The Grape Count

In Vino Veritas- "In Wine there is Truth"
Grapes to try to date: 200

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#24- Xarel-lo

So I screwed up on this wine tasting but I swear it's not my fault. I gave my sister a list of wines that couldn't be found for purchase here in Alberta as she was doing her annual family trip to the States. On the list was the Xarel-lo grape, a spanish grape and the only grape starting with the letter X. 'Lo and behold she finds it, buys me a bottle and my brother and I proceed to try the wine almost immediately. The mistake I made was not leaving her any to try and that was the only bottle she brought back! Oops! My apologies to my sister and if anyone would like to help me make amends, ship me a bottle of Xarmant Txakoli.

Yup, that's the name of the wine and I'm not even really sure how you pronounce it. The vineyard is Txakoli de Alava in Spain. The whole website is also in Spanish so I'm not going to be able to add much here at all. The important thing to know is that Craig and I really liked this wine.

We had a lovely meal made of left overs from Craig's barbequed pot roast. It was his second meal of the roast, my first. I added a lovely side salad a la Greque.  It was a nice lovely weekend and I was prepared to enjoy a nice glass of chilled wine with my meal.

It was good! I wish Alberta would really import this wine! This grape is absolutely delicious. If you are familiar with Cava, then you have tried this grape. I did find the wine had a very fresh taste and smell to it, very refreshing to the senses for sure. It was quite aromatic, almost a grassy undertone to it. It didn't take us long to finish the bottle of wine (again, with apologies to Kristin).

Though an unusual grape, it packs a punch and it's really too bad that we can't get the grape variety here in Alberta. And just in case you're wondering how I do go about figuring this out, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has a website that they don't market at all but is a wonderful tool for anyone searching for wine, spirits or beer and want to know what liquor retailers carry it, if at all, and in proximity to their location. The website is the Alberta Liquor Guide. Bookmark it as it comes in very handy when you least expect it. I've let several friends of mine know about it and really- the AGLC should be doing a much better job promoting this great website, it's an excellent tool.

That's my rant for the evening (and yes, I've ranted about it before). Our next wine is another muscat, this time Muscat of Alexandria. And the perfect opportunity to drink this dessert wine- a birthday party! Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#23 Primitivo (Zinfandel)

I learned a few things drinking this grape varietal. The first is that a Primitivo wine is the same as a Zinfandel wine. Here in North America we are more familiar with the Zinfandel because of the grape (identical in DNA) is grown in California and even then, many of us are mistakenly thinking of a rose wine. In fact, the Primitivo or Zinfandel grape is a red grape and also a red wine. It's considered a heavyweight wine and is moderately acidic.

It oftens contains a fruit flavour and is it reminds me anyway of a slightly heavier Shiraz or Syrah so if you like that wine, get yourself a Zinfandel. The good news is the grape is widely available.

To say I was excited about this wine was an understatement. Not only because of a new grape, but because the winery I had chosen is one of my absolute favourites! And I thought for sure this was a win win! Was it a win win? Well, the second thing I learned is sometimes it's a good idea to try the wine taste. Let me explain.

The wine I had chosen is the Primitivo wine from Layer Cake Winery. Now I shouldn't be telling you about Layer Cake because I just make it harder and harder for myself to find the wine. It sells out so quickly! I discovered this wine purely by chance on a snowboarding trip this past New Year's- sitting inconspicuously on a grocery store shelf in Whitefish Montana. I vaguely remembered reading about Layer Cake in Food & Wine magazine so I quickly snatched up a bottle of Shiraz and headed back to the house.

Well, we ended up loving this wine. And by the end of the snowboard trip and for new year's, nearly everyone had brought Layer Cake wine to the party after tasting our wine. I have since bought the Malbec as well as was excited to discover that one of the local liquor stores here carried the Primitivo. It too me three trips to the store to finally get a bottle because Layer Cake sells out so fast. It's that good!

So, I was excited about the Primitivo as their Shiraz and Malbec didn't let me down. In fact, I'll write a separate posting about them. I brought the Primitivo over to my sister's house as she was really wanting to try it.

