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Port Wine and Chocolates

June 26th, 2008

By Giuliano Bortolleto - 6/26/08

Undoubtedly, there is no better wine to pair with chocolates than a port one. May the chocolate be bitter or not. The Port wine is the only one which can support the high sweetness of the chocolate, due to its great intensity and complexity of strong flavors, making the port a potent wine, capable of pairing with so many foods of strong flavors. Although the chocolate might be very sweet and delicate, it stays on the mouth and on the tongue of whoever eats, forming a layer which is very awkward to be removed by a wine, even that this wine is a very strong one, such an urugayan tannat
That`s why the Port wine is the best choice on pairing wines with chocolates, in my opinion. Another good pick is a sparkling wine. The sparkling produces the perlage, which is very good to clean your mouth, no matter what you have eaten before. Sparkling wines are very versatiles and pair with almost all types of foods. However, only a Port can clean your mouth and tongue an at the same time harmonize with the chocolate, creating a strong, but delicious combination, emphasizing the flavors of both chocolate and Port wine. Port can be paired with other heavy foods such gorgonzola cheese and also ice creams.
Port Wine

Try yourself. Cheers!

Heather Johnston, tastes four red wines (Australian shiraz, French syrah, Spanish tempranillo, and Argentinian pinot noir), and pairs them with mushroom crostini and camembert cheese. Delicious!

The regions of wine production in the Island of CorsigaLes Vins D’appelation D’origine Controlee – (A.O.C.)

The Soils of Production
Ajaccio, Calvi, Cap Corse, Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari, Patrimonio, Porto Vecchio, Sartene.
Aromas in harmony and voyage into the heart of the island.

AOC of Ajaccio

The slopes of Ajaccio cover a wide area stretching from the Balagne to Sartène. This region is
home to an important number of winemakers who vinify their own grapes in their own cellars.
Here are to be found some of the most long-established and highly reputed domains in
Corsica, as well as small vineyards which are a real archive of wine-making history. The
Sciaccarellu grape is the pride of the Ajaccio vineyards, as it lends its character - a colour
clear but full and bright as a flame, and an exceptional distinction - to reds and rosés alike.
Surface: 242 ha, Production of Red: 5.087 hl, of Rosé: 2.556 hl, of White: 4.852 hl,
Return: 42,07 hl/ha

AOC of Corse Calvi

The Balagne is a region which is one of the gentlest of the island, with its well-ordered fields
and its superb villages perched between sea and mountain peaks. The wines of the Balagne
were known to Seneca, and today their full-bodied, aromatic reds, their fresh, sunny rosés
and their subtlest of whites, enjoy great success.
Surface: 276 ha, Production of Red: 4.157hl, of Rosé: 3.373 hl, of White: 971 hl
Return: 30,18 hl/ha

AOC of Corse Coteaux du Cap

In this region everything, from the potent soil to the hardy and industrious people, recalls the
fact that this land boasts a prosperous past in which the vine played a prime role. Today the
vineyards are limited to small areas. They produce red wines which age well, and, especially,
white wines of rare elegance and pronounced floral bouquet which have long been keenly
sought after.
Surface: 34,49 ha, Production of Red: 146 hl, of Rosé: 316 hl, of White: 507 hl,
Return: 32,81 hl/ha

AOC of Corse Figari

The most southerly vineyards of France, and also the oldest, as the first vines appeared here in
the 6th century BC. On a particularly arid, ancient granite plateau, buffeted by the winds,
grow traditional Corsican grape varieties, such as Carcajolu Neru. These varieties produce
distinctive, well-structured red, rosé and white wines of great subtlety.
Surface: 130 ha, Production of Red: 2.833 hl, of Rosé: 1.495 hl, of White: 605 hl,
Return: 36,55 hl/ha
2007 11

AOC of Muscat du Cap Corse

This wine is subtle and full of sunshine, a worthy rival to the greatest of muscats. However the
degree of pleasure found in this wine is an indication of the effort which goes into producing
it. As the old Tuscan saying goes: ‘A glass of Corsican wine, and I could climb Stromboli’. The
Muscat of Cap Corse is a very special wine. Yields are so low that that each grape fills to the
brim with sunshine. Only a handful of producers pursue, indefatigably, the secret process of
making this unique wine. Track down this wine, and merit it, as it will lead you into the
pantheon of great wines.
Surface: 98 ha, Production: 2.813 hl, Return: 28,7 hl/ha

