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Feb 21, 2010 11:26 AM

wines for an 'Unheardof' tasting

We are hosting a small wine tasting. Our theme is the unheardof wine varietals. We pair small plates with them. Nothing too pricey. Probably about 6 different wines. Any suggestions?

Our first thought is a Torrontes from Argentina, the one we have goes amazingly well with Tuna, ginger and lime and I know my friends have never heard of this varietal. After that I am stumped, because hopefully too, I have not heard of the others yet.


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  1. Hmm. "Unheardof", certainly a subjective qualifier.

    Probably meaning, in the context, not in the following list
    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Pinot Noir
    Pinot Grigio
    Sauvignon Blanc
    Barbera (?)
    Riesling (?)
    Nebbiolo (?)
    Malbec (?)
    Grenache (?)
    Gewurtztraminer (?)
    Muscat (?)
    Malvasia (?)

    If that's the case, some nice and easy to find options could be:

    Grüner-Veltliner ( typically from Austria )

    Chenin-blanc ( typically from Loire Valley )

    Sagrantino ( typically from Umbria region in Italy )

    Poulsard ( typically from the Jura region in France )


    Please keep in mind the actual number of different grapes in wine production at any given time is in the high-3 to low-4 digits. Italy alone counts 500+ varieties. It's a wide world out there, and a pleasure to explore!

    1. How about the Pelaverga grape, grown in Verduno in the Piedmonte. Burlotto is one of the makers and it is available in the NYC area. Not sure where you're located. (It's a red wine with a lighter style than Nebbiolo.) It can be order via Costs $15 or so.

      1. Tons of candidates. Here are some obscure varietals we can buy in Quebec for $20 or less. It barely begins to scratch the surface, though. You could easily limit yourself to a region like Sicily, Greece, Portugal, Friuli, etc. and still not exhaust the possibilities.

        Whites: Romorantin (Cour Cherverny in the Loire), Savagnin (Jura), Vermintino (aka Rolle, Vermintinu, in the south of France, Corsica, Sardinia), Inisola (Sicily, aka Ansonica), Torbato (Sardinia), Fiano (southern Italy), Coda di Volpe (Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio in Campagna), Moscofilero (mainland Greece), Assyrtico (mainland Greece and, most impressively, Santorini), Rousette (aka Altesse, in the Savoie), Furmint (Hungary), Viura (Spain), Albarino (Galicia), Verdejo (Spain, especially Rueda), Pecorino (the Marches), Malvasia (Italy, California), Sylvanner (Alsace, Franconia, where it's called Silvaner and comes in squat flasks).

        Reds: Fer Servadou (Marcillac in central France), Poulsard and Trousseau (Jura, though rare on this side of the pond and often running over $20), Nero d'Avola (Sicily, where there are several other worthy Neros too), Frappato (Sicily), Blaufrankish (Austria and Hungary, where it's called Kekfrancos), Negrette (Fronton in southwest France), Tannat (southwest France, especially Madiran, and Uruguay), Bonarda (Argentina, northern Italy), Mondeuse (Savoie), Monastrell (in Spain, aka Mourvèdre in southern France and Mataro in California), Montepulciano (central Italy), Aglianico (southern Italy), Primitivo (southern Italy), Negroamaro (southern Italy), Graciano (Spain, especially Rioja), Touriga Nacional (Portugal, where there are any number of indigenous grapes of both colours often made into good, affordable wines), Agiorgitiko (Greece), Petite Sirah (California), Mencia (Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra in Spain).

        8 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          Amazing. How do you remember all these?

              1. re: zin1953

                You came to mind also, Jason, in the wine-database-in-your-head category...

            1. re: carswell

              +1 for the Spanish Albarino. I discovered it in Spain when I was under-age by US standards. I managed to buy a few bottles after turning 21 in SC before moving to Kansas. Alas, no one in the town where I live has it on their lists. Occasionally I'll see a bottle at the liquor store. I always buy 2 bottles whenever I see it, because its availability is very unpredictable.

              Most of the Albarinos I've had are crisp, citrusy and dry. They tend to be a bit sweeter than most Sauvignon Blancs I've had, and somehow "smoother" - easier to drink. Forgive my bumbling description, but I'm kind of new to the world of wine and this board.

              1. re: Antithesisofpop

                I had a Californian Albarino at Frontera Grill in Chicago a couple of days ago - I quite enjoyed it with the fresh Fanny Bay oysters.

                1. re: odee

                  You don't by any chance remember the name of the winery, do you?

            2. Carswell mentioned romorantin. It's called the riesling of the Loire. It's got some sweetness countered by good acidity. It's a nice match for mildly spicy pork sausage. The sweetness means the flavors don't get buried in the heat and the acidity cuts through the fat. I've had them from Cazin and Tessier and I hope to try the one made by Puzelat.
              And to add to the unheard of category, get some of the Basque wines, where the grape names are also unpronounceable. I'm a fan of Ameztoi, especially the rose.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SteveTimko

                Oh my god yeah, Cazin Cour-Cheverney rocks.

              2. Müller Thurgau
                Maréchal Foch
                Picpoul Pinet
                [ETA] Arneis, Tocai Fuiliano, Malvasia Bianca, Alisos (blend), Dolcetto, Lagrein, Mattia, Rosso Raro, Savoia (blend)

                1 Reply
                1. re: PolarBear

                  LOL, I am going to have to print off this whole post! I have no chance of memorizing these lists.

                  thanks all!