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Do you like to walk on the wild side of wine?

Right now Irouléguy Blanc 2009 Dom Ilarria from a small appellation in the Basque country of France.


Other Irouléguy blancs I've tried were dominated by Manseng grapes like a Jurançon, but this one from one of the stars of the appellation is 60% Petit Courbu. Flavors of pink grapefruit, lime with a touch of apricot according to Gault et Millau. Didn't go well with ginger-lime scallops last night, but I got the right match with a lime-mustard pork chop this evening.

I love these unusual little wines when they are good, and with the right food, this deep golden wine is quite good.

How about you? Do you like to walk on the wild side of wine, or do you just prefer excellence in better known grape varieties.

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  1. If you limited yourself to the best-known "international" grape varieties, you'd miss a lot of good wine, especially at the lower end of the price spectrum.

    I stopped counting around 300.


    1. I started out in the one dollar bin in 1974 at the Dixie Bar here in Melbourne. Most of them had lost their labels to critters or humidity and were quite drinkable. My favorite was a wide range of Pedro Domecq sherries that I got for less than a buck each with the labels, as nobody was buying them.

      I have since enjoyed searching out local wines with a wide range of results. Am still searching for a Florida product whose highest and best use is not as a marinade. Tabor Hill gewurtztramineer is as quaffable as many from the Alsace. And I have been led to believe that California does a decent job as well.

      I have recently been trying wines of the Italian side of the Adriatic. A plonk of Montepulciano was a great buy and stood up well to grilled shark. Heresy, red with a fish. :-)

      The chain ABC dominates our market, but they are happy to special order for me. Which gives me my periodic fix of Franken wines from Germany. And Total Wine in Viera is a pleasure if you can find somebody knowledgeable. But the most fun for me is traveling. And yes, cases have been deposited into the trunk.

      3 Replies
      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        Ah yes, Franken wines. I am about to have my fix tonight with some Wurzburger Stein Grosses Gewaechs Silvaner and Riesling, with some Rheingau wines thrown in as well.

        1. re: Asomaniac

          Schloss Schonborn from the Rheingau is one of my favorite producers along with Clemens Busch from the Mosel. If you can find a Kerner from the Alto Adige, get it, you won't be sorry.

          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

            Agreed. Kerner is normally a pretty boring, pedestrian grape variety, but some producers in Alto Adige produce some rather wonderful wines from it. I generally love, love, love Alto Adige wines. There are even some producers in Alto Adige that can make something like Muller-Thurgau interesting.

            By the way, I have also had some pretty good Kerner from Hokkaido, Northern Japan! They make wine from a lot of Central European grape varieties up there, including for instance Austrian Zweigelt. They also do Pinot Blanc and, interestingly, usually call it by its German name, Weissburgunder.

            Japanese wine is for the most part not good, but there are some that are fantastic. More often than not those are not available in shops because many wineries produce their top wine in very tiny quantities and then sell the whole production to one or two restaurants in Tokyo.

            Of the international grape varieties, Merlot and Chardonnay do better than most, often coming from vineyards in Nagano Prefecture. Just in case you are ever in Japan: a very good Chardonnay that is available in shops is the Mercian Hokushin Private Reserve. Mercian is a very large producer that is capable of great quality at the high end. Infinitely smaller is Obuse winery (Sogga Pere et Fils), which produces some fine Chardonnay as well (their Private Reserve is fantastic), and really good Sauvignon Blanc. The Yama no Chardonnay by Coco Farm is also exceptional.

            The domestic Koshu variety (actually originally Chinese, came to Japan maybe 800 years ago) is OK, but with a few notable exceptions, fairly unexciting. Japanese red grape varieties (Muscat Bailey A, Black Queen, etc.) tend to be underwhelming, though there are a few good examples out there.

            A restaurant called "Takazawa" (formerly "Aronia de Takazawa") in Tokyo probably has the best selection of Japanese wines there is. It has been discussed many times on the Japan board, for those who are interested.

