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Unusual Varieties
Diversity in Wine
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Widely planted but not highly rated, Bobal makes a pleasantly intense dark red fruity wine. Bobal label
Muscat de Frontignon
South Africa
Muscat de Fontignac Label Muscat de Frontignon is an ancient variety, recorded by the Greeks and Romans. It was also one of the first varieties planted in South Africa used to make the world famous Constancia dessert wines.

Here Delheim take the variery and produce a delicious wine, sweet but with a balancing acid and grapey orange peel bouquet.

And what an informative label. You can't ask for better.

Delheim is an excellent innovative winery and one of my favourites.

I don't recall having a varietal Garganega before this one, but its a major component of Soave which I regularly enjoy with a pizza. This wine could be mistaken for Soave - refreshing citrus tangs and eminently quaffable, just as it says on the label.
Ah, yes - the label. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has scrawled his signature and claims to have sourced it. I rather suspect that Sainsbury, who is paying him to advertise their supermarkets, did all the leg work.
Garganega label
Bully Hill
Finger Lakes
New York, USA
Verdelet Label Verdelet is a French-American hybrid and one of many new varieties I tasted during my recent visit to the Finger Lakes region. This one was almost water clear, having a gentle soft flowery perfume which belied its upfront flavours, with lemon grass fronting a zingy crispness. It is dry, but has a softness and while refreshing acidity, is not mouth puckering. Most pleasant.
Compagnons du Vignoble
Marselan is a new grape variety from France, the result of a 1961 of crossing Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The intention was to create a heavy cropping variety with large grapes at a time when quantity was wanted in southern France. The resulting vine had many good points, including resistance to parasites, suitability for machine harvesting, adaptability to different soil types and affinity with the Mediteranean climate. But it produced small grapes, wasn't a high yielder and remained in the nursery.
But fashions changed and when local growers wanted a quality variety there was renewed interest in Marselan and this 2002 wine is claimed to be the first commercial bottling.
It was enjoyably soft and brambly and definitely has potential. I'd like to taste it with a little more bottle age.
Marselan label
Northern Vineyards
Canadice Label
I took advantage of being a speaker at the 2003 IBM Tivoli Information Management User Conference in Minneapolis to visit Northern Vineyards' tasting room. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get labels from all the unusual varieties available there.

This is from a wine made by Northern Vineyards from grapes grown in Wisconsin. Here it is made semi-sweet and is pleasant with the sweetness masking some of the foxy flavour of this hybrid. The variety was developed by Cornell University's Agricultural Research Station in New York's Finger Lakes. However I didn't subsequently find Canadice grown in Finger Lakes.

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25 January 2004