If you’ve stayed with Catavino for long enough, it’s inevitable that you’ve heard us debate over the exact number of indigenous grapes in Iberia, and the fact that none of us are certain how many there are.Ã‚Â By some accounts there are approximately 400, and by other accounts, the number soars to over 1,000. This rather large numerical gap was one of the main reasons why we began our Iberian Grape Wiki (currently in a state of renovation), and the same reason why we’ve done very little with it. To keep track, fill in, and monitor such a bear of a database is rather daunting. So it sits, patiently waiting for some loving grape enthusiast to come by and fill in its rather vacuous empty spaces. If you just happen to be one of those happy grape folk needing a little project to aid the greater Iberian wine community, let us know, and we’ll put you to work 🙂
That said, my second project beyond our Grape Wiki is to complete my Wine Century Club application. The Wine Century Club is the brainchild of Steve Delong, the same mad genius who created the Delong Iberian Wine Map. His goal in founding this club, as I interpreted it, was to not only highlight the vast array of indigenous grapes of the world, but also to challenge each and every one of us to expand our palate beyond the international varieties of Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, etc. And despite the fact that Ryan had completed his application a few years ago, tasting 100 different grape varieties, it wasn’t until Dr. Debbs of Good Wines Under $20 started publishing her accounts of the numerous varieties she had tastedÃ‚Â that I was finally infected with the bug. Now, thanks to her, I have jumped on the Wine Century Club bandwagon to complete my application before the end of the year. Technically, I am at 92 varieties, most of which are indigenous Iberian grapes, but if cornered to share when, with whom, and with what wine I tasted many of these Iberian grapes, there is no way I could tell you. Therefore, I want to see how many varieties I can claim an exact date and experience with, in order to make this project more meaningful to me.
So I am going to start my quest to complete my application with the rare, and totally unheard of, indigenous Spanish grape called, Tardana – also known as Tortozón or Planta Nova. As described in Jancis Robinson‘s book, “Guide to Wine Grapes”, Planta Nova is “another undistinguished Spaniard planted on about 1,800 ha. /4,500 acres of Valencia and Utiel-Requena”. This grape is so undistinguished that we’ve never run across Tardana, or its other two synonyms, in our 3+ of writing about Spanish wines!
We tried our first single varietal Tardana wine a few weeks ago with the Sybarus Único Tardana 2007 by Bodegas Torroja. A familiar winery located in El Azagador, in D.O. Utiel-Requena, Bodegas Torroja has taken great pride in recovering this very obscure little white grape since 1999 that appears to enjoy the frigid cold Valencian winters, as seen by its considerably high yields. Having tasted the 2007 Sybarus Único Tardana, I have to confess that it’s a rather peculiar grape that deserves further investigation. The wine showed a pale greenish-yellow in color with a shimmering quality of white gold. Delicate ripe white peach, cream and vanilla on the nose with just the slightest touch of honey; a very pleasant and approachable aroma that is both reserved and austere.Ã‚Â In the mouth, the wine is lush and round with medium acidity and a rich citrus and mineral finish. As Ryan states, “Lemony at times with a wet steel like coldness. Slate and sour passion fruit make for a wine that needs further exploration”.
Although not a widely available wine outside Europe, both the wine and grape are worthy of your time. And if you’ve ever tried Tardana, Tortozón or Planta Nova, let us know your thoughts! We’d love to know your impressions of this funky indigenous Iberian grape 🙂