Tuesday, 21 April 2009

False friends - an update

More trouble with Synonyms for Slotovino. We recently paid good money for a 100% Mazuelo, described as being a minor component of Rioja only to discover this is a synonym for our old friend Carignan.

This news came from reading 'The New Spain' by John Radford where we also learned that Macabeo is nothing else than Viura. Under 'Albarino' he tells us that 'Miguel Torres is convinced that it is the Riesling brought by monks on the famous Camino de Santiago, or Pilgrim's Road, which runs from Northeastern Europe right through to Santiago de Compostela in Old Castile.' There may be something in this. There are apparently many different clones of Albarino which could account for the fact it no longer resembles Riesling. Here is Wikipedia's entry on Albarino:

It was presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century. Its name "Alba-Riño" means "the white from Rhine" and it has locally been thought to be a Riesling clone originating from the Alsace region of France, although earliest known records of Riesling as a grape variety date from the 15th, rather than the 12th, century. It is also theorized that the grape is a close relative of the French grape Petit Manseng.

There seem to be hundreds of the false friends (remember Lemberger>Blaufraenkisch, Trollinger>Schiava, Petite Sirah>Durif etc.).

Rutherford also tells the story of Pedro Ximenez being a grape supposedly
imported by a German soldier Peter Hitzman or sometimes Peter Siemens in the 16th century but appealing as it is, this myth is not worth perpetuating. Beau Jarvis in his blog 'Basic Juice' dismisses it as follows;

In the late 17th Century, a German soldier by the name of Peter Hirtzman decided to flee the fighting near the North Sea. Being both a pacifist and a viticulture hobbyist, he took a few cuttings and traveled to southern Spain - the region of Jerez to be exact. Peter soon discovered that one of his white grape varietals flourished in this warm, very non-German climate. In fact, the locals were so impressed with Herr Hirtzman's wine, they began purchasing vines from him. In time the famous wines of Jerez, or Sherry, relied heavily on this German's grape. Sadly, Peter was forgotten and his name, also given to the grapes, españo-morphed into "Pedro Ximenez."
A fascinating story, no? Yet it's 100% false. A version of this story was told to me by a wine educator, who also happened to be a Sherry lover. It's likely that this bogus story is a derivative of the classic Pedro Ximenez myth, which appears in a number of sources:
"The grape reputedly takes its name from a 17th-century Spanish soldier who introduced it to Spain on his return from The Netherlands, although the story is almost certainly apocryphal as no Rhine grape resembles PX and there is no reason why such a northerly grape would grow in southern Spain."

And another fine mess: Vranec or Vranac which we had confidently understood to be nothing else than Primitivo turns out to be an ancient variety only distantly related to Primitivo/Zinfandel which has now been identified as Crljenak kastelanski from the coast of Croatia.

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