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Khvanchkara | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Khvanchkara Wine | Red WinesKhvanchkara is a fine naturally semi-sweet red wine made from the Alexandrouli & Mudzhuretuli grape varieties cultivated in the Khvanchkara vineyards, near the town of Ambrolauri in Racha region of western Georgia. The Khvanchkara wine is one of the most popular Georgian semi-sweet wines. Along with Kindzmarauli, it was the favourite wine of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Khvanchkara has a strong specific bouquet and a harmonious velvety taste with a raspberry flavor. It is of dark-ruby color. It contains 10.5 - 12.0% alcohol, 3 - 5 % sugar and has 5.0 - 7.0 % titrated acidity. The wine has been manufactured since 1907. For its most excellent taste it was awarded 2 gold & 4 silver medals at international exhibitions.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khvanchkara

Carménère | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Carménère | Red WinesThe Carménère grape is a wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot.

A member of the Cabernet family of grapes, the name “Carménère” originates from the French word for crimson (carmin) after the hue of the grape in fall. The grape is also known as Grande Vidure, a historic Bordeaux synonym, although current European Union regulations prohibit Chilean imports under this name into the European Union. Along with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit verdot, Carménère is considered part of the original six noble grapes of Bordeaux, France.

Now rarely found in France, the world’s largest area planted with this variety is in Chile in South America, with more than 4,000 Hectares (2006) cultivated in the Central Valley. As such, Chile produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today and as the Chilean wine industry grows, more experimentation is being carried out on Carménère’s potential as a blending grape, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Carménère is also grown in Italy’s Eastern Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions and in smaller quantities in the California and Walla Walla regions of the United States.

Species: Vitis Vinifera
Also called: Médoc: Grande Vidure, carméneyre, carmenelle, cabernelle, bouton blanc;
Graves: carbouet; carbonet
Origin: Bordeaux (France)
Notable regions: Chile, Italy, Washington, California

Characteristics

A glass of Carménère wine.Carménère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a medium body wine. Although mostly used as a blending grape, wineries do bottle a pure varietal Carménère which, when produced from grapes at optimal ripeness, imparts a cherry-like, fruity flavor with smokey, spicy and earthy notes and a deep crimson color. Its taste might also be reminiscent of dark chocolate, tobacco, and leather. The wine is best drunk young.

History

Origin

One of the most ancient European varieties, Carménère is thought to be the antecedent of other better-known varietals; some consider the grape to be “a long-established clone of Cabernet Sauvignon.” It is possible that the variety name is an alias for what is actually the Vidure, a local Bordeaux name for a Cabernet Sauvignon clone once thought to be the grape from which all red Bordeaux varieties originated.

There have also been suggestions that Carménère may be Biturica, a vine praised in ancient Rome and also the name by which the city of Bordeaux was known during that era. This ancient variety originated in Iberia (modern-day Spain and Portugal), according to Pliny the Elder; indeed, it is currently a popular blending variety with Sangiovese in Tuscany called “Predicato di Biturica”.

The Carménère grape has known origins in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France and was also widely planted in the Graves until the vines were struck with oidium. It is almost impossible to find Carménère wines in France today, as a Phylloxera plague in 1867 nearly destroyed all the vineyards of Europe, afflicting the Carménère grapevines in particular such that for many years the grape was presumed extinct. When the vineyards were replanted, growers could not replant Carménère as it was extremely hard to find and more difficult to grow than other grape varieties common to Bordeaux. The region’s damp, chilly spring weather gave rise to coulure, “a condition endemic to certain vines in climates which have marginal, sometimes cool, wet springs”, which prevented the vine’s buds from flowering. Yields were lower than other varieties and the crops were rarely healthy; consequently wine growers chose more versatile and less coulure-susceptible grapes when re-planting the vines and Carménère planting was progressively abandoned.

Re-discovering the Carménère grape

Chile

Far from being extinct, in recent years the Carménère grape has been discovered to be thriving in several areas outside of France. In Chile, growers almost inadvertently preserved the grape variety during the last 150 years, due largely to its similarity to Merlot.

Los Lingues Vineyard Carmenere Vines Colchagua Valley Chile | Red Wines

Cuttings of Carménère were imported by Chilean growers from Bordeaux during the 19th century, where they were frequently confused with Merlot vines. They modeled their wineries after those in France and in the 1850s cuttings from Bordeaux, which included Carménère grape, were planted in the valleys around Santiago. Thanks to Chile’s minimal rainfall during the growing season and the protection of the country’s natural boundaries, growers produced healthier crops of Carménère and there was no spread of phylloxera. During most of the 20th century Carménère was inadvertently collected and processed together with Merlot grapes (probably reaching up to 50% of the total volume) giving Chilean Merlot markedly different properties to that of Merlot produced elsewhere. Chilean growers believed that this grape was a clone of Merlot and was known as Merlot selection or Merlot Pneumal (after the Pneumo Valley in Chile). In 1994, Professor Jean-Michel Boursiquot from the Montpellier’s school of Oenology confirmed that an earlier-ripening vine was Bordeaux Carménère, not Merlot. The Chilean Department of Agriculture officially recognized Carmenere as a distinct variety in 1998. Today, Carménère grows chiefly in the Rapel Valley and Maipo Province.

Italy

A similar situation occurred in Italy when, in 1990, the Ca’ del Bosco Winery acquired what they thought was Cabernet Franc vines from a French nursery. The growers noticed that the grapes were different from the traditional Cabernet Franc both in color and taste. They also noticed that the vines ripened earlier than Cabernet Franc would have. Other Italian wine regions also started to doubt the origin of these vines and it was finally established to be Carménère. Although, in Italy, the varietal is grown mainly in the northeast part of the country from Brescia to Friuli, it has only recently been entered into Italy’s national catalog of vine varietals and thus “no district has yet requested the authorization to use it”. Therefore, the wine “cannot be cultivated with its original name or specific vintage and the name cannot be used to identify the wine on the label with an IGT, DOC or a DOCG status assignment.” Ca’ del Bosco Winery names the wine it produces Carmenero.

Carménère in other wine regions

In modern-day France only a few hundred acres of Carménère officially exist, although there are rumors of renewed interest among growers in Bordeaux.

Carménère has also been established in Eastern Washington’s Walla Walla Valley and in California, United States. In the 1980s, Karen Mulander-Magoon, the co-proprietor of Guenoc and Langtry Estates Winery, in California’s Lake County, brought the grape to the vineyard. This was a joint effort with Louis Pierre Pradier, “a French research scientist and viticulturalist whose work involved preserving Carménère from extinction in France.” Once the vines were quarantined and checked for diseases they were legalized for admission into California in the 1990s, where they were cloned and planted.

In Australia, three cuttings of Carménère were imported from Chile by renowned viticultural expert Dr Richard Smart in the late 1990s. After two years in quarantine, only one cutting survived the heat treatment to eliminate viruses and was micro-propagated (segments of individual buds grown on nutrient gel) and field grown by Narromine Vine Nursery. The first vines from the nursery were planted in 2002 by Amietta Vineyard and Winery in the Moorabool Valley (Geelong, Victoria) who use Carménère in their Angels’ Share blend.

Carmenère has also been established in small amounts in New Zealand. DNA testing confirmed in 2006 that plantings of Cabernet Franc in the Matakana region were in fact Carménère.

Viticulture

Carménère favors a long growing season in moderate to warm climates. During harvest time and the winter period the vine fares poorly if it is introduced to high levels of rain or irrigation water. This is particularly true in poor-soil plantings where the vine would need more water. Over-watering during this period accentuates the herbaceous and green pepper characteristics of the grape. The grape naturally develops high levels of sugar before the tannins achieve ripeness. If grown in too hot a climate the resulting wine will have a high alcohol level and low balance. Carménère buds and flowers three to seven days later than Merlot and the yield is lower than that of the latter grape. The carménère leaves turn to crimson befoe dropping.

There are several wineries that produce Carménère. These are produced as a single varietal or a blend, usually with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot. Concha y Toro, a Chilean winery, has 100 hectares planted from a Carménère clone and produces a varietal that is aged in both French and American white oak barrels for at least 3 – 4 years before release.

Distinguishing Carménère and Merlot

Casillero Del Diablo | Red WinesGenetic research has shown that Carménère may be distantly related to Merlot and the similarities in appearance have linked the two vines for centuries. Despite the similarities, there are some noticeable differences that aid the ampelographer in identifying the two vines. When young, Carménère leaves have a reddish hue underneath, while the leaves of Merlot are white. There are also slight differences in leaf shape with the central lobe of Merlot leaves being longer. Merlot ripens two to three weeks earlier than Carménère. In cases where the vineyards are interspersed with both varieties, the time of harvest is paramount in determining the character of the resulting blends. If Merlot grapes are picked when Carménère is fully ripe, they will be overripe and impart a “jammy” character. If the grapes are picked earlier when only the Merlot grapes have reached ripeness, the Carménère will have an aggressive green pepper flavor.

