Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, 25 Top Selling Restaurant Wines?, Winery of the Future, #MWWC9 Theme, #winechat and more
Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #97, Grape Trivia – Blends, Part 1.
While this quiz is still a part of the Grape Trivia, it is slightly a new twist on the grapes – the questions are centered on the concept of blends, to stir things up a bit. Despite the fact that we are almost at a hundred of posts in the quiz series, it was still a learning experience for me – not from the point of view of the content, which is always a part of the learning exercise – but from point of view of being able to state the questions correctly to make sure there can be only one correct answer to that question. Read on, and you will see what I mean.
Here are the questions, now with the answers:
Q1: Which grape is missing?
– Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, ?, Petit Verdot
A1: This was a very easy one – yes, this is a classic Bordeaux blend, so the missing grape is Malbec.
Q2: Wines of this region, made out of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, considered some of the best white wines in the world. Can you name that region?
A2: This is the questions which was supposed to be phrased better. I believe my expected correct answer will work here, but mostly as a technicality and not because it is squarely one and only answer. So the correct answer here is Pessac-Léognan, a region in Bordeaux, which produces both white and red wines, but their dry white wines, made out of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, are long living and spectacular ( and equally expensive). Number of people put Sauternes as an answer for this question. Technically, the wines in Sauternes are made out of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes – thus technically, Sauternes is not the right answer. However, most famous Sauternes, Chateau d’Yquem, is made only from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, thus it is hard to say that Sauternes is a wrong answer. Have I asked about “some of the best DRY white wines”, Sauternes would have to be excluded.
Q3: This wine might be the biggest officially sanctioned blend of the grapes in the world. Do you know what wine is that?
A3: Again, precision was a bit off on this question. Yes, the correct answer is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a region in the Southern Rhone in France, which allows up to 18 different grapes, both red and white, to be blended together, and there is a number of producers who do exactly that. Again, the word “dry” would help, as one of the answers was Port, where technically 82 varietals are allowed to be used in the appellation – however, the best Port is typically made only out of 6 grapes as the most, so Port is not the right answer here. Another suggested answer was Valle d’Aosta, a region in Italy which allows 19 different grapes to be used in production of the wines – however, the question was about grapes blended together, not just allowed to be used in the appellation.
Q4: This simple wine is classified as a field blend. This is probably best known European white field blend wine. Now:
a. Can you explain what field blend is?
A4a: Come to any (almost any) vineyard, and you will be able to see the rows of vines, all clearly identified – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, etc. All the grapes harvested separately, pressed and fermented separately, and then blended together into the final wine as winemaker deems necessary. And then there are exceptions to this separate processing of the grapes. Such an exception is a field blend. Different grapes are growing together, sometimes without clear separation between different vines and grapes. All those different grapes are harvested together, pressed and vinified together, so don’t ask for specific percentages on the label, or even for the names of the individual grapes. Such field blends can be found in Portugal (many of the simpler Port wines made as field blends), Austria, Alsace and probably other places.
b. Can you name this wine?
A4b: My intended answer was Gemischter Satz – a white wine, a field blend produced from the vineyards in the Wiener Gemischter Satz DAC, which is located within the city limits of Vienna, Austria with the total vineyard area exceeding 1,700 acres. This is a dry, simple white wine, which should be made from at least 3 different white grape varieties, harvested and pressed together. It seems that Gemischter Satz wines are getting more popular as of recent, so here is the link where you can read more about them. Some of you said that the answer is White Port, which can be also made as a field blend, so again, I should’ve being more careful with the wording of the question – but right now, White Port also is an acceptable answer.
Q5: This wine, one of the most famous in the world, is often made from 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot. Do you know what wine is that?
A5: Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the most famous Bordeaux wines in the world, uses Cabernet Franc and Merlot to make their wines. The ratio is not always 70/30, but conceptually it is enough to help you to come up with the right answer.
When it comes to the results, I’m glad to report that there was a very good participation – the subject of blends definitely was less intimidating than those rare single grapes we got into. We have two winners today – the drunken cyclist and Connoisaurus both answered all 5 questions correctly, so they get the prize of unlimited bragging rights. Well done!
Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!
Wine & Spirits magazine compiled the list of 25 top selling wines in US restaurants. According to that list, the #1 top selling restaurant wine in US is Cakebread Cellars with an average price of $86.48, followed by Jordan ($101.57) and then Duckhorn ($90.29) – here is the link for you to find more information. I would be really curious to know how many of you would consider ordering any of these wines in the restaurant especially at these prices (I wouldn’t). It will be also interesting to understand how the list was compiled, as the claim is that the information comes form the wine directors of the restaurants, and how many restaurants employ wine directors? Anyway, it is always interesting to take a look at the numbers.
We all know that winemaking is an art. But there is nothing wrong in bringing the technology to help the artists to make better art. Wines and Vines published a very interesting article, talking about the tools which are either already available or might be available to the grape growers and winemakers to help them make better wines.
Are you afraid of any wines? Do you get butterflies in your stomach as you open the door of your wine cabinet? Do you think any of the wines in your cellar hold some scary secrets? Is your hand trembling when you pull the cork out of the bottle, as you don’t know what might be hiding behind that cork? Well, it might be the time to face your fears – Jeff, a.k.a. The Drunken Cyclist, announced the theme of the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #9, and as you probably guessed it, the theme is … Fear. Please take a look at this post for all the important dates and rules.
It is so interesting how far the wineries and wine consortia would go to protect their names. In majority of the cases, it is the big guy going after the small guy, like Duckhorn Vineyards from California suing Duck Walk winery on Long Island, or the French INAO going after Fairview winery in South Africa to protect Côte-Rôtie against Goat Rotie. Latest case – now all local in France – is Mouton versus Mouton. Château Mouton Rothschild, first growth from Bordeaux, is suing winemaker Laurent Mouton from Burgundy, who had being making wines under Domaine Mouton label for 4 generations, to stop Domaine Mouton from using their own name on the label. Why now? I have no idea, but – for more details, here is the link for you.
Last but not least for today – there is an interesting #winechat talking place tonight, in the Twittersphere next to you, at 9 PM Eastern time/6 PM Pacific, and your participation is greatly encouraged. If you are not familiar with the concept of #winechat, here is the blog post which will explain it. Today’s #winechat is the first out of three talking about the wines of Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon, and the wine which will be discussed today is Lenné Estate Pinot Noir. Yes, I know, short notice – but, if you have time, join the #winechat and learn more!
And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!