10 Exciting White Wines at Vinisud 2016

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Last week I was at Vinisud 2016 – the three day exhibition in Montpellier focusing on wines of the Mediterranean.

This is a vast fair, making it impossible to taste all the wines I wanted. Many gems I wanted to taste and never reached – but here are 10 whites which stood out. In some cases, a producer had different white wines or appellations which were also excellent – but I have restricted the choice to one from each domaine and from each appellation.

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Rediscovering Forgotten Grapes

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At the recent Wine Mosaic conference, one of the facts that shocked participants most of all was the fact that the majority of wine is made with only a small percentage of the grape varieties available to us. 70% of French wine production comes from only 30% of the varieties grown, and this pattern is repeated globally.

6th century AD grape vine mosaic with Armenian inspcription in chapel of St. Polyeuctos, Jerusalem

6th century AD grape vine mosaic with Armenian inscription in chapel of St. Polyeuctos, Jerusalem

Less-used and lost varieties are important for several reasons. They enlarge the biodiversity of plants available, have been established for centuries and have adapted to different climates and regions and therefore have a unique taste of the terroir, and this combination of plant variation and different terroir enriches the range of wine tastes and styles available and reflects the different cultural tastes as well as maybe giving us a glimpse of tastes from the past. Continue reading

Unpronounceable Grapes from Hungary

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The Unprounceable Grape

The Unprounceable Grape wine label

Ever since an Hungarian wine made with Cserszegi füszeres was labelled as “The Unpronounceable Grape” for the UK market, there has been some caution as to whether Hungarian varietal wines are handicapped in the international market.

I was asked to talk at the Prowein wine fair in March 2015, about whether I thought this was so. We looked and tasted a range of Hungarian varieties, many with wonderfully poetic translations: Arany Sárfehér (golden mud), Hárslevelü (lime leaf), Királyleányka (the King’s daughter), Leányka, Szürkebarát (hooded grey monk – Pinot Gris), Portugieser (red – previously Kékoportó), Irsai Olivér and Cserszegi Fűszeres (the spicy grape from Cserszeg) – but we could have also included Juhfark (sheep’s tail), Kadarka (red), Kéknyelű (blue stalk), Ezerjó (1000 blessings), Kékfrankos (red), Olaszrizling and Furmint,

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