Thus, although different, Merlot and Carménère were often confused but never thought to be identical. Its distinctive differences meant the grape was called a “Merlot selection” or “Merlot Peumal,” which was “a geographic reference to a valley south of Santiago where lots of Carménère was grown” before its true identity was established.

Fonte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmenere

Gamay | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Gamay Noir Grapes | Red WinesGamay is a purple-colored grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley around Tours. Its full name is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. It is a very old cultivar, mentioned already in the 1400s. It has been often cultivated because it makes for abundant production rather than due to the quality of the wine made from it, but makes wines of distinction when planted on acidic soils which help to soften the grape’s naturally high acidity.

History

The Gamay grape is thought to have appeared first in the village of the Gamay, south of Beaune, in the 1360s. The grape brought relief to the village growers following the decline of the Black Death. In contrast to the Pinot Noir variety, Gamay ripened two weeks earlier and was less difficult to cultivate. It also produced a strong, fruitier wine in a much larger abundance.

In July 1395, the Duke of Burgundy Philippe the Bold outlawed the cultivation of the grape referring to it as the “disloyal Gaamez” that in spite of its ability to grow in abundance was full of “very great and horrible harshness”, due in part to the variety’s occupation of land that could be used for the more “elegant” Pinot Noir. 60 years later, Philippe the Good, issued another edict against Gamay in which he stated the reasoning for the ban is that “The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom. We will maintain our reputation”.

Characteristics

Gamay Wine | Red WinesGamay is a very vigorous vine which tends not to root very deep on alkaline soils resulting in pronounced hydrological stress on the vines over the growing season with a correspondingly high level of acidity in the grapes. The resulting acidity requires carbonic maceration to soften the wine sufficiently for pleasant drinking.

Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity. Wines meant for immediate consumption are typically made using carbonic maceration which gives the wines tropical flavors and aromas - reminiscent of bananas. Wines meant to be drunk after some modest aging tend to have more body and are produced by whole-berry maceration. The latter are produced mostly in the designated Crus areas of northern Beaujolais where the wines typically have the flavor of sour cherries, black pepper, dried berry and raisined blackcurrant.

Regional production

In addition to being well suited to the terroir of Beaujolais, Gamay is also grown extensively in the Loire Valley around Tours where it is typically blended with Cabernet Franc and Côt a local clone of the Malbec. These wines are similar to those of Crus Beaujolais but with raspberry notes and the signature fresh-peppery nose of the Cabernet Franc.

Gamay is also the grape of the Beaujolais Nouveau, produced exclusively from the more alkaline soils of Southern Beaujolais where the grape is incapable of making drinkable wines without aggressive carbonic maceration. The acid levels of the grape grown in the limestone Pierres Doreés of the South are too high for making wines with any appeal beyond the early release Nouveaus.

Confusingly, the Gamay name has become attached to other varieties grown in California, which at one time were thought to be the true Gamay. The grape ‘Napa Gamay’ is now known to be Valdeguié, and the name Napa Gamay will no longer appear on labels after 2007. Gamay Beaujolais is considered to be an early ripening Californian clone of Pinot Noir. Despite similar names the grapes Gamay du Rhône and Gamay St-Laurent are not the Beaujolais grape either but rather the southwestern France grape Abouriou.

Gamay Noir is a permitted synonym for Gamay in the U.S.

Gamay is commonly grown in the Niagara Peninsula in Canada, some producers being in the Short Hills Bench, Beamsville Bench and St. David’s Bench to mention a few. One producer and even has a regional clone which they discovered, Gamay Droit, which is a recognized mutation. It is also grown successfully by a small number of wineries in Australia to make a range of wines including light bodied red wines suitable for early drinking.

Gamay has also been introduced recently into Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region, known for it’s wines made from Pinot Noir another Burgundian grape. It was introduced by Amity Vineyards in 1988. Tasting notes published by the vineyards at Amity, WillaKenzie and Brickhouse describe wines that match the basic profiles of Crus Beaujolais.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamay

Pinotage | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Pinotage [ˌpinɔˈtaʒə] is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut. It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone. Pinotage is often blended, and also made into fortified wine and even red sparkling wine. The grape is a viticultural cross, not a hybrid. In plant breeding, a cross is a cultivar which is the result of crossing two or more cultivars within the same species, while a hybrid is a cultivar bred from members of different species. Both of Pinotage’s ancestors are Vitis vinifera.

Pinotage skins caught in the act of releasing their last drops of wine | Red Wines

Species: Vitis vinifera
Also called: Perold’s Hermitage x Pinot
Origin: South Africa
Notable regions: South Africa

History

Pinotage is a grape variety that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. Perold was attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Cinsault with Pinot Noir, a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow. Cinsaut is known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the portmanteau name of Pinotage. Perold planted the four seeds from his cross in the garden of his official residence at Welgevallen Experimental Farm and then seems to have forgotten about them. In 1927 he left the university for a job with KWV co-operative and the garden became overgrown. The university sent in a team to tidy it up, just as Charlie Niehaus happened to pass by. He was a young lecturer who knew about the seedlings, and rescued them from the clean-up team. The young plants were moved to Elsenburg Agricultural College under Perold’s successor, CJ Theron. In 1935 Theron grafted them onto newly established Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock at Welgevallen. Meanwhile Perold continued to visit his former colleagues. Theron showed him the newly grafted vines, and the one that was doing best was selected for propagation and was christened Pinotage. The first wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg, with the first commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry’s Pass.

The first recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959. This wine would become the first wine to mention Pinotage on its label in 1961, when Stellenbosch Farmer’s Winery (SFW) marketed it under their Lanzerac brand. This early success, and its easy viticulture, prompted a wave of planting during the 1960s.

Criticism

Despite the reputation for easy cultivation, the Pinotage grape has not existed without criticisms. A common compliant is the tendency to develop isoamyl acetate during winemaking which leads to a sweet pungency that often smells like paint. A group of British Masters of Wine visiting in 1976 were unimpressed by Pinotage, calling the nose “hot and horrible” and comparing the taste to “rusty nails”. Throughout its history, the grape has seen its plantings rise and fall due to the current fashion of the South African wine industry. In the early 1990s, as Apartheid ended and the world’s wine market was opening up, winemakers in South Africa ignored Pinotage in favor of more internationally recognized varieties like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Towards the end of the 20th century, the grape’s fortunes began to turn, and by 1997 it commanded higher prices than any other South African grape. Despite this, there remains a segment of South African winemakers, such as André van Rensburg of Vergelegen, who believe that Pinotage has no place in a vineyard.

Oz Clarke has suggested that part of some South African winemakers disdain for Pinotage stems from the fact that its a distinctly New World wine while the trend for South African wine is to reflect more European influences and flavors. Despite being a cross from a Burgundy and Rhône grape, Pinotage reflects none of the flavors of a French wine. While not a criticism itself, outside of small plantings most notably in New Zealand and the United States, Pinotage has yet to develop a significant presence in any other wine region. In the early 21st century, several of South Africa’s top producers have turned from focusing predominately on Pinotage to using it more as a blending component, or have stopped using it at all.

Wine regions

In addition to South Africa, Pinotage is also grown in Brazil, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, United States and Zimbabwe. In New Zealand, there are 94 acres of Pinotage. In the US, there are plantings in California and Virginia. German winemakers have recently begun experimenting with the grape.

South Africa

The majority of the world’s plantings of Pinotage is found in South Africa, where it makes up just 6.7% of the vineyard area but is considered a symbol of the country’s distinctive winemaking traditions. It is a required component (30-70%) in “Cape blends”. Here it is made into the full range of styles, from easy-drinking quaffing wine and rosé to barrel-aged wine intended for cellaring. It is also made into a fortified ‘port’ style, and even a red sparkling wine. The grape is very dependent on the skill and style of winemaking, with well made examples having the potential to produce deep colored, fruity wines that can be accessible early as well as age.

Viticulture and winemaking

Pinotage on tap 2006 | Red WinesThe vines are vigorous like their parent Cinsaut and easy to grow, ripening early with high sugar levels. It has the potential to produce yields of 120 hl/ha (6.8 tons/acre) but older vines tend lower their yields to as low as 50 hl/ha. In winemaking, controlling the coarseness of the grape and the isoamyl acetate character are two important considerations. Volatile acidity is another potential wine fault that can cause Pinotage to taste like raspberry vinegar. Since the 1990s, more winemakers have used long and cool fermentation periods to minimize the volatile esters as well as exposure to French and American oak.

The grape is naturally high tannins which can be tamed with limited maceration time but reducing the skin contact can also reduce some of the mulberry, blackberry and damson fruit character that Pinotage can produce. Some winemakers have experimented with letting the grapes get very ripe, prior to harvest followed by limited oak exposures as another means of taming the more negative characteristics of the grape while maintaining its fruitiness. Newer clones have shown some potential as well.