We cracked open the bottle and sat down for dinner. Now, I actually forgot to take pictures of the dinner (cheeseburgers) so the pic below is what Craig had for dinner with his share of the Primitivo. He barbequed a roast for himself and his buddies to watch either UFC or MMA or some other three letter fight I don't know about.

Kristin's first impression of the wine- disappointment. She said it before I'd had my first sip. I'm not sure if that influenced my decision or not but my first few sips were less than satisfactory as well. I couldn't really register that I was drinking a bad Layer Cake wine. She had to leave right after dinner but I stuck around for a bit and had a second glass. I think my impression of it improved as the wine breathed a little. I noticed the acidity right away and maybe that's why Kristin was disappointed. There was a faint hint of fruit (in fact there are many) and of coffee. While it left an aftertaste in the mouth, there was nothing particularly unpleasing about it but it certainly didn't wow me like the other wines had. Best to wait.

Mom took the wine home for Craig to taste and I have no idea actually what he thought of the wine. How much did I have to drink that night? I'll have to do some follow up on this issue. Sorry about that. But anyway, I did pick up the bottle of wine after and had a glass of it the next day. And the wine was completely different. I very much enjoyed this wine so mental note to self: open the bottle a day before serving! It was absolutely delicious and I wish I'd had more than just a glass left. Good to the last drop I guess!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

#22- Verdehlo

We have a winner!! And this was decided by Craig within seconds of tasting this wine so it must be a good one. In fact, I think it took Craig mere minutes to drink his first glass of wine and as I was leaving not ten minutes later, he had poured himself a second!

This Verdehlo wine was part of the group of four wines I had purchased from Crestwood Liquor store. It was also the wine I had brought for the brother and I to drink on our second day of hiking. The hike didn't happen but the drinking of wine sure did. 

I have to tell you a funny story. So just before Craig and I had left for our hiking trip a couple of weeks ago, I headed into the Crestwood Liquor Store in Edmonton's west end to pick up a couple of bottles of wine. I lucked out and managed to find four wines on my list, and all around the $20 mark which is very affordable and pleasantly surprising.

I took the four bottles to the checkout and as the clerk rang my order through he said "interesting choices, you have four very rare grape varietals here." Laughing that finally someone noticed my odd choices, I told him about my blog and my attempts to drink every grape varietal out there. He thought it was a fantastic idea and wished me luck! I had a good chuckle on the way home, knowing that he probably thought I was a little off my rocker. But it was nice to see someone noticing my choices!

The Potts Family Bleasdale Winery in south Australia is who made this 2009 Verdehlo wine, aptly named the "Potts Catch". Ideally drunk with some seafood, I poured the wine and sat down to a good ol plate of spaghetti. I had just come off a weekend of hiking and was in no mood to cook so I popped the already made sauce into the microwave and 10 minutes later I had myself some dinner. All the same, the dinner and wine were both delicious.

Judging by my picture, it was another July evening in Alberta. This year we have had our share of thunderstorms and that evening was no exception. Hot during the day, thunderstorms by night. I was just about to settle down outside to eat but the wind started to pick up and the clouds in the sky were taking a nasty turn. Inside I go.

Now I do agree with Craig. This is a delicious wine. It was very crisp and light on acidity. Reminded me of a good chilled Sauvignon Blanc. It was fruity but not overbearing and according to the website, should have a grassy taste as well. While I didn't particularly notice the grassy taste, I haven't found myself snacking on my lawn clippings either. But what  struck me was how vibrant the taste was and I too had an easy time of drinking two glasses of it in no time. I can only imagine what this would have tasted like after a long day of hiking!

The grape variety itself is very popular in Portugal, particularly for their Madeira wines. But like many new world countries, Australia is doing its best to become a leader in wines with grapes not traditionally known by others. I do hope that the Potts Family continues their Verdehlo and I will be on the lookout for their family of reds as well.

In a few weeks time, I am heading over to Europe for a three week vacation. I'm in the mood to gather new wines and bring back some wines that you just can't get here. Anyone have a favourite wine that you can suggest to me? I know my three readers out there must have at least one suggestion each! Our next wine fingers crossed is a good one. While I've had wines from this wine maker before (and loved both), I have not tried this grape variety from them. Next up is the Primitivo, also known around these parts as the Zinfandel!