Some winemakers focus on making the best cabernet sauvignon or the best pinot noir. Then there are others who think differently, who go further afield, and who indulge in flights of fantasy with obscure grape varieties that seemingly speak directly to them. Sometimes, only to them.
“I don’t know,” Elisa Dilavanzo said, gesturing with her hands. “It’s just that I love yellow muscat, you understand?” It was not just the make-you-melt Italian accent, or the intensity in her eyes as she said it, there was something about her entire being that conveyed her passion for moscato giallo, as the grape is identified in Italy.
Sally Ottoson knows the feeling. ‘There are a number of long-time families in Mendocino and Ukiah, many from Piemonte in Italy, who had these amazing vineyards of old vines with grapes like charbono,” the Mendocino Coast winemaker said about discovering a fruit for her dreams. “I just fell in love with them. It was new to me and just so exciting.”
And in Venice, Italy, Gianluca Bisol has created a hotel, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a destination for wine lovers, all around a grape called dorona which, without his intervention may well have disappeared. A visit to Venissa, on the tiny island of Mazzorbo, is a matchless culinary, wine and historical experience.
What bonds these three winemakers is that they share passion for grapes that may well make great wine, but are, to the rest of the wine world, anomalies. But these are labors of love. Perhaps one day there will be demand for dorona, charbono and moscato giallo. And that is precisely why the efforts of these creative winemakers are so…
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