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Unknown but flavorful wine varietals – Timorasso, Nosiola, Pigato. Others?

There’s an interesting short interview with Ceri Smith, the proprietor of a [mainly] Italian wine store in San Francisco in the Chronicle today:

Whiner first made mention of Ceri Smith (“a beautiful young woman who has clearly forgotten more about Italian wine than I will ever learn”) in his post recommending an SF store to purchase Amarone.

In the article she discusses a few varietals unknown to me:
--Timorasso, a white wine from Piedmont: “I love it. Vigneti Massa's is like honey almond, and then it opens up with this rich, creamy green tea in the nose. It's a white wine that opens like a red wine.”

--Nosiola, from Trentino-Alto Adige: “Where Pinot Grigio stops, it just keeps going.”

-- She also “loves” Pigato, from Liguria.

Any other interesting and relatively unknown varietals with wonderful flavors? Italian or otherwise? Or comments on these?

I’m currently exploring Cesanese, after Pallavicini’s exotic nose and wonderful flavors for $16 won me over. Looking for other Cesanese recs as well as mentions of other varietals worth exploring.

Carswell mentioned Erbaluce from Piedmont the other day: “Erbaluce's aromas/flavours tend to white fruit and citrus with an undercurrent of volatile herbs (sage?) and minerals.”


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  1. I have to thank you for posting this article. I once tried a Pigato from Liguria about 12-13 years ago. It was offered through a private importer once. I can't remember the producer. All I remember was that it was a very unique, delicious wine. I have looked for more Pigato since that time, but have never seen another bottle. Looks like I may have found a source! I am looking forward to trying this type of wine again.

    3 Replies
    1. re: moh

      My favorite Pigato is from Riccardo Bruna, his Russeghine vineyard. A wonderful glass of wine that usually sells for about $20/bottle retail in NYC. Goes well with artichokes, peas, asparagus and other early summer vegetables that can be problematic. A natural fit with most fin fish, oysters - depending on the prep. It is actually a wine I look forward to each summer.

      1. re: Caillerets

        Thanks for the tip! I hope to head back to NYC this summer, and will certainly look for this wine!

        1. re: Caillerets

          Osteria Mozza in LA has a Pigato from Laura Aschero on the list. I agree Ligurian white wines are the perfect match for fresh fish.

      2. Oh - there are just so many. There are thousands of varieties currently being used commercially for wines in different countries. And Italy has some wonderful ones that are not widely seen.

        Some years ago I was raving about Arneis on a number of boards -- last time I was in California I found a couple of wineries making it -- but too sweet.

        There's an increasing public willingness to try new varieties. Suggest you buy a bottle of each and every variety you come across for the first time. But always reserve judgement on ones you don't like -- maybe its just that one winery and its treatment of the variety.....

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gussie Finknottle

          Did the Arneis from California actually have RS? Or was it "fruit sweetness" in a dry wine?

          I'm a big fan of the Arneis from the Roero district in Piedmont. I think it's just about the best wine I've ever had with fresh tomatoes.

          I very much like this comment:
          "But always reserve judgement on ones you don't like -- maybe its just that one winery and its treatment of the variety."

          C'est vrai. One winery's version does not a varietal make.

          1. re: Gussie Finknottle

            I had an Arneis from Palmina (2003) that I remember enjoying along with a dinner at Passionfish in Pacific Grove CA - though I can't rmember much else about its taste or flavor profile. But I would certainly order it again.

          2. Some more obscure varietals I've tasted and enjoyed:

            Moschofilero from Greece. It's an aromatic white similar to an Italian Moscato or a Spanish Albariño. Light and lively on the palate, it's got citrusy apricot and apple notes.

            Zwiegelt from Austria. A medium-bodied red with good cherry fruit, some floral notes and peachy mineral core.

            Teroldego from Trentino, Italy. (Trentino actually has a LOT of obscure and delicious wines) Full-bodied red with plums raspberry and licorice.

            5 Replies
            1. re: oolah

              Zwiegelt seems to come up more and more lately. I'll have to try some. Any specific recs, oolah?

              And the Moschofilero sounds lovely. Recs on that?
              Teroldego, I've also heard of but have never tried. Thanks for the leads.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Oops -- I misspelled the varietal. It's Zweigelt. Sorry. My favorite of these to date has been the Sattler, although Hillinger makes a pretty good one too. The NYTimes did a tasting of a few different ones last year:
                Austrian wines in general are very underrated.

