Saturday, 23 September 2017

Grau, teurer Freund

Grau is an excellent wine warehouse in Palagruell, near Girona in Catalunya, Spain. We were already aware of their wide range of wines thanks to Winesearcher so when we were invited to stay with friends nearby this summer we were detarmined to pay a call.

Not many winemerchants have vines growing outside. Nice.
Our wishlist included


Albarino/Godello/Lado/Loureiro/Treixadura/Torrontes, Vina Mein

Blanc Picapoll, Bernat Oller
Callet/Prensal Blanc, Quibia (out of stock)
Maturana Blanca, Vina Pomal (out of stock)
Xarel-lo, Gramona Roent


Juan Garcia/Rufete, Terrezgo
Listan Negro/Tinta Conejera. Stratvs Negre (out of stock)

Grenache/Syrah/Tintilla de Rota, Payoya Negra, Finca La Melonera. We should explain. We added this wine to our list because Finca La Melonera is a highly interesting estate from our point of view, devoted as it is to the revival of local grape varieties. In particular, they are working on Melonera. You won't find Melonera in 'Wine Grapes' because no wine is yet made from Melonera in any commercial quantity, It does appear in Galet who says of it;

Cepage de cuve noir grisatre espagnol, de la region de Sanlucar de Barrameda (Andalousie).
Mando, Paisatges

Finca La Melonera states on their website that Tintilla, Blasco (a synonym for Tinto Velasco?), Rome and Melonera are the grapes they are re-introducing but other sources also mention the reds Corchero Tinto and whites Quiebrantinajas, Moscatel Morisco (Muscat blanc a petits grains) and Platera. Corchero Tinto and Platera are not mentioned in either 'Wine Grapes' or Galet. 

Curiously, there are some websites which list different constuents for this same vintage of Melonera's Payoya Negra including Cabernet Sauvignon and Rome. La Melonera's own website doesn't go into this wine's constituents suggesting some of the 'cepages modestes' may be included (?).

In any case we were interested to try out any product of this intriguing estate while waiting for their first Melonera in purezza.

Morenillo, Finca Morenillo. Here was an actual revived variety in purezza from another estate devoted to this kind of activity, also named after the variety in mind; Morenillo. Not in 'Wine Grapes' it does get a mention in Galet of interest to ampelographers but not saying anything about its proevanance or history. Finca Morenillo is located a few miles southwest of Priorat, within the Terra Alta DO in Tarragona, Catalunya. Information is a bit unclear with one source saying the vines date back to 1902 and another 1945. Only 40 or 50 cases are made annualy. The estate is certified organic.

Prieto Picudo, Hello World. The marketing is a classic example of what we imagine results from the team being locked up in a room with only a case of the wine for company until they come up with a campaign.

Trepat, Success La Cuca de Llum.

A varied selection especially for Spain where it is sometimes difficult to find native varieties. Not quite all of these was in stock.

From those already sampled, standouts included the Picapoll, the Mando and the Trepat. The Picapoll had much more character than Picpouls from the Languedoc we had tasted, so much so we had to check that Picapoll was the same grape (it is).

The Mando was especially good'

Grau is a bit difficult to navigate but knowledgeable anf helpful people were on hand. Vaut la visite.

......gruen des Lebens goldener Baum

Friday, 8 September 2017


Nice lady with good wine selection at the Norcineria in Castiglione del Lago, Umbria

In Umbria, on a search for the elusive Cornetta grape as described by Ian D'Agata in 'Native Wine Grapes of Italy.'

This estimable book is an essential item on any journey to Italy. In order to obtain the only monovariatal example of Cornetta, D'Agata redirects us to something called Vernaccia di Cannara. This wine is made by the important Umbrian producer Di Filippo. It was as a way around bureaucratic and commercial restraints that they came up with this name instead of Cornetta.

Vernaccia di Cannara/Cornetta is not the same as Vernaccia Nera which is a grape celebrated in this blog from early on (see Vernaccia di Serrapetrona). The name Vernaccia DAgata says  comes from the Latin Vernaculum which means 'local.' He points out there are many Vernaccias in Italy - none of them Guarnaccia/Grenache and all unrelated to eachother. he writes 'maybe I could have called this book Vernacular Wine Grapes of Italy.'

How 'Vernaculum' finally emerged in Spain as 'Garnacha' and how that variety went on to become the 2nd most planted red variety in the world, and why there is no grape called Guarnaccia grown in Italy but plenty of Vernaccias (white and red) is one of those unfathomable grape mysteries. Where Garnacha is grown in Italy (brought by the Spaniards at the time of their domination of Sicily and Southern Italy) it is called something else such as Cannonau or Tocai (Tai) Rosso. The name Guarnaccia Nera does occur but that is a synonym for Magliocco. there is also a Guarnaccino but that is something else altogether.

Apart from Cornetta being sold as Vernaccia di Cannara, Umbria contains another false friend: Gamay Perugino aka. Gamay di Trasimeno. This intrigued us initially but something was not right. Alcohol levels of 14% and 14.5% didn't suggest wines from the preternaturally light Gamay although we have seen beefy examples of Gamay from the New World.

Gamay Perugino/Gamay del Trasimeno is in fact another example of