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Giuliano Bortolleto, 21th january of 2009

Cheval des Andes | Red Wines

The Cheval Blanc Chatêau is one of the oldest and most internationally recognized wines of Bordeaux. The wine is one of the two “Premier Grand Cru” Class A in the region of Saint Emilion. This famous Chatêau, as many other european producers decided to invest in the New World, in order to find a good terroir to produce a fine blend wine, with a superior quality, as they have France. So, Pierre Lurton, the Cheval Blanc enologist, went to Argentina and found a 76 years vineyard in Mendoza, very able to produce great wines, in terms of quality.

As soon as he found this terrain he thought abou what could be done. So, the Cheval Blanc Chatêau made a partnership with the winery Terrazas de los Andes, which belongs to the french group LVMH (Louis Viton Moet Hennessy), in order to produce a wine that would had the characteristics of the local region (the “terroir”), and a french blend from Bordeaux. The result of that is the Cheval des Andes wine, which appeared in the market in 2003.

The Cheval des Andes firsly had in its composition a litte more than 50% of Cabernet Sauvignon, about 40% of Malbec, an the rest of Petit Verdot. Now, the wine has a larger percentage of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and a litte amount of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The wine stay for 18 months in french oak barrels of first use.

The wine has a very strong and bright red to purple color. Its bouquet is formidable. A mixture of black and red fruits (strawberry, cherry, mulberry, plum), some mint and also black chilli, and a very refined smell of chocolate and tobaco, due to the contact to the oak. It has a great body, a good consistence and a huge persistence in the mouth. The wine is very unctuous. We can say that this is about a superb wine. And its price is very inviting.

Finca Bella Vista | Red Wines

January 19th, 2009

By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 19th, 2009

The Finca Bella Vista Wine is a very especial product of the Achaval Ferrer. The production is so careful that the winery had to cancel the harvests of two consecutive years, 2005 and 2006. Despite the great loss, they not regret that “because it shows the huge care that Achaval Ferrer has with its wines” as the winery manager Julián said. However, they are now expecting to have the best harvest ever to the 2007 Finca Bella Vista, which can become the best wine ever produced by the Achaval Ferrer.

This is a “Terroir” wine, one exemple of the three single wineyards wines of the Achaval Ferrer Winery, made with Malbec grapes from the Bella Vista farm in Pedriel, in the Mendoza province in Argentina. This farm has only 5 hectars of planted area with only 12 hl/hect and is 980(3200 feets) meter above the sea level. The Mendoza dry climate garantees a thermic wideness, which provides healthiness and a good amount of sugar ti the fruit. Besides, due to the rainless of the region, the wine maker can use correctly the water in the irrigation in order to extract the most wonderful that the grape can give to the final product.

The color of this wine is absolutely fantastic. A real bright ruby color. The aroma is also superb. A combination of red fruits, like strawberry, and black chilli. The wine has a robust body. Nevertheles it mantains a good acidy level and a great elegancy and delicacy.

It really worths to wait for the new harvest of this surprizing Malbec from Achaval Ferrer.

Blackberry Wine
A Novel
By Joanne Harris

Blackberry Wine By Joanne Harris | Red Wines

Jay Mackintosh is uninspired. After penning his first and only successful novel, Jackapple Joe, he has faded into obscurity. His ambitious girlfriend tries mercilessly to goad him towards a new literary endeavor, but nothing seems to stir him.

Then, one spring day, he finds himself thinking back to his summers with Joe, the crusty, magical old man who was the inspiration for his novel. Joe lived in a ramshackle house near an unused railroad line, where he cultivated a lush and almost jungle-like garden. At the time, Jay was a lonely, bored kid, and Joe adopted him and kept him spellbound with stories of his adventures, and the lore of the charms he used to help grow his flowers, vines and trees.

This strong wave of nostalgia drives Jay into his cellar, where he dusts off six bottles of Specials — Joe’s potent homemade fruit wine. The wine, it seems, has a life of its own, and once Jay breaks the wax seal around the neck of one bottle, his life is changed. A sudden epiphany leads to a permanent change, and he impulsively decides to buy an old farm in France that reminds him of Joe’s long ago home.