                I first came across the Moschofilero at Insieme in NYC. The sommelier, Paul Grieco recommended it for our group after I mentioned we were looking for interesting wines. The one I had there was from Domaine Spiropoulos in Mantinia, Greece and that's been the best I've found to date.

                For Teroldego, I like Foradori. It's sort of New World in style, which I don't generally go for, but this is really well-made and just delicious.

                Another nice thing about obscure varietals is that you get a lot of value for your money -- I've always found all of these varietals to be very well-priced. As it gets harder to pronounce or spell, the QPR shoots way up.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I have tried several different bottle of Zweigelt and the one I was most impressed with was the 2005 Kamptal Steininger Novemberlese from Austria. It was just an amazing flavor.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    I just had a chance to try the Heinrich Zweigelt 2006 with lunch. It was a beautiful dark purple colour with a bouquet of cherries and raspberry. It tasted of red berries and had a light taste of mushrooms and earth, tannins were also light. It had a nice acidity and freshness, and it reminded me a lot of a young Pinot Noir. It went very well with an omelette made with herbs, lardons and wild mushrooms. What a lovely food wine!

                    I also recently tried the Umanthum Zweigelt Reserve 2000. It was a very elegant, well-balanced wine with a bit more depth of flavour than the Heinrich, but with a matching increased price.

                    I will be searching out more of this varietal! Thanks folks for the recommendation!

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Currently I am drinking a 2004 Teroldego from Montevina that I got on close-out. Very smooth and deeply flavored. Really quite good if not complex. I actually prefer it to the Tirolian Teroldego that I had a year or two ago.

                  2. A quick heads up for the Plavac red wines from Croatia too (eg. Dingac and Zlatan Plavac) - often superb wines from the Peljesac vineyards. Mavrud is found in Bulgaria and when well made produces a very sturdy and assertive red of great depth and worthy of bottle-ageing. But much of it exported is sadly just plain rough!

                    In Romania, Tămâioasă Românească grapes can produce a superb sweet golden white wine - I have never seen a decent example of it outside Romania though.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pomegranates

                      IIRC, there was a recent post on a Plavac wine that the OP rhapsodized about.

                    2. There are several lesser-known varieties from Portugal - although these same grapes have been used in making Port (which is a blend) for centuries.
                      Try, for example, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesca. Even better if they are from the Douro region (where Port originates).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: estufarian

                        I recently tasted through a Portugal Wine event, and found, almost without exception, that the Portuguese reds (especially Touriga Nacional) overoaked to the point of oenocide. I wish I could taste the grapes without the overbearing oak, but alas couldn't tease the two apart. Have you experienced the same thing?

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Yes, some are overoaked - but in my experience that was mainly the Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) which is also aged in American oak in Rioja.
                          Not sure what you got to try, but jamie Goode has been a reliable source (for me). His articles can be found at

                          Although some American oak is being used, it's mainly European oak - except for a few relatively wealthy places - and those seem to be using the Australian-style as a template.
                          So avoid the Aussie winemakers! (If you can).

                      2. Slovakian Varietals have been quite interesting, especially when paired with their foods. The ones I've had were definitely food wines. St Laurent is a delicious red (also found in Austria) and Frankovka can be a rather interesting and acquired taste. It has a spice laden bouquet and the finish has strong notes of cinnamon.

                        1. I was at an Italian tasting in New Haven the other day and I had a wine made from the Ruche' grape, a red I have NEVER heard of. It is grown in the Asti hills in the Piedmont region. The same producer (Cascina Tavijn)also had a Grignolino which is something you don't see every day

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jp62

                            I have a bottle of that grignolino, but i haven't tried this particular producer yet (although it came recommended from my wine shop and I usually adore Dressner's import selections). Grignolino is my absolute favorite wine to pair with tomato-based dishes on a hot summer day. It's light, fruity and simple. It's actually pretty common in Piedmont, but most of it doesn't make it all the way over to the states, unfortunately.

                            1. re: oolah

                              Jacquere from Savoie, in France (just north of the rhone area, I think?) was pretty rewarding. rich aromatics with notes of pear, floral tones and spice. not grown much elsewhere, one of those grapes typically available only in the region it is grown.

                              Roter veltliner- i've only seen one - from Leth, vintage 1990. Similar to gruner, but much more intense and best aged. there's a delicious freshness to it's acidity, but the age gives it an incredible complexity and nuance of flavor. grown very little in austria b/c it is very particular to soil and climate. very intriguing- try it if you ever see it.

