DEF Alphabet Series 3-PackRegular price $65.00
We continue our exploration of off the beaten path grape varietals A through Z. This month we're featuring grapes that start with DEF--Duras (red), Elbling (white), and Freisa (red).
D) Domaine Philemon 'Croix de la Bouscarie' Duras Gaillac, France 2019
As you read about each of the DEF grapes, you'll notice the "ancient grape" theme. A lot of "off the beaten path" grapes seem to have this theme. They fall out of fashion, people literally forget about them, or as in the case of Duras, swathes of vines were pulled up and replaced with the more fashionable varieties from Bordeaux after World War II. Happily, in the 1970s, a movement of Gaillac winegrowers banded together to save the variety's future, and its prospects are now decidedly brighter. Duras has a long history in the Tarn region and is one of the main red grapes grown in Gaillac. This wine is typical of the grape and is a rustic, full-bodied red with aromas of black fruits, violets, dried herbs, fresh pepper and more of the same on the palate.
Elbling goes way back in history and, depending on the story you choose, either goes back to the Roman Empire era with soldiers bringing it to Germany or was indigenous to the Rhine Valley and the Celts cultivated it long before the Romans showed up. Either way, it's safe to call it an ancient grape. And, it has quite the ancient parentage (we'll try to go into more details on the Elbling item page), as close relatives include some heavy hitters such as Riesling, Chardonnay, and Furmint. Taste this Trocken (dry) Elbling and we think you'll see the relationship to those close cousins.
F) Tenuta Olim Bauda 'Secco' Freisa d'Asti Italy, 2015
This light to medium bodied, tannic, and long-lived grape from Asti is one of Piedmont’s most important and oldest grape varieties. The first time we tried a Freisa (they are extremely hard to find), it was a "wow" moment. Of course, we should let it be known that we are big fans of Nebbiolo (check out our Deep Dive) so it makes a lot of sense. A genetic analysis has confirmed that it has a direct relationship with Nebbiolo, the grape that eclipsed it in popularity and fame after World War II. For extra fun, get a bottle of Nebbiolo and compare.
A more traditional version (such as this wine) renders a light but rich wine, with aromas of rose petals, dark red fruit, and earth and a wide range of earthy tones balanced by dark red and black fruit on the palate.