Synonyms

Perold’s Hermitage x Pinot. The alternative name ‘Herminoir’ was considered.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinotage

Mavrodafni | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Mavrodafni | Red WinesMavrodafni (also spelled Mavrodaphne, Greek: Μαυροδάφνη, Maurodaphnē) is both a black wine grape indigenous to the Achaia region in Northern Peloponnese, Greece, and the sweet, fortified wine produced from it.

History

The principal producer of Mavrodafni wine is Achaia-Clauss, a winery founded by the Bavarian Gustav Clauss. Clauss came to Patras in 1854 as a black currant merchant. Enamoured by the beauty of the surrounding mountain landscape, he bought a small plot and embarked on viticulture as a hobby. Soon he focused on a local variety, Mavrodafni, which he started vinifying using the solera method. Pleased with the results, he formed his wine company in 1861. At the same time, Clauss expanded the vineyard and built the winery, which is still used today.

The origin of the grape’s name is unclear: it translates as “Black Laurel”, but legend has it that Clauss had fallen in love with a local girl named Daphne, and named his prime product after her, as the color of the wine resembled the color of her “dark” eyes.

Winemaking process

Mavrodafni is initially vinified in large vats exposed to the sun. Once the wine reaches a certain level of maturity, fermentation is stopped by adding distillate prepared from previous vintages. Then the Mavrodafni distillate and the wine, still containing residual sugar, is transferred to the underground cellars to complete its maturation. There it is “educated” by contact with older wine using the solera method of serial transfusions. Once aged, the wine is bottled and sold as a dessert wine under the “Mavrodafni OPAP” designation.

Wine characteristics

Mavrodafni is a dark, almost opaque wine with a dark purple reflected color and a purple-brown transmitted color. It presents aromas and flavors of caramel, chocolate, coffee, raisins and plums, and is one of very few wines that can accompany chocolate-based desserts.

Reserve bottlings

Batches of superior quality are bottled, less than once a decade on average, and sold as Mavrodafni Reserve. A certain quantity of these top “vintages” (a misnomer as solera wines do not have vintages as such) is retained by the winery and transferred to two room-sized, elaborately-carved 1882 casks named the “George I” and the “Count von Bismark” (after two illustrious visitors to the winery that year). Wine from these casks is only bottled a few times a century, as Mavrodafni Grande Reserve. The majority of these few hundred Grande Reserve bottlings are bought by the Greek government, to be used on state occasions. The remaining few bottles are released to commercial sale at premium price.

Winery

Achaia Clauss, the “Danielis” cellarThe castle-like Achaia-Clauss winery is a popular tourist attraction, hosting about 200,000 visitors a year. Its guestbook includes, among others, celebrities such as Franz Liszt, Eugene O’Neill, Field Marshal Montgomery, Neil Armstrong, Margaret Thatcher, and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Use in Holy CommunionMavrodafni | Red Wines

Mavrodafni is the preferred wine used in the Greek Orthodox Church in Holy Communion.

Trivia

Mavrodaphne is the alcoholic beverage, mostly enjoyed by thousands of revelers and visitors in the Carnival of Patras, the most exciting celebration of its kind in Greece.
Achaia Clauss claims that the heavenly taste of Mavrodaphne was the reason why the austere Prussian Field Marshal, von Moltke, laughed for a third time in his life right after he was offered a glass of it, the other two being when he was told that a French fortress was impregnable and when he was notified that his mother-in-law was dead. To honor this alleged incident, but perhaps because of patriotic sympathy, Clauss dedicated one of his barrels, still used today, to the Field Marshal.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mavrodafni

Zinfandel | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Zinfandel Grapes | Red WinesZinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California wine vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in the ‘heel’ of Italy (Puglia).

It is typically made into a robust red wine, but in the USA a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine. Zinfandel has such high sugar levels that it was originally grown for table grapes in the USA, and this sugar can be fermented into high levels of alcohol, sometimes 15% or more.

The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas such as the Napa Valley, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas such as Sonoma County, and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.

Species: Vitis vinifera
Also called: Crljenak Kaštelanski, Zin, ZPC (more)
Origin: Croatia
Notable regions: California, Puglia, Dalmatia
Hazards: Bunch rot, uneven ripening

History

Europe

Archaeological evidence points to the domestication of Vitis vinifera somewhere in the Caucasus around 6000 BCE, and to the discovery of winemaking shortly after. From there it spread to the Mediterranean, and then along the coast to Greece, the Balkans and Italy. It is now known that Croatia has many indigenous varieties that are quite closely related to Crljenak Kaštelanski, which formed the basis of a considerable wine industry in the 1800s. This diversity suggests that these grapes have been in Croatia for a long time. However, these varieties were almost entirely wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century, and Crljenak Kaštelanski was reduced to just a few vines on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

Italians claim Primitivo as the descendant of the grape that made “merum”, a wine brought to Puglia by Illyrian colonists before the Greeks arrived in the 7th century BC. Horace and other Roman writers mention “mera tarantina” from Taranto, and Pliny the Elder describes Manduria as viticulosa (full of vineyards). But after the fall of the Roman Empire winemaking declined until it was only kept alive in the monasteries — Benedictine in Murgia and Greek Orthodox in Salento. New grape varieties could have been brought across the Adriatic at any time during the Middle Ages; the first official mention of Primitivo is not until Italian governmental publications of the 1870s. The fact that such records come 40 years after Zinfandel is first documented in the USA led some to suggest that Primitivo was introduced from across the Atlantic; this became unlikely after the discovery of its origin across the Adriatic in Dalmatia.

The most common story dates the origin of Primitivo as a distinct clone to the late 1700s. Don Francesco Filippo Indellicati, the priest of the church at Gioia del Colle near Bari, selected an early (”primo”) ripening plant of the Zagarese (”from Zagreb”) variety and planted it in Liponti. This clone ripened at the end of August and became widespread throughout northern Puglia Cuttings came to the other great Primitivo DOC as part of the dowry of the Countess Sabini of Altamura when she married Don Tommaso Schiavoni-Tafuri of Manduria in the late 1800s.

USA’s East Coast

Parts of Croatia had been ruled by the Habsburg Monarchy since 1527, although Dalmatia was not absorbed until the fall of the Venetian Empire in 1797. This suggests how Crljenak Kaštelanski found its way to the Imperial Nursery in Vienna. George Gibbs, a horticulturist on Long Island received shipments of grapes from Schönbrunn and elsewhere in Europe between 1820 and 1829. Sullivan suggests that the “Black Zinfardel of Hungary” mentioned by William Robert Prince in A Treatise on the Vine (1830) may have referred to one of Gibbs 1829 acquisitions. Webster suggests that the name is a corruption of tzinifándli (czirifandli), a Hungarian word derived from the German Zierfandler. Since Zierfandler (Spätrot) is a white grape from Austria’s Thermenregion, someone must have mixed up labels along the way.

Gibbs visited Boston in 1830 and soon afterwards, Samuel Perkins of that city started selling “Zenfendal”. The same year, he supplied Prince with a similar variety called “Black St. Peters” which appears to have come from England. Little is known about this second grape, but the name suggests an origin in a religious house, so it may represent a clone of Primitivo that had come to England via Gibraltar.

Bottles of Californian Zinfandel and Primitivo di Manduria.By 1835 Charles M. Hovey, Boston’s leading nurseryman, was recommending “Zinfindal” as a table grape, and soon it was widely grown in heated greenhouses for the production of table grapes as early as June. By that time New Englanders had given up trying to make wine from vinifera vines; the first reference to making wine from “Zinfindal” comes in John Fisk Allen’s Practical Treatise in the Culture and Treatment of the Grape Vine (1847). Meanwhile the fad of hothouse cultivation faded in the 1850s as attention turned to the Concord variety and others that could be grown outdoors in Boston.

California

Prince and other nurserymen such as Frederick W. Macondray joined the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, and took Zinfandel with them. Prince’s notebook records that it dried “perfectly to Raisin” and also his belief that his Zinfandel was the same as the “Black Sonora” he found in California. Black St. Peters also came to California; it was regarded as a distinct variety but by the 1870s was recognized as the same grape as Zinfandel.

Joseph W. Osborne may have made the first wine from Zinfandel in California. He planted Zinfandel from Macondray at his Oak Knoll vineyard just north of Napa, and his wine was much praised in 1857. After that, planting of Zinfandel boomed, and by the end of the 19th century it was the most widespread variety in California.

These Zinfandel old vines are now treasured for the production of premium red wine, but many were ripped up in the 1920s, during Prohibition, but not for the obvious reason. Section 29 of the National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act) allowed 200 gallons (757 l) of “non-intoxicating…fruit juice” to be made each year at home. Initially “intoxicating” was defined as anything over 0.5%, but the Internal Revenue Bureau soon struck that down and this effectively legalised home winemaking. Some vineyards embraced the sale of grapes for making wine at home; Zinfandel grapes were popular among home winemakers living near the vineyards, but its tight bunches left its thin skins vulnerable to rot on the long journey to East Coast markets. The thick skins of Alicante Bouschet were less susceptible to rot, so this and similar varieties were widely planted for the home winemaking market. 3000 cars (about 38000 t) of Zinfandel grapes were shipped in 1931, compared to 6000 cars of Alicante Bouschet.

