The Ginger Man

Archives: February 8, 2015

“I am Grape…Hear me Roar”

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Greeting Wine (From our Wine Class teacher – Joe Armstrong)

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Weingut Albert Gesellman Blaufrankisch Rose Sekt 2008 (Burgenland, Austria)

Blaufrankisch (also known as Lemberger) is a black-skinned grape variety that has a number of synonyms in Europe and the United States. It can be used to make varietal red wine, rosé, and can be added to blends, contributing high acid, tannin and deep coloring. Blackberries, red cherries and redcurrants are common flavor descriptors associated with Blaufrankisch wine.

The variety is widely planted in Burgenland, Austria, where it is often blended with its offspring, Zweigelt. Germany, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria also produce their own versions of Blaufrankisch wine. It is commercially produced in Washington and New York, where is known as Lemberger.

Blaufrankisch is thought to be a descendent of the French grape Gouais Blanc. This theory is reinforced by the fact that many of its synonyms translate to ‘blue French’, in reference to the variety’s coloring and origin. Blaufrankisch buds early, ripens late and delivers generous yields, but needs a warm environment to fully mature. The best examples of the variety can be aged inoak and cellared for many years.

Synonyms include: Lemberger, Limberger, Blauer Limberger, Kekfrankos, Frankovka, Modra Frankinja, Franconia, Nagy burgundi, Gamé, Burgund Mare.

Related grape varieties include: Gouais Blanc.

Popular blends include: Blaufrankisch – Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch – Cabernet.

Food matches include:
Europe: Stewed brown hare (feldhase); fried goose liver (libamáj)
Americas: Lentil soup with smoked ham hock
Africa/Middle East: Black-eyed pea, black olive and tomato salad


Domaine R Chevillon Bourgogne de Aligote 2011 (Burgundy, France)

Aligote is most famous as the ‘third’ grape variety of Burgundy, a poor cousin of the more prestigious (and more profitable) Chardonnay. DNA profiling has proven it to be a member of the wider Pinot family, of which Chardonnay is also a member. The variety is at its best in the wines of the regional Bourgogne Aligote appellation, and particularly in Bouzeron, in the northern Cote Chalonnaise. Aligote also has a key role in the sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne wines.

Aligote has been a part of the Burgundian wine landscape for more than 200 years, planted alongside Chardonnay. It has now found its place in the less rated sites, on the plateaux and in the valleys, away from the more expensive land reserved for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Aligote is an early-ripening variety, and is more frost resistant than its more renowned cousins, meaning that its presence in these cooler sites is ensured for some time to come. Just south of Burgundy, small amounts of Aligote can be found in the Rhone Valley, mostly for blending with Chardonnay to create the light, fruity white wines of Chatillon-en-Dios.

When it comes to growing conditions, Aligote is not as fussy as many other varieties. It is able to produce delicate wines when grown on the chalky soils of Burgundy, but will also thrive in sandier soils, such as those found in the Rhone. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this hardiness and reliability has only served to lower Aligote’s status to ‘useful’ and ‘reliable’ rather than ‘mysterious’ and ‘enigmatic’. Wine lovers and producers alike are naturally drawn towards challenging grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo – difficult to grow well, but more rewarding as a result.

Despite being best known as a French grape, Aligote is grown in more significant quantities in other locations, notably in Eastern Europe. Many thousands of hectares are currently planted in countries like Bulgaria and Romania, where Aligote wines have a surprisingly strong following. Plantings in these countries are many times bigger than in the variety’s traditional home in eastern France.

Wines produced from Aligote are generally dry in style, with floral and herbal notes, naturally enhanced by the variety’s high levels of acidity. It is often used in blends, particularly those made in California for the US market, where it can bring much needed acidity and aroma to richer, less structured wines.

There are a few mentions of an Aligote Vert and even red Aligote Rouge forms of the variety, but there is little data to suggest that these names are anything other than synonyms of other, unrelated grape varieties.

Synonyms include: Plant Gris, Blanc de Troyes, Vert Blanc, Chaudenet Gris, Giboudot Blanc, Griset Blanc.

Related grape varieties include: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay.

Food matches include:
Europe: Fresh oysters
Asia: Japanese dumplings (gyoza); green mango salad
Americas: Maine lobster rolls
Australasia/Oceania: Grilled yabbies (crustaceans)


Quenard Chignin Blanc 2011 (Savoie, France)

Jacquere is a clean and fresh alpine grape variety grown in Savoie, France. The white wines of Jacquere are highly prized but traditionally hard to come by outside France. They are typically priced very reasonably in relation to their quality.

