It’s so easy to place our focus on the most famous Italian wines and grapes when we’re looking at what the industry has to offer. After all, the grapes that come to prominence are those that have a proven track record of producing amazing wines.
Winemakers grow those grapes because they know that they’re good. Hence, they become extremely popular and form the basis of many of the wines produced both in Italy and around the world.
The danger with this line of thinking is that we may start to lose sight of the grapes that perhaps haven’t achieved the popularity that they deserve. Some lesser-known grapes could even find themselves consigned to the annals of history due to nobody using them to create wines.
Those are the sorts of grapes that we’re looking at in this post.
Each of these grapes is among the rarest in the entire world. And that would suggest, on the surface, that they’re not especially good. After all, a “good” grape is one that producers will stick with and cultivate.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, it’s flat out wrong for many of the grapes on this list.
Let’s dig in and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
Grape #1 – Roussin de Morgex
We’ll start with what may be the rarest grape in the entire world.
Roussin de Morgex is an Italian wine grape that many would assume is a direct relative of Roussin, which is another rare grape in its own right.
It is from the same region but isn’t a relative. And there’s another big difference between the two. Where Roussin is cultivated on exactly one vineyard in all of Italy, Roussin de Morgex isn’t cultivated by anybody.
The issue with Roussin de Morgex is that it lies somewhere between white and red. The grape produces a pinkish wine that has rarely seen any sort of demand, which is why nobody cultivates it.
But just because it isn’t cultivated, that doesn’t mean it can’t find places to grow. Vines are remarkably hardy and there are some regions where the Roussin de Morgex grape grows naturally, without any help or human intervention.
So what does that mean for the taste?
Winemaker Ian D’Agata is one of the few who have attempted to turn the grape into a wine. And in his own words, it’s “terrible” when used for a red wine.
That’s not such a great start.
However, things take a turn for the positive when the grape’s used to create a sparkling wine. Suddenly, you have a product that wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of xtraWine.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen any time soon. Ian D’Agata’s experiments with the grape may be interesting but it’s still not cultivated. As a result, his wine is a curiosity rather than something that’s available for mass consumption.
And that’s what makes it the rarest grape in the wine grape in the world. You literally cannot buy a Roussin de Morgex from any vendor, even though a scant few bottles do exist.
Grape #2 – Cornalin
Moving on from that grape, we’re going to look at a few that are used for commercial wines, though in very low quantities.
Cornalin is another Italian wine grape that doesn’t get much attention. Grown in Northwestern Italy, it’s a challenging grape to adapt to the modern palette, which has led to it falling slightly out of favour.
It takes an exceptionally skilled winemaker to create a red using this grape that’s of a quality that people will enjoy. But when a winemaker gets it right, the grape produces a beautiful Italian red that has spicy notes that will leave you wanting more.
The problem is that “more” is often very hard to find. And the difficult of cultivating the grape and bring its resultant wines to full potential is such that it’s likely never going to become more popular.
Grape #3 – Blatterle
Another Italian grape (is there a trend for rare grapes being of Italian origin), Blatterle is so rare that it’s almost extinct. And that means it’s almost impossible to find a wine that’s made using it.
In fact, it’s so rare that there’s only one commercially available bottle that makes use of it. That one comes from the Nusserhof estate and it’s used as part of a white wine blend that, by all accounts, it’s actually quite tasty.
It’s supposedly a very refreshing wine that’s ideal for a summer’s evening. That means it would be the perfect sort of wine to buy right now, if only it were more readily available.
Interestingly, the grape doesn’t even get it’s just rewards on the label of that bottle. Due to some sort of legal wrangling, the grape is simply listed as “B” on the bottle, which means anybody who did manage to get their hands on the wine would still not hear of the grape.
Grape #4 – Persan
The disappearance and subsequent rarity of Persan has nothing to do with its quality.
In fact, it was quite widely grown in France all of the way up to the 19thcentury. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the bane of any winemaker struck – phylloxera.
The aphid devastated many a wine crop, and continues to cause problems to this day. However it seemed to have a particular fondness for the roots of the Persan vine. It ended up eating so much that Persan almost faded into obscurity.
Thankfully, a few small growers, including Nicolas Gonin, managed to revive the grape’s fortunes ever so slightly in their ongoing quest to bring indigenous varieties back to life.
It apparently creates a beautifully deep and complex red wine as well. We hope that the work of Gonin and his ilk will see this once prominent red wine grape return to its rightful place.
But for now, it’s just about clinging on after nearly being destroyed.
The Final Word
And that about does it for our small list of very rare wine grapes.
What do you think? Are there any that we might have missed out?
Let us know and we’ll look into them!