A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Pelaverga - Verduno, Piedmont, Italy
It's definitely an obscure grape, grown in incredibly minute quantities in the Verduno and Saluzzo regions of Piemonte. Verduno is located within the Barolo region and is just a few hills over from the famed Barolo site of La Morra, while Saluzzo is a little further west, on the foothills to the Alps. There may be two different clones of Pelaverga grown in these two regions (Piccolo in Verduno and Nero in Saluzzo) but I'm not entirely sure. In any case, it has a very long history in the Piedmont region, dating back to the 15th Century, but it was mostly used as a blending grape and, occasionally, as a table grape. Pelaverga has been playing the starring role in wines only over the last few decades, and with the granting of DOC status to Verduno in 1995, there was a bit of a renaissance for the grape. The DOC regulations stipulate that a minimum of 85% Pelaverga be used for the DOC designation (though I believe most producers use 100%). Jeremy Parzen over at Do Bianchi has a cool story about how Pelaverga became a buzz wine in New York due to a mention in the NYT in 2006. It hasn't exactly taken over the world since then, but it has made some inroads to the US market.
The name of the grape is also kind of interesting. If you take the word apart, "pela" is the Italian verb "to peel," and "verga" means branch, so it means something like "branch peeler." Jeremy postulates that the name has something to do with a viticultural practice used to train the vine itself. But he also notes that "verga" is the Spanish word for male genitalia, and that the people of Verduno claim that the grape acts as an aphrodisiac. I can't say that I noticed any particular changes when drinking this wine, but like pretty much all wines, it certainly doesn't seem to have any deleterious effects in that department.
Schiava. I tried this with a slight chill to it, but quickly abandoned that plan as it seemed to bring out a harsh bitterness to the finish. I would really love to try one of these with a little spritz to it, but it's understandably difficult to locate.