Wine Talk

Snooth User: Adam Levin

A Varietal (or at least an obscure blend) a Day...

Posted by Adam Levin, Aug 18, 2008.

Let's get some education going here. Has anyone else come across a new varietal or wine name they have never heard of before today?

Mavrud: Mavrud is a unique red wine common only to the region of Thrace in Bulgaria. It is found around few cities in the central part of the country where the winter temperatures are not very low. The wines made from this variety are with dark ruby color and a very pleasant aroma where one can touch some blackberry. (source is a user who let me know we had been spelling this grape incorrectly)

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Reply by Philip James, Aug 18, 2008.

Scuppernong! I'll do some digging to see what its flavor profile is, but its famous in snooth, because it sounds funny, and one of our development servers was named after it!

Reply by Philip James, Aug 18, 2008.

"A scuppernong is a large type of muscadine, a type of grape native to the southeastern United States. It usually has a greenish or bronze color, and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and about 50% larger.

The name comes from the Scuppernong River in North Carolina, where it was found and first cultivated during the 17th century; it is mentioned in the North Carolina official state toast. [1] The name itself traces back to the Algonquian word ascopo meaning "sweet bay tree".

The fruit consists of four parts: the outer skin or hull; the pulp, or 'meat'; seeds; and juice.

Several small green seeds are found in each grape. The skin is very thick and tart. The pulp is viscous and sweet. The seeds, which are bitter, can be swallowed with the pulp or extracted and spit out. The most desired part of the scuppernong is the sweet juice that lies underneath its skin.

Scuppernongs figure prominently in the story "The Goophered Grapevine" (1887) by Charles W. Chesnutt, and are also mentioned in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The scuppernong also figures prominently in William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! as the plant under which Colonel Thomas Sutpen and Washington Jones sit down to drink.

The oldest cultivated grapevine in the world is the 400 year old scuppernong "Mother Vine" growing on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.[2] The scuppernong is the state fruit of North Carolina.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;

Elinor Wylie, from Wild Peaches, Nets to Catch the Wind (1921)

In addition, according to herbal lore, eating this whole grape also has health benefits. The hull adds a significant amount of fiber to the diet. When chewed, the seeds provide a grape-seed extract which, it is claimed, can aid in improving memory and other functions.

Wines, jellies and jams can also be made from scuppernongs. It is thought they were the first native North American grape to be cultivated for these purposes."

From Wikipedia

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 19, 2008.

Isabella - a Vitis Labrusca grape variety. One of its aliases is Borgoña. There has to be some marketing potential there to sell people Isabella wine when they think they're getting "Bourgogne."

Read more on wikipedia:

Reply by CSO, Aug 19, 2008.

Bianca A new Italian hi -bred now being grown in just a few places in the USA. Michigan for one.
This makes a wonderfully fruity dry white wine, With big flavors of pear and Mellon with a hint of citrus.

Reply by RachelNYC, Aug 20, 2008.

I noticed something on a label the other day called "Clone X". It sounded scary so I stayed away from it. I haven't looked really hard but I am having issues finding information on this varietal.

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 20, 2008.

Maybe they put the "X" on the label when they were writing the copy and forgot to replace it with the actual clone name?

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 20, 2008.

Nosiola - A little-known indigenous white grape from Trentino. These old vines are nestled amongst the grand Dolomite Mountains. The terrain is rigorous, challenging the vines at all levels. Bitter almond scented. Keeps growing at elevations where Pinot Grigio gives up in the Alto-Adige. Also called Durello, Nosella, Nosilla, Nosiola Gentile, Nosiola Trentina, Nosiola Spinarola, Nusiola, Rabiosa

Reply by andrew, Aug 20, 2008.

Catarratto - "Sicily’s most planted grape variety comprising 60% of the island’s vineyards. Although most of it ends up as the base for Marsala and Vermouth, there are some intriguing wines made from Catarratto. With low yields, the grape’s plush, spicy character (somewhat like France’s Viognier) adds body, attractive aromas and good acidity to blends." (from )

Since it's in Vermouth, I've had it (never really though about what grapes go into Vermouth) I'm surprised it makes up such a huge percentage of Sicily's grapes though

Reply by Philip James, Aug 21, 2008.

Ravat 51! Also known as Vignols, but Ravat 51 is the cooler name of the two...

I've actually tried it, its fairly common in the Finger Lakes region of NY

Wikipedia entry:
"Vignoles (aka Ravat 51) is a complex hybrid wine grape variety produced from a cross made by J.F. Ravat of two grapes, Seibel 8665 and Pinot de corton.

In New York state's Finger Lakes region, and along the Missouri River near Augusta, Missouri, it makes a wine with a sweet and flowery bouquet with a clean crisp sweet pineapple flavor balanced with agreeable acidity."

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 21, 2008.

Symphony - a cross between Grenache Gris and Muscat of Alexandria ( Bred by Dr. Harold Olmo of UC Davis, launched commercially in 1981 and patented in 1983.

The grape makes a white wine with a slight spiciness and pleasant fruit aromas, sometimes including citrus or apricot and peach. It is most often used for blending, due to its ability to bring out aroma and flavors in other wines. It has been made on its own in limited quantities and is planted in limited amounts. Producers of Symphony wines include Ironstone, Chateau De Baun, Sebastiani and Oak Crest Winery in Virginia. (wikipedia)

Reply by WineGent, Aug 24, 2008.

