Obscure Varietals

The Madison Tasters Club is a monthly tasting group comprised of non-industry, non-professional consumers of wine. The group is moderated by a professional Sommelier who selects the evening’s wines. Each month the group will taste six selections with a specific theme. The goal of the Madison Tasters Club is to educate, evaluate and create tasting notes to share the consumer’s perspective with a broader audience on the Bottle Pros blog.

The fifth gathering of the Madison Tasters Club was on March 27th with the topic, Obscure Varietals. The group was asked specific questions about each wine regarding visual, aromatic and palate impressions. Notes have been compiled based on the group’s impressions with the most common answers used as well as a few quotes from participants.

Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna Is Argiolas 2017

Technical Data: Is Argiolas is a selection of 100% Vermentino from the oldest vineyards of the Argiolas estate. The grapes are harvested later to obtain fuller body and riper fruit flavors and aged 6-8 months on the lees. The wine is vinified entirely in stainless steel tanks to retain freshness and vibrancy.

Group Impressions: The wine showed pale yellow in the glass with a moderate bouquet offering aromas of grapefruit, apples and pineapple. The palate is bright with acidity and flavors of pineapple, pears and guava with a slight grassiness.


“It has a quality of nectar, fills the mouth, lovely!”

“Complex fruit aromas, nice mouth-feel”

“I liked the weight of it, surprising”

Planeta Cometa  2017

Technical Data: Comprised of 100% Fiano this wine comes from Sicily (Menfi) Italy. The grapes are soft pressed then fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel. The finished wine rests on fine lees, where it remains until bottling.

Group Impressions: Yellow with green hues, this Fiano is light in body with a combination of stone and citrus fruit aromas. The palate is slightly tart with hints of lemon and lime, apples and peaches. The wine has an underlying minerality and subtle white pepper and herbal nuance.

Quotes :

“Pricey but acidic & crisp/ herbal notes on the finish”

“Nice combination of fruit and mineral.”

“Crisp, not strongly floral & spicy.”


Domaine Barville Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Roussanne 2016

Technical Data: Made from 100% Roussanne in the southwestern Cotes du Rhone region of France this exclusive cuvee is cultivated from a vineyard area of only 0.65ha (1.6 acres). The fruit is harvested at full maturity and entirely by hand very early in the morning. De-stemming and gentle pneumatic pressing follow. The juice is left to settle, and then ferments  two weeks in new French oak barrels in which ageing takes place during 8 months, on lees , and with regular stirring.

Group Impressions: This wine has a beautiful straw-gold color. It shows fruit aromas of peaches and pears with a bit of honeysuckle. Full on the palate the wine is dry but with a honeyed character. The peach and pear fruit are rounded with hints of tea and a subtle toastiness.

Quotes :

“Great flavor that sustains. Very Enjoyable. Stands on its own.”

“I like the complexity and creaminess especially.”

“Creamy in mouth, elusive herbal character.”

Michael David, Ancient Vine Cinsault 2015

Technical Data: 100% Lodi California Cinsault that was planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker, making it one of the oldest producing vineyards and one of the world’s oldest Cinsault plantings. Farmed by Michael’s son, Kevin Phillips, this vineyard is head trained and dry farmed just like it was when it was when planted well over 100 years ago. The wine is aged 9 months in French oak.

Group Impressions: A bright wine showing purple in color. Light in body it expresses red fruit through and through. The nose is filled with strawberries and raspberries and they are as pronounced on the palate as they are on the nose. There is a subtle hint of green pepper and enough structure to balance the bright fruit characters.

Quotes :

“It could stand up to heavy meats for those who don’t like heavy reds.”

“It has mild tannins and lovely acidity. Strong red fruit nose.”

“Acidic, yet soft, would satisfy full bodied & light bodied wine friends.”

Tormaresca Negroamaro Masseria Maime 2010

Technical Data: This wine from Puglia Italy is made of 100% Negroamaro from vineyards of the Maìme estate. The wine was aged in French and Hungarian oak puncheons for twelve months before being bottled. A further 18 months period of bottle aging preceded commercial release.

Group Impressions: A medium-full bodied wine, ruby in color with aromas of dark fruits. On the palate there is a raisinated/prune like character to the fruit. Earthier aspects of the wine show forest floor and a bit of tar.

Quotes :

“Love those dark fruits.”


“Foresty, Earthy.”

Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino 2011

Technical Data: 100% Sagrantino from the Umbria (Montefalco) region of Italy. Fermentation takes place using selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged 12 months in 225 L French oak barrique followed by 26 months of bottle refinement.

Group Impressions: Brick in color this powerful red wine offers red fruits, floral aromas and a leathery quality. The wine is very rich with great minerality and a hint of eucalyptus.  

Quotes :

“Very different, leather, minerality, eucalyptus, floral.”

“Full rich taste along with the unique leather floral combination with just a hint of fruit.”

“It’s wonderful- minerally, superb!!”