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Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, National Wine Week, Las Vegas Wine Happenings, French versus American – Really?

March 12, 2014 8 comments
Mount Palomar Charbono

Mount Palomar Charbono

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #94, Grape Trivia – Bonarda/Charbono/Douce Noir. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the red grape called sometimes Bonarda, sometimes Charbono, but should be called Douce Noir.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: True or False: Bonarda is one of the 30 most planted red grapes in the world?

A1: True. At least as of 2010 it was, and there is an upswing curve in the Bonarda plantings in Argentina, so this definitely should hold true in 2014.

Q2: These are some of the grapes growing in Argentina. Sort this list by the area plantings in the descending order:

a. Bonarda, b. Cabernet Sauvinon, c. Criola Grande, d. Malbec

A2: The correct sequence is: Malbec, Bonarda, Criola Grande. Side note – I heard about Criola Grande grape for the first time while researching information for this quiz. Interesting to note that if we would be talking about year 2000, Criola Grande would be grape #1 on the list.

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Turley, b. Bonny Doon, c. Robert Foley, d. Mount Palomar

A3: Bonny Doon is the one. The rest of the wineries produce Charbono wines today, but not Bonny Doon (side note – they were making Charbono in the past).

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are no Charbono wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.

A4: False. But it is false by the tiny, tiny margin  – Robert Foley Charbono has the highest rating of 90 and the only Charbono wine with that rating.

Q5: True or False: From year 2000 to 2010, plantings of Bonarda in Argentina have increased by more than 20%

A5: True. The plantings went from 14989 acres in 2000 to 18127 in 2010.

It is interesting that participation in the wine quiz is very different from the week to the week – I’m sure that at this point as I’m playing in the land of the rare grapes, it makes people afraid to take a risk (where there is none!) and answer the quiz’s questions. Only Bill of Duff’s Wine made an attempt to answer the questions, so I definitely would to acknowledge him. At this point I have a few rare grapes lined up for the quizzes, so I plan to continue with that – but I hope that you, my readers, will make an effort to answer the questions in any case – you have nothing to lose, and will only get the benefit of learning.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Heard for the National Wine week? If you are like me, than the answer is no. Meanwhile, it appears that one of the well known restaurants in US, Smith & Wollensky, is celebrating 54th National Restaurant Week! Yes, this is somewhat of a late notice, but if you live in a close proximity to one of the Smith & Wollensky restaurants, you still have about 2 days to go there and taste 10 different wines for only $20 with the purchase of the lunch entree. Here is the link to the web site with more information.

Las Vegas is probably one of the most “happening” places on Earth – a city which exist with only one purpose – to entertain. Music, Art, Food – everything is big in Vegas. As you might expect, wine is also happening in Vegas. If Las Vegas is the part of your travel itinerary over the next few weeks, here is the blog post from the blog hosted by Vegas.com, which will help you to properly plan your travel itinerary and not to miss any of the wine events.

Last but not least for today is a very peculiar article by Tom Wark, a well known figure in the wine industry, who also writes the blog called Fermentation. Why peculiar? The blog is titled “Why French Wine Will Never Be as Interesting as American Wine” – tell me, what do you think of it? What I find peculiar, is that Mr. Wark is a wine professional – thus I would really expect that if anyone, he should really have an appreciation for the wine world as a whole and not make cheap tabloid type of statements, which are generally intended only to attract instant, but short living publicity. In his post, which you can find here, it seems that Mr. Wark got upset over someone else’ opinion about French wines being more superior to the American wines, and that is what prompted Mr. Wark’s post where he has a fictional dialog proving his point about American wines being interesting and I guess French wines being boring. I’m not even going to comment on that blog post here, as in today’s world, each and every country produces phenomenal wines which are only getting better and better, and winemakers everywhere – France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Georgia or California – are crossing the boundaries and test the limits literally every day. But I would suggest that you will read the post and shitload of comments it generated – I guarantee you will have fun. I also want to mention that Chris Kassel of Intoxicology Report took a pity on Mr. Wark and wrote the commentary to his post which he titled “Why American Wine Will Never Be As Interesting As French Wine” – you can find it here. Again, a fun reading and well worth your time.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #94: Grape Trivia – You Say Bonarda, I Say Charbono

March 9, 2014 8 comments
Bonarda Grapes, Source: Wikipedia

Bonarda Grapes, Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the summer time (for those of you in US – and no, don’t worry, I didn’t say “summer”, it is only a day saving time)  and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is the red grape called Charbono, also known as Bonarda, and … wait for it … Douce Noir!

If we are looking for the grape with the most confusing story of its origin, this well might be the winner. For the long time Bonarda, which is how the grape is known in Argentina, was considered to be the same as Bonarda Piemontese, the red grape from Piedmont in Italy. Charbono, which has almost the cult status in California (not in term of prices, but in terms of availability), even today is written up on some wine sites as “unique California grape of unknown origin”, however it was considered to be brought to California by Italian immigrants as Barbera. To complete the round of confusion, Douce Noir, a nearly extinct variety in France with only 5 acres planted today, was considered to be related to Italian Dolcetto (Douce in French and Dolce in Italian both mean sweet).

Douce Noir became known in France in Savoie region at the very beginning of the 19th century, and by the end of 19th century, it was the most planted grape in Savoie. It is also known in Jura under the name of Corbeau, which means “crow”, as the grape often has a shiny black color. About 15 years ago, based on DNA research it was established that both Bonarda and Charbono are in reality are Douce Noir grape!

Douce Noir is a very late ripening variety, it ripens after the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is known to have a very think black skin and has very high phenolic content, as well as high acidity, so it is capable of producing deeply flavored and concentrated red wines. It is found that the grape produces the best results in the areas where there is a substantial difference  between day and night temperatures. While it is hard to find in France, the grape grows plentiful in Argentina (yes, as Bonarda). The plantings in California are small (less than 50 acres), but the resulting wines are quite unique and equally hard to find due to the very limited production.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: True or False: Bonarda is one of the 30 most planted red grapes in the world?

Q2: These are some of the grapes growing in Argentina. Sort this list by the area plantings in the descending order:

a. Bonarda

b. Cabernet Sauvinon

c. Criola Grande

d. Malbec

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Turley

b. Bonny Doon

c. Robert Foley

d. Mount Palomar

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are no Charbono wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.

Q5: True or False: From year 2000 to 2010, plantings of Bonarda in Argentina have increased by more than 20%

Bonus: have you ever had Charbono wines (talking specifically California here)? What do you think of them?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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