After Prohibition

By 1930 the vineyards were suffering from the Great Depression as well as Prohibition. Many of the vineyards that survived by supplying the home market were in the Central Valley, not the best place for quality Zinfandel. So the end of Prohibition left a shortage of quality wine grapes, and Zinfandel sank into obscurity as most was blended into undistinguished fortified wines. However there were still producers interested in making single varietal red wines. In 1972, Bob Trinchero of the Sutter Home winery decided to try “bleeding” juice from the vats in order to impart more tannins and color to his Deaver Vineyard Zinfandel. He vinified this juice as a dry wine, and tried to sell it under the name of Oeil de Perdrix, a French wine made by this “saignée” method.

However in 1975 Trinchero’s wine experienced a stuck fermentation, a problem in which the yeast dies off before all the sugar is turned to alcohol. He put it aside for two weeks, then tasted it and decided to sell this pinker, sugary wine regardless. In the same way that Mateus Rosé had become a huge success in Europe after World War II, this medium sweet White Zinfandel became immensely popular. Its popularity is now in decline, but it still accounts for 9.9% of US wine sales by volume (only 6.3% by value). Most such wine is made from Zinfandel grown for the purpose in California’s Central Valley, as White Zinfandel outsells the reds by 6:1 in the US market.

Most serious wine critics in the 1970s-1980s considered White Zinfandel to be insipid and uninteresting, although modern wines have more fruit and less cloying sweetness. Nevertheless, the success of this “blush” wine saved many old vines in premium areas, which came into their own at the end of the 20th century as red Zinfandel wines came back into fashion. The two wines are so different that some consumers think that “white zinfandel” is a distinct grape variety, and not a different way of processing the same (red) grapes.

The red wines have also been criticized for being too “hot” (too alcoholic), although modern winemaking has helped make them more approachable. On the other hand, Zinfandel producers such as Joel Peterson of Ravenswood believe that technologies such as reverse osmosis and spinning cones to remove alcohol, also remove a sense of terroir from the wine; if the wine has the tannins and other components to balance 15% alcohol, Peterson argues that it should be accepted on its own terms.

Relationship to Primitivo and Crljenak Kaštelanski

A vine of Crljenak Kaštelanski, in the vineyard where it was discovered. The metal tag from the University of Zagreb indicates that this vine is reserved for genetic research.Zinfandel was long considered “America’s vine and wine”. But when Austin Goheen, a professor at UC Davis visited Italy in 1967, he noticed how wine made from Primitivo reminded him of Zinfandel. Others also made the connection about that time. Primitivo was brought to California in 1968, ampelographers declared it identical to Zinfandel in 1972, and the first wine was made from the vines in 1975 which also suggested that they were identical. The same year PhD student Wade Wolfe showed that the two varieties had identical isozyme fingerprints.

In 1993, UCD colleague Carole Meredith used a DNA fingerprinting technique that gave the same result, indicating that Primitivo and Zinfandel should be regarded as different clones of the same variety. Comparative field trials have found that “Primitivo selections were generally superior to those of Zinfandel, having earlier fruit maturity, similar or higher yield, and similar or lower bunch rot susceptibility.”This fits the suggestion that Primitivo was selected as an early-ripening clone of a Croatian grape.

The search was now on for the original Primitivo/Zinfandel. Dr. Lamberti of Bari had suggested to Goheen in 1976 that Primitivo might be the Croatian variety Plavac Mali. By 1982 Goheen had confirmed that they were similar but not identical, probably by isozyme analysis. However some Croatians became convinced that Plavac Mali was Zinfandel, among them Croatian-born winemaker Mike Grgich. In 1991 Grgich and other producers came together as the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) with the objectives of promoting the varietal and wine, and supporting scientific research on Zinfandel. With this support, Meredith went to Croatia and collected over 150 samples of Plavac Mali throughout Dalmatia, in collaboration with Ivan Pejić, Edi Maletić, Jasminka Karoglan Kontić and Nikola Mirošević of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb.

By 1998, Meredith’s team realized that Plavac Mali was not Zinfandel but related, with one being the parent of the other. In 2000 they discovered that Primitivo/Zinfandel was one parent of Plavac Mali. The other parent of Plavac Mali was found by Maletić and Pejić to be Dobričić, an ancient variety from the Adriatic island of Šolta.

This discovery narrowed down the search to the central Dalmatian coastal strip and its offshore islands. Eventually a matching DNA fingerprint was found among the samples. The match came from a vine sampled in 2001 in the vineyard of Ivica Radunić in Kaštel Novi. This Crljenak Kaštelanski (”Kaštela Red”) appears to represent Primitivo/Zinfandel in its original home, although some genetic divergence may have occurred since their separation. Meredith now refers to the variety as “ZPC” - Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak Kaštelanski.

This one Croatian vineyard contained just 9 Crljenak Kaštelanski vines mixed with thousands of other vines. In 2002, additional vines known locally as Pribidrag were found in the Dalmatian coastal town of Omiš. Both clones are being propagated in California under the aegis of Ridge Vineyards, although virus infections have delayed their release. Grgich has set up a winery in Croatia, Grgić Vina, to grow Plavac Mali and other indigenous varieties. The first Croatian ZPC wine was made by Edi Maletić in 2005 Meanwhile plantings of Primitivo have been increasing in California, where it seems to grow a little less vigorously than its sibling. In turn its wines have more of the blackberry and spice flavors.

Local regulations are slowly catching up with the DNA evidence, but have become bogged down in trade disputes. The European Union recognised Zinfandel as a synonym for Primitivo in January 1999, which means that Italian Primitivos can be labelled as Zinfandel in the USA and any other country that recognises EU labelling laws. The Italians have taken advantage of these rules and shipped Primitivo wines to the US labelled as Zinfandels, with the approval of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

However as of December 2007, the TTB lists both Zinfandel and Primitivo in 27 CFR § 4.91 as approved grape varieties for American wines, but they are not listed as synonyms. This means that US producers can produce Primitivo wine, but not label it as Zinfandel, and vice versa. The ATF proposed that they be recognised as synonyms in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking No. 941, published in the Federal Register on 10 April 2002 but a decision on RIN 1513–AA32 (formerly RIN 1512-AC65) appears to be postponed indefinitely.

Distribution and wines

There are small plantings in South Africa, Western Australia and the Mclaren Southern Vales area of South Australia. The Croatian form Crljenak Kaštelanski was not bottled as a varietal in its own right in Croatia before the link to Zinfandel was revealed. Now UCD has sent clones of both Zinfandel and Primitivo to Prof Maletić in Croatia, which he has planted on the island of Hvar. He made his first ZPC wines in Croatia in 2005; there is high demand for red grapes in the country and the government are supportive.

Italy

Most Primitivo is grown in Puglia (Apulia), the ‘heel’ of Italy. The main 3 DOC areas are Primitivo di Manduria, Gioia del Colle Primitivo (Riserva) and Falerno del Massico Primitivo (Riserva o Vecchio). The Manduria DOC covers still red wine as well as sweet (Dolce Naturale) and fortified (Liquoroso Dolce Naturale, Liquoroso Secco) wine. Falerno requires a minimum of 85% Primitivo, the others are 100% Primitivo. You can also get Gioia del Colle Rosso and Rosato, which promise 50-60% Primitivo, and Cilento Rosso/Rosato which contains around 15%.

Historically, the grape was fermented and shipped north to Tuscany and Piedmont where it was used as a blending grape to “beef up” thin red wines produced in those areas. When the link between Primitivo and Zinfandel began to emerge, plantings in the region and production of non-blended varietal increased. Today most Italian Primitivo is made as a rustic, highly alcoholic red wine with up to 16% ABV. Some Italian winemakers will age the wines in new American oak in order to better imitate the American style of Zinfandel.

USA

US producers make wine in styles that range from late harvest dessert wines, rosé (White Zinfandel) and Beaujolais-style light reds to big hearty reds and fortified wine in the style of port. Its quality and character largely depend on the climate, place of cultivation, the age of the vineyard, and the winemaking technology. Historically, California Zinfandels vines were planted in fields as a field blend interspersed with Durif (Petite Sirah), Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Mission and Muscat. While most vineyards are now fully segregated, California winemakers continue to use other grapes (particularly Petite Sirah) in their Zinfandel wines.

Zinfandel | Red Wines

While it is most widely known in the California wine industry, Zinfandel is also grown in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. In 2005 there were 51,425 acres (20,811 ha) of Zinfandel in California, representing 10.9% of the wine vineyards. Around 400,000 short tons (350,000 tonnes) are crushed each year, depending on how good the harvest is. This puts it in 3rd place behind Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and just ahead of Merlot.