                              Charbono is alot of fun- dna testing shows it to be related to another obscure variety- corbeau out of france. rarely done as a single variety- but has rich berry fruit and intense acidity and tannic structure, yet extremely versatile pairing. Duxoup does a nice one.

                              1. re: pierrot

                                I've had both the Foley and Summers charbono, and agree it is an interesting varietal. The Roter and Jacquere both sound interesting.
                                Have you ever seen the Jacquere in the US?

                                All these unusual varietals are giving me an idea: I should throw an "obscure varietal" party! Could be quite fun. Thanks, Pierrot.

                          2. Another vote for Zweigelt and St.Laurent (and, as long as you're doing the Austrian red thing, if you haven't tried a Blaufrankisch you should!)

                            I'm also very into dry Furmint and Scheurebe whites right now.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: OliveBelle

                              Second the vote for grignolino (Prunotto has a decently priced bottle at Astor in NY) and also from Italy: piedirosso (Campania) and monica (Sardegna) for fresh, mid-weight reds. In Savoie, the roussette makes crisp, flowery whites (Apremont, most available); in Languedoc, Jurancon sec and Picpoul de Pinet are interesting, taut, lemon/mineral whites. In Galicia,Spain, goedello makes a nice alternative to albarino.

                              1. re: obob96

                                Have had a few grignolinos, but never Piedirosso or monica.
                                The roussette sounds lovely, and from a few recent posts (by carswell and others), it's really time to assemble a group of Jura wines to taste. Do you have a Picpoul that you're especially fond of? Also, I'd forgotten about goedello.

                              2. re: OliveBelle

                                Blaufrankisch, otherwise known as Lemberger.

                                The Steele 'Shooting Star' is a wonderful, and obscure bottle.

                              3. * 2006 Azienda Agricola Valle Martello Cococciola Colline Teatine IGT - Italy, Abruzzi, Colline Teatine IGT (12/4/2007)
                                Surprise of the two wines I brought tonight. Initially on a pop and pour it was a good wine, but by the end of the meal when I came back to it it had really opened up. Borderline searing acidity. Bone dry. Kind of an herbal nose. Glenn got more honeydew melon on the palate. I got more of a white fruit and citrusy flavor. The finish was kind of short, stopping it from being a great wine. Not badly out of balance, though. Definitely would buy it again. The acidity made it a better match for the scallopine with mushrooms than the Balgera. Imported by Vitis Imports.
                                FOLLOW UP: Came back after two days. The acidity was less prominent, though still strong. But there seemed to be more fruit, making it a more balanced wine. The fruit seemed maybe to be more applish and a little bit of lime. Still a good wine. The cork is synthethic, suggesting this wine should be drunk young, but maybe it needs another six to nine months in the bottle to really develop. (89 pts.)

                                1. Here are a few that you may not have tried or even heard of: Aglianico(Campania), Schioppettino(Friuli), Tazzelengag (Friuli), Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Grillo...... There are quite a few others that I enjoy. I think that Italy is the greatest undiscovered wine area that Americans don't know.
                                  We love Italian food but, Italian wine is another story. People want to drink Oregon Pinot Noir with there favorite Italian food.
                                  It is crazy.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: horvath42

                                    That's a good list, horvarth 42. Yes, have had many Schioppettinos and Aglianicos
                                    (like the latter particularly) and Fianos and Grecos.

                                    But this Tazzelengag, now that's a wacky name! What does it taste like? Is there another varietal it resembles, at least to your palate? I'll have to explore that one, and oddly, have never come across it in my visits to Friuli. Thanks for the contribution.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      The best I have had is From a producer from Moschioni. He treats the wine like it is Amarone and dries the grapes before pressing.
                                      To me it tastes like a cross between an Amarone and a Cabernet. it is used primarily as a blending grape and is one of three grapes in Moschionis Real. You will not taste another wine like this. Moschioni is a genius. If you have access to RobertParker.com, you can read his review on the wine.

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        there are a few producers of Tazzelenghe (translates to tongue-cutter - mostly for it's acidity in a red wine). Beltrame is a smaller producer that is more affordable than the Moschioni and a little less manipulated, also Marco Fantinel from La Roncia produces a straight Tazzelenghe, and a few blends with T-zlnghe and Refosco. That's where most people will find the grape used. It is a great blending grape, but generally difficult to produce on it's own, though, for $24 the Beltrame is a good bet.

                                        1. re: marcella_p

                                          Grazie for the producer names, marcella p...

