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Where In The World is Gigondas?

May 5, 2018 1 comment

Do you think I’m dumbing it down way out of proportion? Do you think every wine consumer is perfectly familiar with whereabouts of Gigondas and its wines, and thus taking offense in the title of this post? Well, if this is the case, please share your anger in the comments section below and click the “x” in the corner. And if you are still here, let’s talk about the tiny speck of land in the southern part of the Rhone appellation in France.

Size matters, but probably not in this case. Gigondas has only about 3,000 acres of vineyards for the whole appellation  (for comparison, E.& J. Gallo in California owns 20,000 acres of vineyards). Nobody knows where Gigondas name came from, but it is known that the wine was consumed in the Gigondas region more than 2,000 years ago. First records of Gigondas vineyard go all the way back to the 12th century. I guess the wine in Gigondas was really good even in the early days, as in 1591 there were first laws enacted, particularly prohibiting the sales of the wine to foreigners. In 1971, Gigondas became the first appellation in Côtes du Rhône-Villages to receive its own AOC status.

Gigondas is the land of Red and Rosé (just Red, mostly). Yep, that’s right – no white wines are produced and no white grapes are grown – at least for the wines produced under the Gigondas designation. The wines of Gigondas stylistically similar to the wines made in the neighboring – also much larger and a lot more famous – appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape – despite vignerons mostly working with 4 grapes in Gigondas (out of 8 varieties officially permitted), while folks in Châteauneuf-du-Pape allowed to use 18 in production of their red wines, 9 of which are white. At the end of the day, it is not for nothing both Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are often classified as “GSM” – which stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre – these are the main three grapes, with Grenache typically been a workhorse here (up to 80% allowed in Gigondas wines).

Now, the time has come for an ugly truth. I’m actually not familiar with Gigondas wines. I know and had many of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, but I usually would pass by one or two bottles of Gigondas which most of the stores would offer, and go to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the same price range. Thus when I was offered to try 3 different Gigondas wines, my “yes, please!” was very enthusiastic.

When I mentioned on Twitter that I’m going to play with err, taste a few of the Gigondas wines, I got back an instant outpour of love – and not only to the wines, but to the place. Take a look at these tweets:

It is time to talk about the wines I was able to taste. I had three wines, two from the 2015 vintage and one from 2014. Let’s take a look at the producers first.

The Domaine des Bosquets traces its history back to 14th century. Today, Domaine des Bosquets farms 64 acres of vineyards (50 years old vines), primarily growing Grenache and small amounts of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.

The Famille Perrin needs no introduction to the wine lovers. It takes roots in the same 14th century, with its historic Château de Beaucastel. In the 1950s, Famille Perrin became a pioneer of the organic farming, later on extending into the Biodynamic. The Famille Perrin also involved in the multiple projects in France and around the world, and the wine I tasted comes from their La Gille property in Gigondas.

Unlike the two wineries we just talked about, the Guigal Estate was founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in Ampuis, a small village Côte-Rôtie appellation. From there on, however, E. Guigal moved to the great prominence, with its so-called “La La” bottlings from Côte-Rôtie (La Mouline, La Turque, La Landonne) becoming an object of desire and obsession for the wine lovers around the world. Guigal Estate produces the wines in multiple appellations throughout both Northern and Southern Rhone, and “Guigal” name on the bottle is typically associated with quality.

I have to honestly tell you – with the exception of E.Guigal, this was not the love at first sight. However, all three wines perfectly evolved on the second day. Here are my notes:

2015 Famille Perrin La Gille Gigondas AOC (14.5% ABV, $38, 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah)
Garnet
Beet juice, mocha, raspberries, medium intensity, minerally undertones
Dense, chewy, blueberries and blueberry compote, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, medium to full body. Long finish.
7+, I would like a bit more balance.
8- second day, the wine is a lot tighter, has firm structure, shows hint of white pepper and by all means a lot more enjoyable. Apparently will improve with time.

