This page is all about wines and the vines they come from. All of the information is sourced by books I am currently using to study for my wine exams.
The dornfelder found in Germany is a delicious, fruity, light to medium bodied red, that can be served cool. This wine is one of my personal favorites, especially during bbq season. It is delightful with some grilled sausages, pork, asparagus and red meats. For avid wine drinkers this wine is often compared to France’s Beaujolais wine; fruity, grapey and easy drinking this wine is highly recommended to have on the table for dinner parties as its dark berry flavor gets along with most palates. The dornfelder is named after a German viticulturist named Immanuel August Ludwig Dornfeld; he bred two other varietals together to get the yummy grape in 1956.
There is a lot to say about Bordeaux. For many wine drinkers Bordeaux is often unreachable not only due to its price, but also because of its intense wine laws and regulations. I will keep things very short and offer some basic information, so you can feel a little more knowledgeable after reading this article.
Bordeaux is large region separated by 3 rivers that heavily influence the grape growing process. The French have also planted Les Lands: a manmade 2.5-million-acre pine forest to help protect the grapes from frosts and severe winds.
In Bordeaux only 9 grape varieties are allowed to be planted and grown. This region is one of the world’s largest fine wine regions and they would like to keep it that way. In a white Bordeaux the blend of grapes you will find are of: Muscadelle, sauvignon blanc, and semillon. These are the only white grapes allowed in the region.
Red Bordeaux is allowed to be made from a blend of the following grapes: cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, Malbec, carmenere, and petit Verdot.
Bordeaux is known for complex powerful wines that are graceful and age magnificently. A Bordeaux wine can cost around 1,500 a bottle or more! Many wine lovers will invest in a pricy bottle and save it to their collection.
This an extremely breif over view possibly ever written; but if you are interested in the fascinating wine region of Bordeaux I would recommend looking deeper with some great books like the wine bible.
A delicious wine made from honey sweet, and floral meads are a perfect summer drink. Served chilled and paired well with light dishes and roasted pork ( my personal favorite).
Mead origins have been found in Egypt and all-across the world. Many craft breweries are now making craft meads so I would take advantage of this opportunity and try some out!
Pays D’oc is in the Languedoc-Roussilon region of France bordering Spain. This region grows many international varieties (chardonnay, cabernet for example) over native French grapes and out of it comes a unique pinot noir.
The Languedoc-Roussillon region has a complex past as parts of this growing area was under Spanish control until the mid17th century. This Spanish reign and its subsequent cultural influence is still present today in the regions wine, food, and social customs.
This pinot noir is much earthier in the sense that it tastes of bell pepper, raspberries and green tea. However, since wines from this IGP (Indication Geographique Protegee) can be harvested and bottled from any part of the land it is hard to determine what exactly the flavor profiles are and how they are related to the environment and location.
Suggested pairings for this wine include root vegetables, sweet seafood such as scallops and mussels, and red meats like lamb.
Thanks for reading, until next time, Cheers!
Cote Du Rhone
As I am wrapping up my six-month tasting of France I gravitate back to south of France. Where delicious Cote du Rhone’s are created with syrah, grenache, and mourvedre. No matter what price (great one’s at $12) Rhone red wines are versatile enough to go from family table to classy event.
The spicy notes are found in between layers of fruity berries and sweet tart lemon peels. Usually light to medium bodied, I find Rhone to be paired excellently with roasted meats that have fruit sauces (roasted pork with apple), dark, green, leafy vegetables and tomato-based dishes as well.
Until next time, Cheers!
North of San Francisco, the Sonoma County is 1 million acres of planting and two times larger than Napa Valley. Sonoma County has about 50 varieties that grow extremely well here. Alexander Valley specifically is in the northern part of Sonoma is long, warm, and inland. During the day it is extremely warm and cools down considerably at night helping the grapes to retain acidity which is vital for aging and wine structure. From Sonoma you can find amazing wines at affordable prices!
Cabernet Sauvignon grows tremendously well in California, and one from the Napa Valley is no exception. Power, structure and grace are words typically heard around Cabernet Sauvignon, it ages phenomenally, and internationally it grows well and takes on the nuances of its environment making it a staple of fine wine no matter where you are in the world.
Known for its ability to age and its dynamic flavor ranging from soft berries, bursts of tobacco, laced with dark chocolate and chewy tannins. Cabernet sauvignon food versatility and ability to spark pleasant though provoking questions in the drinkers made is part of its charm.
Napa’s wine historical importance has always been there and can be partly credited to the valley’s complex soil composition: however, it was the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting where it won first place amongst competitors from Europe that sparked the Napa wine explosion.
* Recommended food pairings include rich dishes that can stand up to the intensity of Cabernet: red meats, grilled, or broiled tomato based sauces and meals that are high in fats.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, Cheers!
