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Posts tagged ‘pinot noir’

This is a video that shows the production of a regular Beaujolais wine. The who speaks shows somethings, which are very important in order to understand how can you call a real Beaujolais wine. He talks about the legislation, about the quantity of Gamay planted in Beaujolais. But, one thing really important that he says is that the real Beaujolais wine is very different from the so caled Beaujolais Nouveau, made to be drunk very young, and which is very fruity. Check it out.

By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 22th of 2009.

Gamay Grape

In the south of Burgundy we will find the last district of this fantastic frenh region: the Beaujolais. This region has a different soil from the rest of burgundy. Actualy, Beaujolais is almost a different region from Burgundy. This region, which is located about 35 miles north to the city of Mâcon, has granite-laden hills, that’s why no other location in France has been able to elaborate Gamay-based wines as Beaujolais. Yes. Apart from the soil, the big difference between Beaujolais and the rest of Burgundy is the grape that is cultivated. The Gamay is the principal grape of the location, with more than 98% of all vines planted.

The Gamay produces light to medium-bodied wine, that is made to be tasted slightly fresh and young. This wine has a light purple color, pleasantly fruity flavors, such cherry, bananas, berries, and peaches and high acidity and low tannins. It can be paired with a lot of french cheeses, such as Reblochon, Pont L’Eveque and Camembert, with duck and goose meat, and other typical food from its region.

Beaujolais Village AC

The Appellation of Beaujolais is divised in three categories: There are the Beaujolais AC wines, which are produced in the southern part of the location. There, the wines red wines must contain 9% of alcohol level. These are the most simple Beaujolais Wines. Than we have the Beaujolais Supérieur AC, that are produced in the same region, but whith 10% of alcohol. The vineyards at this location must have lower yields per acre, what point to a higher quality of the this kind of Beaujolais wine. There are the Beaujolais-Villages Appellation Controlé wines, which correspond to a group of thirty-nine villages with superior vineyards. Finally, we have the highest-quality level of a Beaujolais Appellation. There are only ten villages that can take the name CRU in their wines, plus the name of the Village. They are e Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Réginé, and Saint-Amour.

There are a few other french regions that also produce some gamay wines. In Côte Chalonnaise, there is a famous a blend of Pinot Noir and not more than two-thirds of Gamay, which is known as the “Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grain”. There are some other gamay wines in Loire and Touraine. Outside the french lines there are not so much gamay wines. Nevertheless, there are a few good examples of this grape wines in New Zealand and California.

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!

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


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.


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.


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


Burgundy Wine | Red Wines

February 25th, 2008

Burgundy Wine | Red WinesBurgundy wine (French: Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy AOC region of France. Most wine produced here is either red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, although red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rose and sparkling wine are also produced.

Geography and climate

The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis)The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include the Irancy AOC, which produces red wines.
Bourgnone, France | Red Wines
Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d’Or, where Burgundy’s most famous and most expensive wines are found. The Côte d’Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40km long, and in most places less than 2km wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards. The best wines - “Grand Cru” - from this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the “Premier Cru” come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary “Village” wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region’s white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune.

Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d’Or.

Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay.

Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy.


Harvest time in the Chablis Premier Cru of Fourchaume.From about the year 900 up to the French Revolution, the vineyards of Burgundy were owned by the Church. After the revolution, the vineyards were broken up and sold to the workers who had tended them. The Napoleonic inheritance laws resulted in the continued subdivision of the most precious vineyard holdings, so that some growers hold only a row or two of vines. This led to the emergence of négociants who aggregate the produce of many growers to produce a single wine. It has also led to a profusion of increasingly small family-owned wineries, exemplified by the dozen plus “Gros” family domaines.

Burgundy wine has experienced much change over the past seventy-five years. Economic depression during the 1930s was followed by the devastation caused by World War II. After the War, the vignerons returned home to their unkempt vineyards. The soils and vines had suffered and were sorely in need of nurturing. The growers began to fertilize, bringing their vineyards back to health. Those who could afford it added potassium, a silver-white metallic chemical element that contributes to vigorous growth. By the mid-1950s, the soils were balanced, yields were reasonably low and the vineyards produced some of the most stunning wines in the 20th century.

Understandably, the farmers had no inclination to fix what wasn’t broken. So for the next 30 years, they followed the advice of renowned viticultural experts, who advised them to keep spraying their vineyards with chemical fertilizers, including potassium. While a certain amount of potassium is natural in the soil and good for healthy growth, too much is bad because it leads to low acidity levels, which adversely affect the quality of the wine.

As the concentration of chemicals in the soil increased, so did the yields. In the past 30 years, yields have risen by two-thirds in the appellations contrôlées vineyards of the Côte d’Or, from 29 hectoliters per hectare (yearly average from 1951 to 1960) to almost 48 hectoliters per hectare (1982-91), according to a study by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. With higher yields came wines of less flavor and concentration.