2015 Domaine des Bosquets Gigondas AOC (15% ABV, $35, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and Cinsault, total 30 month aging in oak and concrete)
Dark garnet, almost black
Intense nose of freshly cut berries, vanilla, eucalyptus. Noticeable alcohol as well.
The palate is very intense but also astringent at the same time, black pepper, surprisingly medium body (was expecting bigger body). After 30 minutes in the decanter, the aggressive alcohol is gone. Still, feels that the wine needs time – not ready to drink now. Putting aside for a day.
Day 2 – cherries, mocha, and coffee on the nose. No alcohol, all nice and integrated. The palate shows tart cherries, pepper, vanilla, cut through acidity, medium plus body. Nicely drinkable. 8-/8, very good.

2014 E. Guigal Gigondas AOC (14.5% ABV, $36, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre)
Intense garnet
Open and inviting nose, black pepper, raspberries, mint, cassis
Fresh raspberries and blackberries, hint of mushrooms, nice minerality, a touch of vanilla and pepper, firm structure, good acidity, good balance
8-, a very pleasant and nicely drinkable wine from the get-go.
Day 2: 8+, sweet vanilla, dark chocolate and blueberries on the nose, extremely inviting. The palate evolved dramatically – pepper, raspberries, graphite, nutmeg, violets, firm structure, superb.

Here you are, my friends – my first serious encounter with Gigondas. Looking at the pictures, I would really love to visit Gigondas, and I will be happy to drink the Gigondas wine – just need to fiorget them in the cellar for a while. What is your eperience with Gigondas? Cheers!

 

From Languedoc, With Love and Pride – Wines of Paul Mas

June 17, 2014 7 comments

DSC_0964Talking about wines of Languedoc, with the risk of being boring, let me mention a few of the basic facts about the region.  Languedoc is the biggest single wine-producing region not only in France, but also in the world. According to Wikipedia, only 13 years ago (in 2001), Languedoc was producing more wine than entire United States. Another important distinction of Languedoc is the fact that it practically has no restrictions on the type of grapes which can be grown there. While Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache might be main red varietals, pretty much any of the international varietals are also permitted  and grown in Languedoc. While such a liberal approach encourages winemaking, its flip side is that a lot of wines are produced under the designation of Vin de Pays d’Oc, which technically stands for “country wines”, a step below in classification compare appellation-specific wines (AOC wines such as Bordeaux, Pomerol, Medoc, etc.).

What this all means to the wine consumer? Value. For the long time, Languedoc had being known as a hidden gem, a secret source of excellent wines which you can enjoy every day, without the need for the special occasion (I actually wrote a post about Languedoc as one of the wine world hidden secrets – you can find it here).

Let me explain why we are talking now about Languedoc wines. A short while ago, I was invited to participate in the virtual tasting of the wines of Chateau Paul Mas. Paul Mas family had been making wines in Languedoc since 1892. Jean-Claude Mas, the 4th generation winemaker, set out to expand farther the family vineyards and winemaking business overall. Starting in 2000, Domaines Paul Mas plantings increased from about 86 acres to 440 acres of vineyards, and it has another 2000 acres under the contract. Just to give you few more facts, in 2006 Jean-Claude was awarded the title of International Mediterranean Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young; in 2008, he was named one of the Top 30 Winemakers of Tomorrow by L’Express magazine in France.

Domaines Paul Mas vineyards are planted with more than 25 varieties including Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier and Chardonnay. Obviously, there is a wide range of wines produced under the Domaines Paul Mas label, including some of the widely successful everyday wines such as Arrogant Frog.

The focus of our tasting was on the single vineyard wines of Chateau Paul Mas. Guillaume Borrot, the winemaker of the Chateau Paul Mas, who was presenting the wines during the virtual tasting, touted them as “affordable luxury”. And the wines were actually made to support this claim. Even the bottle itself, Burgundian in shape and very heavy, was supporting the “luxury” claim. And the fact that all three wines we tasted are available in retail for less than $25 each, definitely makes them affordable.

