And the has come for our weekly wine quiz!
I like to organize things, when possible. So far my quizzes where a little bit (just kidding – really a lot) all over the place – from auctions to riddles to history; left, right and beyond. At the same time, I really would like to run a series of quizzes somehow related to each other. So I thought of this grape series, and that is the best I can come up with at the moment, so let me run with this.
This will be a series of posts dedicated to different grapes. Don’t wait for any substantial gotchas – at this point, there no plans for quizzes solely dedicated to Fiana or Romorantin (hmm, on the other side…). Instead, the quizzes will be dedicated to the mainstream grapes majority can attest to, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and so on.
Today we are starting with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Cabernet Sauvignon needs no introduction – it is a mainstream grape in production of many of the best (and not) red wines in the world. In a few words Cabernet Sauvignon can be described as late ripening variety with thick skin and somewhat of a small berry. Flavor profile of Cabernet Sauvignon wines often includes eucalyptus, green bell peppers, mint and black currant (cassis). Cabernet Sauvignon has great affinity to oak and the wines are usually age very well. Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world with most famous wines coming from Bordeaux, California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Italy and Washington.
Here come the quiz questions:
Q1: Which two grapes are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon?
Q2: The world’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines are located in (name winery and/or vineyard for extra credit):
Q3: True or False: Since 2000, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon increased in Bordeaux?
Q4: The second largest in the world plantings (by area) of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are located in:
F. South Africa
Q5: Absolute majority of Bordeaux wines are blends. Name four grapes which are traditional blending companions of Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux
Have fun and good luck! Enjoy your weekend and cheers!
A few month ago I got an email from Trione winery offering me a gift. Not just any gift – wine. Free wine. Words “free” and “wine” put together sound almost magical for the anyone who drinks wine daily (I refuse to take the calculator out – don’t ask). But the word “free” in the email usually means danger. After careful consideration, and actually looking at the winery web site, I decided that it was not a scam or phishing attempt, so I answered that I would be happy to get a free wine. The only caveat in the follow up response was that they can only ship wine to the limited number of states. Connecticut not included (of course). But New York was. And so my friend Emil became a recipient for the wine.
When Emil called me that he got the wine, he mentioned that the box looks very small. Well, okay – it is what it is – free wine, whatever the package is. And then some time later, the package made it to my house. A small black box, probably half of the shoebox in size. But there was actually wine inside. And this is how it looked like:
Trione Winery, which I never heard of before, is a new venture of Trione family who was growing grapes in Sonoma for 35 years. Here is what you can read on the front page of their web site:
“For over three decades, the Trione family has raised premium grapes that have been the foundation of many award-winning wines. Now we bring our grapes to you in wines bottled under our own label, Trione Vineyards & Winery. It is the culmination of our family’s long commitment to Sonoma County.”
Here are few more views for you (just trying to build up the anticipation here):
Another interesting detail – it appears that this tasting set consisting of the tiny bottles is actually a concept called Tasting Room. While web site provide literally no information, the card enclosed with the package explained the concept:
The wines are bottled in the small bottles using special technology which preserves all specifics of the wine, so it is exact same wine which will go into the regular bottles. The only exception – the wine in small bottles is not intended for aging (as you can imagine), so as the card says – drink up!
And with this, let me share my tasting notes. Well, not only mine – in majority of the cases we drink wine together with my wife, especially when we are looking at the interesting and unusual experience – so I’m including her tasting notes too.
2010 Trione Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc (14% ABV) – “Pear Grove” my wife said. Some fresh grass on the nose with a bit of grapefruit, but mostly earthy and herbaceous, Earthy and herbaceous on the palate as well, lots of residual acidity, but not “in-your-face”. Food friendly. Interesting. Drinkability: 7+
2010 Trione Russian River Valley Chardonnay(14.3% ABV) – nice butter on the nose, vanilla. Nose is very promising, but palate is not good, very acidic, no fruit, kind of flat. I’m sure it needs time or at least different serving temperature, therefore it is not rated.