The following California wine-growing counties are known for producing Zinfandel:

- Alameda
- Amador produces big, full-bodied Zinfandel; Amador grapes are often used in Napa Zinfandels.
- Contra Costa - Produces dusty and earthy wines.
- El Dorado
- Lake County
- Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California. Often used for White Zinfandel production but in the red style can produce juicy, approachable wines.
- Mendocino
- Napa - Known for the plummy and intense Zinfandels tasting of red berry fruits with cedar and vanilla.
 - Russian River Valley - Generally produces well during very warm vintages, otherwise the grapes tend not fully ripen and the wines are left with excessive levels of acidity.
- San Joaquin
- San Luis Obispo - Particularly the Paso Robles AVA which is known for its soft, round wines with less acidity than in the Sonoma regions.
- Santa Clara - Particularly the Santa Cruz Mountains which are known for the complexity and depth of the Zinfandels.
- Sonoma - Particularly Dry Creek Valley AVA which produces juicy Zinfandel bright fruit, balanced acidity and notes of blackberry, anise and pepper.

Viticulture and winemaking

The vines are quite vigorous and like a climate that is warm but not too hot, otherwise the grapes may shrivel in the heat. They produce large, tight bunches of thin-skinned fruit, which means that bunch rot can be a problem. The fruit ripen fairly early, and produce juice with high levels of sugar; if the conditions are right they may be late-harvested for dessert wine. Zinfandel is often praised for its ability to not only reflect its terroir but to also reflect the skill and style of its winemaker.

The grapes are known for their uneven pattern of ripening with a single bunch having the potential to include overripe raisin like, perfectly ripen and green, unripe grapes in the same clusters. Some winemakers choose to vinify the bunches with these varying levels of ripeness adding their own unique component to the wine while others will hand harvest the bunches, even by single berries through multiple passes through the vineyards over several weeks. This extensively laborious practice is one component in the high cost of some Zinfandels.

Decisions on when to harvest, how cool to ferment the wine, how long of a maceration period with skin contact and the level of oak aging can have a pronounced effect on the wine. The degrees Brix that the grapes are harvested at can have a dramatic effect on the resulting flavors in the wine. White Zinfandel is normally harvested early at 20°Bx when the grapes have yet to develop much varietal character, though some examples can develop hints of tobacco and apple skin. At 23°Bx (the degree that most red wine is considered “ripe”) strawberry flavors develop. With 24°Bx, the cherry flavors appear followed by the blackberry notes at 25°Bx.

Synonyms

Zinfandel Conserve | Red WinesCrljenak Kaštelanski, Gioia Del Colle, Locale, Morellone, Plavac Veliki, Primaticcio, Primativo, Primitivo, Primitivo Di Gioia, Primitivo Nero, Uva Della Pergola, Uva Di Corato, Zin (informal), ZPC, Black St. Peters, Zenfendal, Zinfardel, Zinfindal, Taranto, Zeinfandall, Zinfardell, Zinfindel, Zinfandal.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinfandel

Bobal | Red Wines

February 27th, 2008


Bobal is a variety of Vitis Vinifera, a red grape used in winemaking. It is native to the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia, Spain. The name derives from the Latin bovale, in reference to the shape of a bull’s head. It is grown predominantly in the Utiel-Requena DO where it represents about 90% of all vines grown, and is also present in significant quantities in Valencia, Cuenca and Albacete. It can only be found in small quantities in other regions of Spain: La Manchuela (Castile La Mancha), selected vineyards in Ribera de Guadiana DO, Alicante DO, Murcia, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena, Valdejalón. Small quantities are also grown in Rosellón (south of France) and in Sardinia (Italy). A rare white variety of the same name also exists. According to the data from the Spanish Vine Registry (Registro Vitícola Español) of 31 July 2004, Bobal is the third most planted variety in Spain with 90,000 ha (8%), coming behind Airén 305,000 ha (27%) and Tempranillo 190,000 (17%).

Bobal Grapes | Red Wines

Description

The vine is very vigorous and highly productive, has a natural semi-erect posture, with long, strong, trailing shoots, which makes it a difficult vine to work in the summer. The shoots often completely cover the ground thus helping to conserve moisture during the hot summers.

It adapts well to all types of vine formation but is most commonly grown as a low bush (en vaso) and less often on trellises (en espaldera).

It is perfectly adapted to the local climate and so is resistant to extremes of weather and diseases.

The pulp is colourless and meaty; the hard skin of the round medium-sized berries is intensely and brightly coloured, the smell is fresh, original and fragrant. The taste is pleasantly acidic and tannic. The average bunch is of medium-large size, compact, with an irregular cone shape.

The must is normally high in colorants and tannins and is suitable both for aging and for coupage with other varieties. The must also contains higher than average quantities of resveratrol.

The wines produced tend to be fruity, low in alcohol content (around 11°) and high in acidity (5.5 to 6.5 tartaric acid)

Synonyms

Also known as bobos, rajeno, requena, espagnol, benicarlo, provechón, valenciana, carignan d’espagne, balau, balauro, tinto de requena, coreana, provechón, tonto de zurra, requenera, requení, requeno, valenciana tinta

History

The presence of Bobal in Utiel-Requena was documented in the 15th century in “Espill o llibre de les dones” by Jaume Roig.

Climate

The region of Utiel-Requena, located at 80 km from the Mediterranean coast, at a height of between 700 and 950 m above sea level has very little rainfall, about 430 mm per annum. There is a mixture of Mediterranean and continental climates, with long, very cold winters. There are late frosts in April and May and extreme daytime and nightime temperature variations during the growing season. The Bobal vine protects itself from the frosts by sprouting late. It also ripens late thus allowing it to conserve acidity in the must. Being such a vigorous variety it has to be pruned back severely in order to limit its production.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobal

Chianti | Red Wines

February 25th, 2008


Chianti Bottles | Red WinesChianti is Italy’s most famous red wine, which takes its name from a traditional region of Tuscany where it is produced.[1] It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco (”flask”; pl. fiaschi); however, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles. Low-end Chianti is generally fairly inexpensive, with a basic Chianti running less than US$10 for a bottle. More sophisticated Chiantis, however, are made and sold at substantially higher price points. Today, Chianti is generally drunk at room temperature, like most other red wines.

History

The first definition of a wine-area called Chianti was made in 1716. It described the area near the villages of Gaiole in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti and Radda in Chianti; the so-called Lega del Chianti and later Provincia del Chianti (Chianti province). In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn. The new Chianti was a very big area divided in seven sub-areas: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. The old Chianti area was then just a little part of the Classico area, being the original area described in 1716 about 40% of the extension of the Classico sub-area and about 10% of all Chianti. Most of the villages that in 1932 were suddenly included in the new Chianti Classico area added immediately or later in Chianti to their name (the latest was the village of Greve changing its name to Greve in Chianti in 1972).

Rural Tuscany near San Gimignano (part of Chianti Colli Senesi sub-area.)The popularity and high exportability of this wine at the moment of introduction of the DOC, 1967, was such that many regions of central Tuscany didn’t want to be excluded from the use of the name. As a result the Chianti wine-area got about 10% more territory. Wines labeled Chianti Classico come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that sub-area that includes the old Chianti area. The other variants, with the exception of Rufina from the north-east side of Florence and Montalbano in the south of Pistoia, originate in the respective named provinces: Siena for the Colli Senesi, Florence for the Colli Fiorentini, Arezzo for the Colli Aretini and Pisa for the Colline Pisane. In 1996 part of the Colli Fiorentini sub-area was renamed Montespertoli.

Wine production

Many different kinds of wines are produced in Chianti:

Chianti wines

Chianti Barrels | Red WinesCastello di Brolio, owned by Baron Ricasoli, inventor of the 19th century Chianti wineUntil the middle of the 19th century Chianti was based solely on Sangiovese grapes. During the second half of the 19th century Baron Bettino Ricasoli who was an important Chianti producer and, in the same time, minister in Tuscany and then Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy, imposed his ideas: from that moment on Chianti should have been produced with 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca (Malvasia bianca is an aromatic white grape with Greek origins). During the 1970s, producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti and eventually from 1995 it is legal to produce a Chianti with 100% sangiovese, or at least without the white grapes. It may have a picture of a black rooster (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the “Gallo Nero” Consortium; an association of producers of the Classico sub-area sharing marketing costs[2]. Since 2005 the black rooster is the emblem of the Chianti Classico producers association[3]. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labelled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements, (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labelled as Chianti Superiore. Chianti from the “Classico” sub-area is not allowed in any case to be labelled as “Superiore”.

Comparative table of Chianti laws of production[4]
  normal Classico Colli Aretini Colli Fiorentini Colli Senesi Colline Pisane Montalbano Montespertoli Rùfina Superiore
Max. grape prod. (t/ha) 9.0 7.5 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 7,5
Max. grape prod. (kg/vine) 4.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4,0 2,2
Min. vines/ha 3,300 3,350 3,300 3,300 3,300 3,300 3,300 3,300 3,300 4′000
Min. age of vineyards (years) 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Min. wine dry extract (g/l) 19 23 21 21 21 21 21 21 21 22
Min. alcohol cont. (%) 11.5 12.0 11.5 12.0 11.5 11.5 11.5 12.0 12.,0 12.0
Min. ageing (months) 3 10 3 9 3 3 3 6 9 9

Other wines

Chianti olive trees.Chianti is not the only traditional wine made in Tuscany, and sangiovese is usually the base of most red variants like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano (together with other grapes), Morellino di Scansano, etc., while Brunello di Montalcino is based on a variant called sangiovese grosso. There are also new wines, based on sangiovese and some popular French grapes that are usually dubbed “Super Tuscans”. Due to rule changes, some of these wines (particularly the pioneering Tignanello) could legally be labeled as Chianti if they would reduce the quantity of international grapes under 15% (or under 20% in the case of Chianti Superiore), though many producers of these wines have chosen not to do so.

