavors and a touch of amaro on the finish.

Italy, the theme of last week’s tasting, provides Corte dei Pape Colle Ticchio Cesanese del Piglio DOCG 2014.  Lazio is home to mostly white wines, but this bottling is red, made from one of the cultivars of the Cesanese grape indigenous to Lazio.  It is unoaked, allowing the fresh ripe fruit aromas and flavors to shine.  This great food wine pairs well with local dishes such as lamb chops; pasta with pancetta, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, and parmesan; or sausage with broccoli rabe.

    Stobi Vranec 2013 comes from the Republic of Macedonia (not to be confused with the Greek wine region also named Macedonia). Eighty percent of Macedonian wine is red, most made from local varieties. Vranec is found in a small part of the western Balkans; its name means “wild black stallion,” suggesting its potential power. The wine offers plum and sour cherry over spice and herb, making it a good partner for roast pork and aged cheeses.  Stobi is named for a major archaeological site and is a progressive winery in central Macedonia that works primarily with native grapes.

–M.P. Rouse

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