Many grapes seem as if they come from another world, but they’re worth trying.
Wine is a journey, not a destination. That’s why we try to offer some of the world’s tastier lesser-known grapes. Here’s a sampling of some from this month (and there are plenty more to come).
St. Laurent (Jon E Vino) Facts: St. Laurent is the signature red grape of the Czech Republic, but it’s Austrian in origin. It’s a genetic cross of Pinot Noir and an unknown variety, and it’s also a parent grape to Zweigelt, Austria’s main red grape. Flavors: St. Laurent has the fruity juiciness of Pinot Noir, and the peppery spiciness often associated with Syrah.
Carignan (Fabre) Facts: This red grape is Spanish in origin but is grown mostly in France. Winemakers typically add small amounts of Carignan to other wines to achieve a darker color. Flavors: Many complain that Carignan is too bitter and tannic. Grown and handled carefully, however, Carignan can be a bright, juicy wine, full of complexity—as you’ll find in the Lusu Cellars wines coming next month!
Nielluccio and Sciaccarello (Domaine Vettriccie) Facts: These two grapes are widely planted in Corsica, where they’re mostly used to make rosé. Nielluccio is genetically similar to Sangiovese (from Italy), and Sciaccarello, though likely Italian in origin, is found only in Corsica today. Flavors: Nielluccio becomes a robust, tannic wine, while Sciaccarello is light and juicy, like Pinot Noir. Blending the two makes for a balanced wine.
Mourvèdre (Sans Liège “The Offering” and Domaine du Maridet)
Facts: Spanish in origin yet most widely grown in France’s southern Rhône Valley, this grape is beloved as a blending component. It also goes by the names Monastrell and Mataró.
Flavors: Used in small amounts, Mourvèdre, with its earthy, even meaty flavors, brings beautiful complexity to Grenache-Syrah blends. On its own, though, Mourvèdre can be too much of a good thing, tasting overly gamy.
Marsanne and Roussanne (Sans Liège “Côtes du Coast”) Facts: Both grapes, typically blended together, originated and thrive in France’s Rhône Valley. Most Côtes du Rhône whites are made of these two grapes. Flavors: The wines are known for their balance of fleshy, peachy flavors and a pronounced nuttiness. Exercise restraint, since Marsanne-Roussanne blends tend to be higher in alcohol.
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