It is very typical for vino lovers to get stuck on a type of wine. Fans of red wine stick to it similar to those who prefer white wine. Regardless of the time of year or food they’re about to eat the habit usually results not only in choosing between red or white but also a specific variety.
While it is more than fine to have a favourite, whether that is the king of wines Cabernet Sauvignon or the party-favourite Moscato, it is also valuable in your tasting experiences to expand your palate. Trying different varieties cannot only help you to appreciate other flavours and complexities unique to each grape but also further help you to understand why your preferred wine is a Pinot.
There are more than 5,000 grape varieties around the world. Tasting every single one would be quite impossible as you would have to be extremely dedicated and we would have to suggest help for your alcoholism. Instead, WineCollective has complied a list of some under the radar wines that we enjoy or would love the chance to enjoy some day soon.
Originating on the beautiful island Santorini, Greece, Assyrtiko is a white skinned grape with lime aromas. The crisp taste goes hand in hand with any Greek dish, fresh grilled seafood or Asian inspired cuisine.
In the mouth Assyrtiko is typically sweet or dry with a medium length finish. Floral and citrus flavours are expressed on the palate. The wine typically holds some peppery spiciness to is as the vines, which take up 70% of Santorini’s plantings, are grown in volcanic soil.
Assyrtiko wines are not challenging to find, especially if you are in any Greek restaurant as they are very fond of their wine. I have had the joy of trying a few Assyrtikos and highly recommend you give them a taste as well. They have fresh and fabulous characteristics, perfect for summer!
If you guessed that this red grape is a cross of Cabernet (Cab Franc to be exact) and Merlot, you are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, only two hectares in the entire world grow the vines to produce such a treat. Belonging to a single estate in Tuscany, Caberlot is owned by Bettina and Woolf Rogosky after it was found in an abandoned vineyard in the 1960’s. When travelling to Tuscany, be sure to stop by and say hello. Maybe they will share their exclusive wine.
Used to produce Tokaji wine, Furmit is a noble grape found at a small town near the foot of the Tatra Mountains in Hungary. Dating back to the 1600’s Furmint is said to be absolutely delightful with flavours of marmalade, carmel and raisin on the palate.
While the grape originated in Germany, Kent, England has become the most recognized area for Ortega as it tends to thrive is cooler climates. England also saved the variety from becoming extinct. Ortega produces a white wine with “keen” acidity, gooseberry and floral notes. It could be the next big thing in British wine.
Genetically bred in Australia with a hybrid blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Spanish variety, Sumoll, Tyrian is one of the newest grapes on the block. The dark skinned grape itself ripens very late in the growing season, thus is requires hot summers and warm days in early fall. Since it takes a long time to reach harvest, Tyrian wine is deep in colour with a bright hue. Notes of plum and violets take over on the palate.
*McWilliams Hanwood Estate Winery Cellar Door. Photo John Eggers.
McWilliam’s Wine in Australia currently grows and produces Tyrian wine that receives positive reviews: “Firm, generous and rather robust red with some very promising dark berry and plum fruit. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and redcurrants with meaty, gamey undertones.”
6. Chenin Blanc
A white grape similar to the fruitiness of a Riesling but with earthy qualities the wine tends to be more full. If you haven’t heard of Chenin Blanc it is not nearly as uncommon as others on our list, so go and find some!
Chenin Blanc wines are very versatile. Depending on production and the ripeness of the grapes during harvest, Chenin Blanc can produce sparkling, super dry, semi dry or sweet wines. A medium body shows flavours of honey, pear and earth minerality on the palate followed with a long finish. Food pairings are also in a wide range including seafood, white meat, vegetarian or spicy dishes.
WineCollective has featured the 2011 Spier Chenin Blanc and found it have tropical notes such as pineapple and melon. We recommend you serve it at 8 degrees Celsius and try it with sushi!
If you enjoy a Merlot, this variety may be for you. The grape originated in France and is expressed as a light and sweet Merlot.
Once brought to California, winemakers renamed the grape Napa Gamay, but the title was banned because it was thought to be confusing. It is recommended to drink Valdiguie slightly chilled to enhance the fruity and plum red flavours. Enjoy alongside spicy fish or chicken.
A Mediterranean specialty that grows plenty in southern Italy. However, historically the grape originated in Greece and was brought to the boot. The grapes produce a very heavy and in depth wine. The full-bodied texture with high tannins and acidity may be a lot to handle but the wine is perfectly balanced with black fruit when produced well. Small-scale plantings of Agilianico are located in Australia, California and even Texas.
An incredibly difficult grape to grow, Carignan needs warm and dry climates and plenty of time to reach superb fruit quality. It is speculated that the origins of the grape lie in Spain, where is produces dark wines with black fruit flavours, licorice and spicy accents. Typically the wine is blended in red wines with plenty of aroma and flavour where Carignan can fill in body and rich colour. A varietal vintage or blend makes a great pair to spicy meat balls or eggplant lasagna.
No, not the cheese, however, it does taste delicious alongside the white wine. Pecorino, a light skinned grape, is grown in Italy’s eastern coastal regions, specifically Abruzzo. It ripens very quickly and can be harvested early either to produce dry mineral wines or a blend component of Trebbiano. By itself, Pecorino wine is straw yellow in colour with a floral bouquet of acacia and jasmine.
WineCollective aims to provide you with the most fascinating and diverse wines available in our packages. We hope one day to have all of these wine varieties included in our repertoire. Until then, we challenge and encourage you to taste as many unique varieties as possible and expand your palate. Who knows, you may even find a new favourite among the list!