Obscure Wine Grapes: Nuragus

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Photo by Robb Walsh
The Nuragus grape is the most widely grown in Sardinia. Some experts believe that the grape was brought to the island more than 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians. It is so prolific and adaptable, it has been called pagadeppidus ("pay-debts grape"), preni tineddus ("fill-up-vats grape") and ua de is paberus ("poorman's grapes"). Overproduction has made it so cheap that few wine experts take it seriously.

A friend of mine found this bottle of Argiolas S'elegas made with 100 percent Nuragus grapes in the bargain bin at Spec's warehouse for $5.99. It was probably on sale because it was from the 2003 vintage -- I have seen the 2007 vintage reviewed already.

This is not a wine that improves with age. My friend chilled it and served it at a wine-and-cheese party. The sweet, golden-colored Nuragus had honey and peach nectar overtones with a gorgeous, spicy aroma. It went perfectly with the big hunk of gorgonzola I was eating.

Once upon a time, sweet white wines were the most sought-after in Europe -- Chenin blancs from Savennieres, sweet Semillons from Bergerac, German Auslese. Today most of these are ignored by American wine drinkers. They taste great chilled ice-cold in the summer with spicy grilled shrimp or stinky cheese too. And there are some great bargains to be had.


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