      2. I stopped counting when I hit 200 that I could name off the top of my head . . .

        1 Reply
        1. re: zin1953

          Yes - that is the exciting but also slightly frustrating thing about wine, especially Italian wine. Hundreds and hundreds of grape varieties, the more you learn the more start cropping up, and i am not sure if my memory is what it used to be. There are still a few hundred lurking around my head, but in recent years I find myself just focusing more on the regional character of the wine rather than the names of all 8 grape varieties contained in the blend, none of which I had ever heard of!

          My dream would be to stop working and dedicate the next few years to formally studying and drinking wine... but I guess somehow I have to actually finance my wine habit, so I remain employed!

        2. The French Southwest if full of lesser known varieties:
          in addition to Madiran (tannat based), or
          Cahors (malbec based), a month ago I picked up at
          Corti Brothers a bottle of Fronton (negrette based)
          and a bottle of Pacherenc du Vic Bilh (similar varieties to
          Irouleguy blanc-- petit et gros menseng and courbu
          blanc). I also picked up a bottle of Irouleguy rouge which
          I enjoyed (it is tannat based like Madiran).

          7 Replies
          1. re: bclevy

            There are stranger than that.

            Marcillac is made from Fer Servadou and served by Michel Bras*** in Laguiole.

            Gaillac includes Duras.

            Tursan blanc includes Baroque. A wonderful one, Baron de Bachen, is produced by Michel Guérard

            Mauzac is dominant in Blanquette de Limoux.

            I have two bottles of Irouléguy rouge that are about ready to drink.

            1. re: collioure

              I opened a Tursan Blanc (gold medal) last night, made from Baroque and Gros Manseng (and SB and Petit Manseng). Baroque offers mowed grass and green apple flavors. Best with leeks and fish, I read. That makes sense to me. After tasting it I prepared cod with chive beurre blanc.
              Interesting wine, I suppose. Won't be rushing out to buy the last six bottles on the shelf though. However, the next time I see a Baron de Bachen (12€), I will buy that!

            2. re: bclevy

              Malbec's well known internationally now thanks to Argentina, so much so that some Cahors producers have started labeling their wines with that name, even though the traditional local name for that grape variety is Côt.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                That IS interesting. I have been going to Cahors for 35 years. Fell in love with the wine in the first hour - I think we ran to dinner. Adore the 14th century fortified bridge, recently closed to automibile traffic. Admire it for an hour on every visit.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I thought that Malbec was called Auxerrois in that part of France

                  1. re: kagemusha49

                    That too, among others. The older varieties often have a confusingly large number of synonyms.

                2. Every now and then a friend will send me down a side street. Right now I am looking at a gift of a 2007 Fort Ross Pinotage, a grape I know not a whit about except its South African home base and majorly mixed reviews as a varietal grape. It strikes me as an autumnal wine so I will hold it for cooler weather.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: budnball

                    Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and has a very distinctive character. It can be quite good. I've never had a domestic one.

                    1. re: budnball

                      Oh my gosh that's a good one. Was lucky enough to try the current vintage at Pinot Days recently. Definitely made for cooler weather and bigger food. Lucky you!

                    2. If you like Petit Courbu, have Alain Brumont's Chateau Montus Blanc Sec from Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. Underpriced for the quality. His sweet whites are Petit Manseng.

                      I like Irouleguy whites and reds, with the right food. Nothing spectacular on its own merits, but it's different and tasty.

                      I always get a kick out of trying unusual grape varieties, or wine from unusual wine regions or from unusual wine countries. Italy probably has the largest number of idiosyncratic and unusual grape varieties of any of the great wine producing nations.

                      But you find so many great, or at least interesting, wines in all sorts of places. amazing autochtonous grape varieties in Mallorca. Lovely and unusual pinots from the Savoy region. Great Swiss wines. Decent Dutch Rieslings. Even a solitary top class Belgian chardonnay reiniscent of a good Puligny Montrachet.

                      Further afield, I have had a very decent Ukainian Cabernet Sauvignon. I have also had many top class wines from Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary (by which I do not mean sweet Tokaji), although th is no surprise - the surprise is that not more people are aware that these countries are capable of producing top class wines.

                      In terms of grape varieties that are unusual for their location, try Austria's only Viognier by Graf Hardegg (at least a few years back it was the only one, not sure about now).