The word “Chianti” can be used as a semi-generic name in the United States if the place of origin is clearly indicated next to the word to avoid consumer confusion. However, with the popularity of varietal labeling, semi-generic names are rarely used today, even on jug wines.

Due to the wine’s relative cheapness, its easy-drinking qualities, and the frequent use of the empty fiasco as a candleholder, Chianti is very strongly identified with Italian American cuisine, especially the “red sauce” variety pioneered by southern Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Chianti geographical region

From the 14th century till 1932 the geographical region consisted of three small communities all in the province of Siena:

- Radda in Chianti
- Gaiole in Chianti
- Castellina in Chianti

Nowadays is common to name Chianti all the central part of Toscana. Often Chianti geographical area is confused with the Chianti wine area or with the Chianti Classico sub-area. Unlike for the wine-area, there is actually no statement describing the actual geographical Chianti area.

Landscapes

- Val d’Orcia
- Crete senesi

Notes

1- Some white wine is also made in the region. The region grows many white grapes, used to make local table wine and also (traditionally) part of red Chianti, though this is less true today. Some fine white wines are also sometimes made. Until 1950s, ordering a bottle of the unusual Chianti Bianco would attract the notice of a sommelier; but since 1967 Chianti name can be referred only to red wine. What was once Chianti Bianco is now sold under various names following the local DOCs, or under the name Toscana IGT or simply labeled Trebbiano.
2- Consorzio del Marchio Storico
3- Consorzio del vino Chianti Classico
4- Unione Italiana Vini

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chianti

Cahors | Red Wines

February 25th, 2008


Cahors Bridge, France | Red WinesCahors is a red wine from grapes grown in or around the town of Cahors, France.

History

Planted by the Romans around 50 BC, Cahors is one of the oldest wines in Europe. Since that time, the vines have remained in the land of Quercy and their history has been combined that of the region.

During the Middle Ages it was called the “black wine”. Clément Marot sung the virtues of this “liquor of fire”. It was on the tables at the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England. The pope John XXII, born at Cahors, made it his table and sacramental wine. Francis I of France appreciated it to the point of delegated to the Cahorsin vintners the task of creating the vineyard of Fontainebleau. Jean-Baptiste Colbert did not hesitate to call it superior to Bordeaux.

Cahors Wine | Red WinesThe Russian Emperor Peter I of Russia drank Cahors (Russian: кагор), and the Russian Orthodox Church adopted it as the sacramental wine.

The history of the wine is also tied to that of the Lot River. Since its introduction by the Romans, its trade passes by this navigable, but dangerous route.

In the 18th century, around 10,000 barrels of wine passed through Bordeaux to leave thence for the north of Europe, the Antilles, and the Americas. Since its introduction to the court of England, Cahors wine became a formidable competitor to claret, or Bordeaux. The Bordelais vintners attempted to prevent the commerce before All Saints Day to stop their production. Louis XVI resolved the conflict by providing mediation between the vintners.

The Cahors fell little by little into disuse. Before the end of the 19th century, the phylloxera of 1876 almost made it completely disappear. The frosts of 1956 were fatal.

The resurrection of the wine was slow and difficult. But after about 20 years, a new generation of producers began to rebuild the industry.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kagor_%28wine%29

Beaujolais Wine | Red Wines

February 25th, 2008


Beaujolais Wine | Red WinesBeaujolais (Biôjolês in Arpitan) is a historical province and French wine producing region. It is located north of Lyon, and covers parts of the north of the Rhône département (Rhône-Alpes) and parts of the south of the Saône-et-Loire département (Burgundy). While administratively considered part of the Burgundy wine region, the climate is closer to the Rhône and the wine is unique enough to be considered separately from Burgundy and Rhône. The region is known internationally for its long tradition of winemaking, uniquely emphasized the use of carbonic maceration, and more recently for the popular Beaujolais nouveau. Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and few tannins. Like most AOC wines they are not labeled varietally. Whites from the region, which make up only 1% of its production, are made mostly with Chardonnay grapes though Aligoté is also permitted. Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. In some vintages, Beaujolais produces more wine than the Burgundy wine regions of Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais put together.

Appellation type: Appellation d’origine contrôlée
Year established: 1936
Country: France
Part of: Burgundy
Soil conditions: Granite, Schist, Clay and Sandstone
Total area: 10,500ha
Grapes produced: Gamay with a little Pinot Noir (and the local variation of Pinot Liébault), Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pinot gris (known locally as Pinot Beurot), Pinot blanc and Melon de Bourgogne
Wine produced: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, cru Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau

History

The region of Beaujolais was first cultivated by the Romans who planted the areas along its trading route up the Saône valley. The most notable Roman vineyard was Brulliacus located on the hillside of Mont Brouilly. The Romans also planted vineyards in the area Morgon. From the 7th century through the Middle Ages, most of the viticulture and winemaking was done by the Benedictine monks. In the 10th century, the region got its name from the town of Beaujeu, Rhône and was ruled by the Lords of Beaujeu till the 15th century when it was ceded to the Duchy of Burgundy. The wines from Beaujolais were mostly confined to the markets along the Saône and Rhône rivers, particularly in the town of Lyon. The expansion of the French railroad system in the 19th century opened up the lucrative Paris market. The first mention of Beaujolais wines in English followed soon after when Cyrus Redding described the wines of Moulin-à-Vent and Saint-Amour as being low priced and best consumed young.

In the 1980s, Beaujolais hit a peak of popularity in the world’s wine market with its Beaujolais nouveau wine. Spurred on by the creative marketing from négociants like Georges Duboeuf, demand outpaced supply for the easy drinking, fruity wines. As more Beaujolais producers tried to capitalize on the “Nouveau craze”, production of regular Beaujolais dropped and a eventual backlash occurred in the late the 1990s and early 21st century. By this point, the whole of Beaujolais wine had developed a negative reputation among consumers who associated Gamay based wines with the slightly sweet, simple light bodied wines that characterized Beaujolais Nouveau. Producers were left with a wine lake surplus that French authorities compelled them to reduce through mandatory distillation. In response, there has been renewed emphasis on the production of more complex wines that are aged longer in oak barrels prior to release. Recent years have seen a rise in the number of terroir driven estate-bottled wines made from single vineyards or in one of the Grand cru communes.

The Gamay grape

When Philippe the Bold outlawed the cultivation of Gamay in Burgundy, it pushed the grape south to the Beaujolais region.The Gamay grape is thought to be a mutant of the Pinot Noir, which first appeared in the village of Gamay, south of Beaune, in the 1360s. The grape brought relief to the village growers following the decline of the Black Death. In contrast to the Pinot Noir variety, Gamay ripened two weeks earlier and was less difficult to cultivate. It also produced a strong, fruitier wine in a much larger abundance. In July 1395, the Duke of Burgundy Philippe the Bold outlawed the cultivation of Gamay as being “a very bad and disloyal plant”-due in part to the variety occupying land that could be used for the more “elegant” Pinot Noir. 60 years later, Philippe the Good, issued another edict against Gamay in which he stated the reasoning for the ban is that “The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom. We will maintain our reputation”. The edicts had the affect of pushing Gamay plantings southward, out of the main region of Burgundy and into the granite based soils of Beaujolais where the grape thrived.

Climate and geography

Beaujolais is a large wine producing region, about twice the size of the US state of Rhode Island and larger than any single district of Burgundy. There is over 50,000 acres (20,234 hectares) of vines planted in a 34 mile (55 kilometer) stretch of land that between 7 to 9 miles wide (11 to 14 km). The historical capital of the province is Beaujeu (Bôjor /Biôjœr in Arpitan) and the economic capital of the area is Villefranche-sur-Saône (Velafranche). Many of Beaujolais vineyards are found in the hillside on the outskirt of Lyons in the eastern portion of the region along the Saône valley. The Massif Central is located to the west and has a tempering influence on Beaujolais’ climate. The region is located south of the Burgundy wine region Mâconnais with nearly 100 communes in the northern region of Beaujolais overlapping between the AOC boundaries Beaujolais and the Maconnais region of Saint-Véran.

The climate of Beaujolais is semi-continental with some temperate influences. The close proximately of the Mediterranean Sea does impart some Mediterranean influence on the climate. The region is overall, warmer than Burgundy with vintages more consistently ripening the grapes fully. By the time that the Beaujolais Nouveau is released in late November, the foothills in the western regions will have normally seen snow. A common viticultural hazard is spring time frost.