2008 Trione Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (14.2% ABV) – Nice nose of dark fruit, tobacco, touch of roasted meat flavor. Nice palate of dark fruit, raspberries, plums, tobacco, pencil and sage undertones. Good palate, good balance. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-
2008 Trione Russian River Valley Syrah (14.8% ABV) – Wow color – very dark, intense, almost black. My wife’s notes were “oh, this is good” , “great potential”, “very promising” (disclaimer – my wife loves Syrah, probably her favorite wines). Dark roasted fruit, silky smooth, perfect balance, perfect acidity, cherries, earthy notes. Definitely very promising. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-
2007 Trione Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% ABV) – absolutely beautiful nose – perfectly classic, with mint and blackcurrant – textbook flavors. Coffee showed up later on the nose. Wife’s notes: “overpowering , but very yummy”. Big, powerful, silky smooth, noticeable tannins – but excellent balance. Touch over-extracted on the palate, but only in terms of power, not sweetness. Needs time. Drinkability: 8
2007 Trione Alexander Valley Red Wine (14.5% ABV) – Dark chocolate, coffee, blackberries on the palate, nice complexity. Beautiful, round and open fruit. Needs time. Drinkability: 8-
As you can see, it was a very enjoyable experience (it’s too bad that the bottles were that small) – next time you see Trione wine in the store, don’t just stand there, grab a bottle…
That concludes my special tasting report, folks. Until the next time (hopefully someone will send me good and free wine soon) – cheers!
Disclaimer: the wine was provided by Trione Vineyards and Winery free of charge. All opinions are my own.
And yet another Saturday is here, and, of course, a new quiz. It will be the last one (at least for now) in the Guessing Game series (previous three can be found here: #29, #30, #31). As promised, this one is about red grapes, but we will kick it up a notch – you have 7 grapes to match with 6 reviews – one grape is there just for fun, but in my opinion, it easily could’ve been for real. So here are your grapes:
A. Cabernet Sauvignon
E. Pinot Noir
And here are the reviews:
1. “complex, yet subtle, with blackberries, minerals and berries. Full-bodied and very velvety, with lovely rich fruit, with chocolate and berry character. Very long and refined. A joy to taste.”
2. “aromas of tar and smoke, with very pure, concentrated blackberry and spice notes underneath mark this exotic, seductive red. Silky and complex, it caresses the palate. It needs a little time to absorb the oak, but this is long and has great potential.”
3. “a seductive red, drawing you in with its pure cherry and floral aromas and flavors, then capturing you with the silky texture and harmonious profile. Stays fresh and elegant, with a long, ethereal finish.”
4. “still tight, with a wall of mocha and raspberry ganache covering the massive core of fig fruit, hoisin sauce and plum cake notes. This is extremely dense but remarkably polished, with a long, tongue-penetrating finish that drips of fruit and spice laid over massive grip.”
5. “delicious stuff; not huge, but impeccably balanced, nuanced and tremendously long and pure. It’s a cascade of currant, blueberry and plum fruit shaded on one side by subtle, toasty oak, on the other by hints of minerality and exotic spice. But it’s the elegance and the length that make this a winner.”
6. “torrent of blackberry, boysenberry and bittersweet ganache notes. But there’s exceptional drive and focus here as well, with a great graphite spine driving through the spice- and floral-infused finish. A stunner for its combination of power and precision.”
For an extra credit, try to figure out the country of origin for the wine in the reviews.
Good Luck! Have a great weekend and drink well! Cheers!
Today (or it might be yesterday, depending on when I will finish this post), on August 30th, we are celebrating Cabernet wines, which include some of the most coveted and sought-after wines in the world.
For this event, I want to talk a bit about Cabernet wines in general. While Cabernet wines often include both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, I want to focus today on the wines which have Cabernet Sauvignon as the only or at least a primary ingredient – I should save something (Cabernet Franc, to be precise) for an easy post next year, shouldn’t I?
For what it worth, here are ten facts about Cabernet Sauvignon – some might be actual facts, and some might be… myths? I will let you be the judge…
- Cabernet Sauvignon grape is relatively young, first appearing in 17th century as the result of the cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes (hence the name).
- Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are very small with the thick skin, which means that the ratio of seeds and skin versus pulp is quite high, leading to lots of tannins being extracted during maceration process. More tannins = bigger wine, which usually also can age for a long time, but on a flip side needs an additional breathing time to open up.
- Cabernet Sauvignon wines are successfully made all over the world, but the best known regions are Bordeaux, California, Tuscany and Australia. These main regions are closely followed by Argentina, Chile, Israel, Spain and South Africa.
- Typical flavor profile of Cabernet Sauvignon wines include black currant (Cassis), green bell peppers and eucalyptus (not necessarily all at the same time).
- Not all the Bordeaux wine are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon based. The wines made in Médoc and all the sub-appellations (situated on the left bank of Garonne river) are actually based on Cabernet Sauvignon (70% is quite typical). The wines made on the right bank of Dordogne river are predominantly Merlot wines (typically containing about 70% of Merlot grapes). Some of the most successful Bordeaux wines, such as Chateau Petrus and Le Pin, are actually made out of Merlot.