AOC of Patrimonio

This small, fertile and vibrant region, well sheltered from the wind, and exceptionally well
exposed to the west, produces the best known of all the wines of Corsica, under the oldestestablished
Appellation. The vineyards are divided into small properties, whose owners have
the know-how to create wines of nobility. In Patrimonio the Niellucciu grape is king, producing
warm and powerful reds, and sunny, fruity rosés. The Vermentinu grape also has its role here,
in dry white wines with a lovely bouquet and a remarkable aromatic richness.
Surface: 409 ha, Production of Red: 8.407 hl, of Rosé: 5.695 hl, of White: 2.576 hl
Return: 39 hl/ha

AOC of Corse Porto Vecchio

Founded as Porto Syracusanus in 383 BC, present-day Porto Vecchio boasts medieval walls of
rose-coloured porphyry, and a magnificent natural harbour. The town is in the heart of a
vibrant region, within which one finds little creeks along the coast, groves of umbrella pines,
forests of cork oaks and, above all, some splendid vineyards perched on impressive hillsides.
Here the dominant grapes are Niellucciu and Sciaccarellu, an alliance which produces,
along with Grenache grapes, elegant, round reds, and subtle, aromatic rosés. As to the
whites, made from Vermentinu grapes, they are dry and fruity, and make a marvellous
accompaniment to fish and seafood.
Surface: 89,74 ha, Production of Red: 1.403 hl, of Rosé: 1.370 hl, of White: 655 hl,
Return: 38,27 hl/ha

AOC of Corse Sartène

The proud capital of the southwest is an austere and magnificent town which keeps watch,
from its rocky perch, over vineyards where grow the oldest local grape varieties. Sciaccarellu,
Nielluciu, Barbarossa and Vermentinu grapes are all found here, and produce well-rounded,
remarkably velvety wines with lots of personality. The reds are well structured, the rosés have
body, and the whites are full and aromatic. The ancestors of these wines found favour at the
table of Roman emperors.
Surface: 163 ha, Production of Red: 3.665 hl, of Rosé: 1.936 hl, of White: 904 hl,
Return: 43 hl/ha.
2007 12

AOC of Corsica

The cradle of traditional Corsican vine-cultivation is to be found on the slopes of the east
coast and in the valley of the Golo. Tucked under rocky ridges which reach to 1200 metres,
the vineyards are found on the lowest slopes. Here is to be found a range of fertile soils rare in
Corsica, from which are produced wines of very high quality. The Niellucciu grape gives
supple, well-balanced reds, and rosés of spirit and pedigree which often have a clear colour.
As to the whites, which are based on the Vermentinu grape, they are fruity and have a
palate of great finesse.
Surface: 1.456 ha, Production of Red: 22.284 hl, of Rosé: 36.747 hl, of White: 4.852 hl,
Return: 42,07 hl/ha
These predicted numbers from the 2006 Campaign present an approved volume of A.O.C of
about 110 000 hectolitres (all colours mixed).


Mourvèdre | Red Wines

June 24th, 2008

Red Grape Mourvèdre
Mourvèdre, with its meaty richness and wonderful longevity, forms the backbone of our Esprit de Beaucastel. The seventeen acres of our vineyard devoted to Mourvèdre represent over a third of the acres currently planted in red Châteauneuf-du-Pape varieties. The intense animal quality of Mourvèdre is often improved by the rich fruit of Grenache and the structure, spice, and power of Syrah.

Early History

Mourvèdre is native to Spain, where it is known as Monastrell and is second only to Grenache (Garnacha) in importance. From the Spanish town of Murviedro, near Valencia, Mourvèdre was brought to Provence in the late Middle Ages where, prior to the phylloxera invasion at the end of the 19th century, it was the dominant varietal.

The phylloxera invasion was particularly devastating to Mourvèdre. Whereas most of the other Rhône varietals were easily matched with compatible rootstocks, Mourvèdre proved difficult to graft with the existing phylloxera-resistant rootstock. Thus, when the vineyards were replanted, most producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape chose to replant with varieties that were easier to graft, such as Grenache. For decades, Mourvèdre was found almost exclusively in the sandy (and phylloxera-free) soil of Bandol, on the French Mediterranean coast, where it is bottled both as a red wine (blended with Grenache and Cinsault) and as a dry rosé. Compatible rootstocks for Mourvèdre were developed only after World War II. Shortly thereafter, Jacques Perrin of Château de Beaucastel led regeneration efforts in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and made Mourvèdre a primary grape in the red Beaucastel wines. Since the late 1960s, total plantings in Southern France have increased dramatically.

Mourvèdre came to the New World as Mataro (a name taken from a town near Barcelona where the varietal was grown) in the mid to late 1800s. In Australia, it found a home in the Barossa Valley and in California it was first established in Contra Costa County. Until recently, the grape was rarely bottled by itself, and was instead generally used as a component of field blends. The increasing popularity and prestige of Rhône varietals and a return to the French Mourvèdre name has given the varietal a new life. Currently about 400 acres are planted in California.