Most Jacquere grapes are grown under the shadow of Mont Granier, specifically in the villages of Apremont and Abymes, both of which are ‘cru’s of the Vin de Savoie appellation. Here Jacquere must make up at least 80% of the wine, with Aligote, Altesse, Chardonnay and Marsanne making up the balance.

The wines have high acidity, characteristic of cool climate vines, and are often described as ‘mountain-fresh’ or ‘alpine-clean’. They can also be quite herbaceous and show aromas of freshly-cut grass, green apples and pears. Jacquere is best consumed young, while it still displays its clean minerality and lively citrus palate.

Jacquere is a high-yielding variety, though advances in winemaking technology and practices have seen a drastic improvement in quality since the 1980s. Previously, a lot of Savoie wine had the reputation of being thin and lacking distinction, but Jacquere is one of the grapes responsible for bucking this trend and showcasing the quality that the region has the potential to offer.

Synonyms include: Martin-Côt, Molette de Montmelian.

Related grape varieties include: Gouais Blanc.

Food matches include:
Europe: Tartiflette (baked potato, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions)
Americas: Eggplant lasagne
Australasia/Oceania: Smoked trout fritters


Falesco Ferentano IGT 2011 (Lazio, Italy)

Roscetto is an ancient white wine variety grown in such minute quantities that today, only one producer in Italy’s Lazio region grows the variety, for use in Lazio IGT wines. It is entirely possible that the last remaining plantings of Roscetto vines are restricted to a six-hectare plot near Montefiascone, northern Lazio (home of the intriguingly named Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone).

The low-yielding Roscetto variety produces small, tightly clustered berries with a high concentration of sugar well balanced by crisp acidity. However, because so few commercial wines are made with Roscetto, it’s difficult to make generalizations about the grape’s fruit character. Some blends are released as Est! Est!! Est!!! wine, in which Roscetto makes up usually 30–40 percent; Trebbiano dominates, followed by Malvasia.

Varietal releases include a dry sparkling wine, a dry still wine, and a sweet passito wine made from dried grapes. No DOC exists for Roscetto when made in purezza (pure), so these wines are released under the generic Lazio IGT/IGP designation.

Related varieties include: Trebbiano, Malvasia.

Food matches include:
Europe: Pumpkin-stuffed pasta (tortelli di zucca)
Americas: Peruvian ceviche (citrus cooked fish)


Domaine Auther Sylvaner 2010 (Alsace, France)

Silvaner (Sylvaner in France) is a white-wine grape that is unique for its earthen flavors. Often regarded as a Riesling alternative, Silvaner is something of a quiet achiever in the German wine scene. While it may be true that Silvaner lacks the intensity and bracing acidity of Riesling, it ripens earlier than Riesling and is less demanding in terms of vineyard conditions. These attributes helped Silvaner to become the most-planted grape variety in Germany at the start of the 20th Century.

The best expressions of Silvaner wine come from the Franken region of Germany. The clay-limestone soils here give Silvaner more structure than in its other major stronghold, Alsace in France. The famous Wurzburger Stein vineyard is a classic example of an environment that is slightly hostile to Riesling yet capable of producing outstanding Silvaner with great longevity. Silvaner achieves good must-weights here and is usually produced as a QmP-level wine.

Silvaner is a Traminer x Osterreichisch Weiss crossing, which probably occurred in Austria, despite the fact that Silvaner is not grown there in any volume. It made its way to Germany in the 17th Century and subsequently to Alsace, where it became popular after the Second World War. In Alsace, Silvaner is grown mainly in the Bas-Rhin department, where it produces a smokier style of wine that retains its earthen characteristics at the expense of fruit flavors.

In the same way as Silvaner is compared to Riesling in Germany, in Alsace it is likened to Pinot Blanc. Though it may play second fiddle to each in many people’s minds, Silvaner was awarded a Grand Cru designation in Zotzenberg in 2006.

Italy (in the northeast) and Switzerland are the only other countries to make a serious play at producing Silvaner. Their Silvaner is typically crisp, with citrus notes and a hint of honey. The wines are generally designed to be consumed while young.

Synonyms include: Sylvaner, Grüner Silvaner, Sylvaner Verde, Johanisberger, Gros Rhin, Sylvánské Zelené, Zeleni Silvanec.

Related grape varieties include: Traminer, Rieslaner, Silcher.

