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Unusual Varieties
Diversity in Wine
Page 19

Tinta de Toro
Tinta de Toro label
      Tinta de Toro is one of four varieties allowed in the Toro region. Said to be a clone of Tempranillo, locals claim its the other way round. Tinta de Toro vines planted in Toro's sandy soils survived phylloxera in the late 1800's and some still survive.

      In a tasting in a range of Bajoz wines I found them attractive with sweet juicy fruit.

Malaga Blanc
Siam Winery
Chao Phraya Delta
Malaga Label       Malaga Blanc has been growing in Thailand for over 200 years. The grapes were used for table grapes until an enterprising businessman decided to use them for wine. The vines grow on beds raised above water and are harvested by boat twice each year.

     It makes a pleasant light wine that matches well with Thai food but fades a little fast once opened.

      Malaga Blanc came from the south of France as a gift from Louis XIV to King Narai the Great of Siam.

     Vintage year is 2544, Bhuddist era, and for export to the EU they've overprinted the CE vintage - 2001.

Barrington Estate
South Eastern Australia

      Rich inky purple black colour, fruit nose, soft full and silkily rich on the palate. Gluggably drinkable, bramble fruits, spices underpinned by refreshing fruit acids, blueberrys. This is a delightful wine, reminiscent of Zinfandel with its spicy fruit.

      But its Chambourcin, a French hybrid variety, said by Oz Clarke to be 'one of the best'. We don't see many hybrids here and when I read that ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart) supermarkets were stocking this, I went looking for it. It took five trips before I finally found some bottles - previous times there were empty spaces, so it seems I'm not the only one tempted by this delicious wine which has no undesirable hybrid attributes whatsoever.

      The back label says its from low yielding old wines, but I can't find a web-site of Barrington Estate; the URL on the label - www.barringtonestate.co.au - is not working.

Chambourcin label
Norton - Cynthiana
Augusta Winery
Augusta, Missouri
Norton label
      Norton is an American variety that makes European-like wines. This native vine - Vitis aestivalis - was first recorded in 1823 and gained its name from Daniel Norton who sent cuttings to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson of the former president who planted them at Monticello. In the late 1800's the same variety was found in Arkansas where it was given the name Cynthiana. DNA testing has recently shown them to be identical.

      Nurseries in Missouri were selling Norton vines by 1870 and the variety has thrived there ever since, so much so that it was declared official state grape of Missouri on 11 July 2003.

      I have been unsuccesfully looking for Norton wines in the US for several years but found this example in London at the 2004 International Wine Fair.

      The wine above was the 2001 vintage which was an enjoyable ripe fruity wine, deep dark red with a brownish tinge, medium bodied, a bit of chocolate and smoked meat flavours with a ripe cherry finish.

Dr Konstantin Frank Vinifera Cellars
Finger Lakes
New York State, USA
Rkatsitelli Label       Rkatsiteli is widely planted in Russia and was introduced to Finger Lakes by Dr Frank who was convinced that some vitis vinifera varieties could thrive in the northern climes of New York state. He was proved right and although most other wineries grow hybrids, the winery founded by Dr Frank continue to specialise in vinifera, and consistently make some of the regions best wines

     I found this wine paper white, with a nettle nose, crisp flavours of slate & nettles, good acids and finish. Delicious, an excellent wine

A very unusual variety - I can find no mention of it - which makes a pleasant rustic fruity red wine. Areni label

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4 November 2004