Here's a question you could probably add to your wine trivia quiz that a majority of your quiz takers wouldn't get right: "What's the second most widely planted wine grape in the world and the number one white grape in France?". The answer is not Chardonnay...it's Ugni Blanc, a grape that produces a crisp, acidic wine that is very,very seldom found as a single varietal. It almost always has one or two other white varietals blended in to balance its acidity. In France, it is also heavily utilized as the informing grape in Cognac and Amagnac, two of the world's most popular distilled wine products.
As with most grapes, Ugni Blanc goes by some different names including Thalia in Portugal and Bulgaria and by the more well known name,Trebbiano in Italy. This grape is quite prolific in Italy as well as France and is mentioned as a usable grape in 80 of Italy's D.O.C.s and earns six D.O.C. designations there of its own. It is in Italian Trebbiano that The Wine Guy has been most familiar with this grape, but I've also enjoyed a blend of Ugni Blanc and Columbard in a French Cotes du Gascogne.
Recently, while shopping in Ecuador, I picked up an interesting Argentinean blend that featured Ugni Blanc as an informing grape. The wine was Pampas Del Sur Vino Blanco. It offered Ugni Blanc and Pedro Giminez as equal partners in 60% of the blend followed by contributions from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Moscatel. The varietal selections were an intriguing combination that worked out very in creating a balanced , refreshing white wine that showed off various characteristics of its individual members when paired with different food items. I particularly enjoyed it recently at a friend's house with marinated and grilled pork tenderloin.
You'll rarely, and perhaps, may never see the name Ugni Blanc in your local wine shoppe. However, if you regularly explore good complex white blends, odds are that you will definately enjoy the effects of this widely grown workhorse of a grape. Ugni Blanc is definately worth some exploration. Enjoy!
About The Author:
"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.
Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)