The Burgundians pushed their vineyards. They fertilized them, sprayed them and replanted them with high-yield clones to increase crop levels. Like overfishing that can leave a lake practically sterile, overworking the soil sapped it of its natural balance. Soils that had contributed to Burgundy’s reputation for a millennium became depleted by overdependence on chemicals and other modern techniques in just 30 years.

The period between 1985 and 1995 was a turning point in Burgundy. During this time many Burgundian domaines renewed efforts in the vineyards and gradually set a new course in winemaking. All this led to deeper, more complex wines. Today, the Burgundy wine industry is reaping the rewards of those impressive efforts.

Wine characteristics and classification

2 bottles of Red Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin, Côte de Nuits.Burgundy is in some ways the most terroir-oriented region in France; immense attention is paid to the area of origin, and in which of the region’s 400 types of soil a wine’s grapes are grown. As opposed to Bordeaux, where classifications are producer-driven and awarded to individual chateaux, Burgundy classifications are geographically-focused. A specific vineyard or region will bear a given classification, regardless of the wine’s producer. This focus is reflected on the wine’s labels where appellations are most prominent and producer’s names often appear at the bottom in much smaller text.

The main Burgundy classifications, in descending order of quality, are: Grand crus, Premier crus, Commune or Village, and finally generic Bourgogne.

Grand Cru refers to wines produced from the small number of the best vineyard sites in the Cote d’Or. Grand Cru wines make up 2% of the production at 35 hectoliters/hectare. These wines need to be aged a minimum of 5-7 years and the best examples can be kept for more than 15 years. Very few Chardonnays or Pinot Noirs in the world can be aged and continue to improve as well as these wines. Grand Cru wines will only list the name of the vineyard as the appellation - such as Corton or Montrachet - on the wine label.

Premier Cru wines are produced from specific vineyard sites that are still considered to be of high quality, but not as well regarded as the Grand Cru sites. Premier Cru wines make up 12% of production at 45 hectoliters/hectare. These wines need to be aged 3-5 years, and again the best wines can keep for much longer. Premier Cru wines will usually list both the name of the village of origin - together with the status of the vineyard - eg “Volnay 1er Cru” as the appellation, and then the name of the individual vineyard (eg “Les Caillerets”) on the wine label.

Village wines can be a blend of wines from supposedly lesser vineyard sites within the boundaries of an individual village, or from one individual but non-classified vineyard. Wines from each different village are considered to have their own specific qualities and characteristics. Village wines make up 36% of production at 50 hectoliters/hectare. These wines can be consumed 2-4 years after the release date, although again some examples will keep for longer. Village wines will show the village name on the wine label, eg “Pommard”, and sometimes - if applicable - the name of the single vineyard where it was sourced. Several villages in Burgundy have appended the names of their Grand Cru vineyards to the original village name - hence “Puligny-Montrachet” and “Aloxe-Corton”.

The AOC Bourgogne classification refers to wines that can be sourced or blended from anywhere in the Burgundy region. These wines make up the rest of production at 55 hectoliters/hectare. These wines can be consumed up to 3 years after the vintage date. Appellations between generic “Bourgogne” and individual Village wines are also found, such as “Macon-Villages” or “Cote de Beaune-Villages”, where the wines can come from a wide but defined area which will include several individual villages.

Other Burgundy AOCs that are not as often seen are Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains AOC (which can contain up to two thirds Gamay (the grape of Beaujolais) in addition to Pinot noir), Bourgogne Aligoté (which is primarily made with the Aligoté grape), and Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire. The latter is the lowest AOC, and Grand is intended to refer to the size of the area eligible to produce it, not its quality. There are certain regions that are allowed to put other grapes in miscellaneous AOCs, but for the most part these rules hold. These regulations are even confusing to the majority of French adults, according to research (Franson). Sparkling wine is also produced, as Crémant de Bourgogne. Chablis wines are labeled using a similar hierarchy of Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village wines, whereas wines from Beaujolais are treated differently again.

In total, there are around 150 separate AOCs in Burgundy, including those of Chablis and Beaujolais. While an impressive number, it does not include the several hundred named vineyards at the Village and Premier Cru level which may be displayed on the label, since at the Village and Premier Cru level, there is only one set of appellation rules per village. The total number of vineyard-differentiated AOCs that may be displayed is well in excess of 500.


