Are you bored of relying on your usual picks? Want to try a new white vine from Vinmonopolet? We’ve got you covered.
Most of us are familiar with Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other international grape varieties. We all drank wines made from them. Although they come in many different styles from all over the world, we know what to expect (even though some of them never fail to surprise).
So are these corona-ridded times the right moment to try something new?
Most of us are probably not traveling much this season. However, the chance to do some “daydreaming-traveling” with a glass of wine in hand is always available. When the real thing is not an option, enjoying an exciting new wine can be a pleasant substitute that can transport us to vine growing hilltops or wine bars on beautiful beaches.
In an attempt to support our readers in Norway, we have prepared a couple of recommendations for white grape varieties that many haven’t tried before, and that can be easily found in Vinmonopolet.
Let’s dive right in!
Catarratto is the most widely spread white grape variety on Sicily. It can be made as a single varietal wine but is also often found in blends and used as one of the base wines for Marsala. Its historical popularity can likely be attributed to the high yields it produces. Catarratto is, alongside another Sicilian white variety Zibbibo, the parent of the Grillo variety (both of these are available at Vinmonopolet!) and has ties with Garganega, which is found in the northeastern part of Italy.
Catarratto, when made as a single varietal wine, most often produces medium-bodied, fresh, gentle, and elegant wines with citrusy and flowery notes. Its color is yellow, ranging from straw yellow to golden.
Minerality is typical when grown on volcanic soils. Seafood, white meat, and vegetable dishes make excellent companions for such wines, but they are also good wines for easy drinking on hot summer days.
My recommendation: Why not try some Catarratto from the volcanic soil near Etna where this variety has been present since the Roman times and compare it with Catarrato from other parts of Sicily?
My Cattarrato picks from Vinmonopolet:
- Erse Etna Bianco 2017: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Italia/Erse-Etna-Bianco-2017/p/1576201
- Graci Etna Bianco 2018: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Italia/Graci-Etna-Bianco-2018/p/784801
- Donnafugata Prio 2018: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Italia/Donnafugata-Prio-2018/p/3816601
Illustration: Catarratto is the most widely spread white grape variety on Sicily. Source: trolvag / Panoramio
If you are already acquainted with the Furmint grape variety, then chances are you discovered it through the famously sweet Hungarian Tokaj wines. These sweet Tokaj wines are often called “the wine of kings” and “the king of wines” (the saying is attributed to Louis XIV).
They are definitely the most celebrated wines made from the Furmint variety and the most popular style, although other varieties are also used for making Tokaj. Furmint is made in a variety of different styles, not exclusively as a dessert wine, and is grown in various regions across central and eastern Europe, where it is often found under different names.
In the Tokaji region, located in the northeastern part of Hungary, Furmint has a documented track record dating back to the 16th century. Still, Furmint is also grown in other parts of Hungary, such as the Somlo region.
In Slovakia and Slovenia, they often call it Šipon. In Croatia, it is referred to as Pušipel or Moslavac, and it is one of the most valuable varieties in the northernmost region of Croatia. In Austria, you can find it in Burgenland, sometimes under the name of Mosler. Romania also produces wines from Furmint grapes.
Some Furmint can even be found as far as South Africa, which is testimony to the popularity of the variety.
If you haven’t tried sweet Tokaj wine already, you’re in for a treat! Taste a sip of this sweet nectar, of dark orange or amber color, and find out why it has been a huge success throughout European courts for centuries. Are you a gastro explorer? Then you must try it in combination with blue cheese.
However, as accentuated, the sweet style is not the only face of the Furmint variety. You can find it as a dry, young, fresh wine from stainless steel and as more mature wine aged in oak. There are sparkling wines made from Furmint and orange wines too! Furmint has many faces, so don’t limit yourself, explore, and find the one best suited to your taste.
Dry, fresh, young Furmint is a good place to start exploring if you already tasted Tokaj. You can expect high acidity, a medium body, pears, green apples, citruses, white peach, and some herbal notes in it. However, this can vary depending on the terroir.
My Furmint picks from Vinmonopolet:
- Royal Tokaji Mezes Maly 6 Puttonyos 2009: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Ungarn/Royal-Tokaji-Mezes-Maly-6-Puttonyos-2009/p/9182602
- Sauska Tokaji Furmint 2018: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Ungarn/Sauska-Tokaji-Furmint-2018/p/11116101
- Ballageza Stonewine Furmint 2015: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Romania/Ballageza-Stonewine-Furmint-2015/p/7717301
Illustration: Furmint has a documented track record in the northeastern part of Hungary dating back to the 16th century. Source: Jerzy Kociatkiewicz / Hétszőlő vineyards
Scheurebe, also known as Sämling 88, is a white grape variety created in 1916 by Dr. Georg Scheu. It was named after him in 1945. It was long believed that it was a cross between Riesling and Silvaner.
However, DNA analysis in the 1990s confirmed Riesling as one parent and dismissed Silvaner as the other possible parent. Bouqet Blanc is now believed to be the other parent.
Scheurebe is found primarily in Germany (mostly in Pfalz, Rheinhessen, and Nahe) and Austria (Burgenland and Steiermark), but some samples can be found in other regions such as Switzerland, Slovenia, USA, and Australia.
It is an aromatic wine variety that can be made into dry wine but also successfully produced as a sweet wine, and is often used for predikat wines such as Berenauslese (BA), Trockenbereauslese (TBA), or Eiswein.
You can expect black currants and grapefruit as the most common aromatics in Scheurebe, but tropical fruits, various citruses, and peach are common too. A full body and high acidity are typical.
Because of the aromatics, some consider it the German answer to Sauvignon Blanc, so why not take a pass on trying another Sauvignon Blanc and picking up something new instead? Give it a go alongside Asian food or indulge yourself in heavenly TBA after a meal.
My Scheurebe picks from Vinmonopolet:
- Von Buhl Scheurebe Auslese: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/Tyskland/Von-Buhl-Scheurebe-Auslese/p/10657702
- Kracher Scheurebe TBA Nr 10 2015: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Land/%C3%98sterrike/Kracher-Scheurebe-TBA-Nr-10-2015/p/10442202
- Sepp Moser Schilfwein Scheurebe 2011: https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Nettbutikk-kategorier/Hvitvin/Sepp-Moser-Schilfwein-Scheurebe-2011/p/5440802
Illustration: Scheurebe is found primarily in Germany – mostly in Pfalz, Rheinhessen, and Nahe. Source: pxhere
The world of wines is vast, and those who go on exploring it can find exciting wines made from less known grape varieties. You can stick to your favorites – after all, you know what you like – but I urge you to try something new from time to time.
Try out a new region for your favorite variety, a different wine from your favorite producer, or something you are entirely unfamiliar with! There will be mistakes, and there will also be wines that don’t match up to your preferences.
However, imagine the thrill of discovering a new favorite! That in itself is, undoubtedly, a path worth exploring and a risk worth taking.
Vedran is a wine lover and a wine drinker, a father and a husband, a manager, and a hedonist. He’s a member of the Croatian Sommelier Club. He’s also Norway Today’s go-to person for all things related to wines.
Source: Norway Today