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By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 26th of 2009

You have already noticed that I have talked about the Malbec from Argentina a couple of times this month. I am writing an academic work about this matter and I thought that woulb be interesting to share this knowledge with you. Here I am going to show some very nice Malbecs that I have already tasted.

The argentinean Malbec use to be a very good option in terms of price and quality. That’s because the Argentina have recieved a lot of european investments. Many wine producers from the old world had their attention called to new opportunities of cultivating the vines in other parts of the globe. Many researches were made in order to detect the best terroirs in very different contries. Undoubtedly, Argentina is one of the contries that have received a really great number of external investments in its viniculture, at the 70s, and mostly at the 80s and 90s.

The foreign wine producers helped a lot the argentinean vitiviniculre. They have brought aknowledge, new technics, enologists internationally known who came to work there, and more important, by the begining of the 90s, as the aregntinean economy was passing throught a very good moment, they have also brought high technology in temrs of vitiviniculture, which have put Argentina in a very high degree among the wine producers countries.

Today, Argentina has several foreign producers, disseminating their old culture of producing wines in this new territory, with a fantastic capacity of produce great wines. Mendoza, specially, the principal wine producer region of the country, has the perfect terroir to take care of the Malbec grapes in the best possible way. A great themical amplitude during the day, which garanties a great amount of sugar to the fruit and helps the sap changes, a very dry climate, what is simply amazing to the healthiness of the grape, besides the great high where the fruit is cultivated.

The most wonderfull thing is that the european producers firs wanted just to elaborate wines with some cliché blends, like the Bordeaux’s ones, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot. Other tried to do some experiences with the spanish Tempranillo. In fact, the first internationally rewarded argentinean wines were made from this well-known grapes. However, after the Malbec clonal selection conduced by the INTA (National Institute of Agronomic Technology), many producers stared to believe in the quality of the grape from Cahors. In the latest years, the Malbec potential has sturdily increased, adn the highest level of excelence that this grape can reach is still unknown.

Giuliano Bortolleto, 21th january of 2009

Cheval des Andes | Red Wines

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

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

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

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

French Red Wines

February 21st, 2008


French Red WinesRed wine is a wonderful addition to almost any meal and is just as perfect alone. There are many countries which currently produce red wine yet some are more well known than others as they have been doing so for centuries. One such country which is known for its abundant wine production is France. If one is looking to select a wonderful French red wine then the following red wine varieties might just peak one’s interest.

Pinot Noir

A wonderful variety of French red wine is Pinot Noir. Produced from the grape with the same name, Pinot Noir wine is a dry, red wine that is robust in flavor. Much of this French wine comes from the Burgundy region of France and is quite a popular variety within the country and around the world. When looking to pair Pinot Noir with one’s meal selection, it is best to choose full flavor entrees such as meat, fish and pasta specialties.

Merlot

Another great red wine which is produced in France is Merlot. Merlot production flourishes the most in the Bordeaux region of France as much of the French Merlot wines come from this area. Merlot is a wonderful type of French red wine as one can pair a glass of this variety with many different entrees although dark meats, pasta and fish tend to work the best alongside of Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a French red wine which also sees a large production in the Bordeaux region of France. This red wine is robust and bold in flavor and can have a number of wonderful undertones to it. Cabernet Sauvignon is a wonderful addition to a meal of red meats, pastas with red sauce and lamb entrees. It also goes nicely with a variety of cheese hors devours and chocolate-laden desserts.

Syrah

Syrah is another type of red wine which is produced in France. This type of wine is produced mainly in the Rhone region of France. Syrah is similar to the Shiraz variety which is produced in Australia vineyards and wineries. The characteristics of Syrah include dark purple tones, strong fruit tastes such as blackberry and currants, black pepper essence and a wonderful shelf life. Although Syrahs will vary from winery to winery, these are some of the general characteristics of Syrah wine. Syrah is a great wine to pair with strong foods such as Indian meals or grilled entrees.

