When does a grape variety cease being alternative?
by Larry Best
Reading your latest newsletter
, it occurred to me that I too wondered when a grape variety became mainstream. The two varieties mentioned in your newsletter, ie Marsanne and Gewurztraminer (excuse the lack of umlaut) brought home to me that this becomes an interesting question.
Sangiovese is also a good example, as is tempranillo. These two varieties are becoming widely planted. Should we be looking at how many hectares have been planted, over how many regions the variety under cultivation or what quantity of wine is being produced from the particular variety, to determine an alternative variety status?
Considering the number of alternative grapes now being looked at, there will come a time when some criteria will probably be employed to establish a variety's alternative nomenclature.Darby Replies:
This is a question without a real answer, or at least it depends on the context. The AAVWS has an exclusion list, ie anything but Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz... As I mentioned in the newsletter they have been debating Pinot Gris/Grigio for a while. They say something is 'alternative' if it doesn't have a class of its own at a major metropolitan wine show, so on this criterion PG should be considered no longer alternative.
In the context of Vinodiversity the decision is mine personally. I aim the site at consumers and I have a rule of thumb "does the average wine consumer know about this variety?" Of course my method is totally subjective, and I could easily decide one way or another for any of the varieties you mention.
Verdelho is an interesting case in this discussion. AAVWS don't consider it alternative. I do, it's not widely known in Victoria, I'm from Melbourne, I like the variety and it is a subjective decision. I've had a few wine people from NSW disagree with me, but it's my decision.
Thanks for opening this discussion Larry, I hope some other readers chime in with their opinions via the comments to this page.
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