- The oldest continuously producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world are located in Australia – it is Block 42 of the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, which belongs to Penfolds. It is assumed that the vines were planted between 1886 and 1888, which will give us an approximate age of 125 years.
- Typical California Cabernet Sauvignon wine needs about 13 years to reach its peak (see, I told you – patience is one of the important traits of oenophile).
- Malbec was the most popular grape in Bordeaux until early 18th century, when it was replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Cabernet Sauvignon holds the title of most expensive wine ever sold in the world. An Imperial (6L = 8 bottles) of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon was sold at the auction (proceeds went to charity) for $500,000 in year 2000.
- When it comes to pairing with food, there are two combinations which are typically stand out. Cabernet Sauvignon and steak are usually go very well together, and same is true for Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate (be advised – your mileage might vary).
That’s all I have for you for today, folks. I have to admit that I didn’t get a chance to drink Cabernet today (I promise to compensate tomorrow) – but I really want to know what was in your glass for the Cabernet day? Please comment below. Cheers!
Celebrate Two Noble Grapes in One Day – What Are You Drinking Tonight? #CabernetDay and #TempranilloDay
I’m honestly puzzled, but somehow September 1st had being declared an international #CabernetDay and #TempranilloDay – it feels like there are not enough days in the calendar to properly celebrate all the grapes? Anyway, it is what it is, right? And the celebration is on, which means … oh boy… you have a reason to have a glass (or two or …) of wine tonight!
To celebrate Cabernet Day, all you need to do is to open a bottle of your favorite (or better yet, the one you never had) Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc wine (and of course Cabernet blend will do quite well too), and then tell the world how great it was (if you will only tell your neighbor, that will also count). With abundance of choices from Bordeaux, California, New York, Washington, Australia, Canada, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Israel and pretty much everywhere else, you will have no problems finding a good bottle of Cabernet to enjoy. And instead of giving you any particular recommendations, I would like to simply reflect on some of the past experiences:
Next, we definitely should acknowledge Tempranillo, a noble grape of Spain. While this grape is slowly trickling into other winemaking regions, it is a true star in Spain, where it shines in Rioja and Ribero del Duero regions, making some of the most beautiful (and age-worthy) wines in the world. You can also find it producing good results in Portugal, however, under the names of Aragonez and Tinta Roriz. Again, no particular recommendations as to what wine to open, just some reflections here for you:
Whatever bottle you will end up opening, the routine is not new – all you need to do is to enjoy it. And if you will be kind enough to leave a comment here, I will be glad to enjoy it together with you. Cheers!
Very interesting wine ordering experience during the last dinner at The Capital Grille in Paramus, New Jersey. The Capital Grille restaurant itself needs no introduction, of course – whether you like steak or not, every visit there is a dining experience (you can find my previous excited post here). I have to also acknowledge that part of our great experience during this visit was our waiter, Andre – his service was absolutely impeccable.
Ok, so let’s talk about ordering wine. Wine List at the Capital Grille is quite extensive, plus I’m very particular when it comes to wine ( who would’ve thought?) – and one of the things I’m always looking for for is QPR – I want to find the bottle which will taste good, and will have reasonable cost (have a real problem with paying triple-retail in a restaurant). So after 10 minutes of intense reading I finally decided on Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – I like the wine very much (you can find one of the previous posts here), besides, at $58 it is less than double retail – makes me very happy. So I ask for the bottle of Ladera 2006, Andre comes back in a few minutes to inform us that they out of Ladera 2006. He start offering 2007 Cabernets – and of course, 2007 Napa valley Cabernets are lauded all over wine press, however, my experience with 2007s is less than stellar – a lot of them simply not ready yet (do I dare to say that they might be just not?). So I refuse his advice, and ask for Central Otago Pinot Noir, Amisfield 2006 – it is outside of QPR comfort zone at $69, but at least I know it is a good wine. Andrea comes back to inform us that they are out of that wine as well. No problems, I was almost ready for that (a bit surprising – two out), so my next choice was Ernesto Catena Locura 2006 blend from Argentina – I didn’t have that before, but at about $55 it was an interesting wine to try. Well, time to ask questions. Do you think we got that wine?
This time Andrea didn’t even show up. Instead, we were approached by the Sommelier (unfortunately we didn’t catch her name) with the bottle of Ladera 2007 in her hand. So we manage to ask for 3 wines from the wine list, which were not available! Of course it happens that the restaurant doesn’t have the wine you ask for, but 3 of them? Wow, we were impressed with our wine picking ability.