Moving to the small town of Lansquenet in the French countryside, he begins to cultivate his garden and rebuild the run-down farm. Slowly he is welcomed by his colorful neighbors, including the secretive, strong-willed Marise, who lives on the farm next to his. When the sun goes down each night, he retires to a candelit room where he feverishly spins the lives of the villagers into a new novel. As the novel progresses, Joe begins to appear to him, gently coaxing Jay to embrace a life that feeds his soul, and to challenge the very foundation upon which he has built his life.

Discussion Questions

1. Compare Kerry and Jay’s relationship to Marise and Tony’s relationship. In what way are they similar? If they don’t satisfy each other romantically, what other needs might the relationships fill?

2. “Wine talks; ask anyone…. It has a million voices. It unleashes the tongue…. It revives summers long past and memories best forgotten” (pg 1). Does this statement resonate for you? If so, how? How does it relate to the Specials? Are there other instances in the novel in which food or wine play an active role in guiding a character’s actions?

3. What qualities made Joe so appealing to Jay? Jay felt betrayed; was his anger justified? What was Joe attempting to teach Jay about reality, about everyday life? Did Jay ever learn this lesson?

4. Discuss the presence-or lack thereof-of nature in Jay’s life, and how it affects his state of mind. What-if anything-is the author saying about country living versus city living?

5. Why did Jay have to destroy his new manuscript before beginning a new life? Why was it important for Jay to finally plant Joe’s “Specials” seeds?

About the Author: Joanne Harris is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, and Chocolat, which was nominated for the Whitbread Award, one of Britain’s most prestigious literary prizes. Half French and half British, Harris lives in England.

Source: http://www.harpercollins.com/author/authorExtra.aspx?authorID=19707&isbn13=9780380815920&displayType=readingGuide


Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2005 Tupungato, MendozaArgentina is making some interesting wines at the moment. Its main marketing push has been Malbec, a grape whose home is the southwest of France, where it’s the main grape in Cahors and a bit-part player in many Bordeaux blends. Malbec doesn’t have the blackcurranty fruitiness of Cabernet; rather it is a bit darker, and a little more savoury, with spice and earth undertones. It has less of a tendency to go to lushness when grown in warm climates, which is probably a good thing.

Mendoza is the dominant wine region. Perched on the side of the Andes, this is a region that receives very little rainfall, and were it not for the ready supply of Andes meltwater, viticulture wouldn’t be possible here. Another important factor is altitude: the vineyards here are high up, and with the highest vineyards in the region the extra UV light that the grapes receives causes the grapes to develop thicker skins, with more tannins (and softer tannins, too), as well as more colour. The cooling effect of altitude means that the grapes preserve acidity even when they are allowed to hang for quite a while before harvest.

But it would be wrong to dismiss Argentina’s other wine regions. Two in particular are worth mentioning. First, Salta. Up in the hot north, these are the world’s highest commercial vineyards: were it not for the effect of altitude, it would be too hot for quality viticulture here. Second, Patagonia. Travelling far south, this is a cooler, windier, flatter region that’s beginning to turn out some really nice wines.

This tasting covered 45 different Malbecs, which sounds like a lot, but is only a quick sampling of a much broader offering. Some important wines are missing – Catena, Achaval Ferrer and Colomé, to name but three – and so this can’t be seen as a true ranking of Argentina’s best.

In terms of quality, I though this was quite high across the board. Remember, this is a mixture of commercial wines and then some high-end ones. Stylistically, I think Argentina would do well to go down the road of freshness, definition and structure, rather than super-ripeness and new oak flavours. I would also add that while Argentinean Malbec is great, it would be a shame for this country to become a one-trick pony: other grape varieties shouldn’t be neglected in a headlong rush to plant Malbec.

1. Chacayes Malbec 2003 Tunuyán, Mendoza
Pure, sweet fruit on the nose, which is smooth with a spicy underlay. The palate is concentrated with good acidity and nice spicy structure. A lovely wine that is quite refined and full.

2. O Fournier Alpha Crux Malbec 2003 La Consulta, Mendoza
Dense, sweet, forward spicy nose shows lovely pure dark fruits. The palate is bold and full with good density and nice dark spicy fruit. Tannic, too.

