Posted by AmandaMonday, September 9th, 2013
From working with the Sommeliers at Savvy Company, I have noticed that there seems to be a story behind every bottle of wine and history about the thousands of different grape varieties too. In this Wine 101 blog, we share with you the background on some interesting wines & grape varieties. These are tidbits that you can drop into any dinner party conversation!
Wine 101 - A few white grapes with a story
Viognier (pronounced Vee-on-yeah!) is a grape variety that has a deeply rooted heritage in France. Debbie fell in love with this unusual white while at wine school (aka the Sommelier accreditation program). Expecting to find some while she touring France, Debbie was disappointed there was no Viognier to be had: it seems the French enjoy it so much they often keep it for themselves. Now that word has gotten out about this hidden gem, winemakers in Argentina, California, Australia and Canada are taking up the cause, growing and crafting elegant wines full of delicious aromas.
In Australia, Viognier is often blended with Shiraz to add a little body and sweetness to reds. Some winemakers have told Debbie that Viognier could become the next it white – “If only people could pronounce it correctly.”
Only a few wineries in Niagara are growing this varietal. Prepare to be WOWed by Fielding's wine. But be warned: if you like it, you’ll be hooked!
TIP: Fielding Winery in Niagara currently has their Viognier wine on sale for $19.95 (that is $5 off per bottle). This special price is only available through our Savvy Bin Ends. Click here to order >>
Lailey Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced So-veen-yon Blah-nk) – is a family affair – sort of. Created by winemaker Derek Barnett, the son of a brewmaster, from Kent, England, Derek is renowned throughout the Canadian wine industry for his innovative styles and impressive flavours.
To achieve them, Derek takes the unusual step of a ‘double-harvest’ of grapes. The first picking is done when the grapes are just ripe – this gives his wine its refreshing and crisp aromas and tastes. Derek then lets the remaining 'Sauv Blanc' grapes hang on the vines until they‘re well over-ripe – almost brown – before picking the bunch. This gives them nice tropical-fruit notes. Grown from the same patch of vines, these two diverse grapes are blended together for a very complex and delicious summer sipping wine.
Wine 101 - A few red grapes with a story
Pinot Noir (pronounced PEE-no Nwar) is often referred to as the “Prince of Grapes” or the “heartbreak grape.” Why? This grape varietal needs care and nurturing around the clock. It’s difficult to grow, and the wine it produces has a tendency to actively evolve in the cellar. As a result, crafting a good Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of any winemaker’s personal achievement.
In New Zealand, some winemakers go so far as to have helicopters hover over their vineyards to warm the air on cool nights! Many also babysit their barrels, 24/7.
There are two classic styles of Pinot – cherry or earthy. Depending on the winemaker’s preference, the Pinot can be crafted to emphasize the terroir.
For a classic combination, you can lightly chill a Pinot Noir and enjoy a glass with grilled salmon.
Carmenère (CAR-men-yere) is a relative newcomer to North American palates. Recently, it was determined to be a long-lost grape varietal from Bordeaux, France, and not just a Merlot, as was previously believed. Grown only in Chile, it has quickly become the region`s signature wine, with winemakers using it to craft excellent, big and bold flavours. Once you’re exposed to Carmenère, you’ll be hooked.
This wine is begging to be served with something hearty off the barbecue – steak, lamb, burgers and grilled mushrooms come to mind.
Savvy Sommelier Debbie recommends you save your last sip for desert, to enjoy with some dark chocolate cake.
Reviewing the Week's 'Wine'101 Lessons
I hope you had a little fun with our 3 back-to-back Wine 101 'Classes' in what can be a stressful time for everyone. You can consult our Wine 101 - Pairing Food & Wine to help you with some quick & easy meals all year long; check the rules & regs in Wine 101 - Tasting, Storing & Ordering Wine and lastly in Wine 101 - The Story Behind the Grapes you can now pass the test when it comes to grape varietals.
I hope you have enjoyed being back at school this week with Savvy Company- and perhaps learned a thing or two!