The soils of Beaujolais divide the region into a northern and southern half, with the town of Villefranche serving as a near dividing point. The northern half of Beaujolais, where most of the Grand cru communes are located, includes rolling hills of schist and granite based soils with some limestone. On hillsides, most of the granite and schist is found in the upper slopes with the lower slopes having more stone and clay composition. The southern half of the region, also known as the Bas Beaujolais, has more flatter terrain with richer, sandstone and clay based soils with some limestone patches. The Gamay grape fares differently in both regions-producing more structured, complex wines in the north and more lighter, fruity wines in the south. The angle of the hillside vineyards in the north exposes the grapes to more sunshine which leads to harvest at an early time than the vineyards in the south.

Appellations

Beaujolais Wine Glass | Red WinesThere are twelve main appellations of Beaujolais wines covering the production of more than 96 villages in the Beaujolais region. They were originally established in 1936, with additional crus being promoted in 1938 and 1946, plus Régnié in 1988. About half of all Beaujolais wine is sold under the basic Beaujolais AOC designation. The majority of this wine is produced in the southern Bas Beaujolais region located around the town of Belleville. The minimum alcohol level for these wines is 10%. If the grapes are harvested a little later, or the wine is subjected to chaptalization, to get the alcohol up to 10.5% the wine maybe labeled as Beaujolais Supérieur. The only difference between basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Supérieur is this slight increase in alcohol.

Beaujolais AOC is the most extended appellation covering 60 villages, and refers to all basic Beaujolais wines. It implies a minimum alcohol of just 9%; Beaujolais Supérieur implies wine with more than 10% alcohol. A large portion of the wine produced under this appellation is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau. The maximum yield for this AOC is 55 hl/ha (3.1 tons/acre). Annually, this appellation averages around 75 millions bottles a year in production.

Beaujolais-Villages AOC covers 39 communes/villages in the Haut Beaujolais, the northern part of the region accounting for a quarter of production. Some is sold as Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, but it is not common. Most of the wines are released in the following March after the harvest. The terrain of this region is hillier with more schist and granite soil composition than what is found in the regions of the Beaujolais AOC and the wine has the potential to be of higher quality. If the grapes come from the area of a single vineyard or commune, producers can affix the name of their particular village to the Beaujolais-Villages designation. Since most of the villages of Beaujolais, outside of the Grand cru, villages have little international name recognitions most producers choose to maintain the Beaujolais-Villages designation. The maximum permitted yields for this AOC is 50 hl/ha. These wines are meant to be consumed young, within two years of their harvest. Several of the communes in the Beaujolais-Villages AOC also qualify to produce their wines under the Mâconnais and Saint-Véran AOCs. The Beaujolais producers that producer a red wine under the Beaujolais-Villages appellation will often producer their white wine under the more internationally recognized names of Mâcon-Villages or Saint-Véran.

Cru Beaujolais region of RégniéCru Beaujolais account for the production within ten villages/areas in the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains. Unlike Burgundy and Alsace, the phrase cru in Beaujolais refers to entire wine producing area rather than an individual vineyard. Seven of the Crus relate to actual villages while Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly refer to the vineyards areas around Mont Brouilly and Moulin-à-Vent is named for a local windmill. These wines do not usually show the word “Beaujolais” on the label, in an attempt to separate themselves from mass-produced Nouveau; in fact vineyards in the cru villages are not allowed to produce Nouveau. The maximum yields for Grand Cru wine is 48 hl/ha. Their wines can be more full-bodied, darker in color, and significantly longer-lived. From north to south the Beaujolais crus are- Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.

Beaujolais Blanc & Beaujolais Rosé - A small amount of white wine made from Chardonnay or Aligote is grown in the region and used to produce Beaujolais Blanc or Beaujolais-Villages Blanc. The vineyards to produces these wines are normally found in the limestone soils of the far northern extremities of the region. Part of the reason for the small production of these wines is that many of the vineyards overlap into the Mâconnais regions and producers will usually choose to label their wines under the more marketable and well known Mâcon Blanc designation. There is also regulations in several Beaujolais communes restricting growers to dedicating no more than 10% of their vineyard space to white wine grape varieties. Beaujolais Rosé made from Gamay is permitted in the Beaujolais AOC but is rarely produced.

Beaujolais Crus

Bottle of Côte de Brouilly wine.The following three crus produce the lightest bodied Cru Beaujolais and are typically meant to be consumed within three years of the vintage.

Brouilly-The largest Cru in Beaujolais, situated around Mont Brouilly and contains within its boundaries the sub-district of Côte de Brouilly. The wines are noted for their aromas of blueberries, cherries, raspberries and currants. Along with Côte de Brouilly, this is the only Cru Beaujolais region that permits grapes other than Gamay to be produced in the area with vineyards growing Chardonnay, Aligote and Melon de Bourgogne as well. The Brouilly cru also contains the famous Pisse Vieille vineyard (roughly translated as “piss old woman!”) which received it name from a local legend of a devout Catholic woman who misheard the local priest’s absolution to “Allez! Et ne péchex plus.” (Go! And sin no more.) as “Allez! Et ne piché plus.” (Go! And piss no more). The vineyard name is the admonishment that her husband gave to her upon learning of the priest’s words.

Régnié-The most recently recognized Cru, graduating from a Beaujolais-Villages area to Cru Beaujolais in 1988. One of the more fuller bodied crus in this categories. It is noted for its red currant and raspberry flavors. Local lore in the region states that this Cru was the site of the first vineyards planted in Beaujolais by the Romans.

Chiroubles-This cru has vineyards at some of the highest altitudes among the Cru Beaujolais. Chiroubles cru are noted for their delicate perfume that often includes aromas of violets.

The next three crus produce more medium bodied Cru Beaujolais that Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan recommend needs at least a year aging in the bottle and to be consumed within fours years of the vintage.

Côte de Brouilly-Located on the higher slopes of the extinct volcano Mont Brouilly within the Brouilly Cru Beaujolais. The wines from this region are more deeply concentrated with less earthiness than Brouilly wine.

Fleurie-One of the most widely exported Cru Beaujolais into the United States. These wines often have a velvet texture with fruity and floral bouquet. In ideal vintages, a vin de garde (wine for aging) is produced that is meat to age at least four years before consuming and can last up to 16 years.

Saint-Amour-Local lore suggest that this region was named after a Roman soldier (St. Amateur) who converted to Christianity after escaping death and established a mission near the area. The wines from Saint-Amour are noted for their spicy flavors with aromas of peaches. The vin de garde wines require at least four year aging and can last up to twelve years.
The last four crus produce the fullest bodied examples of Cru Beaujolais that need the most time aging in the bottle and are usually meant to be consumed between four to ten years after harvest.

Chénas-Once contained many of the vineyards that are now sold under the Moulin-à-Vent designation. It is now the smallest Cru Beaujolais with wines that are noted for their aroma of wild roses. In ideal vintages, a vin de garde is produced that is meant to age at least five years before consuming and last up to 15. The area named is derived from the forest of French oak trees (chêne) that use to dot the hillside.

Juliénas-This cru is based around the village named after Julius Caesar. The wines made from this area are noted for their richness and spicy with aromas reminiscent of peonies. In contrast to the claims of Régnié, Juliénas growers believe that this area was the site of the first vineyards planted in Beaujolais by the Romans during this conquest of Gaul.

Morgon-Produces earthy wines that can take on a Burgundian character of silky texture after five years aging. These wines are generally the deepest color and most rich Cru Beaujolais with aromas of apricots and peaches. Within this Cru there is a particular hillside, known as Mont du Py, in the center of Morgon that produces the most powerful examples of Morgon wines.

Moulin-à-Vent-Wines are very similar to the nearby Chénas Cru Beaujolais. This region produces some of the longest lasting examples of Beaujolais wine, with some wines lasting up to ten years. Some producers will age their Moulin-à-Vent in oak which gives these wines more tannin and structure than other Beaujolais wines. The phrase fûts de chêne (oak casks) will sometimes appear on the wine label of these oak aged wines. The region is noted for the high level of manganese that is in the soil, which can be toxic to grape vines in high levels. The level of toxicity in Moulin-à-Vent does not kill the vine but is enough to cause chlorosis and alter the vine’s metabolism to severely reduce yields. The resulting wine from Moulin-à-Vent are the most full bodied and powerful examples in Beaujolais. The vin de garde styles require at least 6 years aging and can last up to 20 years.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Spa, Tokyo - Fox NewsBeaujolais Nouveau is often packaged in colorful bottles that play into the festival marketing of the wine.The early history of Beaujolais Nouveau can trace its roots to 19th century when the first wines of the vintage were sent down the Saône to the early bistros of Lyon. Upon their arrival signs would be put out proclaiming “Le Beaujolais Est Arrivé!” and its consumption was seen as a celebration of another successful harvest. In the 1960s, this style of simple Beaujolais became increasingly popular worldwide with more than half a million cases of being sold. In 1985 the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) established the 3rd Thursday of November to allow for a uniform released date for the wine. Wines are typically a shipped a few days earlier to locations around the world where they must be held in a bonded warehouse till 12:01 AM when they wines can be first opened and consumed.