3. Familia Schroeder Saurus Patagonia Select Malbec 2004 Neuqén, Patagonia
Amazingly deep, vivid colour. Lovely savoury, spicy nose of pure fruit. Vivid like a tank sample. The palate is intense, vivid and spicy with a savoury twist. A tannic beast.

4. Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Malbec 2005 Tunuyan, Mendoza
Deep coloured. Beautifully aromatic nose showing spice, violet, sweet fruit. The palate is bold and rich but quite elegant with good acid. A striking wine that’s beautifully made.

5. Fincas Patagonicas Zolo Reserve Malbec 2004 Mendoza
Perfumed, fresh and bold with nice fruit freshness and good acidity. A lovely structured wine.

6. Finca Sophenia Synthesis Malbec 2005 Tupungato, Mendoza
Very open, sweet, perfumed nose is smooth and lush. The palate is open and rounded with sweet pure fruit. An elegant style.

7. Familia Cassone Obra Prima Malbec 2003 Mendoza
Lovely vivid savoury nose with pure fruit. Quite aromatic. Nice structure and weight on the palate which is vivid and dense with amazing fruit quality.

8. Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva 2005 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza
Deep coloured. Smooth, pure, spicy nose leads to a dense palate with nice intensity and delicious spicy structure. A lovely wine.

9. Luigi Bosca Malbec 2004 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza
From 54 year old vines, this spends 14 months in French oak. Concentrated, firm and tannic with nice ripe fruit allied with the structure. There’s a bold, savoury edge to the sweet dark fruits.

10. Bodega del Fin del Mundo Malbec Reserva 2004 Neuquén, Patagonia
Interesting stuff. Savoury, spicy nose leads to a palate with dense spicy fruit and oak. Lots of presence here: a nice wine.

11. Filipe Rutini Malbec 2005 La Consulta, Mendoza
Lovely fruit here: juicy, vivid, bold fruit with nice weight and spice. Delicious.

12. Pulenta Estate Malbec 2004 Alto Agrelo, Mendoza
Dense, spicy and extracted with nice freshness and some class. Bold stuff. Delicious with lots of presence.

13. Finca el Retiro Malbec 2004 Mendoza
Vivid purple colour. Aromatic spicy nose leads to a high-acid palate with good structure. Vivid and full. Long lived?

14. Eral Bravo Malbec 2005 Agrelo, Mendoza
Rich, extracted style with concentrated, dense, ripe spicy fruit. Some oak is evident, but its nicely done in an unashamed new world style.

15. Trivento Golden Reserva Malbec 2004 Vistalba, Mendoza
Big, dense, ripe and extracted with lots of spicy, oaky fruit. In yer face.

16. Familia Zuccardi Q Malbec 2003 Maipú, Mendoza
Quite structured and spicy with some oak influence. Quite refined in a full flavoured style.

17. Finca Las Moras Mora Negra 2004 Tulum Valley, San Juan
Deep coloured with vivid fruit. Ripe but with a savoury, spicy edge. Bold but balanced.

18. Trapiche Tributo Felipe Villafañe Malbec 2003 La Consulta, Malbec
Smooth, sweet pure fruit but lots of vanilla oak on the nose. Vivid, bold, oaky palate.

19. Valentin Bianchi Particular 2004 Mendoza
Ripe, rich, spicy and chunky, with good weight. A nice rich style.

20. Luna Llena Malbec 2004 Mendoza
Very sweet, soft fruit here. Open and rounded. A striking, distinctive wine.

21. Bodega NQN Malma Reserve Malbec 2004 Neuquén, Patagonia
A very rich, full wine with sweet fruit and nice supporting oak. Substantial stuff.

22. Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2004 Vistalba, Mendoza
Sweet, liqueur-like fruit on the nose. Some oak influence on the palate. Modern styled.

23. Viña Fundación de Mendoza Malbec 2006 Santa Rosa, Mendoza
Quite vivid and spicy on the nose. The palate has savoury, spicy structure and good fruit. Good concentration.

24. Michel Torino Don David Reserve Malbec 2004 Cafayete, Salta
Juicy, bold and rich with good acid and structure, and pure dark fruits. Lovely.

