Variety is the spice of life, or at least that’s what we’re told. At Virgin Wines, we firmly believe that experimenting is the key to unlocking your senses to a world of flavour and excitement, which is why we work hard to find the wines we know you’ll love. Whether that’s hopping over the fence from a top producer to get all the quality without the price tag, or exploring new and exciting regions that get left behind in the hustle and bustle of the wine world.
However this blog post isn’t about any specific wines, but rather the grape varieties that don’t get the coverage they deserve. We have an enormous amount of love for the classics like Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, but they are the Kardashians of the wine world, they get more than enough coverage and certainly don’t need any more exposure.
This is one of my absolute favourite varieties from the north-west Italian territory of Piedmonte. Often considered the younger uglier brother of Nebbiolo, Barbera is starting to get a little more recognition in its own right. Due to its history of being used as a table wine to wash down the rich cuisine of Piedmonte, the variety is known as the wine for the people. It’s not overly expensive, it won’t blow you away with it’s full fruit flavours, but it’s exceptional in its own right. If you want to be transported to an Italian piazza, with the sun setting and the aroma of a good home-cooked lasagna, then try Barbera, you won’t be disappointed.
Not the easiest variety to pronounce (gə-vu̇rt-stra-ma-ner), this aromatic white grape is a thing of beauty. This variety is the second most planted one in Alsace where it enjoys the clay rich soils. This variety produces full bodied wines of a golden colour, and it also makes incredible dessert wines due to its natural sweetness. Some people can be put off by its perfumed aroma, scents of lychee, tropical fruit, rose petals and apricot, but don’t be afraid, good producers create balanced offerings that taste quite magnificent.
It may not be the most popular grape, but you won’t fine another variety that sounds as elegant as Montepulciano. Widely planted in central and southern Italy, the Montepulciano variety produces a deep coloured, soft flavour wine that compliments a lot of different dishes perfectly. The most popular Montepulcianos come from the Abruzzo region where the Adriatic coast helps produce high yields of very approachable wines. Although it’s vastly more famous in Italy, it’s not uncommon to find this variety in Australia or the USA, and it also makes a great partner for blending.
This little green-skinned number is perfect for all you seafood aficionados. Produced widely in Galicia, a North-West terriroty of the Iberian Peninsula, this variety offers up a high acidity wine with notes of citrus and a natural freshness due to the ocean breezes from the Atlantic coast. Due to the acidity, this wine is considered a light wine with high alcohol levels, and it’s absolutely perfect for the seafood diet of this coastal region. This can be a little too bitter for some people, but if you slightly chill it and pair it with stack of garlic butter mussels, I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it.
Fortunately this wine is starting to become more and more popular, some of my favourite wines in our range happen to be South African Pinotage. A combination of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, this variety enjoys a little heat, but too much and you’ll experience a very unpleasant flavour. However there are more and more producers in South Africa getting this variety spot on, and when that happens the end result is fantastic. Concentrated flavours of black fruit with chocolate and leather, you’ll get varieties from table wine all the way up to more prestigious offering. Next time you’re building your case, pop a Pinotage in from Stellenbosch, you won’t be disappointed.