Variety is the spice of life

Following on from last month’s stellar cast of unusual
white wine varietals, the Journal and Jacques Scott bring you five exciting
lesser-known red grapes that
you may not have enjoyed before, including three Italian grapes that will have
your tastebuds simply screaming for pasta. Edoardo’s Trattoria on the West Bay
was the sensible venue for tasting these wonderfully different grapes.

It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to
wines – you enter your favourite store and always seem to head for the
familiar. In a bid therefore to widen your horizons and look beyond Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, the team at Jacques Scott presents five grape
varietals that are outside most people’s horizons when it comes to wine.

A surprisingly distinctive nose sets South Africa’s
Southern Right Pinotage from 2007 (CI$19.99) apart from the rest, a fruity,
spicy wine that hints of raspberry and strawberry on the palate. Made from 100
per cent Pinotage, this wine is produced from grapes from South Africa’s
Western Cape region and is reminiscent of a Pinot Noir with its earthy tones
and gentle tannins.

Pinotage is actually South Africa’s signature variety,
having first grown there in the 1920s as a cross between Pinot Noir and
Cinsault is known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the name, Pinotage).
Typical nuances of the grape include smoky, bramble and earthy flavours,
sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit.

No notes of banana this time, this wine went particularly
well with Edoardo’s perfect beef carpaccio appetiser, with its salty hard
parmesan shavings, fresh and springy green leaves and delicately thin shaved
morsels of beef.

If you like the lightness of Pinot Noir, try this wine
for something different.

Next on the list was a super sleek and sexy little number
with a distinctive label that helped this wine stand out above the crowd –
vertical purple wording that delineate Italy’s Ognissole Primitivo di Manduna,
2007 (CI$23.99), made with 100 per cent Primitivo grapes.

Lee explains: “Primitivo originates from South East Italy
and was brought to the US in the mid 19th Century where it goes by its more
well-known name – Zinfandel. Italy’s south eastern “heel” is a great terroir
for Primitivo as it is full of sunshine which the grapes thrives upon.”

The 125-acre Ognissole estate is located in Apulia’s
Mandura region and was established by the founder of Feudi di San Gregorio, a
leading Southern Italian winemaker which is leading something of a resurgence
in the popularity of regional Italian wines.

Lee notes: “On the nose the Primitivo is fruity but not
overpowering, along with black pepper, with a lovely medium-bodied jamminess on
the palate.”

Thankfully we were dished not one, but three entrancing
Edoardo’s entrées from which to pair the wines and the Primitivo did a
wonderful job matching the two pasta dishes on our list – the classic rich and
meaty lasagna along with Edoardo’s chicken parmesan served with tomato-enhanced
pasta that melted in the mouth.

If you enjoy a traditional California Zinfandel then try this wine.

Travelling further west we then headed for Portugal, with
a taste of Dow Vale do Bomfim from 2006 (CI$15.99), made from a blend of
Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes, all
from Portugal’s upper Douro Valley. Usually known for their Ports, Dow has
produced a distinctive dry red that is well worth a try. Jacques Scott’s Lee
Royle comments: “This is a really dark red, full bodied wine that is full of
cherries and raspberries on the nose with a hint of oak coming through on
the palate.”

The Dow Vale de Bomfim displayed its own distinctive
characteristics that separated it from its Port cousin, its black fruitiness
working really well with our pasta dishes.

If you enjoy Malbec you might like to try this wine.

A brilliant red wine, Feudi di San Gregorio’s Rubrato
Aglianico (pronounced “ally-an-ico”) from 2005 (CI$25.99) is a heavy weight
wine made from 100 per cent Aglianico grapes that come from Italy’s Campania
region. Intensely spicy on the nose along with strawberries and cherries, the
wine is soft and well-balanced with the cherry notes extending into the palate
through to a smooth finish. A great accompaniment to Edoardo’s unbelievably
good strip-loin steak adorned with rich mushrooms in a red wine demi-glaze, the
Aglianico went equally well with the
pasta dishes.

If you like your wines spicy try this wine.

The last wine on our list of usual varietals was a 2007
Zisola from Contrada Zisola, Noto, Sicily (CI$28.99), made from 100 per cent
Nero d’Avola grapes. The grape is indigenous to Sicily and this wine is limited
in production, coming from the Mazzei family property in south east Sicily.

Paul McLaughlin from Jacques Scott notes the wine’s deep
ruby red colour and its overall berry and spice nose, followed by flavours of
blackberry and dark cherry.

“It’s an elegant and aromatic wine, perfect for
beautifully cooked steaks as well as traditional Italian pasta dishes,” he

If you like heavyweight, spicy Shiraz or Zinfandel, choose this wine.