Grape geek site(s) of the week: Iberian varieties

A couple of weeks ago, I went to an excellent seminar and tasting sponsored by the folks at TAPAS, Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society. TAPAS, despite the explicit reference to Tempranillo, is about all Spanish and Portuguese grape varieties (I guess “SAPVAPAS” just didn’t have the same ring?). It’s a group of North American producers helping each other grow the varieties, make wines from them, and promote them in the market. I was impressed with the quality and diversity of the wines I tasted, and I encourage all of you to keep an eye out for the next TAPAS event; it will be well worth attending.

The TAPAS tasting, plus the upcoming European Wine Bloggers conference, in Rioja, have had me thinking about Iberian varieties lately. I thought it would be fun to point out some great internet resources for these varieties, and I’ll take my cue from TAPAS and use Tempranillo as an example. I’ve used Able Grape to find all of these results.

Finding Information about Tempranillo

I started with the query Tempranillo (c’mon, don’t be shy, try the query; it will open in another window). I always like to start with the simplest, most general queries, and then add things, if I need to, to winnow down the results. In this case, that works quite well: Able Grape recognizes that Tempranillo is a grape variety, and tries to return only pages with good varietal information, without producers or specific wines. At the top of the page, you’ll see a list of related varieties. Most of these are synonyms, but will return different results; if you don’t find what you’re looking for, try one of these related searches. You’ll also notice that some of the results are not in English; that’s because Able Grape tries to return the best results possible, in any language, and not surprisingly, some of the better results for Tempranillo are in Spanish. Finally, don’t be afraid to dig! Tempranillo is such a widely-grown variety that there are several pages of great results.

Here’s my pick of what I found on the first four pages:

  • Wikipedia. I’m not always a fan of Wikipedia. The anonymity of the contributions sometimes leads to manipulated, or at least incorrect, content, and without an attribution I’m loath to trust it too much. It’s often a great starting point, however.
  • University of California. I found a whole slew of Tempranillo resources, with a California bent, from this nice overview page to this glossy page from their variety book to the history of the variety at Foundation Plant Services.
  • Bill Nesto MW. Bill’s articles for Beverage Business are always a treat, and this article, written in 2004, is no exception. Bill sees a lot of unrealized potential for Tempranillo outside of Spain. I imagine many strides have been made since 2004; I’m curious what Bill would have thought of the TAPAS tasting.
  • The Oxford Companion to Wine. Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages is a subscription-only site, but if you are a wine-lover, it’s worth every penny. The OCW has great information on any topic in the world of wine.
  • Wines from Spain. The wine site of ICEX, Spain’s export promotion board, has good, but very basic, information about most Spanish varieties.
  • Consejo Regulador de la DOCa Rioja (in Spanish). This has good basic information on Tempranillo, plus the site has lots of statistics about the Rioja appellation.
  • Chalmers Nurseries. Chalmers, an Australian grapevine nursery, has fantastic, geekily in-depth information. They specialize in Italian varieties, but carry Tempranillo as well. Also see a previous post on Chalmers.
  • Viveros Lorente (in Spanish). A Spanish grapevine nursery with good information about Tempranillo.
  • INRA ENSAM (in French). This is France’s national database of grapevine information, and usually for non-French varieties, the entries are just placeholders. Not so for Tempranillo. Click on the Fiche Synthétique to get an overview.
  • Vitis Rauscedo (in Italian). A large Italian Grapevine nursery, they and their larger neighbors, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, often have great varietal information.
  • VITIS International Variety Catalogue (VIVC). This site, maintained by the German Institute of Grapevine Breeding at Geilweilerhof, is the Internet’s largest catalogue of cultivars. They don’t have in-depth varietal information, but they have extensive cross-referencing of synonyms, with references to institutions holding examples.

Finding Other Kinds of Information

Suppose you’re not looking for general information about the grape variety. This is where filters come in handy. Here are some alternative searches:

A smattering of other Iberian Varieties

  • Verdelho. One of the classic Madeira varieties, this is widely planted in Australia (that’s why it shows up at the top on the Region Filters), and an increasing number of North American producers are doing good things.
  • Touriga Nacional. One of the great Port varieties.
  • Touriga Franca. This classic Port variety used to be called Touriga Francesa, but the official Portuguese name has changed. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember that, though; Able Grape knows these are the same.
  • Albariño, the classic variety of Rias Baixas. See also under Alvarinho, its Portuguese name.
  • Garnacha. This variety, of Spanish origin, is also known more widely as Grenache. Try the search both ways; as with Albariño/Alvarinho, the two searches give different results because the cultural context is different.
  • Monastrell. The name for the Spanish variety more widely known as Mourvèdre.
  • Bastardo.
  • Verdejo. The main grape variety of Rueda, some of Spain’s finest whites.
  • Viura. The main white variety of Rioja.

I think that’s already way too much for a post, but it barely does justice to the variety of fascinating Iberian varieties, and the wines that are made from them. Have you got any great sources to add? We’re always hunting for deep, high-quality information.


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