                      I could go on for a long time. There is so much great wine out there, and locating a treasure from an unfashionable or unknown region, or a grape variety you ha never heard of which produced sublime wine, makes it particularly rewarding and exciting.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Asomaniac

                        I don't think many of the great Swiss wines leave the country. I've had some pretty decent ones in the US but the prices are so high that they're not good values at all.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          That's true. The good stuff does not get exported.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            White Merlot, produced in the Ticino canton of southern Switzerland can be superb but I have never seen it imported into the U.S.

                          2. re: Asomaniac

                            Actually I prefer the Manseng flavors to the Petit Courbu, but a dry white from Pacherenc interests me. I will look it up.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              Since I no longer will buy a lot of wine at the fall supermarket sales, I am identifying some unusal wines, all gold-medal winners, to try - like Tursan blanc (40% Barroque) and an IGP Chardonnay-Viognier from neighboring Languedoc identified by Jancis Robinson a few years back.

                              Yes, I buy mostly white while the other aficionados are stuffing their carts with fine red Bordeaux.

                            2. i don't want to sound picky about this, because I'm really learning a lot from this topic, but DO want to make sure I have the correct understanding of the word "variety" (or "varietal") in wine. Is it correct to refer to Madiran or Cahors as "varieties"?

                              I think most of us here would just pass this by, but I do a fair amount of wine 'educating' and would like to be sure I'm right about this. Is that OK these days (perhaps in the same way it's become OK to say "nucular", instead of "nuclear")?

                              40 Replies
                              1. re: Midlife

                                Tannat and Malbec are grape varieties.

                                Madiran and Cahors are appellations, though the laws regarding those appellations specify which grape varieties those wines may be made from.

                                Varietal wines are those identified by grape varieties rather than appellation. Some people use "varietal" as a noun but that usage is debatable.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  That's what I thought. Just wanted to be sure I hadn't missed a memo.

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    "Varietal" as a stand-alone noun is acceptable, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It lists "varietal" as both an adjective and a noun. Varietal is ubiquitously used as a stand-alone noun throughout wine publications and other media.

                                    Just like "variety."

                                    True, varietal did start out as a adjective+noun (varietal wine), or compound noun (varietal wine) shortened to varietal, but now it is a stand-alone noun.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      But a region or appellation name is not substitutable for a grape variety name, except where they might be identical........ if there are any instances of that. ?????

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        In casual speaking in the US, we certainly say "Burgundy," referring to the wines of the region Burgundy. Or we say "Rhone," when meaning the wine from that region.

                                        That's pretty common -- referring to the wines of an AOC by the AOC. Seems OK to me, unless it's awkward or unclear.

                                        P.S.: << "nucular", instead of "nuclear") >> Not OK.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          It's the same elsewhere as well. For instance, people in Europe would tend to refer to 'white Burgundy' when talking about a white Burgundy, rather than referring to it as Chardonnay (the only time they would use the grape variety name is when they talk about Aligote, simply because a reference to a white Burgundy would be assumed to be a reference to Chardonnay).

                                          We are also generally much more driven by the region than the grape variety in Europe in comparison to the US. Different regions will express the same grape variety very differently, and there are many blends where people would struggle naming individual grape varieties in such blend.

                                          Plus, unlike in the US, in France the bottles would in many regions generally not indicate the grape variety (of the great regions I think only Alsace always notes the grape variety on the bottles, though I may be wrong), just the region, and that will also impact on how people think about wine. For instance, very many people who drink Chablis regularly and are very familiar with it do not have a clue that it is Chardonnay.

                                          1. re: Asomaniac

                                            Here in Roussillon they name the grapes in a red blend if there's Mourvèdre and Syrah, and if it's mostly Carignan and Grenache they are silent. Same thing with whites - Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier are the buzz words, of course.

                                            1. re: Asomaniac

                                              In some parts of Europe, including Germany, Austria, Alsace, and parts of Italy, the appellation is always or almost always accompanied by the name of the grape variety, just like in Napa.

                                              There are a few great vineyards in Alsace where the grape variety is not indicated, but I think those might all be Rieslings.

                                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                                Referring to the "white wines of Burgundy," Aligote is a great example.

                                                In the US, when I refer to "white Burgs," I am, in 99.9% of those instances, referring to Chardonnay - BUT, there are a very few others, and I try to designate them, when making a reference.