How about Charbono....? California has some great ones, but they are not very common.....Robert Foley grows and bottles some delicious wine, and it has become something of a cult sensation.....

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 24, 2008.

I had an opportunity to taste a Turley Charbono a few years ago ( and it was a fairly interesting wine.

From Wikipedia: Charbono is a grape variety found in California. It is not very common in California, but is the second most commonly grown variety in Argentina, where it is known as Bonarda (which is not the same as the Bonarda Piemontese varietal). The wine made from charbono tends to be dark, with medium to high tannins and acidity.

After genetic testing conducted by Carole Meredith, it was determined to be the same grape as the grape known as Corbeau, Douce Noire, or Charbonneau in the Savoie region of France; but in spite of repeated references, it is probably not related to Dolcetto of the Piedmont. Both varieties produce prodigious quantities of large clusters of very dark grapes, but Dolcetto ripens early and produces light, fruity wines with limited aging potential. Charbono ripens quite late and produces wines of great substance, with significant aging potential. It is likely that this confusion arose because an Italian synonym for Dolcetto is "Dulce Nero" which translates to "sweet black," as does the french name "Douce Noir" for Charbono.

Reply by WineGent, Aug 24, 2008.

Adam......I love the chance to taste ANYTHING TURLEY......whenever I can....LOL

Reply by Philip James, Aug 25, 2008.

Tannat - with a name like that you know its going to be dripping in tight tannins. And it rarely dissapoints. Commonly found in Madirans - they are often fairly inexpensive and for $15 you'll probably be buying the 2003 at this point. anything newer and its undrinkable.

"A French Tannat is characterized by its firm, tannic structure with raspberry aromas and the ability to age well. They often have a deep dark color with high level of alcohol. The rosés produced in Irouléguy go through very limited maceration time with the skins in order to keep the wines from getting too tannic. The resulting wines are typically full bodied and very fruity. In Béarn both red and rosés are produced from blends that include 60% Tannat and a 40% mix of Manseng noir, Fer and Courbu noir"

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 25, 2008.

Uruguay has claimed Tannat as their national red grape. I've tasted 1 from there and it was pretty heavy on the tannins, but interesting enough.

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 25, 2008.

Touriga Nacional - One of the most important blending wines for Port. There's a great post on CataVino about this grape:

Available in rose form from York Creek Vineyards too.

Reply by Philip James, Aug 27, 2008.

Symphony - another Finger Lake regular...

"The Symphony grape is one of dozens of new grapes bred by Dr. Harold Olmo, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California (Davis). Its development began in 1948 and was completed and introduced commercially in 1981. It was patented in 1983. It is a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris.

The grape makes a white wine with a slight spiciness and pleasant fruit aromas, sometimes including citrus or apricot and peach. It is most often used for blending, due to its ability to bring out aroma and flavors in other wines. It has been made on its own in limited quantities and is planted in limited amounts. Producers of Symphony wines include Ironstone, Chateau De Baun, Sebastiani, Hamilton Oaks Vineyard, and Oak Crest Winery in Virginia."

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 27, 2008.

A white-wine grape grown primarily in Italy's Umbria region, where it's a component-along with Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia-in the well-known wines of Orvieto and Torgiano. Grechetto has gained a much better reputation by itself, where its delightfully rich, nutty character is showcased-as in the Grechetto di Todi wines. This grape is also used to make excellent Vin Santo. Although Grechetto is also called Greco Spoletino and Greco Bianco di Perugia, it's unrelated to the GRECO of southwest Italy.
(from's Wine Dictionary)

My favorite Grechetto producer is Sergio Mottura (

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Aug 27, 2008.

Sorry to be asleep at the wheel - I totally support what Adam's trying to do here. A very interesting thread.

What about Marechal Foch - the only red grape named after a famous French general from The Great War?

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 29, 2008.

While not so obscure anymore, this varietal continues to pop up on wine lists and people are always wondering about it.

Lagreing (from Wikipedia)
Lagrein is a grape variety native to the valleys of northern Italy in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, north of Bolzano, near the border with Austria. It is used in red wine and is a relative of the Syrah grape. A few wineries in Australia produce Lagrein wines along with a new vineyard in the Umpqua Valley AVA of Oregon, USA. A very small amount of acreage is also set aside for it on the Central Coast of California.
The wine made from Lagrein grapes has a tendency to have very high acidity and low pH values, it is also highly tannic and a single varietal wine made from the grape can be extremely astringent, thus it is best blended with other varietals to smooth these charaters out. Lagrein produces a very deep yet intense red color in wine, with notable hues of purple which can be seen especially in the macerated juice.

[lah-GRAYN] A red-wine grape grown mainly in Italy's trentino-alto adige region. Lagrein is vinified into deep, dark reds (known as Lagrein Dunkel or Lagrein Scuro) and rosés (called Lagrein Kretzer or Lagrein Rosato). The rosés are considered to be some of Italy's best; the reds can have wonderful chocolaty nuances and rich fruit flavors. A small amount of Lagrein is used to bolster the schiava grape in the doc wines of santa maddalena. This variety is also known as Lagrain and Lagarino.

My experience with this wine has been very positive. The most succesful Lagrein I've ever tasted is the Elena Walch Lagrein Riserva

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