As the March Madness tournament continues the upsets continue; I cannot believe Villanova was upset by North Carolina State and that UCLA keeps on rolling. The Wisconsin victory was closer than we would have liked and the Notre Dame vs Butler game was a nail bitter. I made the grape varietals bracket before last Sunday’s seeding and I bracketed the grapes in random order so I did not know which grapes would be matched up with each team. I am glad we took a look at Kekfrankos, Norton, Saperavi and Garganega on Saturday because they have now all been eliminated. If you missed learning about those grapes click here for a review. Additionally, since Saturday two grapes have been eliminated in the brackets that may be less familiar to you; therefore, in honor of the excitement of the NCAA Men’s Tournament I am going to share a bit about these two grapes:
Marquette: This blue/black grape was developed by the University of Minnesota in 1989 by crossing two hybrid grapes, MN1094 and Ravat 262. It is a cousin of the Frontenac grape and grandson of Pinot Noir. It is characterized with flavors of cherries and black berries, spice and tobacco, medium body with tight tannins. It was developed to grow in cold weather climates and is planted in states such as Vermont, New York and Minnesota.
Semillon: This golden-skinned grape is the preeminent white grape of Bordeaux; it is also planted in Australia. It is a common blending grape in White Bordeauxs, offering flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, lanolin, honeysuckle, fig, ginger and saffron. It is also commonly used in Bordeaux dessert wines. This is certainly a grape to add to your repertoire.
Now let’s take a brief look and some grapes who are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen:
Montepulciano: This Italian red grape variety is found in central Italy, grown in Marche, Abruzzo and Molise; however, the most famous of this wine is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. The wine produced with Montepulciano is characterized as light in texture with bright flavors of black berries, mushrooms, cola and fresh herbs. This is a unique Italian grape that is definitely worth seeking out.
Ezerjo: This white Hungarian grape variety is grown in the historic Mor region of Hungary. This grape has a strong acidity and high alcohol levels with a light bouquet. It is often cultivated into a late harvest sweet wine.
Vermentino: This light skinned grape is cultivated in northwest Italy, southern Franc and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. Furthermore, some US wine producers in California have also begun growing Vermentino. It is characterized with flavors of stone fruit, citrus, herbs and minerals. It is relatively low in alcohol and offers crisp acidity.
Vinho Verde: This Portuguese white grape variety is grown in the DOC region of Minho. It produces crisp, fresh white wines that are a perfect welcoming for spring. Vinho Verde wines deliver high acidity with clean citrus flavors, herbs and minerals. This is a wine to be drinking now.
Petit Verdot: This red wine grape is a classic Bordeaux grape. This grape provides an inky color to wine, along with high tannins and flavors of blue berries, flowers and earthy characteristics. It is increasing in popularity among American wine makers as a single varietal; however, it is commonly used in small percentages with Bordeaux blends. The grapes are small and cluster close together.
Good luck heading into the Sweet 16; may your favorite team and grape win!