What the Geeks are Drinking

Esoteric wine making mainstream moves


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Field Blends

We are in the midst of a bit of a renaissance of the old vineyards of California. As well slowly become less of a Cabernet and Pinot centric marketplace people are waking up to the joys of other grapes but also to the historic importance and gustatory potential of the traditional field blended vineyards in California in particular, but to a small yet growing extent also around the globe. These vineyards tend to be fairly old with the concept of the field blend being pretty much totally discredited in favor of mono-varietal plantings certainly in the post WWII era. Oh, progress, once again you fail us.

The beauty of many field blends is not only the unique composition of the vineyards, with their ancient clonal stock, but also in the way that blend has grown accustomed to its terroir, that blend of soil and climate that can help form a vineyard's unique labor profile. That uniqueness, and the sense of authenticity that field blends seem to impart to wines, along with the historic appeal of drinking wines from vines that can reach back over 100 years has come together in a wave of enthusiasm for these wines. there are really just a few of these vineyards left and as more people find themselves interested in truly unique wines I expect we'll be seeing increased demand placed on this limited supply.

Since there is no single term to identify these wines seating for them can be a challenge.

Mentioned in this article


  • My vote would also go to Frappato, specifically the wines of Ariana Occhipinti, but perhaps it is already "passé":) Cheers.

    Aug 20, 2013 at 10:07 AM

  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    My current classic underrated region is Roussillon. I just returned from visiting and tasting old vine carignan and unique white varieties and great aged tawney like sweet wines.

    Aug 20, 2013 at 11:45 AM

  • Snooth User: Tintofino
    204897 1

    Nice write up. But another rising "geek" wine that should not be overlooked is dry Sherry, specifically the crisp pale ones served well-chilled, namely Finos and Manzanillas, but also the more oxidized amber colored ones served un-chilled, the Amontillados, Palo Cortados and Olorosos. Sherry Bars are a growing phenomenon in London, and now there's a new one in DC offering 54 Sherries!

    Aug 20, 2013 at 12:57 PM

  • We've just returned from the French wine region and Beaune and we were surprised to enjoy the Savigny. Let's keep our eyes open!.... Oh, and my glass could use a refill.

    Aug 20, 2013 at 7:07 PM

  • Snooth User: mugwump718
    1299777 33

    So does this mean that Grenache has jumped the shark?

    Aug 20, 2013 at 7:32 PM

  • So many wines, so little time

    Aug 20, 2013 at 8:57 PM

  • Snooth User: Naglerrj
    1274141 1

    What, no Fermint from Hungary,

    Aug 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM

  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    ...yes.... Savigny finally...

    Aug 24, 2013 at 6:15 AM

  • Snooth User: SM
    1097030 218

    A good list & sampling of some non-mainstream cultivars and regions; some ideas for us wine geeks to pursue.

    Here are a few of my own to add to this list: Furmint from Hungary, a great white varietal and worthy of seeking out; Blaufrankish a.k.a. Lemberger grown across Germany, Austria, Hungary and now even New York.

    It is a medium-bodied red and if you are fond of blackberries, red cherries & red currants this is a wine to check out.

    Here's a challenge for you: seek out Devin, a Slovakian cross between Roter Veltliner and Gewurztraimner; floral and fruity but dry and quite refreshing. I had a Devin and it was a Decanter Silver 2011; excellent and intriguing to say the least.


    Solomon Mengeu

    Aug 28, 2013 at 8:57 PM

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