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Five new red wines that should be on your radar

If you're baffled by the obscure grape varieties turning up on wine lists everywhere, this run-down is for you.

By Max Allen
From left: Les Sucettes à l’Aunis, Koerner Mammolo Sciacarello, and Vinkara Öküzgözü.

Can't keep up with all the new and obscure grape varieties crowding your favourite bar or indie wine merchant? I'm here to help. Tuck these five names away in your memory bank for the next time you're scanning the list or browsing the shelves, and you'll feel like a true wine adventurer.

Pineau d'Aunis

This red grape from France's Loire Valley is particularly popular with sommeliers at the moment, partly because it produces wines in the fashionable medium-bodied, juicy style – with plenty of wild berry, undergrowthy flavour – and partly because some of the most revered natural-wine producers, such as Thierry Puzelat of Clos du Tue-Boeuf, use it.

A couple of years ago, young winemaker Julien Pineau became co-owner of the legendary Clos Roche Blanche vineyard – the site of some of the best pineau d'Aunis vines in the Loire – and now uses those grapes to make a wine called Les Sucettes à l'Aunis, a particularly wild and undergrowthy example. If you like pinot noir or gamay, try pineau d'Aunis.

Trousseau

Another sommelier favourite, trousseau hails from the trendy Jura region of eastern France, where, like pineau d'Aunis in the Loire, it makes wines that are medium-bodied but by no means lacking in juicy berry flavour and racing acidity. In Portugal, the same grape goes by the name of bastardo (presumably because it can be a bit difficult to grow and ripen fully), and it's under this name that cuttings made their way to Australia many years ago, where the variety has most often been used to make port, blended with other grapes like touriga.

Recently, a few Australian producers such as Stoney Rise in Tasmania, Lucy Margaux in the Adelaide Hills and Amato Vino in Margaret River have started producing very good light-to-medium-bodied dry red wines from the grape on its own, and they've labelled their wines trousseau. Again, this variety offers a good alternative for gamay-lovers.

Teroldego

A native of the Trentino region in northern Italy, teroldego is genetically related to both syrah and lagrein, another grape from Trentino that's been grown by a few Australian producers for a while now. Knowing this about teroldego's past helps give you a good idea of what it's like in the glass: like lagrein, it makes wine with a beautiful saturated purple colour and grippy tannin, and like syrah it has supple black fruit and sometimes spicy perfume.

If you want to try teroldego from its homeland, look for the wines of Foradori, arguably the outstanding producer of the variety. A handful of local producers also grow and make teroldego, the best being Amato Vino and Blue Poles in Margaret River. It should appeal to people who can't decide whether they want to drink an elegant cabernet or a cool-climate shiraz.

Mammolo

One of the most exciting current trends in red wine is the interest in little-known grape varieties grown on the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica. One variety that does particularly well on the latter island is mammolo. It originated in Tuscany, where it was traditionally valued for its floral perfume and blended with the more robust sangiovese grape to make Chianti.

On Corsica, mammolo is known as sciacarello, which means "crunchy" – and this gives you an idea of the bright, snappy style of wine it produces. One of very few producers of mammolo in Australia, Koerner Wine in the Clare Valley uses the grape to produce a very light-coloured, perfumed red that's only a step away from a rosé. If you like pale, dry pink wine but want something with a little bit more body and chew, give this a go.

Öküzgözü

The name of this Turkish variety means "bulls eye", because the vine is known for producing big fat bunches of very large black grapes. It's a traditional variety from eastern Anatolia, and is enjoying a surge of popularity along with the growing interest in Turkish wine thanks in part to progressive producers such as Vinkara. Like the other grapes profiled here, öküzgözü produces fashionably medium-bodied red wine with refreshing acidity.

Turkey isn't the only very old wine-producing country with ancient indigenous vines that has attracted the attention of sommeliers and critics: other red varieties include xinomavro from northern Greece and saperavi from Georgia. Expect to see more of these wines shipped to Australia as this trend grows.

Öküzgözü tastes a bit like an earthy, savoury grenache crossed with a fleshy pinot, and is a great match, not surprisingly, for spicy Turkish lamb grilled over charcoal.

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  • Author: Max Allen