Friday, September 27, 2019

7 Facts Every Wine Lover Should Know About Cabernet Sauvignon

The harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the last wine grapes to be picked, is in full swing in most northern hemisphere vineyards.  There are many aficianados of wines made from this grape.  If you’re one of them, below are some must-know facts.

1. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted red varietal in the world. 

2. The varietal is also grown in nearly every wine producing country in the world.  From Napa to Bordeaux, from Chile to China, and from Australia to Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon can thrive in diverse terroirs.

3. There are many reasons, other than consumer demand, that Cabernet Sauv is so widely planted around the globe.   Its thick skin is impermeable to insects, its vines are hardy and low yielding by nature, and its late bud break allows it to avoid any early frosts.

4. Cabernet Sauv is an accidental grape.  It’s an unintentional crossing in the vineyard of the red Cabernet Franc with a white Sauvignon Blanc (grape vines used to be intermixed in the same vineyard).  It is thought to have occurred in the 17th century in the southwest of France near the Bordeaux region.

5.  Cabernet Sauv has a propensity to age well due to its tannin.  The varietal is usually aged in oak barrels which further augment the tannic structure and allow for long aging.  The flip side is the tannin make a Cabernet difficult to drink when young.

6.  When the grapes are under-ripe, Cabernet Sauv can taste of green bell peppers.  Over-ripe grapes move the wine to  raisin and prune-like flavors, as well as a high alcohol content.

7.  Caberet Sauv can easily overwhelm light foods.  Cabernet Sauv desperately needs fat and protein to neutralize its tannin.   A well-marbled steak, lamb with a cream sauce, or even pizza makes for an ideal pairing.


Friday, September 20, 2019

6 Facts for Syrah Lovers

Syrah grapes are already being harvested in the warmer regions of California.  The harvest in the coastal areas, however, won't happen for another week or so.  Here are some important things to know about the versatile variety Syrah. 

1.  Syrah is the exact same grape as Shiraz.  In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, this varietal is called Shiraz.  In the US and Europe it is referred to as Syrah.

2.  Don’t confuse Syrah with Petite Syrah as they are completely different grapes.  That being said, Petite Syrah is actually the child of Syrah and a relatively rare grape by the name of Peloursin.

3.  Syrah is the darkest of all the red wines.  Made from a nearly black grape, the wine is opaque, an almost inky purple-black.

4.  Some of the world’s famous cult wines are made from Syrah.  For example, both Hermitage and Chateauneuf de Pape from France’s Rhone, as well as Penfolds Le Grange from Australia are made from Syrah.

5.  Syrah works well in both cool and warm climates.  In the cooler climates the spicy profile tends toward flavors of white pepper.  In warmer climates, the spicy character changes to black pepper with layers of espresso and dark chocolate.

6.  Syrah pairs great with bold foods:  think BBQ or spicy.  As with any pairing, try to match the wine’s weight and flavor intensity with that of the food’s weight and flavor intensity.

Friday, September 13, 2019

10 Things You Should Know About Merlot

  1.  Its name means "little blackbird" in French dialect.  
     2.  Merlot can be both a blending grape, or can be made as its own varietal.

     3.  This grape is one of the 5 varieties allowed by law in red Bordeaux wine.

     4.  Merlot's parent is Cabernet Franc and an obscure old varietal from Brittany called Magdeleine Noir de Charentes.

     5.  Merlot's relatives include Cabernet Sauvignon---a step-sibling.

     6.  Merlot wine falls in the medium-bodied spectrum for red grapes.  Its moderate tannin structure allows it be be drunk younger than the full-bodied wines like Cab Sauvignon.

     7.  The Merlot grape does well in several types of soil, from clay to limestone.

     8.  Merlot also can do well in both cool and warm climates.

     9.  Merlot's flavor can vary depending upon the terroir in which it is grown.  That being said, Merlot is usually characterized by a lush texture and plum is often the dominant flavor.  Cherries and raspberries are also very common.

    10.  Merlot is food friendly due to its mild tannin structure.  It is a good pairing with poultry, as well as pork and lighter red meats.

Friday, September 6, 2019

8 Pinot Noir Facts That May Surprise You

                        Salmon screams for Pinot---the varietal is a fabulous choice for fish

Pinot Noir is one of the first red wine grapes to be harvested each season.  The warmer regions in California began picking the varietal a week ago.  In Germany and Burgundy the harvest for Pinot won't occur for another week or two.  Here are some interesting tidbits for all the Pinot lovers during the time of its harvest.

1.  Pinot Noir, a 1000 years older than Cabernet, is one of the oldest wine grapes on the planet.

2.  It has the same DNA as Pinot Blanc & Pinot Grigio---the latter two are simply color mutations of the same grape.

3.  Pinot Noir is one of the parents of Chardonnay.  

4.  Germany is largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world.

5.  Pinot Noir actually means "black pine" in French.  It is named after its pine cone shaped bunches of fruit.

6.  Pinot Noir is more fickle to grow than many other grapes.  Its thin skin is sensitive to the elements and to pests.

7.  All red Burgundy is 100% Pinot Noir.

8.  Pinot Noir is the perfect pairing for food.   It can swing both directions---from seafood and poultry, to red meats.