                                                In the US, almost ALL white Burgs ARE Chardonnay, though one might dig deeply, and find an exception. While in Burgundy, one needs to be just a tad more careful, but the wines normally tell that story. If it does not say "Aligote," it is most likely to be Chardonnay, though there are a few exceptions. We (in the US), just seldom see them.

                                                Great point,


                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                            "Varietal" used as a noun meaning "varietal wine" (e.g. the industry term "fighting varietals" for inexpensive varietal wines that compete with generic jug wines) is jargon, so might be acceptable or not depending on the context and audience.

                                            "Varietal" used as a synonym for "variety" is regarded my many as wrong.

                                            "So popular has the term varietal become that many use it (incorrectly) as synonymous with variety."—The Oxford Companion to Wine

                                            And some old-school types reject any use of varietal other than as an adjective.

                                            "Variety is a noun, and varietal is an adjective, which I learned at UC Davis."—David Graves, Saintsbury Vineyard

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              <<"Varietal" used as a synonym for "variety" is regarded my many as wrong.>>

                                              Totally agree. Variety means cultivar, varietal means a wine made from a single cultivar.

                                              <<"Variety is a noun, and varietal is an adjective, which I learned at UC Davis."—David Graves, Saintsbury Vineyard>>

                                              Even when David Graves (adore him) went to wine school at Davis thirty years ago, he said "varietal" as shorthand for "varietal wine" -- the word "wine" was understood. This is similar to saying "I drink lowfat" -- the word "milk" is understood.

                                              The term "varietal wine" morphed into "varietal" (without the word wine) much the same way as "musical play" morphed into "musical."

                                              In both cases, the adjectives "musical" and "varietal" became nouns -- it's just the way American English changes.

                                              <<"Varietal" used as a noun meaning "varietal wine" (e.g. the industry term "fighting varietals" for inexpensive varietal wines that compete with generic jug wines) is jargon,>>

                                              Probably not industry jargon anymore, given its widespread use among consumers across the USA.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                I don't think I've ever heard anyone who was not in the industry or a serious wine geek use the word "varietal" at all. Most average consumers are unclear on what wine names mean. Hence Midlife's question.

                                                "… there is no excuse for 'varietal' as a noun. … The incorrect use of 'varietal' as a noun will elicit hoots of derision worthy of a troop of baboons, should that use occur within earshot of one or more Saintsburians."—David Graves


                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  That was at least seven years ago, and the world of wine has exploded since then. Language changes.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    Must have changed "ON accident"! ;o)

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Language evolves, usually slowly. Neither Jancis Robinson nor David Graves has changed their mind in the meantime.

                                                      I don't much care one way or the other, but as a professional writer I generally avoid neologistic usage that will annoy some readers when there is an uncontroversial alternative.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        News magazines like Time and Newsweek, consumer magazines like Sunset, even women's magazines like Elle use "varietal" as a stand-alone noun. The wine magazines have done the same for many years. Just searched on each website to make sure.

                                                        But write "varietal wine" if that's your choice.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          It also seems to be an americanism. An Englishman (or English magazine) would never use it as a noun, it just sounds bizarre. I have heard plenty of Americans use it, but never an Englishman. Then again, I last lived in the UK 8 years ago, language evolves and lots of American expressions and linguistic customs eventually end up in the UK. Often after a few years people don't even realise that an expression was not always part of the language as spoken in Britain.

                                                          1. re: Asomaniac

                                                            I think you may be right. The Economist, the magazine, and Decanter, a wine magazine, use it. But of seven London newspapers, only two used it. The stand-alone noun is widely used in Australia; it may be making inroads in the UK.

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              The last time I remember such a debate, it was sparked by a William Safire column in The New York Times . . .

                                                              I agree that common usage has "varietal" as a stand-alone noun, and I don't find it all that objectionable. But the key -- for me -- is STAND-ALONE. For example, one can speak of "varietal wines" (adjective); one can ask, "What varietals do you enjoy?" (stand-alone noun). But asking about "wine varietals" is just wrong . . .

                                                              For me, I long ago decided that, in my magazine and newspaper articles, a grape was a variety and a wine could be a varietal and I left it at that.