25. San Polo Auka Malbec 2003 La Consulta, Malbec
Nice full and dense with spiciness and freshness. Tasty.

26. Norton Malbec Reserva 2004 Lunlunta, Mendoza
Juicy, ripe easy drinker with red fruits and a touch of spice.

27. Navarro Correas Colección Privada Malbec 2005 Mendoza
Vivid and intense, with lots of fruit. Good acid. Tasty.

28. RJ Viñedos Jaffe e Hijas Grand Malbec 2004 Valle d’Uco, Mendoza
Fresh, quite perfumed nose is spicy and full. The palate is dense and full with nice spicy structure. Vivid stuff.

29. Bodega Felix Lavaque, Finca El Recreo Quara Barrique Aged Malbec 2004 Cafayate, Salta
Vivid and juicy with nice freshness from the high acidity. Tasty

30. Viento Sur Malbec 2005 Tupungato, Mendoza
Quite aromatic and full with sweet red fruits. The palate is bold and juicy with nice fresh herby fruit. There’s a herbal edge.

31. Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2005 Tupungato, Mendoza
Sweet, spicy, slightly tarry edge. Nice dark fruits.

32. Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2004 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza
Nice weight and density here. Rich, modern and spicy. Slightly oaky style.

33. Telteca Antá Malbec 2004, Lavalle, Mendoza
Juicy and rich with ripe fruit. Very drinkable.

34. Mendoza Vineyards Malbec 2005 Mendoza
96% Malbec, 4% Viognier, some staves used. Juicy, fruity, fun and quite nice.

35. Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2004 Pedernal, San Juan
Bold, rich and quite oaky with lots of presence.

36. Argento Malbec 2005 Mendoza
Nice bright juicy fruit with no rough edges. An easy drinker.

37. Chakana Malbec Reserva 2005 Agrelo, Mendoza
Vivid, toasty, chocolatey nose. Lots of ripe fruit. Quite oaky, but good fruit.

38. Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2004 Mendoza
Chocolatey, spicy, oaky nose. Dense, spicy, oaky palate. Good in its style.

39. Etchart Gran Reserva Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Cafayate, Saltra
50% Malbec, with 30% Cabernet and the balance Merlot and Tannat. Sweet, ripe and approachable. Nice.

40. Tamari Malbec Reserva 2005 Mendoza
Vivid and juicy with high acidity and ripe fruit.

41. San Huberto Malbec Crianza 2004 La Rioja
Spicy and quite structured with good acidity. A fresh, drinkable style.

42. Don Christobal Oak Reserva Malbec 2004 Mendoza
Quite a big oaky style with sweet fruit.

43. La Riojano Coop Raza Limited Edition Malbec 2003 La Rioja
Very fresh and juicy with nice acidity and some plummy bitterness.

44. Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2005 Luján de Coyo, Mendoza
Fresh and vivid with high acidity. Juicy and full.

45. Jean Bousquet Malbec 2005 Tupungato, Mendoza
Open, sweet spicy fruit. Quite distinctive with an slightly oxidative note. Approachable.

46. Santa Ana Malbec Reserve 2004 Cruz de Piedra, Mendoza
Juicy, fresh and fruity with a bit of spice.

Source: http://www.wineanorak.com/malbecfromargentina.htm


Pinot Noir Glass | Red WinesFrom Stacy Slinkard,
Your Guide to Wine.

An Overview of a Challenging Wine

Pinot Noir (pronounced Pee-noh-n’wahr)
Pinot Noir may be the toughest grape to grow, but the effort is well worth the investment. It is a fickle grape that demands optimum growing conditions, calling for warm days consistently supported by cool evenings. Pinot Noir is a lighter colored and flavored red wine, well-suited to pair with poultry, ham, lamb and pork. Its flavors are reminiscent of sweet red berries, plums, tomatoes, cherries and at times a notable earthy or wood-like flavor, depending on specific growing conditions.

Pinot Noir’s forerunner and modest inspiration hails from red Burgundy, one of France’s most prized wines. Today, Pinot Noir is planted in regions around the world including: Oregon, California , New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Italy .

Due to the stringent growing requirements for Pinot Noir, it is produced in much smaller quantities than other popular red wines. Traditionally, you will also pay a little more for Pinot Noir, as the “supply and demand” theories kick in. However, for an excellent value you may consider Castle Rock Carneros Pinot Noir 2003 at just $10 a pop, you will be hard pressed to find a better price for a truly delightful Pinot Noir.

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