Mourvèdre at Tablas Creek

Mourvèdre is a late-ripening varietal that flourishes with hot summer temperatures. As such, it is beautifully suited to our southern Rhône-like climate at Tablas Creek, where its lateness in ripening makes it less vulnerable to late spring frosts. In the vineyard, Mourvèdre is a moderately vigorous varietal that does not require a great deal of extra care. The vines tend to grow vertically, making Mourvèdre an ideal candidate for head-pruning (the method traditional to Châteauneuf-du-Pape), although vines can also be successfully trellised. When head-pruned, the weight of the ripening grapes pulls the vines down like the spokes of an umbrella, providing the ripening bunches with ideal sun exposure.

Our Mourvèdre vines (like all of the vines at Tablas Creek) are cuttings from Château de Beaucastel’s French vines. Although Mourvèdre was available in California when we began our project, we felt that the American source material was less intense in both color and flavor than the French clones. The berries from the Beaucastel clones are small and sweet, with thick skins and intense flavors.
Rótulo de vinho rosé de Mourvèdre

Flavors and Aromas

Wines made from Mourvèdre are intensely colored, rich and velvety with aromas of leather, game, and truffles. They tend to be high in alcohol and tannin when young, and are well-suited to aging. The animal, game-like flavors present in young Mourvèdres can be so strong that they are occasionally mistaken for the bacteria Brettanomyces. In a well-made Mourvèdre, these flavors should resolve into aromas of forest floor and leather with aging. Although it is occasionally bottled as a single varietal, the intense animal quality of Mourvèdre is often improved by the warmth and fruit of Grenache and the structure, spice and tannin of Syrah. Mourvèdre-based wines, like our Esprit de Beaucastel, pair well with grilled and roasted meats, root vegetables, mushrooms and dark fowl such as duck: flavors that harmonize with the earthiness of the wine.


Counoise | Red Wines

June 23rd, 2008

Red Grape CounoisePerhaps the question we hear most frequently at wine events and in our tasting room is “Counoise? What the heck is Counoise?” Even the Wall Street Journal joked about Counoise’s obscurity in a recent article about blends. Yet the grape is a key component of many Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, and comprises 10% of the Beaucastel Rouge. Its moderate alcohol and tannins, combined with good fruit and aromatics, balances the characteristic intense spice, strong tannins, and high alcohol of Syrah.

Early History

The precise origin of Counoise (pronounced “Coon-wahz”) is unknown. According to the great Provençal poet Frederic Mistral, it was introduced into Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Spain by a papal officer, who offered it to Pope Urban V when the papacy was based in Avignon in the mid-14th century. Counoise was planted in the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and was given a prominent place in the wines of the celebrated Château la Nerthe estate of Commandant Ducos in the late 19th century. Ducos was a student of the characteristics of various grape varietals, and played a key role in the development of the Châteauneuf-du- Pape region. When the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée laws regulating (among other things) the permitted grape varietals were passed in the 1930s, the varietals planted by Ducos (including Counoise) comprised 11 of the 13 allowed Châteauneuf-du-Pape varieties. The varietal saw a similar rebirth at Château de Beaucastel when Jacques Perrin increased the planting of Counoise as a complement for Syrah.

Counoise at Tablas Creek

We brought Counoise cuttings from Château de Beaucastel in 1990 and they spent three years in USDA inspection. Once the vines cleared quarantine, we began the process of multiplying and grafting, and we currently have 5 acres planted. The grape is particularly suited to the geography of Tablas Creek, as it produces most reliably in stony hillside soils and reliable sun. It is easy to graft, is moderately vigorous, and ripens fairly late in the cycle. We knew that we wanted to list the individual varietals on the front label of our bottles beginning with the 1999 Reserve Cuvée. Before we could do that, though, we had to get past the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — the federal agency which, until the reorganization mandated by the Homeland Security Act, oversaw label approval for wine. Since no one else in the States had used Counoise on their label, it fell to us to demonstrate it was a legitimate grape. The process, which included submitting a full dossier of materials (in French and English), took two years. Now Counoise is a fully registered (if not widely recognized!) grape varietal.

Flavors and Aromas

Counoise is a deep purple-red, and has a rich, spicy character, with flavors of anise, strawberries, and blueberries. In our Esprit de Beaucastel, Counoise comprises 5-10% of the blend, and helps open up the more closed varieties of Mourvèdre and Syrah. Its soft tannins and forward fruit rounds out the blend and provides an element of finesse to the final product. At slightly higher percentages (10-20%) in our Cotes de Tablas, its soft fruitiness and pronounced spice give the wine an earlier-drinking friendliness that compliments the fruit and acidity of Grenache and the structure of Syrah

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