Food matches include:
Europe: Cream of asparagus soup (spargel crème suppe); Alsatian onion tarte
Asia: Clams with black bean, garlic and ginger
Americas: Rice pilaf (arroz Chileno); seafood stew (cioppino)
Africa/Middle East: Tunisian tajine (baked egg and cheese ragout); salad of lentils and walnut oil with feta cheese balls


Cousino Macul “Isidora” Sauvignon Gris 2012 (Maipo, Chile)

Sauvignon Gris is a pink-berried mutation of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It most likely originated around Bordeaux, but has found itself quite at home in Chile. Sauvignon Gris is thinly scattered across other parts of the wine world, including Uruguay, New Zealand, the United States and Switzerland.

Sauvignon Gris is less aromatic than its blanc brother, but much more elegant and certainly capable of producing interesting wines. Wines produced from Sauvignon Gris tend to be richer and more voluptuous in texture than Sauvignon Blanc, with ripe fruit flavors of mango and melon as well as citrus notes. The wines are usually dry and tend to have some of the herbaceous notes so typical of the Sauvignon family.

The type of color mutation seen in Sauvignon Gris is a naturally occurring phenomenon and reasonably common. For example, Roter Riesling is a pink-skinned mutation of Riesling, Chardonnay Rosé is a mutation of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris is a light-berried variant of Pinot Noir.

While single-varietal Sauvignon Gris wines are enjoying some popularity, the grape is most commonly blended with Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Rosé is a synonym for Sauvignon Gris.

Synonyms include: Sauvignon Rosé.

Related grape varieties include: Sauvignon Blanc.

Food matches include:
Europe: Coquilles St Jacques Parisienne (scallops with mushrooms and white wine)
Australasia/Oceania: Garlic prawns


Weingut Henrich Zweigelt 2009 (Burgenland, Austria)

Zweigelt is a dark-skinned grape that has, since its development in 1922, become Austria‘s most widely planted red-wine variety. This high-yielding vine is now grown in almost every Austrian wine region from Bergland in the west to Burgenland in the east. Following its success in Austria, the variety is now becoming popular in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. Small-scale plantings have also been trialed further afield, in Canada, Japan and England.

A crossing of Saint-Laurent with Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt was developed by Dr Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Zweigelt, the viticulturist after whom it is named. Since then, it has been crossed with several other varieties, notably with Cabernet Franc to create Cabernet Moravia and with Rathay to create Austria’s little-known Roesler.

Because Zweigelt buds later than Saint-Laurent and ripens earlier than Blaufrankisch, it provides a kind of insurance policy in the vineyard. While the other two varieties are susceptible to harsh weather conditions (spring frost and autumn rain respectively), Zweigelt vines typically dodge these seasonal threats.

Wine made from the grape can be quite rich, but it is better known for its pepper and spicy qualities. The best examples show generous fruit flavors, usually centered on a red-cherry and raspberry core. The wines have the potential to cellar well if properly barrel matured, but most bottles are consumed within a few years of their release.

Although varietal Zweigelt wines are very common, the grape is also commonly used in blends. In Burgenland, it is combined with Cabernet and Merlot used to create an Austrian twist on the classic Bordeaux blend, or with its parent-variety Blaufrankisch for a purely Austrian blend. It is even blended with Pinot Noir on occasion.

Zweigelt was originally called Rotburger, but this led to confusion with the entirely distinct Rotberger variety (Geisenheim 3-37). In 1975, the influential Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser renamed it Zweigelt and the name has stuck.

Synonyms include: Blauer Zweigelt, Zweigltrebe, Rotburger.

Popular blends include: Blaufrankisch – Zweigelt, Pinot Noir – Zweigelt, Cabernet – Merlot – Zweigelt.

Food matches include:
Europe: Stelze (roasted ham hock)
Asia: Vt nu cam (Vietnamese-style duck à l’orange)
Australasia/Oceania: Pesto and ricotta roulade


Gai’a Estate Agiorgitiko 2012 (Nemea, Greece)

Agiorgitiko is a fragrant black-skinned grape variety native to Nemea, in southern Greece. It is one of the country’s most widely planted wine grapes after Xynomavro, and goes by a number of local synonyms. Agiorghitiko is the sole variety permitted in the Nemea appellation and performs admirably well in the hot Mediterranean climate there.