                                    2. Pomegranates, above, mentioned Mavrud, from Bulgaria. Rarely seen here, in Toronto, but when available, I always pick up multiple bottles. It can be really an excellent value. Gamza in Bulgaria, or Kadarka in Hungary, produces a medium bodied, somewhat spicy red. Xinomavro, in Greece, when treated with respect, is a red of very good depth and complexity. Leanyka and Irsai Oliver, both Hungarian, produce similarly aromatic, floral wines reminiscent of Gewurztraminer or Muscat.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                        Czersegi Fuszeres (a cross between, IIRC, Irsay Oliver and Gewurz) likewise produces a nice, aromatic white that smells like Gewurz and tastes like a bone-dry Sauv Blanc. I think the combination is pretty neat. However, it seems to suffer more than most whites from age -- 1 year is optimal in my experience, after that it goes downhill fast, especially the nose. Trader Joe's sells the "Woodsman's White" for $2; I'd suggest looking for 2006 or 2007 (when they come in) bottles for maximum enjoyment. And don't expect anything subtle :-)

                                      2. I am currently working my way through The Wine Century Club's list of 100 varietals to try. It's found at http://www.winecentury.com/ and along with the standards that everyone has heard about, it lists many, many obscure varietals. The goal is to simply taste and expand your wine drinking knowledge and it's all on the honor system- but when you complete your list and send it in, you are sent a commemorative plaque. So far, I have checked off 73/100.

                                        Some odd varietals with a check mark by them:
                                        Falanghina (one of my fav summer wines
                                        Marechal Foch
                                        Pedro Ximenez
                                        Schuerebe (if you love Torrontes, or Viognier you will love this one)
                                        Touriga Franca
                                        Touriga Nacional
                                        Tinta Roriz

                                        It keeps me searching out unusual wine varietals, and I have not been disappointed or turned off by any of these. It's amazing to see what is out there; most people stick with a handful of varietals and rarely expand that knowledge. There's so much to explore!

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: cooknKate

                                          What a great idea! Thanks for the link to the Wine Century Club. As a passionate list-maker (not to mention unusual-wine drinker), this is right up my street. I'm going to start checking off varietals tonight. What fun!


                                          P.S. The list is on the application form, for those who (like me) got lost on their web site.

                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                            Anne, let me know if you find something unusual and good and where you find it. I am north of the Twins, and always on the hunt for an unusual bottle or two. Feel free to email, or stop by my blog.

                                            1. re: cooknKate

                                              Sure thing! So far, my favorite "unusual" varietals are Parellada and Xarel.lo, which are in Juve y Camps Cava (a great Spanish sparkling wine - I especially love the reserva). I bought a bottle at Zipp's just the other night, and am drinking the leftovers as I type this!

                                              I'm also a big fan of Zweigelt - I've seen Sattler Zweigelt (a red wine) at Surdyk's and other places, and recently found a rosé version at Sorella (sorry, forgot the winery, but they only had one).

                                              Has anyone else every tried a rosé Zweigelt?


                                          2. re: cooknKate

                                            I'm a big fan of Zweigelt (had some fantastic Austrian), as well as Lemberger. They're not as obscure in Europe, of course. Also enjoy some crisp Moschofilero on a warm summer night...

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              Second the vote for Moschofilero, and add another for Librandi's L'Efeso, a delicious white from Calabria made from the montonico (or mantonico) grape native to the Ionian coast around Ciro. Usually vinified as a (wonderful) passito, here mantonico is dry, but barrique-aged to yield a warm, rich, fragrant, but still refreshing mid-weight wine for grilled fish or walnuts or aged pecorino.

                                              1. re: obob96

                                                Wow. I cannot wait to get back to Europe and revel in the general availability of varietals there... and try everything that's been mentioned here that I hadn't heard of.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    thanks for the post, i stopped by ceri smith's store and bought the timorasso she recommends (derthona). she also recommends torbato, a variety that has golfball sized grapes that are virtually dry, so they make a really richly flavored wine when fermented.

                                            2. re: cooknKate

                                              The WCC is awesome. Without it I would not have tried Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Taurasi, Inferno Superiore, or Falanghina (as part of an IGT), all now among my favorites. I am currently at about 120 different varieties tasted and look forward to many more -- I have barely touched the Greek and Slavic varietals, for example.

