Eric Asimov of the New York Times can have his PicPoul (as seen in the 12/5 The Pour article on rising European wine prices) and all those anti-wine-snob-super-snob-sommeliers can have their Aligote (as seen on plenty of Manhattan wine lists), Vino Girl’s pick for ‘obscure grape of the day’ is Savagnin.
Savagnin is a grape grown mainly in the Jura region of France, just east of Burgundy. The grape is best known for what is quite unappetizingly called “yellow wine” or “Vin Jaune.” Vin Jaune apparently tastes more like Fino Sherry and is a deeper yellow color than standard white wines. I have never tried this oxidized style of Savagnin.
More “wine-like” yet definitely different and somewhat indescribable is the non-oxidized white wine from the appellation of Arbois. The wines are typically nutty, almost salty, with a smooth, creamy finish that you almost expect to be tart as it moves through your mouth. It is an interesting wine if nothing else and more high quality than any Picpoul (a Languedoc white grape and one of the lucky 13 grapes permitted in Chateauneuf-du-Pape) or Aligote (the “red-headed stepchild” of Burgundy whites) I have ever tasted.
Give it a try if you are looking for something different and interesting this holiday season. Cheers!