When not produced as a varietal wine, Agiorghitiko blends favorably with Cabernet Sauvignon. Both varieties have intense, dark-fruit flavors and robust tannins structure. Barrel maturation, not just in oak, but in a range of local and imported woods is increasingly used in Greece to assist Agiorghitiko’s ageing process.

The variety’s versatility has led to it spreading across Greece and to other warm growing regions, but the best wine made from this grape is in the higher-altitude vineyards of Nemea. Here the semi-mountainous vineyards between 1350ft (450m) and 2000ft (650m) allow full ripeness of flavor with enough acidity and structure to keep the wine balanced.

The variety performs well in hot and arid conditions and consequently has attracted attention from producers in South Australia and California.

Synonyms include: Aghiorghitiko, Agiorgitieo, Mavro Nemeas, Mavroudi Nemeas, Saint-George.

Food matches include:
Europe: Veal stew with onions (stifatho)
Asia: Chicken heart or gizzard yakitori
Australasia/Oceania: Green-peppercorn steak with rosemary butter
Africa/Middle East: Lamb-stuffed baked vegetables (khoudar mahshi bil forn)


Vino Budimir Triada 2007 (Zupa, Serbia)

Prokupac is a red wine grape variety indigenous to the former-Yugoslavia. Today the variety is found in large quantities in the former Yugoslavian states of Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia, although it remains largely unknown outside of its homeland. It is most commonly used to produce rosé wines and in blends, although an increasingly number of producers are experimenting with single-varietal red wines.

Prokupac is known for its high sugar levels and therefore high potential alcohol. The variety is considered quite powerful and comparisons with Syrah are sometimes drawn.

Prokupac rosé wines are generally a deep ruby in color, much darker than traditional pink or blush rosés. These wines have aromas of strawberries and rose petals. The high-alcohol red wines are also deep ruby in color and tend to show red-fruit flavors such as cherry. Red and rosé blends with international red grapes such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are the most common incarnation of Prokupac.

Over the years Prokupac has accumulated a long list of synonyms including the more obvious Prokupka and Prokupec and the more obscure Majski Cornii and Zarcin.

Synonyms include: Crnka, Darchin, Kamenicarka, Majski Cornii, Prokupka, Zarcin. 

Food matches include:
Europe: Karađorđeva šnicla (Serbian-style Karadjorde’s crumbed pork)


Argiolas Estate Perdera DOC 2011 (Sardenia, Italy)

Monica is a dark-skinned grape variety grown on the Italian island of Sardinia . As the variety Has Relatively low levels of acidity , wines made ​​from Monica are simple and easy-drinking, and made ​​for early consumption. Caution is needed in the vineyard as Monica can become over-ripe, resulting in wines with excessive alcohol levels.

Some producers are Undertaking trials in which they are limiting yields to see if better quality can be Achieved, and with promising results.

Synonyms include: Monaca, Blackberry, Monique, Morillo, Nectarea, Pascali, Pensale Black

Food matches include:
Europe: Porcheddu (Sardinian-style spit-roasted suckling pig)


Botromagno Nero di Troia IGP 2010 (Puglia, Italy)

Uva di Troia is an ancient purple-skinned variety found in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’. The grape is named after the Puglian town of Troia which (according to legend) was founded by Diomedes, after the siege and sacking of ancient Troy. The variety also has a number of synonyms, including Nero di Troia and Sumarello.

Uva di Troia tends to be low-yielding, which has in part contributed to its steady decline over the years despite producing good-quality, full-bodied wines. Uva di Troia wines are generally dry with high-alcohol and moderate acidity. The variety produces big, compact clusters of medium-sized, thick-skinned berries, a characteristic that gives Uva di Troia wines good structure and tannins. Typical flavors include raspberry, cherry, dark-forest fruits and plums through to licorice and spice.

Uva di Troia is permitted in a number of DOC quality wines, including Rosso Canosa, Rosso Di Cerignola, Orta Nova, Castel del Monte and Cacc’e Mmitte di Lucera. Its proportions in these reds and rosés vary from 10 to 100 percent, meaning the variety is seen in some single-varietal wines as well as blends. Its most common blending partners are Bombino Nero, Montepulciano and Sangiovese.

The variety is well adapted to the hot, Mediterranean climate. Outside Puglia, few if any makers produce Uva di Troia wines.

Synonyms include: Barlettana, Canosa, Nero di Troia, Sumarello, Uva della Marina.

Food matches:
Europe: Fave e cicorie selvatiche (fava bean purée with wild chicory); orecchiette al ragù (pasta with rabbit ragu)