Last week, I talked about our variation on Open That Bottle Night, our unknown wine event. In last week’s article, I talked about the white wines we tasted. This week, I will talk about the reds.
Notes About the Wines
As I mentioned in my last article, I am combining our teachings with information from Wikipedia, WinePros. Wine Folly and Tablas Creek Vineyard. Except where mentioned, all of the quotes are from WinePros.
Unknown Wine #1 Nebbiolo
This difficult-to-grow grape originates in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is “considered one of the great wine varieties, bigger, more acidic and tannic, sometimes even bitter, than most types, but consequently long-lived and prized by collectors.”
“Wines made from nebbiolo are typically tart, tannic and alcoholic and the resulting wines can require long aging to be at their best. The classic romanticized description of Barolo is “tar and roses”; the best may also smell of cherries, violets and black licorice or truffles and have rich, chewy, deep and long-lasting flavors. Good Nebbiolo can harmonize with the richest, strongest-flavored meats and stews, as well as dry, aged cheeses that may be too strong or distinctive for other wines.”
Unknown Wine #2: Tannat
According to Tablas Creek’s website, “Tannat makes decidedly robust wines, with pronounced aromas of smoke and plum, significant tannins and a wonderfully spicy finish.” Their site talks about the wine’s origin, saying, “Though many scholars believe Tannat originated in the Basque region, Tannat is most closely associated with the winemaking region of Madiran, at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in southwestern France.”
In the late 1800s, Tannat made its way to Uruguay where it has happily become the national red grape variety of the country, accounting for approximately one third of all wine produced there. According to Tablas Creek, more Tannat is grown in Uruguay than in France!
Besides tasting great, the best part about Tannat is its health benefits. Again, according to Tablas Creek, “Recent research, led by Dr. Roger Corder… makes the case for oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs) as the source of red wine’s health benefits. All red grapes, particularly those with thick skins and high skin-to-pulp ratios, contain OPCs. But, after measuring the OPC concentration of several common red wine grapes, Dr. Corder identifies Tannat as the grape with the greatest concentration. The real-life evidence of Tannat’s benefits can be seen in the surprisingly long lifespans of residents of the département of Gers in southwest France, whose local wine appellation is Madiran. Gers contains more than double the national average of men in their nineties. Madiran’s principal grape is Tannat.”
Unknown Wine #3: Sagrantino
According to Wikipedia, “Sagrantino is an Italian grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy. It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas. With small production, the wine is not widely known outside Italy. The grape has one of the highest tannic levels of any variety in the world and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black center. The bouquet is one of dark, brooding red fruits with hints of plum, cinnamon, and earth.”
Originally, wine makers raisinated the grapes on straw mats and exclusively made dessert wines. The wine has only been made in a dry style beginning in the mid 1970. Today, there are only 75 acres of this grape grown in the US, all of those acres are in Sonoma.
Please consider doing your own variations on Open That Bottle Night. You can follow us by trying unknown wines, or you can do something completely different. Our next Open That Bottle Night will be focused on Cabernet and Cabernet Franc.