Well, it is not the look and weight of the wine bottle which will determine the “luxurious” designation. It is the wine itself which should support that claim – and all three wines perfectly delivered. Dense, concentrated and balanced, all well made and ready to be consumed now, or 5-10 years down the road – if you have enough patience though. Here are the more detailed notes on the 3 wines we tasted:

2012 Château Paul Mas Clos des Mures Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 85% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 10 month aged in oak)

Color: Dark Garnet
Nose: Dark fruit, touch of spices, earthiness
Palate: Spicy cherries, touch of pepper, earthy profile, espresso, soft tannins, medium-long finish.
Verdict: Needs time, should develop nicely. Drinkability: 8-

2011 Château Paul Mas Grés de Montpellier Clos des Savignac Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 50% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 2 month aged in oak barrels)

Color: Practically black
Nose: Rich, dark chocolate, ripe blueberries, spices
Palate: Loads of pepper, dark ripe fruit, blueberries, perfect balance.
Verdict: Delicious! Drinkability: 8

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2011 Château Paul Mas Pezenas Clos du Moulinas Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 55% Syrah, 45% Grenache, 12 month aged in oak barrels, 3,500 cases produced)

Color: Very dark garnet, almost black
Nose: Loads of fruit, nice, open, touch of earthiness
Palate: Earth, hint of sweet fruit, loads of complexity, leather, tobacco, pepper, perfect balance, wow!
Verdict: My favorite wine of the tasting, Has great potential. Drinkability: 9-

There you have it – an encounter with everyday luxury wines, made with love and pride in Languedoc. Some of these wines should be available in US, so make sure to look for them.

Have you had Domaines Paul Mas wines before? Do you have any favorites? What do you think about Languedoc wines in general? Cheers!

 

Of Ancient Vines and Rhone Varietals – #winechat with Cline Cellars

May 9, 2014 11 comments

ClineCellars CorksThink California wines, think California grapes – what is the first grape which comes to mind? I would guess that Cabernet Sauvignon would be the first. Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will trail near by (not in this exact order, of course). Are those the best grapes making the best California wines? Yes, before you beat me up, “best wine” is highly subjective, so let’s not drill on that. But – what else is there in California? Ever heard of Rhone Rangers? In the 1980s, a group of California winemakers made a significant effort to popularize Rhone varietals – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Marsanne and many others. While this group of winemakers didn’t have any set structure,  they became collectively known as Rhone Rangers. As the result of the work of this group, Syrah and Grenache became prominent players on the California wine landscape, with the other traditional Rhone varietals taking more on the supporting roles.

Fred Cline, the founder of the Cline Cellars winery in Contra Costa County, was one of the original Rhone Rangers. While Cline Cellars is most famous for their Zinfandel wines (7 different bottlings are produced), it also makes a number of wines from the traditional Rhone varietals. On Wednesday, April 30th, the worldly virtual tasting room, called #winechat, opened its doors to all the wine lovers, coming in to experience and to talk about the Cline Cellars Rhone-style wines. While Cline Cellars winery was officially founded in 1982, the family owned the vineyards since 1800s. After founding the winery, Fred Cline spent a lot of time and efforts to preserve and where necessary, to restore the ancient vines (some of the vines are 80 – 120 years old), hence the name “Ancient Vines” which you can see on the labels of many Cline Cellars wines. Today, Cline Cellars uses sustainable farming methods and it is Green String Certified winery. Wonder what it means? As explained by the @ClineCellars during the #winechat: “Since 2000, Cline Cellars farms the Green String way: naturally & sustainably &avoid chemical pesticides, fungicides & fertilizers”

ClineCellars Wines

So, how were the wines, you ask? During the #winechat, we had an opportunity to try 3 different wines. We started with 2012 Cline Marsanne Roussanne Sonoma Coast (14.5% ABV, 66% Marsanne, 34% Roussanne). Every time I say “these are some of my favorite grapes/wines/etc.”, I feel a bit uneasy. The reason is simple – when it comes to the wines, I like them all. Every time I talk about the subject, I can come up with the new list of favorites, so using that “some of my favorites” moniker feels almost like lying, just a tiny bit. Oh well. So yes, Marsanne and Roussanne are some of my favorite white grapes – the wines from Marsanne and Roussanne, both are core Rhone white grape varietals, are quite rare, no matter where they come from, so every opportunity to taste such wines is always very exciting.

