Five hectares is not much. But apparently that is the total planted acreage of the folle noire grape in France. The relative folle blanche is much more common. It is widely planted in the Cognac region. It is also grown in the Loire Valley under the name gros plant. But folle noire has just five hectares. Nevertheless it produces a delicious wine we discovered the other day. As often, we bought a mixed case of bottles from a wine merchant (Vinivert on the internet), much of it from to us unknown producers. One of the bottles was called Rackham (red wine of course as ever Tintin lover knows) and it was made from folle noire. An exciting discovery. Quite light and fruity, even juicy, red berries, a little bit like Beaujolais but more body and less flowery aromatic. Delicious. Another bottle in the random selection, from the same producer (Laurent Cazottes), was a white made from mauzac rosé (but the wine was white). Mauzac (blanc) is relatively common in the south west but we had never heard of mauzac rosé. Exciting! The name of the wine was Adèle and it was superbly delicious. A steal for the price. (So don’t tell anyone!)
There is a club called The Century Club, if memory serves me right, where you can become a member once you have tasted one hundred different grape varieties. Not as hard as one might imagine actually.
There are a lot of exciting grape varieties that deserve more fame. Italy has almost made it a speciality with strange varieties and they even have a wine fair with unusual varieties there. France is a bit behind in this but more and more producers are starting to launch wines from unusual or traditional (but almost forgotten) grape varieties.
Unfortunately the appellation rules that we live with today is a big block for this development. Most appellation rules both in France and in Italy and in other countries force all wines into a common mould where only a small selection of grape varieties are permitted. That makes it difficult to make, and sell, a wine made from e.g. folle noire or mauzac rosé! But as long as the wine producers think that they will sell more with the appellation rules and as long as wine consumers don’t dare to try unknown wines, unknown districts, and unknown grape varieties we will have to live with the appellation straight-jackets or dictatorships! Perhaps someone should start a new rebel movement?: Free the wines! Down with the appellations! Now would be the moment to do it, just a few days after July 14, Bastille Day, when the French monarchy was overthrown…
Until then we will have to continue with the underground propaganda. To promote more unusual grape varieties and different wines! Plant more folle noire (just the name!), mauzac rosé and others!
So let me suggest:
- Start making a list with the different grape varieties that you have tried. I think you will qualify for The Century Club faster than you think!
- Send us your comments or write a comment on BKWine Magazine, once this text is online! Tell us about your discoveries!
Have a nice summer! (no irony intended)
Britt & Per
PS: Do you know someone who might be interested in our new wine tours to South Africa and to Chile-Argentina, or South Africa? Please let them know about our new programs!
PS 2: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief!
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