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Fingerprints and snowflakes aren’t the only examples of Mother Nature’s infinite variety.  Not quite as well known, wine grapes are nearly as individual and prolific as the flakes and prints.

With man’s intervention added to the mix, today within the genus Vitis and the species vinifera, there are more than 10,000 varieties of wine grapes. Look at it this way . . . if wine from every one of the grape varieties was commercially available, and if you drank the wine of a different variety every single day, it would take you more about 28 years to experience them all. (How’s THAT for putting it into perspective?)

But you probably won’t want to try them all . . . among those 10,000+ varieties are grapes that have the power to make extraordinary wines. And then there are grapes that have the power to make very common wines. And finally, there are grapes that make wines not even a Mother could love! Most of the thousands of varieties are ambiguous to say the least, and rarely enter into international commerce . . . thankfully.

If you were a real fan of obscure wines and had the time and resources to explore, you could hit the back roads of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece in search of some of the more illusive wines. You would have upwards of 1,500 different grape varieties of wine to sample — that equates to more than four years’ worth of wine drinking, trying one different wine each and every day.  The average wine drinker is destined to encounter less than 100 varieties over the course of his/her wine-loving lifetime.

MONT ROCHER — MALBEC VIEILLES VIGNES PAYS D’OC  (Vintage 2013, Red)     Country: France  Region: Languedoc-Roussillon  Grape: Malbec

Vin de Pays is a French term meaning “country wine.” The Pays d’Oc is a “Vin de Pays” from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southeast France. This beautiful Mediterranean region is blessed with a fine sunny climate and is the most important “Vin de Pays” region and the prime source of France’s varietal wines. The majority of wines are red, and these wines are always labeled by the principal grape variety.

The fruit (100% Malbec) is sourced from two small parcels. One, in the cooler climate of Limoux, brings freshness and structure. The other is the warmer area of Languedoc and provides ripe, juicy fruit.

This Malbec is crafted to display purity of flavor and give a real “gout de terroir,” which means “taste of the earth;” or more accurately, “a sense of place.” Deep black currant color, the nose is an appealing mix of plum, dark red fruits with slight hints of violet and pepper. The palate is equally appealing — having quite a silky mouthfeel, soft and delicate tannins, and medium levels of acidity that balance well with the soft, dark black and plum fruits. There are slight notes of cassis and earthy leather. The finish is long, smooth and succulent. Enjoy it now, at about 60°, with barbecued meats or strong cheeses.

Mont Rocher Malbec Vieilles Vignes Pays D’Oc:

MALBEC — This red-fruit grape is traditionally used for both color and significant tannin. Notably grown in Mediterranean regions, it has a thick skin rich in color pigments. Small amounts of Malbec are traditionally used to color correct and balance the acidity of blended and assemblage wines. Outstanding as a stand-alone wine.

MO-VELT GRUNER VELTLINER  (Vintage 2013, White)  Country: Austria  Region: Burgenland  Grape: Grüner Veltliner

Burgenland is a large wine producing region in eastern Austria. Burgenland occupies a narrow strip of land that runs from the Danube River in the north to Steiermark in the south. On its eastern side is the border with Hungary, and to the west lie the most eastern foothills of the Alps. The land is for the most part flat, although vineyards can be found in the foothills of the Leithaberg and Eisenberg mountains, as well. The region enjoys a mild climate with over 300 days of sunshine per year and excellent terroirs. The Neusiedlersee Lake has a huge influence on the region’s wine production.

This Grüner Veltliner is light yellow-green in color, and is a refreshingly light wine that is perfect for any occasion. It has a fresh, elegant nose which balances nicely with its mineral and herbal characteristics.

Enjoy it now. Serve chilled with appetizers, Wiener Schnitzel, poultry, flavorful fish or light meat dishes. It goes well with most Asiatic dishes, especially Thai cuisine.

Mo-Velt Grüner Veltliner:

GRÜNER VELTLINER GRAPES — This white grape variety is the most important wine grape in Austria, and accounts for about one-third of Austria’s total viticultural area. It produces fresh, well-balanced wines with a light, fruity and sometimes slightly spicy flavor. When grown in the Wauchau area, there is a distinctly penetrating pepperiness to the Grüner Veltliner fruit. Other areas lend their own distinctiveness. This offering from Burgenland offers no hint of the pepperiness, but shines with mineral and herb nuances.

MARCHESI DE’ CORDANO — AIDA MONTEPULCIANO D’ ABRUZZO DOC (Vintage 2010, Red)  Country: Italy  Region: Abruzzo  Grape: Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo

Abruzzo is a mountainous region about midway up the boot on the Adriatic side of the Apennines. It’s hot, dry climate favors the native red grape Montepulciano. In the hill country these grapes make full-bodied robust but smooth wines that are often peppery and spicy — making them the perfect complement to the region’s sometimes spicy foods.

The Marchesi De’ Cordano Estate has a rich history dating to the 18th century. It was purchased in 2003 by Francesco D’Onofrio and today is a state-of-the-art operation with about 124 acres of vineyards. Montepulciano represents the main vine variety of Abruzzo, making full-bodied and soft red wines with velvety tannins.

Made of 100% Estate Grown Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo, this red colored wine has purple reflections in the glass. Its personality is flowery and fruity, with hints of violets and nuances of cherry and plum. Full structured, elegant and dry, with delightful soft tannins in the finish. It is ready to enjoy now. Serve at about 55° with cold cuts, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, grilled sausages, burgers and medium cheeses.

Marchesi De’ Cordano Aida Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo:

MONTEPULCIANO D’ ABRUZZO GRAPES — If the truth were known, it would be said that this grape makes the only fine wine that comes from the Abruzzi domain. Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo grapes create an interesting and elegant wine when bottled singularly. It is the main vine variety of Abruzzo, and makes luscious full bodied and soft red wines with velvet tannins. From this area of Italy, this grape is sometimes married to a bit of Sangiovese where the two grapes, one contributing soft, luscious fruit and the other firmness and tannic character, make an exciting nectar.

VINS DEL COMTAT — VIOGNIER ALICANTE (Vintage 2013, White) Country: Spain  Region: Alicante  Grape: Viognier

Alicante is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) located in the province of Alicante in the rugged coast of Southeastern Spain where limestone mountains tower majestically over the sea. This region has a long history of grape growing and wine production which was introduced by the Romans. For more than 2,000 years, vines have been grown in an ideal microclimate, surrounded by pine trees, evergreen oaks and olive groves, gently caressed by Mediterranean breezes.

The Vins del Comtat winery and Estate is located in the town of Cocentaina. The winery boasts state-of-the-art modern technology combined with the best traditional methods of winemaking.

The fruit for this wine (100% Viognier) is grown in several small vineyards in the mountains, and carefully selected, handled and manipulated to make a wine that’s soft yellow in color, brilliant and transparent. It has a complex nose with forward tropical fruit and herbs. The flavor is full, fresh and lively. It has a powerful top note with pleasant hints of ripe fruits, followed by a long, clean, extraordinarily fresh end note. Chill it and open it now. Serve with shellfish, grilled vegetables, pan fried trout, and light pasta dishes.

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Tracie Burket
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