Wineries name some of their bottles for their principal grape, or their blends, while others for local plants and animals. For instance, Vineyard Brands sent us four samples of wines with special stories: Miguel Torres Chile Las Mulas Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Doga Delle Clavule Morellino Di Scansano Tuscany Red 2013, MAN Family Merlot 2021, and Umani Ronchi Pecorino 2021. Read on to learn about their wine names and more.
Wines might take their name from their main grape or from their region, or from local floral and fauna. In addition, a typical split occurs between names of old world wines of Europe and new world wines from other countries. For example, the wine-growing region may dictate the name, like Sancerre in the Loire Valley. And most countries call the grape Syrah, but in Australia, it’s Shiraz. Here are four wines with special stories for their names.
In Italian, Pecorino means sheep. In other words, this grape originates in the sheep-grazing region of Italy, Marche. As the story goes, the sheep nibble on the grapes as they graze through the vineyards. Smart sheep! Umani Ronchi Terre di Chieti Vellodoro Pecorino 2021 ($18) is 100% Pecorino, a crowd-pleaser with aromas of grapefruit, lemon, green apples and nectarine mirrored on the palate. This is a crisp, clean and zesty white wine with loads of minerality and a good structure. Pair it with fish, vegetable soup or cheese. Or drink it as an apéritif.
Roughly translated, Sauvignon Blanc means wild white vine, and therefore is named for its appearance. As well, the name Las Mulas is a tribute to the mules, whose hard work is essential to the making of this wine. Sauvignon Blanc is very popular, and saw growth during 2021 when most other wine varieties did not. Miguel Torres Chile Las Mulas Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($15) is organic, with aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and herbaceous notes, leading into flavors of mango, pineapple and citrus. Enjoy it as an apéritif or with seafood, spiced chicken and guacamole.
Morellino Di Scanso
Morellino di Scansano (Sangiovese) also is named after local animals — in this case, horses, known for their vigor and the intensity of the color of their coats. Doga Delle Clavule Morellino Di Scansano Tuscany Red 2013 ($19) offers aromas and flavors of cherries, plums, blackberries and licorice. This is a savory, smooth, earthy wine. While it pairs with beef, pork, mushroom dishes, and hard, aged cheeses, it also is one of the few reds that pair well with seafood. Serve it at cellar temperature instead of room temperature with shrimp, crab or grilled salmon.
Staying with the wildlife theme, Merlot is named for blackbirds – “merle” in French. Why? Blackbirds are a dark color like Merlot grapes, and love eating these grapes off the vine. MAN Family Wines ‘Jan Fiskaal’ Merlot 2021 ($12) also carries the name of another bird. Jan Fiskaal is a fiscal shrike, commonly seen in the vineyards, and with a reputation for driving out pests. This is a classic Merlot, with distinctive aromas and flavors of plums, and savory and earthy notes. In addition, layers of mocha, dark chocolate and blueberries entice. This is a versatile wine that stands on its own or pairs with roast chicken, lamb stew, lasagna and barbecue.
Summary: Wine Names
What’s in a name? While names shouldn’t be a driving force in your choice of wine, they certainly can make a fun evening of tasting different bottles that might typically not be on your table. Enjoy!
Margot and Dave