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Unusual Varieties
Diversity in Wine

H ow many different varieties are there? Thousands. And yet the wine lover usually drinks from a short list of less than a dozen.
The famous names are excellent, but how about the rest? Are they no good? Thirty years ago if you asked a wine drinker what grape variety their favourite wine was made from you would been unlikely to have received an answer. Most wines were labelled only with the area where the wine was made; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti, Mosel etc. The new world wineries headed by Australia and California pioneered naming the varieties used, and making varietal wines - wines made from one variety. It makes sense. The grape variety has to be one of the major contributors to the taste of the wine. The new world took the varieties of the famous French vineyards and promoted them intensively.
But because varieties grown elsewhere did not receive this promotion it does not mean they are not excellent. Below we list some of the varieties you can find. Try them, enjoy the experience!

Humagne Rouge Valais, Switzerland
Unique to Switzerland, this red grape makes a sturdy spicy red.
Marechal Foch New Hampshire, USA
Marechal Foch is a hybrid grape, developed from crossing of European vitis vinifera Pinot Noir and Gamay with native American vitus Riparia. Wines made from native American varieties have a noticeable flavour often likened to 'wet dog'.

The wine displayed is triply unusual, as it came from New Hampshire's first and only winery, and is a blend of three vintages.

Greco Puglia, Italy
Greco is a white wine grape of ancient origin, probably as the name suggests, Greek, grown extensively in southern Italy. This refreshing zingy dry wine was made in Puglia in the heel of Italy by 'flying wine-maker', Kym Milne, whose name appears on back labels of wine made all over the world.
de Chaunac/Chelois Niagara Falls, Canada
Seibel is used to describe a hybrid grape; this wine from Chateau Gai winery Ontario is blended from two such varietals, de Chaunac and Chelois.

I enjoyed its fruity flavour in The Algonquin Hotel, St Andrews.

Xinomavro Naoussa, Greece
Several people are naming Greece as the next star in the world of wine. And with grapes like Xinomavro you can believe it. This is a powerful and flavoursome varietal. Boutari have been making wine since 1879, and this is one of a new style 'varietal selection' which proudly promotes the local varietals.
Rivaner England
In the 1970's there was a boom in vineyards in England. It was generally agreed that the Muller Thurgau was most suitable for the short cold damp English summer. This wine from the village of Pulham St Mary in Norfolk uses the European alternative name, Rivaner.

Note also the 70cl bottle size, a device to stretch the wine and to keep unit costs down, since outlawed by EU wine law.

Kékfrankos Hungary
From the South Balatan region of Hungary, this fruity red wine is made from the Kék frankos varietal, which is a Gamay type clone used in the famous 'Bulls Blood' (Egri Bikaver). It is widely grown throught southern and central Europe where is known by over forty different names, including Limberger in Germany and Blaufränkisch in Austria.

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14 December 1999