When it comes to Marsanne and Roussanne wines, the interesting thing is that those wines should be consumed at the room temperature. I tried chilling various Marsanne/Roussanne wines, and it never worked for me. This wines works the best at the 18°C – 20°C/64°F – 68°F. Here are the notes:

Color: Light golden
Nose: Minerality, white flowers, touch of honey, touch of white peach, white grape aroma as the wine opened up.
Palate: Touch of sweetness, caramelized sugar, minerality, very complex.
Verdict: This is one delicious wine, which you can enjoy on its own or with some chicken and mushrooms dish, for instance. Drinkability: 7+

Our next wine was 2013 Cline Mourvèdre Rosé Contra Costa County (13.5% ABV, ~100 years old vines), another traditional Rhone varietal. I tried to play with the temperature on this wine, but it really didn’t work – this wine should be only served well chilled.

Color: Intense pink
Nose: Fruit forward, with lots of ripe strawberries
Palate: Strawberries, cranberries, nice acidity (when well chilled!). Very classic and supple Rosé.
Verdict: Ahh, it pairs so well with the strawberries! Serve either as an Aperitif, or with the fresh light salad (like kale and strawberries), or with the fresh fruit after a meal. Very refreshing. Drinkability: 7+

Last, but not least was 2012 Cline Cool Climate Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (14.5% ABV, aged for 9 month in oak) – yes, not a Rhone varietal, but a California classic, coming from the classic area as well. The climate conditions of Sonoma Coast, with the fog settling down and cooling off the grapes every evening, allow grapes to ripen slowly and to build up a structure and nice acidic core. This wine was very much on par with the good California Pinot Noir expectations:

Color: Dark garnet
Nose: Smoke, minerals, touch of cherries, mushrooms, forest floor, roasted notes
Palate: Minerality, plums, nice acidity, well balanced.
Verdict: Very versatile wine. Perfectly enjoyable on its own, also paired well with wide variety of foods – fresh strawberries (!), roasted chicken, and believe it or not, but bacon cheddar (cheddar cheese with pieces of bacon) was the best pairing! Drinkability: 7+

As an added bonus, this wine even comes with the recipe attached to the back label – very clever idea!

That concludes yet another #winechat report. What is left to say is Thank You. First of all, thank you to the @ClineCellars for providing the excellent wines and enduring the barrage of questions during the intense one hour conversation. And of course, thank you to the Protocol Wine Studio, spearheading the whole #winechat program. And for you, my dear readers? Thank you for reading and come on over! See you next Wednesday on Twitter in the #winechat room. Cheers!

A Trip to Spain – at Barcelona Restaurant in Greenwich, CT

March 31, 2014 8 comments

DSC_0909About a month ago I got a note, which I shared with all my readers – Barcelona Restaurant in Greenwich is offering a special wine education program, called Passport Through Spain – 4 evenings of exploring the wines of the different regions in Spain, of course accompanied by the food. I didn’t have a chance to attend the classes until the very last one – but boy, am I happy I was able to attend at least one class!
The last class was focused on the region called Valencia. Valencia is more known for its paella and oranges than for its wines – but this is probably what made it more fun for me. The previous three classes were focused on Rioja, Galicia and Priorat, and I’m somewhat familiar with the wines of those three regions – but Valencia is quite unknown to me, and thus intriguing.

