Posts Tagged ‘learning about wines’

Wine class #3 – What’s the story behind these bunches of grapes?

Posted by Amanda

Monday, September 9th, 2013
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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!

In fact, over a glass of wine, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm told her friend Dale Morris of Ascribe Marketing about these 4 grape varieties.  Here are the notes Dale captured in her napkin!

Wine 101 – A few white grapes with a story

Viognier

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 >>

Sauvignon Blanc

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

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

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!

Cheers!

Amanda

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If I died & went to Napa…

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
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I think the more you learn about wine & the more you swim in the overwhelming waters of today’s wine culture, the more you search for the beacons of “best choice”, the wine areas & vintages that take the trepidation & guilt out of the simple act of choosing a bottle of great “vino”.
 
Many of the realities of choosing wine, like quality, price, style, integrity…get down to the game of “Who do you trust?”. Personally, I get tired of this game. That’s when I start dreaming of wines I’d like to experience…the “killer” wines that my palette knows are out there, but that I’ve never had, don’t know about, or can’t afford.
 
Fortunately for me, I am in a position to experience some of these wines that come from California and Oregon & this is the purpose of my If I died & went to Napa blog – to share these experiences with you.
 
Twice a month, I will share one “dream” wine by featuring a Napa winery, their wines & winemaker. Along the journey, we will uncover some of the pleasures and mysteries of Napa and its neighbours. 

 

Introducing my first “To Die For” wine…

CADE Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa 

 At an elevation of 1700 feet, CADE Winery, located on the East side of the elusive Howell Mountain in Napa, produces 4 wines under the direction of Winemaker, Anthony Biagi,  in its state of the art Organic facility: 3 Cabernet Sauvignons and 1 Sauvignon Blanc. Howell Mountain is one of, if not THE, altar for pilgrims in search of the Colossus of ‘Cabs’ to be found in Napa.

Cade was established in 2005 after its older sibling, Plumpjack Winery was born in 1992. The principals were three entrepreneurs:

  1. Gavin Newsom – former Mayor of San Francisco
  2. Philanthropist Gordon Getty
  3. and its present General Manager – John Conover

 

CADE Estate Winery - winemaker Anthony Biagi

Anthony Biagi (in photo), the Lead Winemaker, arrived on the scene making wines on Howell Mountain in 1995 as a Graduate of University of California (UC) Davis. Anthony’s philosophy of creating “… artisanal, dimensional wines … tasting like they could come from nowhere else”, combined with Cade’s mantra of creating wines that are “…dense, rich and ageworthy, but not rustic or tannic” spawned the pleasures of wines like Howell Mountain Estate 2008.
 
Napa’s terroir has become legendary since Stag’s Leap’s 1973 Cabernet won the Judgement of Paris in 1976 . Weather conditions notwithstanding, Napa has been blessed with three geological conditions that contribute to the rich conditions of its soils: it has been on the floor of the ocean, the mouth of a river and the base of a volcanic mountain. What this means is that the soils are capable of providing good drainage and soil oxygen, an appropriate range of acidity to facilitate the availability of nutrients like P, K, Mg and Ca. As well, moderate to good water retention, moderate fertility and a reasonable rooting depth complete its almost perfect profile. Elevate this 1700 feet skywards toward the Sun Gods and you have an excellent foundation for creating  World Class Wine.

What are these conditions capable of? 

“A brilliant texture, stunning purity and great length (that) make for a fabulous wine to drink over the next 20 to 25+ years.” Robert Parker on Cade Estate Howell Mountain  (Dec. 2010)
 
Dark, creamy, layered, intense and long are the essentials of Cade Howell Mountain Estate. Opaque dark purple, it exhibits a nose of blueberries, black raspberries, ripe plums, graphite and crushed rocks. These flavours are warmed and carried over to the palette, embellished by dark chocolate, vanilla and sweet smoke.

Restaurant Menu Matches for CADE Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 :

(Pairings courtesy of Ridgway Bar and GrillNaples Florida)

-Appetizer-
Crisply Seared Pork Belly (with Cider Reduction, Apple and Fennel Slaw)

– Mains-
Coq Au Vin (Baby Root Vegetables, Rich Red Wine and Demi-Glace Sauce)
OR
Braised Short Ribs (Pureed Celery Root, Cranberry Demi-Glace)
 
-Cheese Course-
Rogue River Blue Cheese and Greens (Julienne Apple Salad, Olive Oil and Fig Jam, Focaccio Crostini)
 
-Dessert Course-
Chocolate Opera Cake
  
The complexity, finesse and diversity of Cade HM Cabernet 2008 makes wine choice simple as it will transport you through all Course choices with elegance and satisfaction, each pairing delivering a different experience.

Rackability (aka cellaring notes) 

This wine is drinkable on purchase. Its intensity and balance are in no way affected by its youth.
 
As Robert Parker has indicated, aging is not a problem so to consider it part of a collector’s portfolio for future use is an easy decision to make, especially considering its desirabilty and limited production. The 2006 vintage which had a 98+ ranking like its heir the 2008, sold out quickly. 

Investment potential?

This all depends on Cade Winery’s ability to move into the integrity level of Harlon or Chateau Montelena in the next 5 to 10 years. It presently retails for about $150 US/bottle. Certainly, the wine will accrue in value, but how much depends on continued levels of production, excellence and recognition.
 
Cade’s website http://www.cadewinery.com  is worth a look. Here you will find how it is linked to its sibling Plumpjack and how both wineries are linked to Shakespeare. More on Plumpjack later!
                                                                    

Cheers… and follow your dream wines!
-Wayne Walker

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