Natural and originating in Valencia, Spain the grape is mostly grown in regions such as Jumilla and other parts of central Spain. Monastrell is also grown in France where it is referred to as Mouvedre. In France the monastrell is an important grape that is used to produce many important red blends from the Rhone Valley and Provence. The dark, juicy and robust flavor of the monastrell (mataro in northern Spain) grape lends itself to center stage in Spain; usually consumed with red meats is best. In other parts of Spain the monastrell is used to make rose cava Spain’s refreshingly bright sparkling wine. Almonds, ripe tomatoes, red meats and hazelnuts are great companions to monastrell.
Thanks for reading, Until next time, Cheers!
White Burgundy a classic white wine, easily paired with several dishes due to its main grape being chardonnay, a bright acidity, and fruitiness. One way to think of the white burgundy is that it is the exact opposite of the California chardonnay. From California the chardonnays are creamy, filled with flavors of butter, apples, pineapples and whipped cream; white Burgundy, is contrasting in it sharp lemon, vibrancy. Another difference is that Burgundian growers use a specialty wine making process known as the Burgundian Method, a few of the differences are the consistency of using barrel fermentation (putting the unfermented grape juice in a barrel to ferment allowing the wine to extract barrel flavor with out the woody creaminess) and followed by malolactic fermentation (aiding in lowering the intense acidity). I would recommend trying both the California chardonnay and a white burgundy side by side to see the differences of how the same grape grown in different areas of the world could be so different!
Until next time, Cheers!
Costieres De Nimes
Now throughout my studies I found that Nimes is an ancient city occupied by Romans around 1 AD, but not necessarily a wine growing region. The region it is in however is, Languedoc-Roussillon edged along the coast of Spain about 25% of all French wine is produced here. Roussillon was a part of Spain until mid 17th century. Varietals found in Rhone Valley are grown here, as a drinker you can expect the wines to have similar characteristics.
The particular wine that I tried was a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, started off smooth, fruity, berries and juicy red apple, laced with spicy black and white pepper, coming from the Syrah. Wines from here are perfect for summer barbeque ( I had it with burgers) and surprisingly seafood. The wines of Languedoc-Roussillon gained notice around 1980 as wines from France that pair wonderfully with Mediterranean cuisine.
Thank you for reading, Until next time Cheers!
Beaujolais (Boo-jo-LAY) is a region (and the name of the wine coming from here) right outside the southern part of Burgundy and is known primarily for a young wine called Beaujolais Nouveau. Translating to new Beaujolais, at about 6 weeks old this wine is ready to sell.
The fruity wine gained popularity around the 1960’s, claiming to be a celebration of the new harvest. As many other wines from France, Beaujolais is categorized into three classifications in order from lowest to highest; Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, and Beaujolais Cru. The classification can be found right on the label. The best Beaujolais are capable of aging since they have a better structure.
The only grape used to make Beaujolais is Gamay noir. In 1395, Gamay was exiled from Cote d’Or and banished to its southern parts (Beaujolais) by a duke who thought the grape “disloyal”. The grape exudes expressive notes of black cherry, flowers, and a finish of black pepper. This is a humble table wine and something fun to try if you are beginning to explore the world of French wine, it can be found reasonably priced usually around $8/bottle.
Barbera from Piemonte
Piemonte or Piedmont in English translates to “foot of the mountain” and is one of Italy’s most esteemed regions.
Many world class wines come from the Piemonte such as the Barolo, Asti, and Barbaresco but todays focus is on the Barbera.
Barbera is one of the softer reds coming from Italy, it is less tannic but juicy. For along time the grape was used to produce more quantity wines than quality but in the 1980’s that all began to change, and the native Italian grape began to be treated with respect. Barbera is also what I like to call a loyal grape, it does not grow well in other countries. California had made an attempt, but it was clear that the grape was not happy.
Barbera’s flavors are deep, rich with dark bitter chocolate, licorice, and figs along with a medium acidity level makes this wine a go to table red to enjoy with dinner. A classic pairing option includes hearty roasted vegetables with pasta, this is a staple here since for a long time this region was a poorer one, blessed with a rich wine sustaining its people. Red meats, berry compotes and even rice that is jazzed up with nuts and dried fruits would go well with this wine!
Barbera is now grown every where in Piemonte yet it thrives in Alba and in Asti these wines are known as Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti. Hope you learned something new today and until next week, Cheers!
Albariño- In Rias Baixas, this seaside white grape varietal also known as alvarhino in Portugal grows on the coast and is resilient to moisture induced diseases. This grape is one of my favorite white wines. Not aged in or fermented in wood and produced to be drank young, this wine has a unique flavor. It has found the balance between creamy and crisp, citrus and juicy peach, almond and light floral notes. This coastal wine is, in my opinion, one of the best to pair with seafood. When looking to purchase one of these in the store the label with first say Rias Baixas, then Albariño underneath. If looking to purchase one from Portugal they can be found under Alvarhino and also in Vino Verde.
