WBW #7: Obscure Red Grape Varietals
March 09, 2005

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The Italians are always good for a wacky grape or two.  Oh, every wine-growing nation has its quirky heritage grapes; grapes that the devoted believe are capable of greatness, if only the world would sit up and take notice.  Even in the New World this is the case; Australia has its Chambourcin, the U.S. its Zinfandel, South Africa its Pinotage.  Italy must win the crown, though, for the most heritage grapes that few outside of the country have ever heard of.  (A little Grignolino, anyone?  Some Refosco, perhaps? And when was the last time you had some Sagrantino di Montefalco?) To be completely fair, many of these Italian grapes are unfairly ignored on the world scene.  I would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate this.  But today is not this day.

2000 Apollonio Copertino          ($9?)

(80% Negroamaro, 10% Malvasia Nera di Lecce, 10% Montepulciano)

Plums and anise feature strongly in the nose.  Starts off with purple fruit on the palate. Acids are reasonable.  If pressed, in a blind tasting (not that I am particularly good at this sort of thing) I might have picked it to be a Syrah of some sort...in the Bizarro World.  After a pleasant start, there are several disturbing developments.  First, the mid-palate is weirdly spicy and alcohol-hot, and then the finish is like licking sandpaper. I kid you not.  We're talking 150 grit tannins here, Sally.

I'm not sure where I picked up this bottle of wine.  I don't know how much it cost.  I can't imagine it was priced above $8 or $9, and I don't usually buy wines much under $7 -- mostly for fear of winding up with something like this.  I may have to find out how much this cost just so I can set my minimum price to $1 higher. Perhaps I am overreacting.

Naturally I could not let this be the extent of my WBW experience for the month.  I went to one of my favorite wine stores in the area, Hi Time Cellars in Costa Mesa. and poked around in their extensive collection for obscure varietals...and I came up with this little gem.

2002 TFXT a'Kira Blaufrankisch          ($20)

Cherry nose, and a bit of an alcohol smell.  Fortunately the latter does not carry over onto the palate. Medium body, soft texture, full of bing cherries and unfamiliar fruits.  Nice, food-friendly acids, but this wine can't be described as "tart".  This is good, as I have a limited tolerance for "tart" wines.  (And yet I love sour candy.  Nobody said I had to make sense.)  The wine has a soft round texture mostly, though there's a bit of tannin on the finish that would easily be mitigated by food.  For $20 I wouldn't call this a strong value, but there's no denying that this is a nice wine and an interesting change of pace.

Blaufrankisch is grown mainly in Austria, but it can also be found in Germany, Hungary, Croatia, and even Italy under several other names such as Lemberger, Frankovka, and Frankonia.  This wine did not taste like the cold-weather red I might have assumed Austrian reds to be, and this is for good reason.  The Osterreich, which grows Austria's best reds, is a bit warmer than you might imagine.

I had a lot of fun with this one.  For me, it occupies some space between a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. It's not strange to taste, but it's just unfamiliar enough to me to be intriguing.  At this price point I won't be buying it a lot, but I may seek it out again for variety or to be the ringer the next time I'm attending a blind tasting full of know-it-alls. (Which pretty much describes every blind tasting, doesn't it?)

Around the blogosphere:

Lenn of Lenndevours also reviewed a Blaufrankisch for WBW #7...from New York!  Tim at Winecast reviewed a Negroamaro that sounds better than the one I had.

March 9, 2005 in wine | Permalink


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» Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 – The Write-up Part 2. from Spittoon.biz
Continuing the write-up of Wine Blogging Wednesday #7.We couldn’t have a Wine Blogging Wednesday without a contribution from Lenn (the originator of this blog-happening). On his Lenndevours website he enthuses about the Canning Daughters Blaufränkis... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 12, 2005 8:29:46 AM


Ouch licking sandpaper - not a good recommendation! Perhaps it would favour some hearty food?

Thanks for participating with such gusto - I hope to get the overview written up this weekend.

Posted by: Andrew at Mar 10, 2005 9:24:52 AM