There are well over 7000 grape varieties, and more come on stream annually. Most of the newcomers are hybrids specially developed to either ripen early in cool-climate regions, or are disease-resistant, or are dark skinned, or posses other attributes to suit a particular need.
There are also many grape varieties that are on the verge of disappearing due to neglect and poor demand.
Most wine drinkers, at least in North America, favour generic or verietal wines that are either well advertised, or with which they are familiar. In the red wine category Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz lead, and in whites Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, plus a few other varieties lead.
Italy, southern France, Spain, Greece and a few Balkan countries offer wines that are unique and rewarding.
I addition to their exotic flavours, all are reasonably priced in an attempt to popularize them.
Recently, I had an opportunity to taste a number of fine wines made using grape varieties such as Vidadillo, Cjanorie, Forgiarin, Bobal, Barbarrossa, Sussumanielo, Maturana tinta, Tempranillo blanco, Marsigliana nera and others.
I found many to be very appealing food wines that would enhance well-prepared dishes.
These wines are available through small agencies, usually come in boxes of six bottles and delivered to your door.
All are available in Ontario but you can by on behalf of friends or relatives living in others provinces.
In other counties that allow free enterprise alcoholic beverages any merchant would be happy to order any for you.
Menguante Vidadillo, 2007, Vinedos y Bodegas Pablo Almonacid de la Sierra, Carinena, Spain
Aromas of almond waft out oft the glass. The wine is full-bodied, dry, and finishes well.
Serve with deep fried breaded calamari or pan-fried swordfish.
Forgiarin, 2010, I Vini di Emilio Bulfon, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy
Vibrant red, aromas of ripe stone fruits dominate. In the mouth the wine offers floral flavours with a good acid backbone. Full bodied, well balanced with a long finish.
Serve with lamb stew, grilled sausages, semi-hard cheeses or cold cuts e.g mortadella, capicollo, soprasette.
Casa Don Angel Bobal, 2007, Vera de Estenas, Utiell-Requena, Spain
Crimson and brilliant colour. Powerful with a lot of extract and layered flavours. Full bodied, and well balanced. Can be cellared for two to three years, but ready to enjoy with game stews, beef roasts, med-rare steaks, old cheddar, Parmegiano-Reggiano.
Barbarosssa, 2008, Fattoria Paradiso, Emiglia-Romagna, Italy
Vinted entirely from Barbarossa grapes grown on teh fertile soils of eastern Emiglia-Romagna, this extremely flavourful, multidimensional, full bodied wine deserves to be enjoyed with roast leg of lamb, roast rack of lamb, roast beef (rare).
Sussumanielo, 2008, Torre Guaceto, Puglia, Italy
Made entirely from Sussumanielo grapes that were on the verge of extinction in this southern Italian region. Well-extracted, aromas of ripe stone fruits dominate. Full bodied, smooth and deliciously harmonious with a long finish. Enjoy wit roast loin of pork or pastas with meat sauce.
Cjanori, 2011, I Vini Di Emilio Bulfon, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy
Aromas of flowers great the nose. The wine has a pleasant flavour, medium-body, is mouth-watering ad eminently enjoyable with roast veal, flavourful grilled sausages, hard cheeses, pastas with meat sauce, roast turkey, and traditional pizza Naples style.
Cairanne Prestige, 2009, Domaine St. Auded, Sarl Beaumet et Fils, Cotes du Rhone, France
A blend of Grenach and Syrah, this powerful, full-bodied, deeply flavoured wine has a long and satisfying finish. Well priced, actually a bargain. It will be released on March 17, at the Vintages.