Region of Valencia is located on the east coast of Spain, along the Mediterranean sea line. There is a number of winemaking areas in Valencia, with Jumilla probably being the most known. There is a mix of climate zones in the region, some been more Mediterranean, and some more continental, but the very hot temperatures are quite common throughout the summer. However, in the areas with the continental climate the temperatures can drop very low in the evening, so the grapes can achieve great flavor concentration and depth. Similar to all other regions in Spain, the quality of wines in Valencia is steadily increasing, with the regions such as Valencia, Utiel-Requena and Alicante taking their place on the wine map. There is a mix of indigenous and international varieties growing in the region, with probably Malvasia and Moscatel being stars among the whites, and Monstrell, Bobal, Garnacha Tintorera and Garnacha Tinto among the reds.

The Valencia wine class was conducted by Jose Valverde, the Sommelier at Barcelona Greenwich, who is the wealth of knowledge and just a pleasure to listen to. We started with the wine called 2010 Bodegas Rafael Cambra Soplo Valencia DO (14% ABV, 100% Alicante Bouschet/Garnacha Tintorera, 3 month aging in oak) – it was this wine, made out of the Alicante Bouschet, known in Spain as Garnacha Tintorera, which prompted my last wine quiz – so here you can read some interesting facts about that grape.

Here are my notes about the wine:

Color: Dark ruby, concentrated

Nose: Earthy, warm, inviting, with touch of espresso, cherries and pencil shavings, very intense

Palate: Perfect acidity, cassis, almost a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc profile, espresso, touch of bell peppers, very restrained.

Verdict: Beautiful wine, you just can’t put your glass down. Drinkability: 8+

Barcelona is actually a restaurant group, and they have a number of restaurants in Connecticut and even outside, all focused, of course, on Spanish food and wine. It was very interesting for me to learn that Barcelona takes the idea of cultural heritage very seriously – yes, I’m talking here firstly about food, cooking and overall Spanish cuisine traditions. Every year the group of chefs and other people who make your restaurant experience special, travel to Spain to immerse into, to embrace the cuisine, the food, the wines, to learn the ways Spanish restaurants operate. Best of the best is brought back home and then shared with us, lucky customers, in the form of special food and special experiences. The very first dish which was served to us, lucky customers, was the Toast with Bacalao Spread. Executive Chef Michael Lucente tasted that dish at one of the restaurants in Spain while being on educational trip. He loved the dish, and he asked for the recipe. Guess what – he didn’t get it, as the chef outright refused to share it. Chef Michael spent a year (!) perfecting that recipe, but as a foodie I think it was totally worth it. Incredible balance of flavors, and texturally interesting – this was one delicious tapas.

DSC_0912

We continued our journey through Valencia with 2010 Bodegas Sierra Norte Pasión de Bobal Utiel-Requena DO (13.5% ABV, 100% Bobal). Bobal is a unique Spanish grape, which doesn’t grow anywhere else – however. there is plenty of it growing in Spain, with more than 80,000 acres, which makes it one of the most planted red grapes in the world. The climate in Utiel-Requena is one of the harshest in Spain, with very hot summers and cold winters with frost and hail, but still, the grapes persevere!

Here are the notes for this wine:

Color: Ruby

Nose: Freshly crushed grapes, but restrained. Brighter nose than the previous wine, with some black cherries, herbs and tobacco.

Palate: Noticeable tannins, but overall light, open and clean, should be very food friendly. I crave the complexity of the first wine!

Verdict: Nice, simple and very food friendly – will complement wide range of foods! Drinkability: 7+

The dish which was served with dish was Roasted Hen with pimento, fried chick peas and cilantro. The dish itself was very tasty, with all the flavors perfectly melding together – and it also worked perfectly with the wine! All those mild flavors of the wine very complementing bold flavors of Mediterranean cuisine, so this was definitely an excellent match.

