By Justin Taylor
The world of wine is very vast in its nature of different wine styles that we as consumers define by the varietal and historically the region. The attribution for wine quality can mostly be given to the region first, the grape varietal second, and third the vineyard manager/winemaker who conduct the fruit from beginning to end. Or is that really what defines the appearance of a wine in your glass? Not all varietals or types of grapes are the same, even between clones of the same species. To illustrate that point, let’s dig into the niche spectrum of color among red grapes that makes their wines so unique.
The next time you show up to your favorite wine tasting group, ask around for anyone who has had a wine made from Alicante Bouschet, Salvador, or Saperavi. Your question may go unanswered, but these varietals have played a role behind the scenes of wine production since the Phylloxera outbreak in Europe during the mid-19th century. Now I know how everything in wine is best summarized by a term or designation and in fact, varietals like these do. They are considered Teinturier (tan-tewr-HER) or red fleshed grapes. Where most red grapes only contain color pigments in the skin of the berry, these actually collect additional color in the pulp. Wines made from these varietals are known for having strong pigments and have been bread for decades strictly for the purpose of blending in with varietals we know by name.
The most regional representation of a teinturier, Chambourcin, grows currently at Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville. With origins in the Rhone River Valley, Chambourcin produces a wonderful, bright style of red wine that can be traditionally dry with a pleasant earthy finish all the way over to a rounded, sweeter style of red that pairs oh so well with chocolate. Even though grapes from this category might not be in the spotlight, you have no doubt enjoyed a wine containing a teinturier used in blending.
The answer to last month’s trivia is Clay and Clay loam over limestone bedrock. This unique soil makes all the difference between Left and Right bank wine styles. The wine and vine trivia for next issue is: Second to wine, what is another product teinturier varietals are used to produce?
Justin Taylor is Assistant Winemaker at Burntshirt Vineyards, Hendersonville, NC.