Pelaverga | Glossary of Grape Varieties
Discovering Pelaverga: A Rare and Unique Grape Variety
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Pelaverga, a grape variety native to the Piedmont region of Italy, has been capturing the attention of wine enthusiasts worldwide. This light, fragrant, and rare grape variety offers a unique alternative to the more familiar Piedmontese wines. In this article, we'll explore the history of the pelaverga grape, its key characteristics, the best food pairings, and the rising popularity of pelaverga wine. So, let's dive into the world of pelaverga and discover what makes this rare grape so special.
The Origins of Pelaverga
Pelaverga, also known as "Pelaverga Piccolo," is a rare red grape variety originating from the hills of Piedmont in northwestern Italy. It has been grown in this region for centuries and has several synonyms, including Carola, Cari, Fra Germano, and Taddone. Today, the grape is primarily cultivated in the Verduno Pelaverga and Colline Saluzzesi DOCs of Piedmont's Cuneo province.
Verduno Pelaverga DOC
Located in the Barolo district, the Verduno Pelaverga DOC spans the vineyards in the municipality of Verduno and parts of the neighboring villages of La Morra and Roddi d'Alba. This area is known for producing light-colored, velvety, and well-balanced wines with fragrant and delicately spiced bouquets. The taste of these wines is dry, fresh, distinctive, soft, and harmonious.
Colline Saluzzesi DOC
The Colline Saluzzesi DOC, situated near the town of Cuneo, also features Pelaverga as one of its key varietal wines. However, the number of Pelaverga vines in this area is declining due to the increasing popularity of international grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result, finding wines made from this endangered Piedmontese grape variety can be quite challenging.
Key Characteristics of Pelaverga
The pelaverga grape variety is known for its distinct strawberry aroma, which is often compared to the fruitier, more fragrant end of the Pinot Noir spectrum. Pelaverga wines are typically light in color, ranging from cherry to ruby red with violet reflections. The grape's hallmark floral and white pepper aromas contribute to the wine's unique character.
Taste and Texture
Pelaverga wines have a semi-dry, medium-bodied taste with a minimum alcohol content of 11%. These wines are known for their purity, acidity, tangy red fruit flavors, and silky or linear textures. Although pelaverga is considered a light-hearted and pleasant wine, it offers a surprising amount of character and complexity.
Pelaverga wines have a storage potential of up to 3 years, allowing you to enjoy their unique flavors and aromas even if you don't drink them immediately after purchase.
Pelaverga and the Rise to Cult Status
In the mid-2010s, the G.B. Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga made from the esoteric pelaverga grape variety gained cult status among wine enthusiasts. This bright, strawberry-scented red wine from Piedmont's Langhe region became a symbol of low-key rarity, with demand for Burlotto's pelaverga increasing over time.
The Expansion of Pelaverga Producers
Initially, the identity of pelaverga was synonymous with a single producer's star power. However, as the grape variety's popularity grew, additional examples entered the market. Rising stars such as Olek Bondonio (of La Berchialla) and Segni di Langa's Gian Luca Colombo, along with Barolo's historic Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, have contributed to the next phase of the grape's evolution.
Food Pairings for Pelaverga Wines
One of the most enjoyable aspects of pelaverga wines is their versatility in food pairings. Here are some delicious dishes that complement the flavors and aromas of pelaverga wine:
- Prosciutto and rockmelon
- Grilled chicken salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar
- Beef carpaccio
- Antipasti dishes with meat, such as raw cod salad from Langhe, beef tongue served with giardino sauce, or veal with tuna sauce
- Vegetable pies
- Various types of risotto
The Future of Pelaverga
With the increasing interest in pelaverga wines, the grape variety's future looks promising. Although the number of pelaverga vines is declining, its unique characteristics and growing popularity among wine enthusiasts may help preserve this rare grape variety.
Protecting Pelaverga's Heritage
The village of Verduno, situated just west of Alba on the banks of the Tanaro River, has resisted the temptation to eradicate Pelaverga entirely from their vineyards, despite the more valuable Nebbiolo vines that produce grapes for prestigious Barolo cuvées. This commitment to preserving the pelaverga grape variety showcases the importance of safeguarding the region's diverse and rich wine heritage.
Pelaverga is a rare and unique grape variety that offers a delightful alternative to the more popular Piedmontese wines. Its light, fragrant, and versatile nature makes it an enjoyable choice for wine enthusiasts seeking something different. If you haven't tried a pelaverga wine yet, now is the perfect time to discover this hidden gem and revel in its captivating flavors and aromas. Happy tasting!