At a recent wine tasting, the wine club was exploring rosé wines.
The group tasted one from France made with a grape variety called Counoise [pronounced “Coon-wah”]. I have never heard of this grape variety. There are more than 1,300 different grape varieties, I can’t know them all.
I thought it was rare, so I had to do some research. Come and find out, it’s not uncommon at all! Indeed, it is one of the grape varieties authorized in the development of the AOC Châteauneuf du Pape. There are more than 1,500 hectares cultivated in France alone.
There are 60 acres, all at Tablas Creek Vineyards in California and smaller amounts at Paso Robles. It is also grown in Washington, Oregon and New York. Only a handful of wine estates in the world produce it as a single varietal.
All of this got me thinking… what are the rarest grapes in the world?
Keep in mind that an acre is 208 by 208 or 43,560 square feet. By the way, the acre was originally an English unit of measurement that described the amount of land an ox could plow in a day.
Here is the Top 10 rarest grapes.
There is only one vine in the Great Western Vineyard in Victoria, Australia that has never been identified. No DNA marker linking it to another grape variety has ever been found.
It is believed to have been planted in the early 1800s, when Britain originally settled the area as a penal colony in 1788, a date which has become Australia’s national holiday. No wine is ever made from it because the birds and other critters arrive first on the fruit.
Blatterle, an Italian red grape on the brink of extinction with only 2 growers cultivating the last known 4 hectares of the variety.
Caberlot, a genetic cross between Cabernet Franc and Merlot, is one of the rarest grape varieties in the world. In July 2020 there were only 5 acres in Italy of this variety known to be grown today.
Assyrtiko is a white grape variety originating from the island of Santorini in Greece with only 7 acres. The vines there are believed to be over 150 years old.
A Lodi, California grower planted 1 acre in 2015 and harvested his first crop in 2020. Time will tell when it’s released later this year.
Persan was presumed extinct for many years until 22 acres were accidentally discovered by some local growers in France. It is a red grape variety used in the production of a small handful of wines in Savoie.
Italy’s Lacrima di Morro d’Alba was once reduced to 30 acres until it formed its own DOC. Now there are over 500 acres. I have a few bottles in my cellar.
Tyrian, from Australia, is a cross between Spanish wine sumoll and cabernet sauvignon. As of 2016, 76 acres are known to exist.
With only 125 acres in Italy, Susumaniello certainly falls into this category. DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese and ten other Italian grape varieties. I happen to have a few in my basement.
Rotgipfler is a white wine from Austria with less than 300 acres. Apple and citrus on the nose and on the palate.
Brachetto originates primarily from the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, with 400 acres of existence. Brachetto tends to produce light, highly aromatic wines with distinctive strawberry notes.
In the DOCG region of Brachetto d’Acqui, the grape is used to produce a slightly sweet sparkling wine that resembles lambrusco and is sometimes called the red equivalent of Moscato d’Asti.
Spain has 400 acres of Txakoli [chock-oh-lee], which traditionally creates a wine made and consumed at home. This very acidic, slightly sparkling wine with great minerality and salinity makes it perfectly refreshing to sip with seafood, charcuterie and hard cheeses.
According to “Wines From Spain”, a trade organization, as recently as 2001 less than 1,000 cases of txakolina were exported to the United States. In 2009, it was more than 10,000 cases. Almost everything is drunk during the summer months, mainly in restaurants.
Turbiana from Italy is a unique native grape grown only on the southern shore of Lake Garda. This small area could lose half of its 750 acres for a planned transit rail system.
Originally from Pflaz in Germany, Ortega is a cross between Muiller-Thurgau and another lesser known variety, Siegerrebe. What ortega lacks in acidity, however, it makes up for in sugar levels, making it a good choice for cool-climate regions.
One of Ortega’s main roles in German wines is to complement Riesling in bad vintages, bringing some sweetness and body to wines that are otherwise lacking. Data from 2016 shows 1,100 acres and declining. I have some late harvest Ortegas in my cellar.
Furmint is another white grape from the famous Tokaji region in northeastern Hungary, used in Tokaji Aszú dessert wines, but also available as a dry wine in a style similar to Riesling. A 2017 survey shows that there are less than 2,000 acres in this region and in Austria.
In contrast, there are over 850,000 acres of Cabernet, 650,000 of Merlot, 500,000 of Chardonnay planted worldwide.
Good drink, Chris