                                              In Italy alone there are at least 3000 historical cultivars known, though given the Italian penchant for rigor and objectivity, who knows what is really going on there. Creativity first, order a distant second :-)

                                              I have a Pineau d'Aunis sitting in my cellar which I keep meaning to try, but the notion of drinking a "big bloody rare pepper steak" bothers me for some reason (quoting from another person's tasting notes). Then again, when I uncorked the Inferno Superiore that contained Pignolo, I found myself drinking one of the greatest things I have ever tasted. So I guess it pays not to be shy -- worst case, we can open another bottle :-)

                                              A genius idea, and one for which the DeLongs deserve great applause.

                                              1. re: ttriche

                                                Inferno's one of the regional subdivisions of Valtellina Superiore DOCG. The wine can be 100% Nebbiolo or it can have up to 10% Brugnola, Pignola, and/or Rossola.

                                                That's an example of one of the challenges of counting how many varieties one has tried. I've had Valtellina Superiore; have I ever had Brugnola, Pignola, or Rossola? I'm not sure. And to make matters more confusing, elsewhere in Italy Pignola is Pinot Noir, and Rossola is Trebbiano.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Pignola...Pignolo...it does get confusing.

                                                  Pignolo is the wine grape used to make Inferno in the Lombardy Valtellina region, but it’s also known as Pignola Valtellinese and Pignolo Spanna. The root word of Pignolo is “pine,” referring to the pine-cone shape of the grape clusters.

                                                  But Pignolo is also the name of a completely different grape – and a much more common one -- in the Friuli region, used mostly in the Colli Orientali DOC. It’s also called Pignul there, and the root word in this case means “fussy” or “persnickety,” referring to the difficulty of growing the grape.

                                                  As Robert Lauriston mentioned, Pignola is a town in the Basilicata region in Southern Italy, and also the “brand name” of the Pinot Noir/Pinot Nero grown and bottled there [from Jancis Robinson].

                                                  Trebbiano has nearly fifty different names, including Rossetto, Rossula, Roussan, Roussea and Rusciola.
                                                  In Corsica, it's called "Rossola."

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    I always thought that the grape used in the Valtellina region was Nebbiolo and is locally known as Chiavennasca.

                                                    1. re: wineguy7

                                                      True, except Valtellina DOC may contain up to 20% (10% for Superiore) Brugnola, Pignola, and/or Rossola.

                                              2. re: cooknKate

                                                Marechal Foch is a hybrid that is widely planted around Montreal due to it's resistance to cold and minimal flavor contributions from the riparia genes. Personally, I like it, as far as hybrids go.

                                                Cinsault is not really that odd is it? It's very commonly blended with granche, which is the worlds most widely planted red wine grape.

                                                I have to wonder how many of the grapes discussed in this thread are really the same things with different names. I suppose that some gene jockeys must have done the leg work and figured some of it out by now.

                                              3. The most interesting ones I have tried of late are the Macabeo out of Spain and the Negroamaro from Southern Italy. The latter is on offer at Trader Joe's in the 2003 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva ($4)



                                                1. Another obscure grape varietal is used by the producer of the Nosiola she speaks about in the SF Chronicle article. The wine is called Prabi and is primarily Manzoni Bianco. I've been told that grape is a genetic cross of Pinot Blanc and Riesling. It seemed to have the best of both of its parent grapes.
                                                  The Timorasso producer makes another interesting wine I've had made from a grape called Croatina. I remember it being a big and earthy/minerally red with great depth of fruit.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: wineguy7

                                                    We grow a lot of Lemberger (aka Blaufrankisch in Austria) in the state of Washington. In fact, I opened a bottle for lunch guests today. Another grape we are seeing is Cinsault (aka Black Prince) and I managed a small vineyard of Cinsault one summer. We are also seeing Counoise.

                                                    1. re: wineguy7

                                                      Manzoni Bianco real name is " Incrocio Manzoni 6.0.13" and indeed is cross of Riesling and Pinit bianco. It is one of my favourite whites but not widely available outside the Veneto area. another up and coming varietal is Ansonica ( in Tuscany) or Insolia (in Sicily).
                                                      Very interesting is the Clairette in Southern France: it has an unusual aroma of fennel

                                                    2. ceri smith at biondivino has a list of different varietals that her store is doing a special on:

                                                      petit arvine, blanc de margeaux, moscato gialla, muller thurgau, favorita, erbaluce, bianchetta genovese, ribolla gialla, pecorino, mantonico, inzolia, irsai oliver, pinela, rousette, zlathina, debit...

                                                      blaufrankish, zweigelt, st laurent, poulsard, cornalin, premetta, schiava, tocai rosso, tazzalenghe, schioppettino, pignolo, grignolino, cesanese, palagrello nero, casavecchia, sussumaniello, frappato, ciliegiolo...

