‘A- Z- Learn About Wine’ – Obscure Grapes & Lesser Known Wine Regions
I am well known for my ‘A- Z- Learn about Wine’ bite-size nuggets of wine information on my Wine Tasting Ireland social media accounts. I want to share some of the more obscure grapes and lesser-known wine regions that you may not have heard of or come across before. In this three-part series l will explain that there is more to wine than just Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or other familiar ‘go to’ grapes or regions you might be used to.
Why? Well because quite often we are stuck in a wine rut, picking up the same recognisable bottles or choosing wine labels we like the look of from the shelves, selecting the safe reliable bottles without any thought going into our wine selection.
What’s wrong with that? Well nothing, but if you want a bit of excitement and adventure in your life read on….
If you are curious and want to learn more then try some of these wine recommendations.
A – Assyrtiko is a native grape from Santorini, Greece one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world. Greece produces a wide range of wines using classic grape varietals and indigenous (native) grapes. One of my favourites is Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment known for its complexity and high acidity. It displays distinctive savoury aromas on the nose, influenced by the volcanic soils the vines are cultivated on. The grape juice soaks on the grape skins for a long period of time which adds texture, body and density to the wine. On the palate the wine is fascinating you can taste the minerality followed by a mixture of zesty citrus fruit, beeswax, savoury spice and flint with a refreshing crisp acidity on the finish. This wine works best with food, it is extremely versatile; try it with shellfish, chunky fish even smoked fish, tomato salads and herby chicken risotto.
Available from; O’Brien’s Wines Nationwide and online.
B – It is rare that I taste a line-up of wines from a winery and fall in love with them all. Château d’Anglès is a producer that makes superb wines in La Clape, a subregion of the Languedoc- Roussillon area in the South of France. Their Classique white is an enchanting blend of the rare Bourboulenc grape infused with Grenache, Rousanne and Marsanne. Passion and artistry went into the creation of these delightful wines. The grapes were hand-picked and bottled on the estate. On the nose aromas of white peach, pear and some delicate white flowers with hints of spice. A refreshing wine with a rich mouthfeel and a long lingering fruity finish. I wine I would happily sip on all year round and enjoy with grilled chicken or fish, salmon or goats cheese tarts. I highly recommend Château d’Anglès entire range which are exceptional value for money.
Available from; Searsons.ie and World-Wide Wines, Waterford.
C – Most of us have heard of Cabernet Sauvignon but it has a lesser known relation called Cabernet Franc, a grape which is usually added to the blend in many Bordeaux wines. However, in the Loire Valley mainly; Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur- Champigny it shines on its own. One of the best examples I have found is by Robert et Marcel their Saumur is a delight. A light and fruity red wine with delicate fragrant aromas of mixed berries which follow through on the palate, balanced acidity and soft tannins it is the perfect red wine for the arrival of Spring.
Available from; Deveneys, Dundrum, McHugh’s, Martins Fairview, Morton’s Ranelagh, Redmond’s, Ranelagh, Shiels, Malahide, Vintry, Rathgar, Winehouse Trim.
Price Approx. €15.95
D – Douro Valley is the where the famous fortified sweet port wines are produced. As it is in a valley it is hotter which is suits the native grapes Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). The Douro also produces some fantastic dry wines which are exceptional value for money. A stand out for me is Sa de Baixo it has pleasant aromas of ripe dark berry fruits, plums and blackcurrants leading to luscious fruit flavours and soft silky tannins. I love it own its own but its great with stews, cured meats and hard cheese.
Available from; 64 Wines, Glasthule, Avoca, Rathcoole, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellars, Browns Vineyard, Portlaoise, Clontarf Wines, Gibneys, Malahide, Jus de Vin, Portmarnock, Lilac Wines, Fairview, Martins, Fairview, Morton’s, Ranelagh, Redmond’s, Ranelagh, Red Island.
Price Approx. €14.00
E – England produces wine! They produce some cracking sparkling wine that rivals some of the best Champagnes. One of the most famous is Nyetimber Classic Cuvee a beautiful sparkling wine with fine bubbles and persistent mousse. It has the perfect balance of fruit aromas such as baked apples and toasty nuances of almonds and brioche. It has a yummy creamy texture and crisp acidity. A unique sparkling wine ideal for a wine lover looking for a special treat.
Available from: Good Independent Wine Merchants
Price Approx. €60.00
F – Italy has hundreds of grape varieties that are planted throughout the country. Hidden in the Campania region in the south of Italy, we find the little gem Fiano. Rarely seen outside of Italy, it is making a name for itself in McLaren Vale in Australia. Mandrarossa Fiano is a tasty wine that is an alternative to a Sauvignon or Riesling it has lovely floral notes and hints of pear and quince and fresh herbs, it is fresh with crisp acidity. An extremely versatile food wine which pairs well with shellfish, fish, chicken, pork, tomato-based dishes and charcuterie.
Available from; Baggot Street Wines, Bradleys, Jus de Vin, Portmarnock, Martins, Fairview, Redmond’s Ranelagh and other good Independent wine shops.
Price Approx. €16.00
G – Gruner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria, hardly seen anywhere else. Aromas of delicate white fruit with some citrus and grapefruit notes, occasionally notes of white pepper. As it has high acidity it works well with fatty type foods such as schnitzel. Zantho Gruner Veltliner is my pick, as it has clean fresh aromas and delicate flavours and a lovely pleasant finish. Lovely as an aperitif or with simple dishes.
Available from; 64 Wines, Glasthule, Green Man Wines, Terenure, La Touche Wines, Lilac Wines, Fairview, Liliput Stores, Martins, Fairview, Matson’s, Morton’s, Ranelagh
Price Approx. €16.00
H – Hugel is one of the most famous producers from the Alsace region in North East France. A mixture of French and German grape varietals are grown in Alsace and they are generally unoaked, richer and fuller bodied than German wines. Hugel produce single varietals wines; Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner and Muscat. My favourite is a crowd-pleasing style that is a blend of all the noble grapes. It is perfumed with aromas of rose petals, white flowers, peach, apricot and hints of spice. The wine is full bodied but with balanced acidity. I love pairing it with any sort of exotic cuisine, such as Thai, Asian, Moroccan and Mexican food, it works great with tapas,
sushi and chilli beef tacos.
Available from; Alex Findlater & Co, Limerick, Bradleys, Cork, Donnybrook Fair, Jus de Vin,
Portmarnock, McHughs, Kilbarrack, Martins, Fairview, Mortons, Ranelagh.
Price Approx. €17.00
I hope you enjoyed part 1. Have fun exploring and discovering some new and exciting grape varieties and regions. As always, I would love to hear if you have tried any of them, let me know your thoughts.
Hi, I am Lynda Coogan owner of Wine Tasting Ireland, I am delighted to be part of The Taste team where I can passionately share my love and knowledge of wine with you. I hold a WSET Diploma in wine, I have ten years’ experience in the wine trade and I am a member of the Guild of Sommeliers. Wine Tasting Ireland, specialises in hosting fun, interactive wine tastings for groups.
I believe that by going back to basics, wine can be appreciated by everyone, a little knowledge goes a long way! We come to you, bring all that’s needed to set up a unique, bespoke wine tasting event in your offices, your home or any venue. They are ideal for team building at work, a social gathering or a special occasion. I would love to hear from you, so please get in touch.