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The Cellar: Whites From Unusual Grapes

Friday, September 07, 2012

 

You may know your Chardonnay, but here are some varietals you may never have encountered... yet. Photo: nodomain.cc/flickr

One of my favorite things about wine is that there is always something new out there to taste. While I am sure you have had your fair share of the classic varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, what about Pecorino or Romantin? Ever tried a wine made from any of these crazy sounding varietals? There are literally thousands of different grapes planted all over the world. While most of the wines made from these grapes are consumed locally, the variety of commercially grown grapes is growing steadily each year. To nerds like us, it is the search of the new grape varietal and experiencing the thrill that comes with discovering something unusual and exiting that makes us continue tasting.

On a side note – tickets are selling fast for the next ‘Evening with Wine’ event scheduled for October 3rd and 4th. This tasting features the varietals Chardonnay and Zinfandel. For more information visit www.ProvidenceWineAcademy.com.

2010 Domodimonti Li Coste, Pecorino, Offida, Italy

This week’s first wine is a Pecorino from Central Italy. Pecorino is a very interesting varietal. It is low-yielding grape varietal that ripens early and that is relatively temperamental. If it is too hot Pecorino will over-ripen fast

and lose its acidity and vibrancy. This is why Pecorino grows best in cooler areas where it can hang on the vine without ‘overcooking’. It is this extra time on the vine that allows its deep and rich aromas and flavors to develop. As a result, Pecorinos usually have a lot going on; both on the nose and on the palate.

Pecorino is native to the central eastern Italian regions of La Marche and Abruzzo. The Domodimonti’s winery is located in La Marche, a region that has 13 sub-regions – almost all of them producing wines made from different grapes. If you haven’t visited the region you probably haven’t tasted many of them as the wines don’t often travel outside the regions in which they are made. One of the sub-regions is Offida, which is known for their wines made from Pecorina. Domodimonti’s all natural 2010 Li Coste is a great example of what Pecorina brings to the table. It is a dry wine, medium-bodied with noticeable acidity. It is extremely aromatic; floral and slightly nutty. On the palate it displays my favorite fruit lychee, along with hints of peach. Good stuff! 

2011 Domaine Des Huards, Cour-Cheverny, Loire Valley, France

This week’s second wine is a Romantin from France’s famed Loire Valley. The varietal is thought to have been introduced to Loire by France’s King Francois the 1st in the early 15th century. Up until 50 years ago

Romantin was planted throughout the region, but the popularity and commercial success of other varietals from the region has almost caused Romantin plantings to go extinct. Today, the only winemakers that really focus on Romantin are located in the 120-acre sub-region of Cour-Cheverny northeast of Tours in the Central Loire. DNA testing has taught us that Romantin is a sibling to Chardonnay and Aligote, which is not surprising to those of you who have tasted one.

If you haven’t, I urge you to go look for one. The 2010 Cour-Cheverny from the biodynamic producer named Domaine Des Huards is available in Rhode Island and a great value at around $15. This Domaine, founded in 1946, has 20 of its 85 acres in Cour-Cheverny, i.e. dedicated to growing the Romantin grape. If you like un-oaked Chardonnay; the especially intense, minerally and steely style that is made in Chablis, this Romantin may just be up your alley. It comes across extremely fresh with vibrant and mouth puckering acidity. It is filled with mineral and citrus fruits notes, but ends on a nuttier honey note.  

Enjoy!

Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at srasch@golocalprov.com. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook and sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.

 

 

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