Conclusion

France is a large producer of a variety of red wines. From dark, flavorful types to smoother, less intense varieties, French red wines are quite diversified in nature. With a little independent research and a few wine tastings, one is sure to find a French red wine that is perfect for them.

Source: http://www.mamashealth.com/wine/frenchred.asp

Cabernet Franc | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008


Cabernet Franc | Red Wines From Stacy Slinkard,
Your Guide to Wine.

Definition: A thin-skinned red grape that grows particularly well in cooler climates, and is originally from the Bourdeaux and Loire Valley regions of France. The Cabernet Franc has been grown with success in Australia, Chile, Canada, South Africa and California and Washington, producing a fruity wine that is softer and more subdued than its regal relative, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Flavor Profile:

With lower tannin levels and more distinct berry (mainly blueberry, raspberry and sometimes plum) flavor, Cabernet Franc is an ideal candidate for blending with other varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, more producers have been selling Cabernet Franc as a stand alone, single varietal on merchant shelves with notable success.

Food Pairings: poultry, lasagna, couscous with meat, Middle Eastern fare, veggie pizza, and Greek cuisine.

Cabernet Franc Recommendations:

Couly Dutheil Chinon Les Gravieres, Loire Valley $12
Stonegate Winery Cabernet Franc $16
Walla Walla Vintners Columbia Cabernet Franc $30
Cosentino Winery Cabernet Franc $35

Pronunciation: Cah-bur-nay Frahnk
Also Known As: Chinon Cabernet Frank
Alternate Spellings: Cabernet Frank

Source: http://wine.about.com/od/vineyardvocab/g/CabernetFranc.htm

Cabernet Franc | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008


Cabernet Franc | Red WinesCabernet Franc is one of the major varieties of red wine grape in Bordeaux. It is mostly grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but is also vinified alone, particularly in Chinon in the Loire. It is even made into ice wine in Canada.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon (of which it is a parent), contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and the style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, and cassis, sometimes even violets. The Cabernet franc wine’s color is bright pale red.

History
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Cab franc leaf.There are records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux going back to the end of the 18th century and it was planted in Loire long before that. The fact that it is known as Breton in the Loire suggests that it originally came from Brittany, which would be consistent with its preference for cooler temperatures.

Recent DNA research has shown that Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Regional production
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Cabernet Franc vineyard planted near Paarl, South Africa.Other than in the Loire, Cabernet Franc is usually planted by growers wanting to emulate the Bordeaux blend, known elsewhere as the Meritage blend. Aside from the countries mentioned below, it is planted in Argentina, the Balkans, Chile, New Zealand, Romania and South Africa.

Australia

As with so many grapes, Cabernet Franc came to Australia in James Busby’s collection of 1832. It predominantly grows in cool, cool to warm and warm climates such as North-Eastern Victoria, McLaren Vale, and the Clare Valley.

Canada

Cabernet Franc is a key blending grape with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It adds tannins for added mouthfeel and increases the complexity of the wine. The wine pictured is a Canadian blend of Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.Cabernet Franc is becoming more popular in Canada, being planted in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, the north shore of Lake Erie, Pelee Island, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

The ice wines made from Cabernet Franc in the Niagara Peninsula are a curiosity.

France

There are over 14,000 hectares of Cabernet Franc in France. It is valued in Bordeaux for adding finesse to blends containing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but is seldom more than 10-20% of the blend. One notable exception is Château Cheval Blanc, where it makes up about two-thirds of the blend. In Saint-Émilion it is known as Bouchet.

Cabernet Franc is also the main component of the red wines of the Loire, particularly in Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur. Although these are thought of as light wines for drinking with food in the summer, in good vintages they can last 10 years or more, particularly when the blend is stiffened with a little Malbec.

It is now recommended for planting throughout France, and can be found blended with Carignan in the Midi and with Tannat in Basses Pyrénées. It can also be found in the blends of rosé wine.

Hungary

In all the Hungarian wine regions producing reds, especially in Villány and Szekszárd, the grape is used in Bordeaux-style blends and is also bottled as a varietal wine.