One of the main wineries that produces Crémant de BourgogneBurgundy vineyards make up some 60,000 acres (240 km²) of production. Generally, the small wine growers sell their grapes to larger producers called negociants who blend and bottle the wine. The roughly 115 negociants who produce the majority of the wine only control around 8% of the area. Individual growers have around 67% of the area, but produce only around 25% of the wine. Some small wineries produce only 100-200 cases/year while many producers make a few thousand cases/year. Grower/producer made wines can be identified by the terms Mis en bouteille au domaine, Mis au domaine, or Mis en bouteille à la propriété. The largest producer is Maison Louis Latour in Beaune with 350,000 cases/year. The negociants may use the term Mis en bouteille dans nos caves (bottled in our cellars), but are not entitled to use the estate bottled designation of the grower/producers.

Grape Varieties

For the white grapes, Chardonnay is the most common. Another grape found in the region is Aligoté, which mostly produces cheaper wines which are higher in acidity. Aligoté from Burgundy is the wine traditionally used for the Kir drink, where it is mixed with blackcurrant liqueur. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in the Saint Brix apellation. Chablis, Macon wines and the Cote d’Or whites are all produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes.

For the red grapes, all production in the Cote d’Or is focused on the Pinot noir grape while the Gamay grape is grown in Beaujolais. In the Cote de Nuits region, 90% of the production is red grapes.

Expensive reputation

Burgundy is home to some of the most expensive wines in the world, including those of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy, Henri Jayer, Emmanuel Rouget, Domaine Dugat-Py, Domaine Leflaive and Domaine Armand Rousseau. However, some top vintage first growth Bordeaux wines and a few iconic wines from the New World are more expensive than some grand cru class Burgundy.

The British wine critic Jancis Robinson emphasizes that “price is an extremely unreliable guide” and that “what a wine sells for often has more to do with advertising hype and marketing decisions than the quality contained in the bottle.” While Grand Crus often command steep prices, village level wines from top producers can be found at quite reasonable prices.

Pinot Meunier | Red Wines

February 25th, 2008

Pinot Meunier | Red WinesPinot meunier, also known as Meunier, Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe, and Miller’s Burgundy, is a variety of black wine grape most frequently used in the production of Champagne. It was first mentioned in the 1500s, and gets its name and synonyms (French meunier and German Müller - both meaning miller) from flour-like dusty white down on the underside of its leaves.

Species: Vitis vinifera
Also called: Meunier, Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe, Miller’s Burgundy
Notable regions: Champagne (France), Württemberg (Germany), Oregon (USA)
Notable wines: Champagne


Pinot meunier is a mutation of Pinot noir. Paul K. Boss and Mark R. Thomas of the CSIRO Plant Industry and Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture in Glen Osmond, Australia, found that the meunier strain has a mutation (VvGAI1) that stops it from responding to gibberellic acid, a plant growth hormone. This leads to different leaf growth, and also to a slight stunting in growth, explaining why Pinot meunier plants tend to be a bit smaller than Pinot noirs. The mutation exist only in one cell layer of the cultivar, the L1 layer of the epidermis. This makes it possible, through tissue culture, to separate out plants containing both the mutant and non-mutant genotypes, yielding a normal Pinot noir type and an unusual looking mutant vine with compressed internodes and thickly clustered leaves. The mutants could not produce full-grown tendrils, it seems that gibberellic acid converts grapevine flower buds into tendrils.

Ferdinand Regner has proposed that Pinot meunier (Schwarzriesling) is a parent of Pinot Noir but this work has not been replicated and would appear to be superseded by the Australian work.

The Wrotham (pronounced “rootum”) Pinot is an English variety of Pinot Noir that is sometimes regarded as a synonym of Pinot meunier. The Wrotham Pinot does look somewhat similar to meunier, with white hairs on the upper surface of the leaves. But it is particularly resistant to disease, has a higher natural sugar content and ripens two weeks earlier than meunier.

Distribution and wines

Pinot meunier is one of the three main grapes used in the production of Champagne (the other two are the black Pinot noir and the white Chardonnay). Until recently Champagne makers did not acknowledge Pinot meunier, preferring to emphasise the use of the other noble varieties but now Pinot meunier is gaining recognition for the body and richness it contributes to Champagne. It is ineligible to receive grand cru status, and all-meunier Champagnes are far rarer than those made from all-Pinot noir.

Sparkling wine makers in other areas have planted Pinot meunier in an attempt to duplicate the taste of Champagne, but Pinot meunier is not often found as a varietal.

It can make an enjoyable dry red wine, like a more fruity and rustic Pinot noir. Places it can be found as a varietal include wineries in Oregon and British Columbia. Germany also makes red wines from it, under its synonym Schwarzriesling, which are often inexpensive and made in an off-dry (halbtrocken) style. Most German plantings of the variety (1,795 hectares out of 2,424, or 74%, in the year 2006) are found in Württemberg. Despite the variety’s connection with Champagne, it is not common to use it in German Sekt.

Vine and Viticulture

It has the great advantage in Champagne of budding late and ripening early, thus avoiding frost in spring and rain in autumn.


