Weird and Wonderful Grape Varietals

Spring is a time to move out of the stagnancy of winter and allow yourself expand and grow like the nature that surrounds us.  This time of year, I always feel more creative with a willingness to try new things, whether it be baking fresh bread, working towards a new yoga posture or simply expanding my wine drinking repertoire!  With so many grape varietals in the world today (there are over 10,000), why would anyone ever limit themselves to drinking only one particular colour of wine or committing for life to just one varietal?

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the “noble grapes” such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz etc.  These varietals get a lot of press for a reason; they make excellent wines the world over.  That said, I often find myself looking for a different sensory experience and something a little less familiar. Here are a few new options in our shop:

Lambert Seyssel Petit Royal Brut

Our team at Bishop’s Cellar continues to bring in “off the beaten path” gems and it is timely that a unique sparkling wine has just hit our shelves.  No other region exemplifies this weird and wonderful sense of winemaking and grapes than the tiny Alpine region of Savoie, France.  Here in this mountainous landscape,  there are a range of local grape varietals producing many different styles of wine.  The Seyssel appellation is a Savoie (Savoy in English) known for sparkling wines where the production method is similar to that of the Champagne region utilizing the obscure Altesse and local Molette grapes to make up the blend.  Altesse, also known as Roussette which means reddish in French, refers to the berries’ reddish hue and produces high quality wines with concentrated floral characteristics and a lively acidity that one would expect from an Alpine territory. I am looking forward to Mother’s Day brunch this weekend with a bottle of Lambert Seyssel Petit Royal Brut paired with creamy Eggs Benny!

Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Blanc

Another wine that I am excited to see hit our shelves heralds from the sleepy (and from what I remember, slightly smelly) fishing village of Cassis, France.  This is one of those wines to which I have a slight emotional attachment because it brings me back to a really sweet time in my life when I was newly married and travelling through that area by scooter with my husband.  Our vintage Lambretta broke down in Cassis, where we were held up for a few days. Despite our slight misfortune, we had a few great meals, drank the local wine like water, and all was well! The Clos St. Magdeleine Cassis Blanc is a blend of four little known grapes. The first is Marsanne, the mighty white grape of the Northern Rhone. Ugni Blanc is another proponent of the Cassis Blanc, it is a European “workhorse” grape and goes by far too many aliases to mention.  Clairette is a very old Southern French light white grape that contributes freshness to the blend and is often confused with the Picpoul grape- which you will soon have a chance to try, we have one on the way that is sure to be a patio sipping favourite!  The fourth grape in this eclectic blend is Bourboulenc; the name is said to have derived from “Bourbouns” referring to the inhabitants of 1Aix-en-Provence who helped the Bourbons invade the city.  Regardless of the origin of the name; it is fun to say and the grape contributes a lightly aromatic, citrus and smoky quality to blends.

Now is the time to try something new, interesting and delicious. Have fun doing a little research or getting recommendations from our knowledgeable sales staff who are forever on the quest for unique grapes and new taste experiences!

Alanna