                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                Google finds 34 instances of "varietal" on economist.com. Of the four that are not adjectives, only one is a noun meaning "varietal wine," vs. 93 instances of "variety" / "varieties" applied to grapes, so I'd say that was just sloppy copy editing.

                                                                The other three instances are misuses of the word as a synonym for variety / cultivar and two of those are about potatoes and coffee.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  My search came up with something different, what I wrote earlier.

                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston


                                                            I have heard the term "varietal," used as a noun, within the industry, for perhaps 25 years now - winemakers, journalists, growers, and many more.

                                                            Now, if one wishes to not use it, that is their business. Their choice.

                                                            Other than personal choice, to not do so, I cannot see the problem.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              In the FWIW Dept., I find this debate to be rather silly . . . and I am somewhat of a grammarian (having been a journalist and magazine editor in a past life).

                                                              Bill, I am one of those (wine) journalists of which you speak, and for me, the distinction is rather obvious.

                                                              Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are grape varieties.

                                                              Gallo Chablis Blanc and Almaden Mountain Red Burgundy are examples of semi-generic wines, whereas Joseph Phelps "Insignia" and Opus One are examples of proprietary wines, and Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are varietals.

                                                              That is -- personally -- I use the words "variety/varieties" to refer to grapes; "varietal" refers to a type of wine.

                                                              For me, the distinction is clear.

                                                              1. re: zin1953


                                                                Thank you for your perspective. As always, greatly appreciated. Starting the above, I was expecting a major rebuff, but you validated (more better, than I... ) my contention.

                                                                Are there those, who find the noun "varietal" offensive, or incorrect? I am certain, that if we looked long enough, we could find some. Do they carry a lot of weight? Well, maybe, but maybe not - just depends, at least to me.

                                                                Did Plato use the noun "varietal," when describing wines? Probably not, but then, should we really care?

                                                                I went to my library, and looked at many wine books, some rather old. I found the noun "varietal" used in most, when referring to the "variety" of wine grape used in a wine. I did not find it in all, but in most.


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  Can you provide some quotes and citations?

                                                                  "Varietal" as short for "varietal wine" is less objectionable than as short for "grape variety."

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    Robert? Every article I ever wrote; every class I ever taught.....

                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                      That's awfully vague. You already objected to at least one usage as just wrong.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Robert, I love you dearly, but sometimes you are a royal pain in the @$$ . . . you can dig up every article I wrote for Wine World, for the Spectator, for any and all of the other newspapers, and -- who knows? -- maybe KBOQ has transcripts of my radio shows?

                                                                        I'm in Las Vegas as I right this, and I'm in the middle of building a house back in Berkeley -- some things are already in storage -- but I'll see if I can dig up some old clippings that I have. (Not sure what that's going to prove to you, however.)

                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                          Maybe you've lost track of the discussion. Bill was lumping all usage of "varietal" as a noun together, but you previously said you would not use it as a synonym for grape variety, so it seems like you agree with me on this point.

                                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Well, the first one would be:

                                                                      "Wine Lover's Companion," Ron Herbst & Sharon Tyler Herbst, ISBN 0-8120-1479-0

                                                                      "Great Wines Made Simple," Andrea Immer, ISBN 0-7679-0477-X

                                                                      "The Wine Bible," Karen MacNeil, ISBN 1-56305-434-5

                                                                      That ought to give you a start. If you need more, just let me know, and I will do the best that I can.



                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Karen MacNeil and Andrea Immer do not use "varietal" as a synonym for grape variety.

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston


                                                                        Glad that you will accept the use of "varietal" as an adjective. I think that we are making progress here, but I could be wrong.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          "Varietal" is an adjective and all wine writers use it as such, even those who do not use it as a noun.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Fine Robert. Whatever. Perhaps you can research all of Jason's articles, and dissect how he uses the word?


                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                            To help lighten things up a bit I thought I'd just throw in the fact that I have personal knowledge that some otherwise serious wine producers refer to Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc. wines as "flavors". I didn't want to believe that, but I heard it from someone I trust implicitly. Hopefully it's just used jokingly and I certainly hope that word doesn't catch on outside their offices. ;o))))

                                                                            1. re: Midlife


                                                                              That is not something that I have encountered, in any of my conversations with wine producers from all around CA, FR, GR, ES, PT or IT. That does not mean that they do not use such, but just not in my presence.