Australian Red Wines

February 21st, 2008

Australian Red WinesAustralia is a country which produces many different wine varieties. These wines are known throughout the world and each type of wine has its own unique taste and style. As for red wines, Australia easily rivals many other popular wine producing countries in the red wine category. There are a few red wines which Australia is known for and others which other countries produce quite often as well.


Shiraz is one of the more popular red wines of Australia. This type of wine was one of the first red wines ever produced in Australia and due to its worldwide popularity continues to be produced in most of the vineyards around Australia. Depending on the age of the wine, Shiraz will take on various flavors such as essences of spice and fruit. This dark red wine is one which goes nicely with a wide array of dishes such as beef, barbecue, lamb and pork items. The bold taste of Shiraz is one which is favored greatly by many red wine lovers and is a great accompaniment to one’s meal.

Pinot Noir

Another wonderful red wine which is produced in Australia is Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir has a full body despite the lighter red color of the wine. It has tantalizing yet modest fruit tastes to it and consists of soft tannins. One of the beautiful aspects of Pinot Noir is that the finish is quite long and the taste lingers in one’s mouth after taking a sip. This is a good thing as the aftertaste is a nice one and not strong or displeasing in nature. When interested in pairing Pinot Noir with a meal, the best food items to pair this type of wine with include ham, duck, fish and a variety of cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is an additional type of red wine which has seen much popularity throughout Australian vineyards. This wine is produced quite frequently in Australia as it is widely favored by the general public and is a type of wine that goes perfectly with a wide array of entrees and other food items. Cabernet Sauvignon appears to be dark purple to deep red in color and has a bold yet smooth taste. Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine which will vary with regard to dryness factors depending on the vineyard which produces it and the age of the wine. Those who wish to serve Cabernet Sauvignon with a meal can choose a number of entrees to pair alongside of it such as beef, veal or pasta.


These are just three of the multitude of red wines which are produced throughout Australia. One who enjoys red wine will surely appreciate the different red wines which come from the wine regions of Australia.


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.


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 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.


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.


Malbec | Red Wines

February 19th, 2008

Malbec is a black grape variety originally brought to France by a Hungarian peasant, where it was grown in the Loire Valley and Cahors. Long known as one of the six grapes used in the blending of red Bordeaux wine, it is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine. It is also grown in Chile, on Long Island, New York, and in the cooler regions of California.

DescriptionMalbec Grapes | Red Wines

The Malbec grape is a thin skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens “midseason” and it can bring very deep color, ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to claret blends. Sometimes, especially in its traditional growing regions, it is not trellised and cultivated as bush vines (the goblet system). Here it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare. The wines are rich, dark and juicy. As a varietal it creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the renowned red French Bordeaux “claret” blend. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends. The grape also needs a high differential between day and evening temperatures, a minimum fluctuation of 27 degrees Fahrenheit in a day. The varietal is sensitive to frost and has a proclivity to shatter or coulure. The grape is also blended with Cabernet franc and Gamay in some regions such as Loire Valley.

Called Auxerrois or Cot Noir in Cahors, called Malbec in Bordeaux, and Pressac in other places, the grape became less popular in Bordeaux after 1956 when frost killed off 75% of the crop. However, Malbec continued to be popular in Cahors where it was mixed with Merlot and Tannat to make dark, full-bodied wines, and more recently has been made into 100% malbec wines there. Despite a similar name, the grape Malbec Argente is not Malbec either but rather the southwestern France grape Abouriou. The grape is also confused with Auxerroirs blanc, which is an entirely different variety.


Malbec leavesMalbec is the dominant red varietal in Cahors where the Appellation Controlée regulations for Cahors require a minimum content of 70%.Malbec Glass | Red Wines

Introduced to Argentina by French agricultural engineer Michel Pouget in 1868, Malbec is widely planted in Argentina producing a softer, less-tannic driven variety than the wines of Cahors. The best examples of these wines come from the Argentine region of Mendoza. In Argentina, where Malbec seems to have found a natural home, the grape is used to produce very popular varietal wines. It is now thought that the variety known as Fer in that country is a clone. Although the grape is currently Argentina’s premier grape, wine makers tried to remove it from the vineyard. In the 1980s Argentina a “vine pull” program was initiated until there were only 10,000 acres (4000 ha) of the grape left. In the 1990s, Malbec’s potential and the increase of wine exports from South America saved the grape.

There were once 50,000 hectares planted with Malbec in Argentina; now there are 25,000 hectares. Chile has about 6,000 hectares planted, France 5,300 hectares and California just 45 hectares. In California the grape is used to make Meritage. Malbec is also grown in Washington State, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British Columbia and northeastern Italy.


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

An Overview of a Challenging Wine

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

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

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

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