Today, about a third of the region’s production is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, a marketing name created by George Duboeuf for the local vin de l’année. It is the lightest, fruitiest style of Beaujolais and meant for simple quaffing. Any Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages AOC vineyard can produce Beaujolais Nouveau. The grapes are harvested between late August and early September. It is fermented for just a few days and released to the public on the 3rd Thursday of November - “Beaujolais Nouveau Day”. It is the first French wine to be released for each vintage year. At its peak in 1992, more than half the wine of all Beaujolais wine was sold as “Beaujolais Nouveau”. The wines are meant to be drunk as young as possible, when they are at their freshest and fruitiest. They can last up to one or two years but will have lost its most of it characteristic flavors by that point.
Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Spa, Tokyo - Fox News
Viticulture and grape varieties

Beaujolais Wine RegionThe Beaujolais region has one of the highest vine density ratio of any major, worldwide wine region with anywhere from 9000 to 13,000 vines per hectare. Most vines are trained in the traditional goblet style where the spurs of the vines are pushed upwards and arranged in a circle, resembling a chalice. This method has its roots in the Roman style of vine training and has only recently begun to fall out of favor for the guyot method which involves taking a single or double spur and training it out horizontally. Harvest usual occurs in late September and is almost universally done by hand rather than with the use of mechanical harvesters. This is because the Beaujolais wine making style of carbonic maceration utilizes whole bunches of grapes clusters that normally get broken and separated by a mechanical harvester.

The Gamay grape, more accurately known as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc to distinguish it from the Gamay teinturier grapes with red juice and different from the Napa Gamay and the Gamay Beaujolais grapes of California, is the most widely planted grape in Beaujolais accounting for nearly 98% of all plantings. The remaining plantings are mostly Chardonnay. Aligote vines that were planted prior to 2004 are permitted in wine production but the entire grape variety is being phased out of the region by 2024. According to AOC regulation, up to 15% of white wine grape varieties can be included in all Beaujolais red wines from the basic Beaujolais AOC to the Grand cru wines but in practice the wines are almost always 100% Gamay. Pinot noir, which has very small plantings, is also permitted but that grape is being phased out by 2015 as Beaujolais winemakers continued to focus their winemaking identity on the Gamay grape. The characteristics that the Gamay grapes adds to Beaujolais is bluish-red deep color with low acidity, moderate tannins and light to medium body. The aromas associated with the grape itself is typically red berries.

Since the 1960s, more focus has been placed on the choice of rootstocks and clonal selection with six approved clones of Gamay for the wine region. In recent years the rootstock Vialla has gained popularity due to its propensity to produce well in granite soils. The SO4 and 3309 rootstocks also account for significant plantings. Clonal selections of the Gamay grape has shifted towards an emphasis on smaller, thicker skinned berries.

Winemaking and style

Beaujolais wines are produced by the winemaking technique of semi-carbonic maceration. Whole grape clusters are put in cement or stainless steel tanks with capacities between 40-300 hectoliters (1,056 to 7,920 gallons). The bottom third of the grapes gets crushed under the weight of gravity and resulting must begins normal yeast fermentation with ambient yeasts found naturally on the skins of the grapes. Carbon dioxide is released as a by product of this fermentation and begins the saturate the individual, intact grape berries that remain in the barrel. The carbon dioxide seeps into the skin of the grape and begin to stimulate fermentation at an intracellular level. This is caused, in part, because of the absence of oxygen in the winemaking environment. This results in a fruity wine without much tannin. In the case of Beaujolais nouveau, this process is completed in as little as four days with the other AOCs being allowed longer time to ferment. As the grapes ferment longer, they develop more tannins and a fuller body.

After fermentation, the must is normally high in malic acid and producers will put the wine through malolactic fermentation to soften the wine. The process of chaptalization, adding sugar to the grape must to boost alcohol levels, has been a controversial issue for Beaujolais winemakers. Historically, Beaujolais producers would pick grapes at ripeness that were at minimum potential alcohol levels of 10-10.5% and then add sugar in order to artificially boost the alcohol levels to the near the maximum of 13-13.5%. This created wines that lack structure and balance to go with the high alcohol body and mouthfeel. The recent trend towards higher quality wine production has limited the use of chaptalization in the premium levels of Beaujolais wine. Filtering the wine, in order to stabilize it, is practiced to varying degrees by Beaujolais winemakers. Some producers who make Beaujolais on a large commercial scale will filter the wine aggressively, to avoid any impurity or future chemical reactions. This can have the negative side effect of diminishing some of the wines unique fruit character and leave a flavor that critics have described as Jell-O-like.

Basic Beaujolais is the classic “bistro” wine of Paris, fruity easy-drinking red traditionally served in 1 pint glass bottles known as pot. This is epitomized in Beaujolais Nouveau, which is fermented for just a few days and can be dominated by estery flavors such as bananas and pear drops. Basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais nouveau are meant to be drunk within a year of their harvest. Beaujolais village are generally consumed within 2-3 years and Grand cru Beaujolais has the potential to age longer, some not even fully developing till at least 3 years after harvest. Premium examples from Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent can spend up to 10 years continuing to develop in the bottle and in very good vintages can take on Burgundian qualities of structure and complexity.

Wine industry

The Beaujolais wine industry is dominated by the more than 30 négociants who produce nearly 90% of the wine sold outside the Beaujolais region. Many of these négociants are based in Burgundy-such as Louis Jadot and Bouchard Père et Fils. One of the most well known Beaujolais producers is the négociants Georges Duboeuf. There are more than 4000 vineyard owners in Beaujolais and the fractional amount that is not sold to négociants are bottled by the nearly 20 village co-operatives with a growing amount being estated bottled. Very little of the estate bottled Beaujolais wines are exported into the United States or United Kingdom though a few exporters specialize in this small niche-the most notable being Kermit Lynch and Alain Jugenet.

Serving and with food

Light bodied Beaujolais wine, such as Beaujolais Village pair well with lighter fare like salads.Wine expert Karen MacNeil has described Beaujolais as “the only white wine that happens to be red. Similarly, Beaujolais is often treated like a white wine and served slightly chilled with the lighter the style, the lower temperature it is served at. Beaujolais Nouveau, being the lightest style, is served at about 52°F (11°C. Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais-Villages are generally served between 56-57°F (13°C). Cru Beaujolais, especially the fuller bodied examples, can be treated like red Burgundy wine and served at 60-62°F (15-16°C). The wines rarely need to be decanted. In Beaujolais, it is traditional to soak the bottles in buckets of ice water and bring them out to the center villages for picnics and games of boules.

Beaujolais wine can be paired with a variety of food according to the lightness and body of the wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is typically used as an apéritif with basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages doing well with light fare, like picnics and salads. The lighter Cru Beaujolais pair well with poultry and the heavier Crus pairing better with red meats and hearty dishes like stews.According to Lyon chef Paul Bocuse, Beaujolais wine is used to make a traditional regional dessert involving a glass of sliced peaches, topped with black currants and drenched in chilled Beaujolais wine.

Scandals

Following the 2001 vintage, over 1.1 million cases of Beaujolais wine (most of it Beaujolais Nouveau) had to be destroyed or distilled due to lackluster sale as part of a consumer blacklash against the popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau. French wine critic François Mauss claimed, in an interview giving to a local newspaper Lyon Mag, that the reason for the blacklash was the poor quality of Beaujolais Nouveau that had flooded the market in recent decades. He claimed that Beaujolais producers had long ignored the warning signs that such a backlash was coming and continued to produce what Mauss termed as vin de merde (shit wine). This triggered an outcry among Beaujolais producers followed by an association of 56 cooperative producers filing a lawsuit against the Lyon Mag for publishing Mauss comments. Rather than sue for libel, the producers sued under an obscured French law that prevented the denigration of French products. A court in Villefranche-sur-Saône found in the Beaujolais producers favor and awarded USD$350,000 which would put the small, employee owned publication out of business. The bad publicity garnered from the “Shit wine case” and its fall out prompted the producers to settled for reduce damages and legal expenses of $2,800.
Beaujolais Day - NY Times
The Vins Georges Duboeuf company was charged in 2005 with mixing low-grade wine with better vintages after a patchy 2004 harvest. Georges Duboeuf denied wrongdoing, blaming human error and pointing out that none of the affected wine was released to consumers. The production manager directly responsible admitted his actions and resigned, and a court found that both “fraud and attempted fraud concerning the origin and quality of wines” had been committed. Fewer than 200,000 liters of the company’s annual 270 million liter production were implicated, but L’Affaire Duboeuf, as it was called, was considered a serious scandal. In December 2007, five people were arrested after reportedly selling nearly 600 tonnes of sugar to growers in Beaujolais. Up to 100 growers were accused of using the sugar for illegal chaptalization and also of exceeding volume quotas between 2004 and 2006.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaujolais

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