Anyway, after Sommelier assured us that she tried that Ladera 2007 and liked it very much, and moreover, if we don’t like the wine we can send it back – we decided to give a try. Oh boy, that happened to be a very good decision, as the wine was beautiful. Soft layered black and red fruit, just right amount of silky tannins, all perfectly balanced with acidity – that was a perfect wine for our dinner, and I would highly recommend this wine to anyone – it is ready to drink now, but as they say, the California Cabernet need about 13 years to shine – it will be interesting to put a few bottles in the cellar and enjoy them later.
So I’m glad to say that this story has a happy end (sometimes restaurant experience can be quite different). Also, if I can give you an advice, for the actual happy ending of the dinner (meaning: desert), try the Cheesecake – it is literally the heaven on earth, and I have to commend Andre for his recommendation – it is the best desert in the house. Until the next time – wishing you all great restaurant experience. Cheers!
Did you have any good wine at the airport lately? I hope you have, because I did. No, I didn’t need to sneak anything past security or convince myself that no name Merlot for $15/glass is great wine and great value. Your gateway to the good wine experience at the airport is called Vino Volo, and I recommend that you will look them up next time you are in the airport and in the mood for a good glass of wine.
Great thing about Vino Volo (actually, there are multiple) is that they have good wine selection and good prices, and you can also buy a bottle if you like something. On top of that is my favorite feature – wine tasting flights, opportunity to experience and learn. At any given moment they offer 4-5 different wine tasting flights, with selection slanted towards local wines – as much as possible, of course. So if you are in California, you should expect to find more Californian wines, and if you are in Portland, Oregon – you will find more wines from Oregon and Washington.
I stopped by Vino Volo in Oakland airport in California, and selected tasting flight of 3 California Cabernets (there were 6 different tasting flights available). I think spending $19 to try 3 different California Cabernets ranging from $48 to $87 per bottle represents a very good value.
All three wines were good and solid – no, they were not amazing, but they were good. Bremer Family Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was the best of tasting – it had all the classic cedar and blackberry aromas, and had good balanced tannins and acidity. Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian 2007, which is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, was not ready to drink. It was way to aggressive on the palate and will probably open up in another 5 years. And Flora Springs Trilogy 2007 had all the great aromatics, but unfortunately was disappearing in the mouth leaving you with the impression that something is missing (needed more structure). I might be totally wrong on this wine, however, as it might be simply too young – well, the time will tell. And last note I want to make here – out of curiosity, I wanted to check how bad Vino Volo’s prices are. I checked prices on the wine-searcher, and happy to report that all the prices were within $5 range from the best price which can be found on the wine-searcher (and it doesn’t include shipping), plus Bremer Family is available only from the winery so it is also a great find.
I can only thank folks at Vino Volo for their great service to all the wine lovers – and next time you are in the airport, remember – you CAN find good wine there…
And again I have to thank Stew Leonard’s Wines folks for a free education session. This Friday and Saturday (October 1st and 2nd) you can try three different wines from the Cakebread Cellars. Cakebread cellars is a well regarded producer from Napa Valley in California, so I definitely was interested in experiencing their wines.
Two whites and one red were presented, all classical wines from Napa Valley – Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chardonnay 2009 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, and I tasted them in this exact order. Just to share an overall expression – there are good wines, but I didn’t like them, especially taking into account QPR (Quality Price Ratio), a very popular metric used nowadays among wine aficionados. Sauvignon Blanc has a very nice nose, but on the palate it lacks the acidity, and while it finishes with the fresh cut grass (classic Sauvignon Blanc characteristic), the sensation is too warm and a bit burning. Considering this wine retails for $29.99, I would gladly take any time New Zealanad Sauvignon Blanc instead at $10 to $15 a bottle.
Chardonnay simply didn’t do anything for me. It is very young, somewhat of a Chablis style, but it was missing steely acidity of Chablis. I understand it is 2009, and it might need more time to evolve, but at $39.99 there are so many more better choices, I wouldn’t even go there.
And then the Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of Napa Valley wines – beautiful nose of classic cab, but no mid-palate weight and in general, not enough substance on the palate. At $74, it is really not a player – if not under $20, in the $30 – $40 category there are soooo many better choices…
To conclude, these Cakebread wines are definitely worth trying – and learning. I also have to tell you ( but it is a secret), that tomorrow I plan to try some very interesting wines – and I promise to report on that later on!