HOW CAN SOMETHING commonplace also be obscure? This would seem to defy logic, and yet many grape varieties key to the world’s wine producers remain a mystery to most oenophiles. These grapes may not be household names like Merlot or Cabernet, but they’re responsible for some very solid, very drinkable and occasionally even great wines. I consider the following grapes particularly deserving of a bit of acclaim.
Despite a name that sounds like a fast-paced dance, the Frappato grape has been slow to gain fame outside its native Sicily. Much like Bonarda, this red grape is beloved by local winemakers but little known to the world at large. It’s not always easy to find in stores.
One Frappato producer who stands out, in terms of both quality and production numbers: Valle dell’Acate. According to proprietor Gaetana Jacono, the Frappato grape was the source of the very first wine her family produced back in the late 19th century and was once the sole grape in the family’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria wines. Today their Cerasuolo wines contain a blend of Frappato and the much better known Nero d’Avola grape.
Ms. Jacono loves the fresh character and bright acidity of Frappato, which she said can even pair well with seafood such as salmon, tuna and fish soup with mussels. This grape is as versatile—light and lively with a delightful bitter-cherry aroma—as it is easy to love.