                                                      1. There are actually 3 different zones (townships, areas, DOCs) where Cesanese can come from: Cesanese di Olevano Romano (name of town), Cesanese del Piglio (name of town) and Cesanese di Affile (name of town). To further complicate this, Cesanese is either made from one or a combination of the two classic Cesanese grapes: 'Cesanese Commune' (large grapes) and 'Cesanese D'Affile' (tiny berries). The latest research suggests that these two grapes are actually not related; in other words they are two different clones. You might also check out JK Imports in Pasadena. From what I know they bring in a number of different Cesaneses.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: LAwinelover

                                                          Some interesting German varietals that are not too common in North America:

                                                          Madame Sylvaner
                                                          Pinot Auxerrois (granted, not all that rare, but not all that common here either)
                                                          Ehrenfelser (spelling?)

                                                          All of the above can result in delicious white wines. These wines are especially common here in BC due to the large number of Germans who pioneered the Okanagan wine industry.

                                                          Foch, a hybrid red grape, can also make some good wine (Quail's Gate makes an "old vines foch" that has massive, complex flavours; fairly high in alcohol, sometimes up around 15%).

                                                          Zweigelt is also fairly common in BC (again, the German/Austrian influence). I must agree with some of the comparisons others have made between Zweigelt and Pinot Noir. Both are typically light-to-medium bodied with generous acidity and floral and earthy flavours (as opposed to the blockbuster deep black fruit flavours of California cab. sauv.)

                                                          1. re: LAwinelover

                                                            Thanks for the info on Cesanese! I didn't have any idea about the two different grapes -- I was aware of some of the commune differences but certainly not distinctly.

                                                          2. Just drank a bottle of Romorantin from the Loire Valley (2006 Thierry Puzelat Romorantin).

                                                            Apparently, the grape is indigenous to the Loire, but just not grown very much anymore -- replaced primarily by Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. It was a really juicy and extremely fruity wine, with great acidity to balance it out. Dominant notes were peach and pear. I've never had this before, but will seek it out again.

                                                            1. Just had a very nice wine at a Greek place around the corner from our house - a Domaine Sigalas Santorini made from Assyrtiko, apparently an ancient Greek grape. Really nice, creamy lush texture without being heavy or flabby, flavors of peach, apricot, very ripe-tasting but with a lightness and minerality to the finish. Really good w/ grilled octopus and a roasted branzino.

                                                              More info here ->

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                We drank the Sigalas Asyrtiko a lot during our honeymoon in Santorini a couple of years ago. Good stuff. We opened a bottle of moschofilero boutari tonight.

                                                                1. re: The Chowfather

                                                                  Ariston (f/k/a Ouzos) on Normandy Circle. Pretty good selection of Greek wines and the food is good too (I think there must be some remaining connection with Ouzos as some of the staff is the same as is much of the menu).

                                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                    I think he actually owned Elia prior to Ariston

                                                              2. I just joined the Wine Century Club. My running total is 202 but I've probably tasted another 20-50 varieties that will take me a while to remember and identify. I'm going to try to reach 300 though just compiling a list that long is a challenge! Here are the ones from their list I haven't had or am not sure I've had:

                                                                Baco Noir
                                                                De Chaunac
                                                                Feteasca Alba
                                                                Irsay Oliver
                                                                Len de L'el
                                                                Lladoner Pelut
                                                                Maréchal Foch
                                                                Piedrosso (think I've had)
                                                                Roditis (think I've had)

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Glad you mentioned Rkatsiteli. If you're a fan of Rieslings, you'll enjoy this. It's similar to a auslese, it's far more dry than any of the later harvests, but is fruity and really tasty. I've found it in the Finger Lakes, but nowhere else, and from what I remember, it wasn't too expensive.

                                                                  1. re: zammdogg

                                                                    The one I had was from the Republic of Georgia.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      That's the origin of the varietal...Which vineyard?

                                                                      1. re: zammdogg

                                                                        2006 Mildiani Katsiteli Khakheti, which per my notes also has some Mtsvane in it. I'm not actually sure I've had it yet, I'll have to look in the cellar.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          No kidding? I'm curious to see how that tastes. Report back once you've had it? I've yet to try Rkatsiteli from its original source. Have to say, the Konstantin Frank bottle was really nice.

