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gfron1

Best wine book for varietal research

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I'm attempting to identify wines that were grown in the 1800s in the US. My guess is that Elvira, Muench and Labrusca don't exist anymore, but I'm wondering if they might not have evolved into something else. So my question is which is the best book for finding historic varietals and potentially tracking them to a current grape? Is the World Atlas the best source?

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1 hour ago, gfron1 said:

I'm attempting to identify wines that were grown in the 1800s in the US. My guess is that Elvira, Muench and Labrusca don't exist anymore, but I'm wondering if they might not have evolved into something else. So my question is which is the best book for finding historic varietals and potentially tracking them to a current grape? Is the World Atlas the best source?

Labrusca are still grown - for grape juice.

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I know about the existence of this one:

Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours

it's considered a great reference but never had a chance to give a look.

 

As far as I know vitis labrusca and other American grapes were imported to Europe and are still cultivated here in Italy. Our laws forbid to produce wine from grapes different than vitis vinifera, but there are farmers that still cultivate those species and produce "outlaw wine" from them.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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25 minutes ago, teonzo said:

I know about the existence of this one:

Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours

it's considered a great reference but never had a chance to give a look.

 

As far as I know vitis labrusca and other American grapes were imported to Europe and are still cultivated here in Italy. Our laws forbid to produce wine from grapes different than vitis vinifera, but there are farmers that still cultivate those species and produce "outlaw wine" from them

 

Teo

Any tips on vineyards that use them? That's a great lead for me!

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I can't make names in public, since they risk jail, sorry. My infos are 20 years old, after I changed job I lost my contacts with those customers (farmers that kept cultivating those grapes illegally).

For example clinton grape was highly popular here in Veneto up to the 70's, it was called the "farmers wine" since all families had some plants and self produced some wine for home consumption (before the economical boom after WW2 the vast majority of families were farmers). It was one of the main caloric sources in the farmers diet, my grandmother told me that most male farmers consumed around 2 liters of clinton per day. In 1987 the Italian government made a law that enforced the extirpation of that kind of grape. Many people kept some hidden plants for themselves, but being caught is not a nice thing. If a restaurant/pub/whatever sources some of clinton wine (or other wines from American grapes, all of them forbidden nowadays) then they are forced to close. There are still some of them where you are able to drink a glass, but you must be a really well known friend of the owner. For my experience it's just a curiosity, the ones I tasted were average or worse. But this can be due since it's not made in the best conditions and/or by qualified winemakers.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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1 hour ago, gfron1 said:

Any tips on vineyards that use them? That's a great lead for me!

Here's a link to Fragalino - illegal European wine made with labrusca grapes.

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13 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

Here's a link to Fragalino - illegal European wine made with labrusca grapes.

 

Some more clarifications:

- real fragolino ("fragolino" translates like "strawberry like") is not illegal for consumption because it's illegal to plant and produce, it has no sense to prohibit the consume of something that is illegal to produce;

- you can find wine bottles labeled as "fragolino" in our supermarkets, it's just low quality wine with added synthetic strawberry flavour (they can use the name because the other one is illegal, they just need to add a little print that states "strawberry flavoured");

- the definitive ban came after a huge scandal in 1986 (google "methanol wine scandal Italy" and you will find some US newspaper articles from the time), many people died after drinking wine with added methanol, this created a huge mess and authorities had to find some way to fix it to avoid the total collapse of the wine industry, which resulted in finding culprits to blame (American grapes) and banning them, it was said that they were harmful for human health because of their intrinsic high levels of methanol, hence the ban... it was a huge pile of crap, but you know how things work, they needed a culprit, wine industries were happy to kick away those grapes, so making a fake 2+2 was easy.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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FWIW,

Manischewitz makes a mostly Concord Kosher wine that's fairly ubiquitous, but it's sweet, IIRC.


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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50 minutes ago, joiei said:

Wine Folly

 

"Varieties derived from V. riparia
Bacchus
Baco Noir
Elvira (white)
Frontenac
Marechal Foch
Triomphe d’Alsace"

 

Interesting! Bully Hill makes a Baco Noir that I sometimes drink.

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Bacò (you must write it this way in Italy to point that the accent is on the O and not the A, so it's pronounced like French) was another popular wine here, like clinton and fragolino. It's really silly to see how Italy and France erased all of them. With the same reasoning we should ban pizza too.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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For the most part, wines in Europe can only be classified if they come from vitus vinifera vines (I say for the most part because a very few hybrids have other components).

 

This explains why wines made from native American grape varieties, which are from a different vitus species, are not allowed to be produced or sold.

 

The rootstock of American vines are used because they are resistant to phylloxera devastatrix, which was a gift from the US when cuttings were brought into Europe that devastated the wine industry in the second half of the 19th century. Vitus vinifera cuttings are grafted onto the rootstocks to produce grapes classified as vitus vinifera.

 

In wine circles, many American native wines are characterised as having a "foxy" taste.

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On 2/16/2019 at 10:03 AM, teonzo said:

I know about the existence of this one:

Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours

it's considered a great reference but never had a chance to give a look.

 

As far as I know vitis labrusca and other American grapes were imported to Europe and are still cultivated here in Italy. Our laws forbid to produce wine from grapes different than vitis vinifera, but there are farmers that still cultivate those species and produce "outlaw wine" from them.

 

 

 

Teo

 

The Kindle Version of that book is on special this month on the Amazon US store for US$3.99. 

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31 minutes ago, nickrey said:

The Kindle Version of that book is on special this month on the Amazon US store for US$3.99. 

 

Thank you very much!

 

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