                                                                              Interesting, and I have no issues with that, though I lean toward "varietal," which obviously causes problems with certain folk.


                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                In truth these were likely sales and marketing people and not winemakers (who would hopefully show more respect).

                                                  2. re: Midlife

                                                    I would add to Robert's fine explanation that Madiran and Cahors are geographical names. Madiran is a town in its appellation. Cahors is a city within its appellation.

                                                    1. re: collioure

                                                      True. I neglected to say that appellations are by definition geographical.

                                                  3. Concord. Catawba. Niagara.
                                                    ... i don't know whether you consider these better known or not.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                      They are quite well-known, but few consider them to be wine. ;^)

                                                      Many East Coast and Midwest wineries use Vitis labrusca grapes for winemaking, with Concord, Catawba, and Niagara being probably the three best known and most widely planted. (Don't know for sure about that last part; I don't keep up on the acreage of V. labrusca, and it's often difficult to separate those grapes grown for winemaking from those grown for juice, jam, and jelly.) However, only a relatively few would consider them on par with those wines produced from V. vinifera in their capability to produce "serious" wines. The trend, of course, is to move away from labrusca -- even among those wineries where they have been a mainstay of production. Wineries in New York State, Virginia, Ohio, MIchigan, Minnesota, and even Arkansas are achieving success with vinifera and with hybrids -- most of which produce better wines than the foxy notes that nearly always accompany wines produced from labrusa grapes.

                                                      Indeed, I've had many enjoyable (and memorable) wines produced from hybrids over the years.

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        Concord's got one plantation (NY/PA) that they use for wine.
                                                        The Concord from Arkansas goes straight to 100% juice.

                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                          >>> Concord's got one plantation (NY/PA) that they use for wine. <<<

                                                          Color me as dense as Concord, but I don't understand what you mean. There are many wineries that produce Concord. Concord is a grape, and to the best of my knowledge, it doesn't own a plantation . . . not even a vineyard.

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            Just because a vintner creates concord wine, doesn't mean he grows concord grapes. At $5 a gallon for juice (I'm quoting a vintner, not TJ's pricing for juice, which is substantially lower), It's just not economical.

                                                            (You'll pardon the metonymy, I hope. Naturally no grape owns a vineyard. Though the wild ones do seem intent on colonizing my yard. ;-) )

                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                              I still can't make sense of "Concord's got one plantation (NY/PA) that they use for wine."

                                                          2. re: Chowrin

                                                            I think most of the people in this conversation are aware that not all "wineries" grow their own grapes. What's being questioned is how a grape (Concord) could own property. We're missing something, I guess.

                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                              Yeah, a pocketful of poesy. ;-)

                                                        2. re: Chowrin

                                                          The best wine I've ever had made from Vitis labrusca grapes was an under-the-table Clinton in the Veneto. That's a popular rootstock there and some winemakers decided to let it fruit and see what they could do with it. The wine was dry and slightly fizzy, similar to a sparkling Bonarda or above-average dry Lambrusco.

                                                        3. Anyone know about this relatively new appellation?

                                                          Cour-Cheverny and the Romorantin grape

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: collioure

                                                            What would you like to know? It is not the same as "straight" Cheverny, though both appellations were approved approximately 20 years ago . . .

                                                            I haven't had all that many examples, but I like the wine very much. I'd look for the Cour-Cheverny from François Cazin (my favorite) and/or from Domaine du Moulin (a close second).

                                                            See http://louisdressner.com/producers/Ca...

                                                            and http://louisdressner.com/producers/Vi...

                                                            for information on these two producers (in English).

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              Thank you, Jason.

                                                              I hope to see the Cazin Cuvée Renaissance and a better Cour-Cheverny from le Mur Mur du Domaine de La Gaudronniere.

                                                              I'm not wild about demi-secs but I will buy a bottle or two if I can. I do like to experiment with good wines.

                                                              BTW I've never even seen a Cheverny or a Valençay blanc, not that they're anything to write home about, but if I can gets my hands on something interesting and new, I will try it. However, I'm a bit gun shy with wines from new appellations that are similar to well-established neighboring appellations.