                                                                    2. re: zammdogg

                                                                      Konstantin Frank, the Finger Lakes great grower of riesling, was born in Odessa, Georgia, and still offers a Rkatsiteli. http://www.drfrankwines.com/index. Never tasted it, nor even seen a bottle, but the description sounds intriguing.

                                                                      1. re: bob96

                                                                        Interesting wine - but FIERCE acidity.
                                                                        I recall researching it the first time I tried it, and at that time (when Konstantin was still alive) there were more acres planted to Rkatsiteli, in the world, than to Chardonnay.
                                                                        Of course most of that was in the (former) USSR and was used in their sparklers.

                                                                        1. re: bob96

                                                                          That's the one I had. It was really aromatic, very citrusy and fresh. Definitely had a huge acidity, but was delicious after dinner.

                                                                    3. I used to visit Greece a lot and enjoyed Xinomavro. It is hard to grow and can be a bit harsh with tannins and acid, but I found good bottles to be very interesting and fun to drink.

                                                                      I also liked Kekrankos/Blaufrankisch from Hungary/Austria. This varietal is a bit more known in the US as it is grown in Washington State as Lemberger. I usually buy this wine whenever I find it.

                                                                      I also like Zweigelt and btw this variety is a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent grapes.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: smkit

                                                                        I was talking with a non-wine-geek friend who asked what my favorite obscure varietals were and I said Blaufrankish and Zweigelt.

                                                                        Kiona makes a really nice Lemberger that's relatively affordable compared with some imports.

                                                                        Blason makes a nice, cheap rose of a blend of Merlot and Franconia (Blaufrankish). I bought a ton of it on closeout for $3 last year. It's still a great buy at $5. I wasn't crazy about the 100% Franconia red but maybe I should give the new vintage a try.


                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Absolutely love Blaufränkisch, Lemberger, St. Laurent and Zweigelt, but I've only come across some mediocre ones here in PA. In Germany, of course, there's a much better selection. I also like Schwarzriesling, which is along those flavors.

                                                                          Makes me look forward to Yurp again :-D

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            Schwarzriesling = Meunier. It's best known as part of many Champagne blends, but Domaine Chandon bottles a still red:


                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              How interesting (that and the fact that I had to put in my age... it's rare that I get 'carded' on the interwebs). I've only seen the red Schwarzriesling, and I didn't know it was related/is Meunier.

                                                                      2. Here's my worksheet for keeping track of my Wine Century Club count. A number in the first column means I've had it.


                                                                        1. 298. Irsai Oliver (Gewürztraminer x Muscat): 2008 Szöke Irsai Oliver Matraalja (Hungary): highly aromatic, similar to Italian Traminer or Müller Thurgau, somehow reminiscent of rosewater

                                                                          299. Roditis: Gaia Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina: lovely - subtle - balanced - good food wine, maybe nice with lamb

                                                                          300. Richard Thiel Rotgipfler Spätlese Lieblich Thermenregion Gumpoldskirchner 1997 - Terry Theise - lovely, off-dry, similar to an old Riesling - honey, cream, hint of petrol

                                                                          301. Lumassina: Punta Crena NV - sparkling, nose like Vermentino, palate like Prosecco. Mataossu (synonym): Punta Crena Vigneto Reine: fruity, lychee, peach, good acid. Nice. Seems like a versatile food wine.

                                                                          302. Mazuelo: 2006 Campo Viejo Crianza Rioja Tempranillo - pleasant light red, no idea what the Mazuelo contributes

                                                                          305. Kisi: 2006 Vinoterra Kisi Khakheti (Georgia). Aged in amphore. Oxidized. Strange but interesting. Supposed to taste this way? Who knows.

                                                                          306: Athiri: 2007 Emery Athiri Rhodos. Drinkable enough but not geting much sense of the grape. Maybe a bit past its prime.

                                                                          307. Fié Gris: Eric Chevalier (Kermit Lynch; several bottles in cage at Locanda). Was over the hill and oxidized.

                                                                          308. Hondarribi Zuri Zerratia: Arabako Txakolina "Xarmant"

                                                                          309. Kidonitsa: 2007 Vatistas: Generic white, no sense of the varietal; could be too old or slightly oxidized?

                                                                          310 & 311. Malagouzia & Monemvasia: 2008 Moraiti "Sillogi" Paros: Light, fruity, slightly aromatic, vaguely in Falanghina / Vermentino territory. Nice if not exciting.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            One you may have missed? Picpoul Pinet, or is it the same as P. Blanc?

