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100+ Varietals and Counting!

Wine Century Club

By now, everyone knows that I’m a sucker for an unknown varietal. Give me a wine with a grape whose name I’ve never heard of and I’m a happy man. Be it a Schiopettino from Italy or a Nergamoll from the Canaries, until I’ve tried it, I won’t be satisfied! It may not always be the best new grape or most interesting flavor, but nonetheless, it’s something intriguing, new and out of my realm of knowledge. Maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt or maybe it’s to make up for my inability to collect anything worthwhile – I sold all my baseball cards when I was 17, which are probably worth a small fortune by now – but I finally get to join the ranks of a privileged class.

The Wine Century Club, which I wrote about earlier on this blog, was founded by Deborah and Steve De Long in hopes of promoting the less obvious varietals in order to preserve some of the nuance found in the wine world. Today, I proudly announce my membership into this small group. Granted it’s membership is based on your word of honor – and technically, anyone can join – but I hope that those of you who do think of signing up would take the time to thoughtfully consider if you have the 100+ varietals needed to become a member.

To celebrate my membership, I want to add a new previously unknown, to me, grape to my list. During my recent visit to Alimentaria, I found a grape that peaked my interest called Eva de los Santos. I was at the Bodega Dolores Morenas both from Extremadura, a Spanish wine region with close links to the Alentejo in Portugal. This Bodega was recommended by a close friend, but in no way was I expecting to come across this special little grape.

From what I was told by the owner of the bodega, Eva is generally used as a table grape with small amounts occasionally making their way into the local regional wines. He also mentioned that maybe five producers were using it in any capacity; however, they were unclear as to whether this number was growing in any significant way. Here is what I took away from their tasty little wine called, Zagalón Blanco Joven 2005 made from 100% Eva:

3.5 grape

My first thought, “why aren’t others using this?” It was by no means the most complex wine I’ve tried, but it was fresh, alive and fun to drink. What more could you ask for in a wine? As the smile that had crept across my face while drinking the wine was starting to fade, the owner mentioned that the sweet wine down at the end of the table was blended with 50% Eva and 50% Macabeo! Without any hesitation, he poured me a glass and while I sipped away I was secretly singing praises to my friend who had directed me to this hidden bodega! The wine, Karavel, is a non-vintage offering that comes in a 500ml bottle. Here are my tasting notes:

3.5 grape

Once again, I was impressed and very happy with what Eva added and I also enjoyed the fact that this was not a heavy syrupy dessert wine. In fact, I would say this would make a great aperitif before the meal – just enough sweetness to get the gastric juices flowing, with a good acidity to keep the palate clean!

So I end, it’s a simple game of seeking out that unknown grape, that can reward you with discoveries you might never thought existed. Take a shot at it and once you can count 100 grapes in your tasting notes, join our group! If you live in the United States the first anniversary of the Wine Century Club celebration is being held in New York this March! Wish I could be there.

Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

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