Our last wine of the evening was 2009 Pedro Luis Martínez  Arriba Término de Hilanda Monastrell, Jumilla DO (14.5%ABV, 100% Monastrell, 14 month aging in new American and French oak) – Monastrell, which is a lot more international grape than the previous one (it is known as Mourvedre in France and Mataro in Australia), is definitely the best known grape in this tasting group. One problem I often have with Monastrell wines is that they are made overly jammy, with lots of in-your-face overcooked fruit. Luckily, not this wine!

Here are the notes:

Color: Dark ruby, concentrated, almost black

Nose: Closed

Palate: Powerful, coffee, dark chocolate, espresso, black plums, firm structure with spicy undertones, tar. Thought provoking, with excellent balance.

Verdict: Excellent wine, one of the best Monastrell wines I ever tasted. Drinkability: 8-

Care to guess what our last dish was? Yes, Paella! You can’t have a class on Valencia wine and not experience the classic of the cuisine. It was not even one paella, but two – both seafood and meat (rabbit and sausages) paella were served, and they both were absolutely delicious! No, I’m not going to describe them to you – just get to the restaurant and taste it for yourself.

That was definitely an evening of fun learning, great food, great wine and great conversations. There are only a few things are left for me to do here. First of all, I want to thank Barcelona Greenwich Sommelier Jose Valverde, Executive Chef Michael Lucente and PR Director Ria Rueda for the excellent program and great experience of Spanish wines and Spanish cuisine. Also, I want to bring to your attention the fact that Barcelona Restaurant group does a lot of work to educate the customers on both food and wines of Spain, so you will do yourself a lot of good if you will check their calendar and sign up for updates – there are great events happening literally every week! You can find Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar calendar right here – it covers all of the Barcelona locations and even more general events where Barcelona restaurants participate, so don’t think you should live in a close proximity of Greenwich to take an advantage of these special events.

Sommelier Jose Valverde and Chef Michael Lucente

Sommelier Jose Valverde and Executive Chef Michael Lucente

And we are done here. If you are looking for the great Spanish food and wine experience – there might be a Barcelona restaurant near you! Cheers!

Barcelona Greenwich
18 West Putnam Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06830
Tel: 203.983.6400203.983.6400

http://www.barcelonawinebar.com/greenwich.htm
Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC5 Theme, Not Really [Wine Shortage], Australian Wine and more

November 6, 2013 7 comments

Black sheep GSMMeritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #80, grape trivia – Mourvèdre.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape called Mourvèdre. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Name two grapes, most famous blending partners of Mourvèdre.

A1: Grenache and Syrah. GSM is the best known blend with M standing for Mourvèdre. The G stands for Grenache, and S is for Syrah (Shiraz).

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Mourvèdre-based wines rated in the Classic category

A2: False. A number of Domain Tempier wines from Bandol have 96 rating from the Wine Spectator.

Q3: Fill in the gaps: The oldest, continuously producing Mourvèdre vine is located at ___ Vineyard in ___, and it is about ___ years old.

A3: My answer: The oldest, continuously producing Mourvèdre vine is located at Hewitson Old Garden Vineyard in Barossa, Australia, and it is about 160 years old – here is my source of info. Of course I understand the “the oldest” claims are tough to prove – I’m sure few other producers claim the same. But the age (160) and general location (Barossa, Australia) seems to be generally correct.

Q4: Explain potential origins for all three names of the grape – Mourvèdre, Mataró and Monastrell

A4: Let me actually quote my answer directly from this source: Mourvèdre “first became established in Cataluña where it took on the names Mourvèdre (after Muviedro, the Moorish name for the city of Sagunto, near Valencia) and Mataró (after Mataró in Cataluña). In Cataluña the grape was grown by monasteries, leading to the name Monastrell (from the Latin monasteriellu) in that region”.

Q5: True or False: France plantings of Mourvèdre far exceed the plantings in Spain (no tricks here  – Mourvèdre and Monastrell are used interchangeably, you have to assume it is the same grape).

A5: False. Plantings of Mourvèdre in Spain are about 6 times of the plantings in France.

