Thursday, July 30, 2009

Do I Want To Drink 100 Wines? Hell Yeah!

A few weeks ago, the incomparable Miss Mary sent me and KB an email asking us if we wanted to join her in her quest to become a card-carrying member of The Wine Century Club. Essentially the goal is to drink 100 different varietals. Mary said it had to be within a year - I didn't see anything to that effect on the WCC website but then again, I haven't spent as much time on the site as I have in bars and restaurants since her invitation trying to drink as many obscure wines as possible. Oh yeah - and broaden my horizons. And expand my palette. And anything else that sounds rather cultured and highbrow as opposed to my just drinking an assload of wine.

Seriously, I drink wine pretty much daily. Obviously, there's not a huge selection locally where I am and I tend to stick to my faves like Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, any kind of Gun Bun when I can get my grubby little paws on it, and of course, my stash from Childress. But now that I am on a quest to join WCC, I am using every drinks and dinner out as an opportunity to knock another random varietal off my list. Oh - and trips to Trader Joe's. Because they have an awesome selection of random (and cheap) wines.

When I was at the O.Henry in Greensboro a few weeks ago, I ordered a glass of Hondarrabi Zuri, Txakoli, Itsas Mendi, Spain '06. Hondarrabi Zuri is the varietal. Um yeah - had never heard of that one.

Then when I was at a conference the other week at a posh resort in South Carolina, over the course of several days I tried the 2007 Valpolicella Superiore, Zenato, Veneto (a classic Corvina blend which includes Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes), the 2005 Argiano NC Toscana (a Super Tuscan which contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese - none of which I needed but it was a damn good wine), and the Abadia Retuerta Selection Especial Sardon del duero 2001 which is a Tempranillo.

Last week I was down in Greenville, SC and had an awesome dinner at The Wine Cafe at Northampton Wines. I arrived a little bit early so I could check out the retail shop (where I scored a bottle of Gun Bun Mountain Cuvee and no - they don't pay me to pimp their wines - I do it because I am mildly obsessed out of the sheer goodness of my heart and OMG have you tried their wines? SOOOO YUMMY!!!). Anyways, I wound up talking to the owner, Richard, and I told him about my efforts to join The WCC and my ongoing quest to try obscure varietals. He had 2 he was pouring by the glass and he let me sample both. The first was Sartori di Verona, Ferdi, Garganega, Bianco Veronese 2007 which was an Italian white. Garganega is the varietal. The other was from Sardinia - the Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2005. Richard told me Cannonau was the name of the varietal, but when I looked it up, it turns out that Cannonau is actually Grenache - only apparently the Sardnians call it Cannonau. So not as obscure as I would have hoped, but still another one checked off the list.

Anyways, based on recent tastings, I have so far tried 23 varietals which means I am slightly more than a fifth of the way through. If I were to include varietals that I know I have had in my life but not recently (incl. Barbera, Brachetto, Falanghina, and Gruner Veltliner), the total number would jump to 41. But really - what's the fun in that?

And of course, Miss Mary has already sent scads of emails about all the fun wine tasting parties we will have like this:

I figure we can get a group of varietals that are similar...mostly from a particular country and do tastings perhaps with some hors d'oeuvres or desserts. I was reading Total Wine catalog and think I'll bring back some more Vin Santo; ( mine are very old) and that will be the malvasia and trebbiano right there and a white muscat or moscato. All are wonderful and with homemade biscotti, yumm!

Sadly we both were out of town for the Greek line-up at Corkscrew in Birkdale Village:

Hatzidakis White 2007, Santorini AOC (Assyrtico)
Mitravelas 'Red on Black' 2007, Nemea AOC (Agiorgitiko)
Konstantinos 'Ampelou Gis' Red 2006, Messinia VDP (Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon)
Tatsis 'Angels Peak' Red 2006, Goumenissa AOC (Sinomavaro/Negoska)

But Mary is always thinking one step ahead:

We can have a Greek Mt. Olympus tasting one night!!!

I'll bring the spanikopita and the keftethes. You supply the Moschofilero and the Xynomavro!

So yeah...going forward it's all about Aglianico, Auxerrois, Castelao, Inzolia, Lladoner Pelut, Pigato, Scheurebe, Zweigelt and 70 other varietals. And while neither Scuppernong or Muscadine are on the list (although there is an "other category" seeing as there are 1000s and 1000s of varietals), it's nice to know that The WCC gives a little credit to The South as Catawaba grapes (classified as Vitis labrusca on Wikipedia and described as having a "foxy" flavor) do make the cut.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Anonymous said...

Wine...not so country.

I know I am showing my ignorance here but "What is a varitel?"

Is it variey? Is it something significant to wine?