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Unusual Varieties
Diversity in Wine
Page 20

Cayuga White
Swedish Hill
Finger Lakes
New York
cayuga label
      The Cayuga White variety dates from 1972. It was developed especially to suit local conditions at Cornell University Experimental Station in Geneva at the northern end of Cayuga Lake in New York State's Finger Lakes wine region.
      The variety is used for both sparkling and still wines. As a still wine it can be found in dry and off dry versions. I preferred the dry versions with food, where it makes a crisp quaffer.
      This 2002 vintage wine from Swedish Hill Vineyard had an apple blossom nose and was off dry with 2% residual sugar. It was lively and clean and had an attractive fresh aftertaste. Has 15% Riesling and 5% Viognier and cost $7 from the winery in November 2003.
      For more about my visit to Finger Lakes see here. The Swedish Hill web site is at www.swedishhill.com

Boland Kelder
South Africa
Nouvelle Label       This is the label from the worlds first commercial release of the new white variety Nouvelle.

     It was developed by Professor Chris Orffer of the University of Stellenbosch between 1958 and 1962. It is a cross of Sémillon and Crouchen Blanc (also known as Paarl or Cape Riesling ). The first commercial vineyard was planted in 1997 near Perdeberg and there are now 1.2 hectares of Nouvelle on that farm.

      Several other wineries I spoke to had planted, or were in the process of planting, Nouvelle. Some intended to use it in blends with Sauvignon Blanc to add some roundness in the middle palate.

     This wine has an attractive lime green tint, a grassy nose and crisp elderflower, lemon and grass flavours. It was refreshingly acidic and reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A very pleasant premiere for the variety, I look forward to tasting it in future and wish it every success. tasted October 2005

      Demand has been high for this first vintage which is available only at the winery.

Vermentino Nero
Toscana, Italy

      This variety is not listed in any of my reference books. While Vermentino is a common and popular white variety in Italy, this clone is the result of a mutation that produced black grapes.

      Vermentino Nero is apparently grown only in the Tuscany region of Italy, and the wines are only available there. Which is a shame, because it makes a very interesting wine.

      This wine from the 2002 vintage was an intense dark black colour, staining the glass, It had sweet fruit on the front palate and reminded me of the flavour of wild blackberries picked from the hedgerow with its slightly sharp mouth cleansing finish that encourages another glassful. tasted August 2005

Vermentino Nero label
Mas de Valeriole
Caladoc label
      This is a new variety. Caladoc is a crossing of Grenache and Cot - as Malbec is known in this part of the Rhone.
      This particular label came from a rose wine; pink wines are very popular in the nearby restaurants of Cannes and other resorts along the Cote d'Azure. The wine is the result of saignee, a procedure in which some of the juice from red grapes is separated, leaving a greater skin-to-juice ratio for the remaining red wine, thus making a more intense red wine. The pink tinged separated juice is used for rose wines -- in fact, that is how 'white' Zinfandel was first created.
      I'd like to taste a red Caladoc. This pink wine was pleasant chilled on a hot day, and tasted faintly of strawberries, but I don't think it showed the potential of the variety. tasted July 2005

Goose Watch
Finger Lakes, New York

      This is a clean crisp dry white wine with pear and apple flavours and a refreshing finish. It is one of the most succesful of the new hybrids developed at Cornell University's Agricultural Research Station at Geneva, New York.

      Traminette doesn't suffer from the distinctive native grape flavours, but is similar in taste to Gewürztraminer, the spicy grape of Alsace, which is one of the variety's parents. The other Joannes Seyve 23.416. Herb Barrett at the University of Illinois crossed them in 1965 and sent seeds to Geneva where they were planted in 1968. The variety was released for commercial use in 1996.

      I bought this wine at the winery, which overlooks Cayuga Lake. Goose Watch features hybrid wines and is under the same ownership as the nearby Swedish Hill Winery which vinified this particular wine from bought in grapes.

Traminette label

For more about my visit to Finger Lakes see here. The Goose Watch web site is at www.goosewatch.com
Ravat 51
Bully Hill Vineyards
Finger Lakes
New York, USA
Ravat 51 label
      I must be maturing. It wasn't so long ago I wouldn't have even tasted a sweet wine, let alone bought one. But now I appreciate a glass of sweeter wine with dessert or just on its own after dinner.
      One that impressed me was this Ravat 51 which I tasted at Bully Hill Vineyards in New York state Finger Lakes wine region in 2003. After dining out in one of the local restaurants where I restricted myself to a couple of small glasses of wine because I'm driving (and on the wrong side of the road to boot), I returned to Homewood Suites, sliced a ripe peach and opened the Ravat.
      This wine has a white gold colour with an appealing nose - sweet and flowery. It has a clean crisp sweet flavour balanced with agreeable acidity. The label shows a pineapple and bunch of flowers and I can't recall a label that has so exactly indicated what a wine tastes like. Yes, it has a pineapply taste. Like pineapples, it has a good acidity. And there is a flowery perfume.
      It is delightful and soon my glass was empty and I poured another. It just begged to be drunk. I had to force myself to cork it and return it to the fridge. Next evening it delighted again.
      The name is not good - its synonym Vignoles seems much more friendly, but I'll go with Shakespeare.
      And yes - its a hybrid. If you wouldn't normally even consider a hybrid - reconsider. This is good.

      For more about my visit to Finger Lakes see here and Bully Hills website is at www.bullyhill.com

Chateau Rives-Blanques
Mauzac label, image used by permission of and with thanks to Ch Rives-Blanques
      Chateau Rives-Blanques is a champion of this once wide-spread traditional grape variety that is now only found in two appellations in the world, Gaillac and Limoux. They tell me " It's normally used as the base for Blanquette, which as you undoubtedly know is the oldest sparkling wine in the world, enjoyed by the Benedictines in Limoux who discovered it over a century before their brother Dom Pérignon came to visit, and, incidentally, also by Thomas Jefferson, who stocked it (and no other sparkler) in his legendary wine cellar at Monticello.

      "We're the only people who vinify it as a barrel-fermented still wine (AOC Limoux). Since it's the traditional, historical cépage of the Languedoc, we call it Cuvée Occitania, and of course, the label speaks in Occitan as well (nostra terra mentis pas - our soil tells no lies)."

      I've yet to taste Mauzac so I'm looking forward to meeting Ch Rives-Blanques when they attend a wine show in London later this year. They also have a 2003 botrytised Mauzac which sounds unmissable.

      For more about Ch Rives-Blanques visit their excellent website at www.rives-blanques.com

     Thanks to Caryl Panman of Ch Rives-Blanques for the label image.

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2 January 2006