So today we have a grand winner, the drunken cyclist, who answered all 5 questions correctly. We also have a winner, the winegetter, who answered all 5 questions mostly correctly, with the slight discrepancy on the question 3 – but nevertheless, they both get the grand prize of unlimited bragging rights. I also want to acknowledge my blogging friend Patty P’s 2013 photo project who was answering the questions for the first time – she answered the first question correctly, and I really like her take on the question #4. Great job!

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

Now, I’m sure you read or heard somewhere about impending wine shortage. As the wine is ever increasing in popularity and demand all over the world, you would imagine that the report from the good source, showing for how many millions of cases demand exceeds the supply, will be picked up all over the news. And it was. Only the thing is that the numbers are numbers – question is what you do with those numbers. So in case you panicked (or were just amused), I have a very good article for you to read – it is written by W. Blake Gray, and it explains in good detail that no, you don’t need to stock up on wineand you will still find the good bottle to drink at the price you will be willing to pay.

Next post I want to bring to your attention is about Australian wines. It is a pity that selection of the Australian wines in the wine stores is not anything it used to be, as Australia makes a lot of great wines.  This article, written by Mike Veseth at The Wine Economist, is talking about the work Australian winemakers are doing to restore the image of the Australian wines and squarely put them back to the wine stores and the cellars around the world.

Last but not least for today is an interesting open letter written by Alder Yarrow of Vinography to the United Kingdom. Turns out that association of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America is offering its help to the good people of UK, suggesting that they know how to protect public from the dangers of unregulated wine market (oh, horrors, free commerce!),  which seems to be of concern to the people in UK. In case you don’t know, it is the US wholesalers who you have to thank for monopolistic pricing and draconian shipping laws in many of the states, and overall inability of wine consumers to get the wines they want. So Alder’s open letter to the United Kingdom is definitely worth reading, it is hilarious – here is the link where you can find it.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #80: Grape Trivia – Mourvèdre, a.k.a Monastrell

November 2, 2013 11 comments
215px-Balzac_noir-mourvedre

Mourvèdre grapes, as shown in Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series does not mean 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 engines. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is red grape called Mourvèdre, also known in Spain under the name of Monastrell, and also known as Mataro in Australia.

Mourvèdre is one of the very old grapes. According to the general consensus, Mourvèdre originated in Southern Spain at around 500 BC. From Spain,  the grape spread into France, where it became popular in Roussillon region, and then made it into Provence and Rhone. Mourvèdre was brought into US and Australia in the 19th century, but it was used mostly for blending or even bulk juice production for home-made wines. It was not until the late 20th century when the grape started gaining popularity in US and Australia, producing both high end blends as well as single-grape wines.

Mourvèdre requires a warm climate and a substantial amount of sunshine in order to produce ripe, concentrated grapes. In the cooler conditions, the grape will exhibit mostly herbaceous and vegetative flavors, not very suitable for the winemaking. Under the proper growing conditions, Mourvèdre produces grapes with expressive fruit (blackberries, blueberries) and gamy flavors, with  medium acidity. Mourvèdre also known for its thick skin, which allows for a good color and tannin extraction. Mourvèdre is used in a production of a single grape red wines (in Bandol, France, and many regions in Spain), as well as in various blends (for instance, it is one of the allowed 18 grapes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). It is also used in a production of Rosé and sweet wines, and it is allowed to be blended into the Cava, Spanish Sparking wines (to make Cava Rosé).

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name two grapes, most famous blending partners of Mourvèdre.

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Mourvèdre-based wines rated in the Classic category

Q3: Fill in the gaps: The oldest, continuously producing Mourvèdre vine is located at ___ Vineyard in ___, and it is about ___ years old.

Q4: Explain potential origins for all three names of the grape – Mourvèdre, Mataró and Monastrell

Q5: True or False: France plantings of Mourvèdre far exceed the plantings in Spain (no tricks here  – Mourvèdre and Monastrell are used interchangeably, you have to assume it is the same grape).

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

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