Italy

With 5,700ha, there’s more Cabernet Franc in Italy than commonly thought. It is mostly planted in the far northeast of Italy, particularly in Friuli, but it is also found in the wines of the Veneto, as part of some Chianti blends, even as far south as Puglia. It is known as Bordo in the Veneto.

Spain

This variety of grape is not very common in Spain and is to be found mainly in Catalonia, where it is an authorised variety in four Denominaciones de Origen: Catalunya DO, Conca de Barberá DO, Penedés DO and Terra Alta DO.

USA

Interest in the grape started with Californian wine makers, who wanted to replicate the Bordeaux blend (now marketed as Meritage). Plantings since 1980 account for most of the 800ha now grown in California, over half of which is in Napa and Sonoma.
Cabernet Franc Harvest Party | Red Wines
More recently it has caught the attention of growers in cooler areas such as Long Island and the Finger Lakes of New York, Michigan’s west coast and in Washington state and in the Monticello wine region in the Piedmont of Virginia. Michigan State University conducts research on Cabernet Franc at their agricultural research center in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Vine and Viticulture
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Studies have shown that Cabernet Franc crossed with Sauvignon blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon which shares a similar appearance to Cabernet Franc.In general Cabernet Franc is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but buds and ripens a little earlier and prefers a slightly cooler climate. The vine is vigorous and upright, with dark-green, 5-lobed leaves. The winged bunches are elongate and small-medium in size. The small berries are quite small and blue-black in colour, with fairly thin skins.

Synonyms
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Aceria, Acheria, Arrouya, Bordo, Bouchet, Bouchy (Gascony), Breton, Burdeas Tinto, Cabernet, Cabernet Aunis, Cabernet Franco, Capbreton Rouge, Carmenet (Médoc), Fer Servandou, Gamput, Grosse Vidure, Hartling, Kaberne Fran, Messanges Rouge, Morenoa, Noir Dur, Petit Fer, Petit Viodure, Petite Vidure, Petite Vignedure, Plant Breton, Plant Des Sables, Trouchet Noir, Véron, Véron Bouchy, Véronais, and Cabernet Gris.

Pinot Noir Wines | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008


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

Definition: Pinot Noir may be the toughest grape to grow, but the effort is well worth the investment. It is a fickle grape that demands optimum growing conditions, demanding warm days consistently supported by cool evenings. Pinot Noir is a lighter colored and flavored red wine.
Pinot Noir’s forerunner and modest inspiration hails from red Burgundy, one of France’s most prized wines. Today, Pinot Noir is planted in regions around the world including: Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Italy.

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

Flavor Profile:

It’s flavors are reminiscent of sweet red berries, plums, tomatoes, cherries and at times a notable earthy or wood-like flavor, depending on specific growing conditions.

Food Pairing:

Pinot Noir is well-suited to pair with poultry, beef, fish, ham, lamb and pork. It will play well with creamy sauces, spicy seasonings and may just be one of the world’s most versatile food wines.

Key Domestic Producers:

- Bethel Heights
- Amity
- Castle Rock
- Coyote Ridge
- Sebastiani
- Calera
- Pommard (French growing region)

Pronunciation: Pee-noh-n’wahr
Common Misspellings: Pino Nor Pinot Nor
Examples: What the Pinot Noir grape lacks in hardiness, it makes up for in robust flavor.

Source: http://wine.about.com/od/redwines/g/PinotNoir.htm

Merlot | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008


Merlot | Red Wines Merlot (’MERL-oh’ in British English and French, mer-LOH in American English) is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot an ideal grape to blend with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the most popular red wine varietals in the United States and Chile.

Origins and genetics

Merlot leaf.The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area’s best. The name comes from the French regional patois word “merlot”, which means “young blackbird” (”merle” is the French word for several kinds of thrushes, including blackbirds); the naming came either because of the grape’s beautiful dark-blue color, or due to blackbirds’ fondness for grapes. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the “Left Bank” of the Gironde.

It was first recorded in Italy around Venice under the synonym Bordò in 1855. The grape was introduced to the Swiss, from Bordeaux, sometime in the 19th century and was recorded in the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910.