                                                                            1. re: PolarBear

                                                                              Picpoul de Pinet is a French appellation. There are three Picpoul grape varieties, Blanc (often called just "Picpoul"), Noir, and Gris. I've had the white numerous times. I've had the Noir in Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge. I'm not sure the Gris is available commercially.

                                                                          2. Italy: The Final Varietal Frontier.

                                                                            There is no way I can keep up with even the top varietals these days as the wine landscape changes...or stays the same.

                                                                            So what I hope for are a bunch great Chow posts like this, and then quality Italian wine tastings where trusted vendors bring me the latest cool stuff. Then I buy a half-case of each good one at a time and assume that I will forget the grape name, etc....but oh well.

                                                                            1. If you want something really unusual, try the Tannat, the specialty in Uruguay. It's also produced in France, but it's widely considered an inferior varietal there, whereas the conditions in Uruguay make it possible to elevate the grape to something a bit better. It's extremely strong and bitter, and the wines tend to have very strong tannins, but it's really an experience. Plus, Uruguayan wines are dirt cheap--that is, if you can find them.

                                                                              1. In an article published today, The New York Times listed
                                                                                Assyrtiko, Blaufränkisch, Frappato, Fumin, Furmint, Grignolino, Lagrein, Mencía, Pineau D’aunis, Romorantin, Treixadura, and Trousseau.

                                                                                12 Reasons to Look Beyond the Usual Wine Selections

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                  Nice article! Thanks for the link. I'm planning a tasting of grapes (in wine) that I haven't tried yet, and was running low on ideas. This will help get me jump-started again.

                                                                                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                    Salice Salentino,(Puglia) a very friendly red made from the Negroamaro and Malvesia Rosso grape. Also, a little difficult to find, Sagrantino de Montefalco,(Umbria) made from the Sagrantino grape. Both of these are relatively good values; and for fan of Italian reds a real treat!!!

                                                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                      Salice Salentino is ubiquitous in the SF Bay Area. Sagrantino's fairly common as well.

                                                                                      At my restaurant we're selling a ton of a 50-50 blend of Primitivo (Zinfandel) and Negroamaro. The two grapes seem to offset each others' usual weaknesses.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        Is it a house wine? I've found that to definitely be true...in Layer Cake primitivo, it's definitely a weaker flavor. I'm curious about that blend.

                                                                                        1. re: zammdogg

                                                                                          The Primitivo-Negroamaro blend is Feuda di San Nicola's Tenuta Curezza "Prine," a Salento Rosso IGT.


                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            Biscardo is one of the "Northern" vintners who has purchased production wine acreage in Puglia.

                                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                              Right you are. Maybe that explains why the wine's so good compared with the more traditional ones in that price range. The other day I tasted the winery's 100% Negroamaro, interesting and good but to my taste not as good a wine as the PriNe, even though it costs more.

                                                                                              "... for many centuries this region was providing lots of quantity and very average quality, that is why ... we decided to bring our northern style of wine making and vineyard managing into this beautiful land and produce high quality and elegant wines."


                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                          Sometimes the blend ends up enhancing the deficits, too--both jammy and leathery at the same time. I love good Negroamaro, in purezza; also, in Castel del Monte and other areas of Puglia, the Uva di Troia grape makes, for me, a more balanced, taut, and quaffable food wine.

                                                                                          1. re: bob96

                                                                                            Tried some excellent Pugliese wines at the 2010 Summer Fancy Food Show. I'll have to search through my notes for the varietals, but they were very good. Rather obscure, too.

                                                                                            1. re: zammdogg

                                                                                              Love to hear about them--thanks.

                                                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            The beauty of these Pugliese wines is for now price, especially the Primitivo.Leone de Castris and Taurino being the exception.
                                                                                            We will return to Lecce for a few months beginning Sept. and several trips to Locorotondo and Castel del Monte will be on the agenda!!!!

                                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                              Buon viaggio! Yes, price is a positive, but many of these primitivo and Salento bottlings (like some Nero d'Avolas) are the products of industrial bottlers and growers, with more than a few very forgettable and clumsy examples. Makes me appreciate the better local houses, including cantine.

                                                                                              1. re: bob96

                                                                                                Bob, you are right on There is a very good Cantine in Locorotondo, good bottled and bulk (fill your own carboy). As you have noticed some of the Northern Winemakers are buying up acreage and operations in Puglia, Calabria and Sicily,the local producers have mixed feelings on this. On the one side they are obviously very "Anti- North" and there are others who say better wines mean higher prices, for all producers. The intention being the limiting of production and improving the vintner's technique and style....We will see.