Rioja- A region of Spain that contains a walking trail to France and is known for their beautifully aged red wines. Rioja is one of the only wine producing regions where you can find an amazing aged red wine (minimum 3 years to about 10!) priced perfectly for any budget. Depending on the wine makers view either traditional or modern will determine the outcome of the wine. Pairing well with hearty roasted foods such as lamb, goat, asparagus, and artichokes to name a few, is also what is eaten in this hilly region. Important note for both red and white rioja’s the labels will read:
Crianza- white; aged 6 months in oak. Red; aged 2 years minimum one year in oak
Reserva – white; aged 2 years 6 months minimum in oak. Red; aged 3 years one year minimum in oak
Gran Reserva- white; aged 4 years one year minimum in oak. Red; 5 years two years in oak remaining three in bottles.
Garnacha- also known as Grenache in French is the primary varietal in a rose ́wine from Aragon, Spain I enjoyed recently. Garnacha is thought to have originated in southern France; however, recent research has found its origins are Spain. The grape itself is difficult to grow and even more difficult to get a delicious wine out of. Garnacha grows in both a white (grenache blanc) and a red (grenache noir), the red is the more popular of the two, and is the basis of many extraordinary wines; for example, Gigondas, Cotes-du-Rhone, and Châteauneuf-du-pape. Often garnacha is blended with other varietals like syrah, carignan, and mourvedre. In French wines you will find that combination very popular since those varietals together make for delicate and supple wine. In a Spanish garnacha you will experience the aroma of berries but, flavors of cherry tarts with that gooey fruit syrup, light warm spice notes and a medium body. The rose ́ wines made from garnacha (grenache) have a bright strawberry flavor balanced with minerality, perfect for salads, blue cheese, appetizers, and other light dishes. Who says you can’t have rose ́ in the winter? Not me!
Toscana- or Tuscany in Italian, is the home of Italian red wine staples like chianti classico, and Brunello di montalcino for example but, today, I am going to talk about the varietal sangiovese. As Italy’s most famous grape, it is used to make chianti classico, but it can also be bought as a single varietal. Sangiovese ranges in flavor, it plays with earthy and sweet; from a cherry pie all the way to bold spicy, tea, and even some dried fruit. Structurally closer to a pinot noir, meaning that it is pretty light bodied and has soft tannins. Besides Tuscany, sangiovese can also be found in Umbria, Italia and Emilia-Romagna, Italia and of course California. Any thing with olive oil, hearty red sauces and savory sausages would be my recommendation with this delicious red!
Alsace- is a cool region of France bordering Germany that shares a lot in food and culture. Alsace has a complicated terroir that enables them to grow interesting vines that produce complex and intense wines. This region primarily grows white wine (except for pinot noir) and the Gewürztraminer is a wine that will knock your socks off. This wine is astonishing! That said it is also a hit or miss, its flavors are so strong and pungent that if you are not a fan of pineapple, rose, lychee, warm spices, grapefruit, and stones this is not the wine for you. Otherwise if you are ready to try something totally different go for it! The body of this wine is very full, has a soft acidity and interestingly, it is massively fruity but, not sweet. It can be made into a sweet wine if the vintage permits. Suggestions for this wine is to enjoy it after your meal as a dessert and for pairings: pork, cabbage, sauerkraut, hearty potato dishes and game.
A recent wine that I enjoyed was labeled as a ventoux, a part of the southern Rhône valley that for some reason did not come up in the books I use to study. After a quick internet search, I found that multiple sources claim that this is no longer an AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) in easy terms a place recognized by the French government that sells wine. Nonetheless this wine was delicate in texture and body yet intense in flavor. The grape varietals used were Grenache, Syrah, and Counoise. Grenache is the dominate grape in southern Rhône and is identified by its raspberry, cherry, and light spice flavors. Second is the Syrah, well known all over the world but attains an incomparable strength in Rhône, especially northern Rhône where it is the only grape red wine is made of. Syrah from this area is bold with gamey, sometimes blood flavors. Finally, the Counoise, noted as a minor blending grape whose presence is necessary to add aromatics. Drinking this wine, I experienced bold notes of cloves, raw meat, and a fruity pitted cherry finish. This wine has been one of the most interesting I have had to date, leaving me a certain thirst to try more Rhône wines. In terms of food parings for this type of blend would prove rather difficult in the sense that you could play into any dimension of the wine. Something with deep flavor such as heavy dishes using a lot of fish sauce, soy, balsamic even I think would do to expand the dark umami flavors.
Thanks for reading, until next time, cheers!
Pinot Blanc from Alsace
Pinot Blanc is not a very well-known grape; it is not as dynamic as the some of the other varietals grown in Alsace like the Riesling, therefore it is not as popular. Pinot blanc has flavors of golden and green apples, along with sweet grapefruit and a light acidity level. I find this to be a great white wine to go with any dish. Its flavors are familiar, and it is light bodied which caters to whatever you need it for. Pinot blanc is also known as Klevner, this is due to the regions proximity and back and forth ownership between Germany and France. Hopefully you learned something new today, and until next time, Cheers!