Researchers at University of California, Davis believe that the grape is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carménère.

Until 1993, the Chilean wine industry mistakenly sold a large quantity of wine made from the Carmenere grape as Merlot. In that year, genetic studies discovered that much of what had been grown as Merlot was actually Carmenere, an old French variety that had gone largely extinct in France due to its poor resistance to phylloxera, which as of 2006 does not exist in Chile.

The labeling Chilean Merlot is a catch-all to include wine that is made from a blend of indiscriminate amounts of Merlot and Carmenere. With Merlot ripening 3 weeks earlier than Carmenere, these wines differ greatly in quality depending on harvesting.

History

Merlot Glass | Red WinesAfter a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960’s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975.

In Merlot early history with California wine, the grape was used primarily as a 100% varietal wine until wine maker Warren Winiarski encouraged taking the grape back to its blending roots with Bordeaux style blends.

A mutant that produces white grapes has been found, and white wine is made from this mutant by Beringer in California and Skalli in France. It has nothing to do with the rosé wine made from red Merlot that is sometimes sold as “White Merlot”.

Major regions

Merlot is produced primarily in France (where it is the third most planted red grape), Italy (where it is the country’s 5th most planted grape) and California, Romania and on a lesser scale in Australia, Argentina, Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, and other parts of the United States such as Washington and Long Island. It grows in many regions that also grow Cabernet Sauvignon but tends to be cultivated in the cooler portions of those areas. In areas that are too warm, Merlot will ripen too early.

In the traditional Bordeaux blend, Merlot’s role is to add body and softness. Despite accounting for 50-60% of overall plantings in Bordeaux, the grape tends to account for an average of 25% of the blends-especially in the Graves and Médoc. However, in the regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion it is not unusual for Merlot to comprise the majority of the blend. One of the most famous and rare wines in the world, Château Pétrus, is almost all Merlot.

In Italy, the Merlot grape is often blended with Sangiovese to give the wine a similar softening effect as the Bordeaux blends. The Strada del Merlot is a popular tourist route through Merlot wine countries along the Isonzo river.

In Hungary, Merlot complements Kékfrankos, Kékoportó and Kadarka as a component in Bull’s Blood. It is also made into varietal wine known as Egri Médoc Noir which is noted for its balanced acid levels and sweet taste.

Viticulture

Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries. The color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin, the grapes also have fewer tannins. Also compared to Cabernet, a Merlot grape tends to have higher sugar content and lower malic acid.

Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to rot. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil more so than at base of a slope.

The vine is susceptible to over cropping, and pruning is a major component to the quality of the wine that is produced. Wine consultant Michel Rolland is a major proponent for reducing the yields of Merlot grapes to improve quality. The age of the vine is also important, with older vines contributing character to the resulting wine.

A characteristic of the Merlot grape is the propensity to quickly over ripen once it hits its initial ripeness level, sometimes in a matter of a few days. There are two schools of thought on the right time to harvest Merlot. The wine makers of Château Pétrus favor early picking to best maintain the wine’s acidity and finesse as well as its potential for aging. Others, such as Rolland, favor late picking and the added fruit body that comes with a little bit of over-ripeness.

White Merlot

White Merlot is made the same way as its more famous cousin, White Zinfandel. The grapes are crushed, and after very brief skin contact, the resulting pink juice is run off the must to then be fermented. Some producers of White Merlot include Sutter Home, Forest Glen, and Beringer. It normally has a hint of raspberry. White Merlot was reputedly first marketed in the late 1990s, and should not be confused with wines made from the white mutant of the grape.

In Switzerland, a type of White Merlot is made but is often considered more a rosé.

In popular culture

Merlot was mocked by the main character in the film Sideways who prefers to drink Pinot Noir instead, which may have played a role in a concurrent slowing of Merlot sales.

In Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart (played by Cybill Shepherd) says during a segment of her show “Who opened three bottles of wine? Do you know how much a good bottle of red wine costs? And for God’s sake, DID I NOT ASK FOR MERLOT?”

Source: Wikipedia

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