Got a Favourite really off-the-wall grape variety?

And I don’t mean Gruner Veltliner, , Carignane or Verdelho when I say that.

I think my vote goes to Chasselas, the swiss white. I’ve never failed to be quite entranced by the spiced side and unique mouthfeel—for me tingly yet velvet in parts too–that it brings.

I’d be curious to hear others’ faves in this “category”.



i like chasselas too for the velvety mouthfeel. i had a great sparkling furmint recently. i love assyrtiko but i don’t think that’s off-the-wall anymore.

Mike, is this the same grape as Chasselas Dore? I recently had (double blind) a bottle of this from Teutonic in Oregon and thought it was a pretty good Riesling. I was impressed.

Can I play if I say Cariñena? I like the ones from Spain made from very old vines.

Norton - it’s American. Grows without any need to spray it
Oberlin noir - a hybrid with purported psychoactive properites (I don’t believe it, but am willing to try)

Piedirosso and Assyrtiko are probably the most off-beat in my cellar.

Malaga, grown in Cyprus.

Couple that I find interesting -

Folle Blanche - Loire valley white, Very pale almost clear yellow in the glass with wet stones just a hint of citrus. Very bright acid and river rocks on the palate with tart citrus notes. Wow. Lip-smacking. We’ll pair the next bottle with some shellfish - this wine seems to cry out for clams, mussels and perhaps even raw oysters.

Gringet - Savoie white, Pale golden yellow in the glass. Muted but intriguing nose of lemon dripped onto slate. On the front of the palate, very smooth and round which rolls to mid-palate with a further pulse of citrus, but more grapefruit or orange, sort of the flavor of grapefruit but with just a touch of orange sweetness. Somewhat tart on the back of the tongue, but the finish reveals just a soupcon of sweet honey after twenty seconds or so, almost like the tartness rolled or peeled back to reveal the touch of sweetness underneath - very interesting! There’s also some chalkiness on or after the finish, just a dusting…

[Edit - gringet, not grignet. Thanks, Glenn]

Scheurebe. Because I don’t think wine can get much more fun than the '01 Muller-Catoir Mandelring Scheurebe Spatlese.

Assyrtiko (Santorini)
Baga (Bairrada, Portugal) for its nebbiolo-like bite and earthy aromas
Pelaverga (Piedmont) for its black pepper aroma and lightness
Mencia (northern Spain) for its soothing, mouth-filling fruit

I don’t know if it’s obscure enough, but I really like Tannat. I’m a big fan of Montus Madiran (opened an 04 last week and it was excellent, though still very young) and of the Tablas Creet Tannat from Paso. Very purple berried, tannic and intense.

I also love Lagrein, a red grape grown in Trentino / Alto Adige. Like a rustic Italian pinot noir or something.

Auxerrois is something I’ve liked in the past. Zind Humbrecht made one from Alsace, and I remember trying one at a winery in Oregon as well (Adelsheim?).

In general, I adore trying obscure and different varietals. I’m far more likely to be excited about trying something in this category than another cab or syrah, even if objectively, it isn’t as good. I’m so much about the exploration.


Poulsard - rose-like color. Red wine-like weight. Really interesting grape.

That is as avant garde that I get I guess.

As soon as I saw the heading - I thought of Chasselas - a wonderful grape that really rocks in Switzerland and France - the other grape I adore is Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh - it reaches some pretty hefty heights in the Sud - the last couple of bottlings from Domaine Labranche-laffont have been surreal - and probably the most memorable white wines I’ve had in recent memory -

And I was just in St. Louis for a beer festival and brought back a few bottles of Norton -I love what the better wineries in Missouri are doing with the grape -

Another hybrid grape that was developed by the University of Minnesota that is quite interesting is MARQUETTE - some of the better wineries in Minnesota are producing some pretty lavish wines from this red grape -

Double plus one - Lagrein is a marvel - but if we are going to start digging into Italy - there is a long list of terrific grapes there - Picolit and Ribolla Gialla are two personal favs from da boot -

I disagree.

For my oddball I’d go with Tinta Francisca, although dry single varietal examples are nearly impossible to find in the US.

Pulcinculo (meaning “flea in the ass”, named thus as it is a white grape with a distinct black spot on its bottom), made into orange wine and Vin Santo in Montepulciano, Toscana.

Please. Say it in the correct manner:

Scheurebe is at least a tie for me. The Muller-Catoir sweet stuff is crazy-good. Glad to see all these responses. I like Savoie whites too, and I don’t think I’ve heard of Grignet.

Theodore—I really don’t know…it might be!

I often enjoy Trousseaus from Jura, typically a lighter red in both color and body with pronounced tart and sweet red berry fruit on the nose and palate and some baking spice. Typically food friendly with lowish alcohol and high acidity. A number of good ones are available from Puffeney, Tissot, and Ganevat among others. I have had some fairly old wines based on Trousseau, and it does seem to stand the test of time. Arnot-Roberts makes one that has gotten approving notes from Wink Lorch, but I haven’t tasted it.