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Outfoxed: a false alarm at a Wine Show
November 13, 2016


I am always looking for new, obscure, exotic, even exciting wine varieties and their producers at wine shows.

Earlier this month (November 2016) I made my eleventh pilgrimage to Mildura for the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, where something new is always happening.

So I was excited to discover that one of the wines listed was Five Geese Wines Volpacchiotto Nero d’Avola Rose from McLaren Vale.

“Wow! another exciting Italian variety,” I thought.

“They’ve only got a small amount of Volpacchiotto planted and their new vines so they’ve blended it with Nero d’Avola and made a rose.

When I did some research it seems that Volpacchiotto is not a variety at all but a fox cub! Five Geese call their Nero d’Avola red wine La Volpe so it makes sense.

I looked Up Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes and the nearest I could find as a wine variety was Volpicchio which is a Tuscan synonym for the Umbrian white wine Drupeggio. So it turned out to be a false alarm.

Another promising start was Longleat Wines Zingari from the King Valley. But this was another false alarm. Zingari is just the fantasy name used by Longleat for their Gargenega.

But what about Ancelotta? This was represented as a blending partner with Zinfandel by a variety from Water Wheel Winery in the Bendigo region. And yes it is a real variety, a deeply coloured red from Reggio Emilia in Italy.

The other oddball variety at AAVWS that you may not have heard about is Slankamenka Bela, a white wine from the Banat region where Hungary, Serbia and Romania meet. I think the variety was bought to Australia under the mistaken identity of it being the Sicilian variety Grillo.

Slankamenka Bela is described in Wine Grapes as “Ancient Balkan variety producing uninspiring whites”. In the hands of inspiring winemaker Brad Wehr of Amato Vino I think we will see something better than uninspiring whites from this variety .

On a less exotic level the Austrian white wine variety Gruner Veltliner did very well as you can see in this article.

Fantasy wine names

The task of spotting new varieties in lists of wines, either at a wine show or on a menu list, is made a little more difficult (and exciting) by the increasing practice of using “fantasy names” as an alternative to or in addition to varietal names on labels.

I actually like fantasy names. While they do mean I have to do a bit more detective work, I think they help tell a story about the wine.

Fantasy names also help consumers remember wines with otherwise difficult names to pronounce. They can add a bit more fun to wine.

Some marketers seem to agree, after all Grange and Hill of Grace are fantasy names.

Coming to Italy in 2017?

There are still places at Terronia the Wine School of Southern Italy. The course will be held in May 2017. You might like to check the details at

this page on Vinodiversity.

Order early for christmas

If you are thinking about buying a Vinodiversity product for Christmas I suggest you put in your order early. I use Auspost to distribute De Long's Maps and the Wine Grape Varietal Table. I am temporarily out of stock of the Wine Map of France. But have the others in stock.

Checkout the Products page to see the range



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