                                                              1. re: collioure

                                                                The Cheverny AOC is only 20 years old, but for 20 years before that it was VDQS, and that just formalized traditional practices. The Cour-Cheverny AOC is also a codification of a longstanding local tradition.

                                                                In my experience they tend to be good wines and good values, but that's based only on the ones that reach California.

                                                            2. re: collioure

                                                              I've had those a number of times, I think once even a flight of two or three of them at a local restaurant that specializes in wines made from lesser-known varieties. Aromatic, austere, high acid?

                                                              1. re: collioure

                                                                I refreshed my memory last night at the wine bar. Cour-Cheverny is one of the least fruity, most mineral-driven wines I've had. The bartender described it as licking a sword.

                                                                It's sort of in the same realm as Blanc de Morgex, which is made from Prié Blanc. But that's a bit fruitier.

                                                                I can't think of any white wines made from well-known grapes that get very close to that. Chablis might be the closest.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Thank you. You've convinced me to skip Cour-Cheverny.

                                                                  Will buy Tursan blanc, Palette rouge, Mondeuse, Chignin Bergeron blanc and Fronton if I can.

                                                              2. I buy a mix of both, but the common thread is whether I like drinking them and whether I can have them with food.

                                                                In terms of wild side, I've discovered three interesting ones so far in the last 6 weeks or so:

                                                                Rkatsiteli from Georgia (the country not the state), Terret Blanc/gris and Jean-François Ganevat's J'en Veux, though the last one is a blend as I'm not at all certain if anyone is apart from him is actively cultivating any of the 7 to 25 Jura varietals (depending on source) that go into it. The Georgian Rkatsiteli is a very different beast from the product coming from Dr. Frank in NY state.

                                                                I've had some bad experiences with Irouléguy, though mostly on the red side of things. While the whites are better, I'd much rather drink Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh or Jurançon.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: wattacetti

                                                                  My experience with Irouléguy blancs is better than with Jurançon secs, but I will soon order topnotch Jurançons.

                                                                  I have a couple of excellent Irouléguy reds (Ilarria) that I will soon try (with duck breast).

                                                                2. Well, the fall wines sales are over for me.

                                                                  I collected two new wines - a 4-grape Fronton that I will have to lay down for a couple of years (50% Negrette + CS, Syrah and Cot) and a Tursan blanc (Barroque/Gros Manseng).

                                                                  1. I had a wine labeled Abouriou last night, which on further research was apparently made from Blauer Portugieser with some Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Dry-farmed 80-year-old vines that used to belong to the Martinelli family, who called it Early Burgundy.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Reading up on that led me to this, about a "mixed blacks" vineyard planted in 1927:

                                                                      What distinct varieties have you identified in the Carlisle Vineyard?

                                                                      When we purchased Carlisle Vineyard (formerly known as Pelletti Ranch”) in 1998, I knew there were the usual suspects (Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Carignane, Syrah) interplanted amongst the Zinfandel. But upon closer examination, we have identified the following 28 varieties to date:

                                                                      Petite Sirah
                                                                      Alicante Bouschet
                                                                      Grand Noir
                                                                      Petit Bouschet
                                                                      Cabernet Sauvignon
                                                                      Mission (aka Criolla Chica)
                                                                      Criolla Mediana
                                                                      Abouriou (aka Early Burgundy)
                                                                      Blue Portuguese
                                                                      Trousseau noir
                                                                      Trousseau gris
                                                                      Flame Tokay
                                                                      Clairette Blanche
                                                                      Chenin Blanc
                                                                      Albillo Mayor

                                                                      There are also at least three different Muscats, one black and two white, something very Refosco-ish, several different Vitis labrusca varieties, and another dozen or so vinifera varieties we have yet to identify. We will be taking tissue samples this growing season to identify the remaining unknown varieties. We’re excited to see what we discover!


                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        A few years ago we visited the Alegria Vineyard, in Healdsburg, which is around 100 years old and was once owned by the Rafanelli family. When the Nachbauers bought it came with so many different grape varieties that they do a field blend and also make great vinegar (or so Bill Nachbauer caims).