Oseleta | Red wine grape native to Italy. It is a blending grape of Valpolicella that faced extinction and was almost single-handedly revived by the Boscaini family of the region’s famous Masi estate. Having tasted a Valpolicella with noticeable tannins and backbone made by his cousins, Sandro Boscaini took cuttings sent them to Celestina Gaspari, and paid her to conduct some research. Her conclusion was that the grape was identified as Oseleta. Despite their efforts, there is still only a scant amount planted in Italy.

Wine style | Oseleta’s signature dark colour and ample tannins distinguish it from the rest of the Valpolicella blending grapes. The name derives from oselét, a dialectical variant of uccellina, (‘little bird’) referring to birds’ attraction to the ripe grapes. Several grapes called Oselina were recorded in the 1800s, but their relationship to Oseleta is unknown.

Wines | Veneto: Grown only in Valpolicella, where small portions may be used in the blend of any of the Valpolicella denominations. (See Corvina entry for the list of DOPs.)

Viticulture | Oseleta produces low yields due to its small- sized berries, thick skins, and an extra pip (seed). It is very adaptable and resistant, making it a good companion to have around in difficult vintages when the other Valpolicella varieties struggle to ripen properly.

Wine style | Dry, still red wines, dark in colour and tannic, again due to its small berry size, thick skins, and extra pip. When dried, its low yields are amplified as is its tannic power. Aromas and flavours include violets, blackberry, tar, leather, and cinnamon, combined with a faint herbaceous note. Oseleta is increasingly used as a native alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon in the Valpolicella blends. While rare, a few monovarietal bottlings do exist.

Bibliography

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.123-4.