OK, so perhaps this was too difficult, or maybe folks felt that it had to be done completely without assistance. Not true. In fact, I would expect one to ask a friend, neighbour, countryman, wine store manager, fellow wine lover, Mr G. or even Wiki to seek out the answers. I don’t consider any of that cheating! How else is one to learn about something? Or maybe you don’t care about geeky grapes or where they come from in Italy or what colour they are! That’s ok too! Remember that I said it’s not something to stress over, simply for fun. So with that, here are the answers!
The grapes are all in fact, white. While some Italian grape names give us clues as to what colour it is, some do not at all!
Vernaccia di Oristano– actually, this is one from a group of grapes. There are four white and two red in this group, and this is one of the white ones. This particular Vernaccia is from Sardinia, which can be made in a fortified style, that can be secco (dry) or dolce (sweet), however there are traditionally dry versions out there, although I’ve never tasted one.
Albarola – this grape is found in both Tuscany and Liguria (where the Cinque Terre is) and is sometimes confused with Trebbiano Toscano. This is a grape that is useful in blends for dry wines, but it also makes a rare passito wine, which would also be sweet. This grape I have not tasted either.
Biancolella – one of the grapes of the Campanian island of
Ischia. One will often find this grape in a blend with its Ischian partner Forastera, in a wine called Ischia Bianco. By itself though, it will have lots of fresh herbs, spearmint, grapefruit flavours along with that saline tang so prevalent of grapes growing on an island. I really liked both Biancolella and Forastera when I tried them, but preferred the former in flavour to the latter.
Capprettone – also from Campania, but on the mainland, with the grapes growing nearby and even on the Vesuvius volcano. Because this grape is so high in acid, it can be naturally suitable for making sparkling wine. By itself, it will have lots of lemony citrus flavours along with that high minerality component (volcanic soil will do that)!
Coda di Volpe – Campania seems to be the theme of these grapes, although not intentionally! But, this grape can also be found in Puglia and Sicily. The name of this grape means tail of the fox, because that’s what the shape of the grapes look like – long and maybe a bit ‘bushy’! Typically, we see this blended with Greco or Fiano, but by itself, it’s very steely and minerally. A friend of mine described it as “licking a stainless steel fridge”. Hmm, not that I suggest you do that, but if it helps identify a wine…go for it!
Grechetto – Maybe you’ve heard of Orvieto wine?
Well, the main grape of that wine is…Grechetto! It’s mainly found in Umbria, but can also be found in Abruzzo, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna. It’s light bodied with high acidity and aromas and flavours of flowers and chamomile.
Of the above grapes, I have tasted three of them. Perhaps this is my year to seek out the wines made with Capprettone, Albarola and Vernaccia di Oristano!
I hope you have learned just a tiny bit more about native Italian grapes! Stay tuned for the next post of G3, and I hope some of you actually take a stab on guessing at least the colour of the grapes! Salute!