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[Wednesday’s] Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Merlot is Back, Harvest Everywhere, About Yelp and more

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Botani Moscatel Seco Sierras de Malaga DO 2008

Botani Moscatel Seco Sierras de Malaga DO 2008

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #115: Grape Trivia – Muscat.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about one of the oldest cultivated grapes – Muscat.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: This Italian wine, made out of the Muscat of Alexandria grapes (which has a different local name), is quite unique in having a given vintage receive top ratings from all main Italian wine publications, including Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Bibenda and Veronelli. Can you name this wine?

A1: Donnafugata produces dessert wine called Ben Ryé, made out of Zibibbo grapes, which is the local name for Muscat of Alexandria. Ben Ryé typically gets awarded highest ratings by various Italian publications, year in and year out.

Q2: This Muscat wine was the last solace of exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Can you name the wine and the country where it was made?

A2: This legendary wine is Klein Constantia Vin de Constance from South Africa

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Banyuls, b. Beaumes de Venise, c. Frontignan, d. Rivesaltes

A3: Banyuls – while Banyuls is known for its dessert wines, same as the three other AOCs, Grenahce Noir is the main grape used in Banyuls, not the Muscat which dominates the others.

Q4: Muscat wines often get very high ratings from the reviewers. Based on Wine Spectator Classic wines (95 – 100 rating), which country do you think has the most Muscat wines rated as Classic:

a. Australia, b. France, c. Italy, d. Portugal,

A4: It might come as a surprise, but this country is the Australia – 9 out of 10 Muscat wines with topmost ratings are from Australia, including a 100 points Campbells Muscat Rutherglen Merchant Prince Rare NV.

Q5: Which should be excluded and why?

a. Muscat of Alexandria, b. Muscadelle, c. Moscato Giallo, d. Muscat of Hamburg, e. Morio Muskat

A5: This was a bit of a tricky question – actually 2 grapes don’t belong – Muscadelle, which has nothing to do with Muscat, and Morio Muskat, which is a blend of Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc.

When it comes to the results, we had no winners, unfortunately, but I’m glad to see Oliver the winegetter back in the game. There is always the next time!

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

Let’s start with … Merlot! Merlot is back, and to make sure everyone will notice, October is designated as the  Merlot month! If you think about it, Merlot never left, and Chateau Petrus didn’t switch all of a sudden to  the Cabernet Sauvignon as a main grape. Still, Merlot wines are now demanded by name, so it is definitely a reason to celebrate. Drink it, talk about it, write about it – just don’t be indifferent about it. Here is the web site which will help to plan your Merlot festivities.

Harvest is under way in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, so here are few of the updates. Long stretch of a warm weather in September greatly helped vintners in Burgundy and Bordeaux. The summer was cold and rainy in both regions, and the hailstorms didn’t help either. However, warm and steady September weather greatly improved the overall outlook; while the 2014 vintage is not expected to exceptional, both Bordeaux and Burgundy expecting good results. White Burgundy look especially promising in many appellations, including Chablis. Here are the links with more details – Burgundy and Bordeaux. California weather was quite opposite compare to France – very hot and dry summer forced an early harvest start in the Northern California, with some estates picking up grapes as early as July 29th – one of the earliest starts in a decade. Here is the link with more information about California harvest.

When I’m looking for the good restaurant, especially in the unfamiliar area, my first choice of information source is usually one and the same – Yelp. I generally can’t complain, and for majority of the cases I’m quite happy with Yelp recommendations – I’m sure it saved me from the number of a bad experiences. This is why it is even more upsetting to read about the issues businesses face with Yelp forcing them to take advertizing deals or be punished by artificial manipulation of ratings. Unfortunately, this is what happens when shareholder value becomes the purpose of business existence and trumpets the relationship with the real customers (which eventually drives company out of business). Case in point – the restaurant called Botto Bistro in San Francisco, which refused to badge with Yelp’s demand for advertizement placement, and instead started fighting back with Yelp by undermining the core of the Yelp’s existence – the rating system. The restaurant requested all of their patrons to leave negative one-start reviews, which people did. Take a look at the this article which lists a lot of examples of such a one- star “negative” – or rather super-funny – reviews. Yelp have to get its business integrity together, or it will disappear.

If you are actually a writer, how often do your read your writing, edit it, then read again and edit again? You don’t need to answer this question, but the number of the read/edit cycles is better be substantial if you want to end up with the quality outcome. Here is an interesting article by Jo Diaz, where he talks about the importance of the editor and the editing process. It is clear that most of us are not going to hire an editor for our “labor of love” blog posts – however, the editing still remains an essential part of the “writing well” process, and you really should find the way to implement it.

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

Weekly Wine Quiz #115: Grape Trivia – Muscat

September 21, 2014 5 comments
Muscat blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat noir

Muscat blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat Noir. 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 your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series,  and today’s subject is the grape called Muscat.

Going through The Wine Century Club journey, I always make an effort to figure out if the seemingly new grape is actually not a localized name for the grape which I already counted. Muscat is always one of the biggest challengers; trying to figure out all those name interconnections is often quite tedious. Only now, when I set to work on this quiz, I realized why is that.

It appears that Muscat has a lot of very unique characteristics, which makes it one and only in many instances (think about your own grape ranking – is Muscat stands appropriately high in it? Stop it, don’t bring out the Moscato d’Asti subject…). Let me give you a few facts. Muscat is one of the oldest grapes used in winemaking, with its history going back thousands and thousands years back. According to some theories, Muscat considered to be one of the very first domesticated grapes, and it is possible that majority of the Vitis Vinifera grapes are offspring of Muscat.

Muscat is actually a family, which includes about 200 different grapes – no wonder it is hard to figure out which one is which. Muscat grapes are grown both for winemaking and for the table grape consumption, which again makes it very unique (most of the Vitis Vinifera grapes are produced for winemaking only). Muscat is often imagined as a white grape variety, which is true for the majority of the grapes – however, red, blue and black Muscat grapes are also part of the family. To continue making everything just a bit more complicated, you can’t tell the color by just the name  – unless you know it already. It is easy to figure out that Grenache is a red grape, and Grenache Blanc is white, or that Pinot Noir is a red and Pinot Blanc is white. Talking about Muscat, you have to know that Muscat of Alexandria is white, and Muscat of Hamburg is red, often called Black Muscat.

Considering such a long history and diversity, it is not surprising that Muscat is growing pretty much everywhere in the world, and it is used in production of the whole range of wines, starting from sparkling (Moscato d’Asti), going to the dry (Spanish Moscatel wines come to mind), and of course, sweet, both regular and fortified – Australia, France, Italy, South Africa and many others greatly excel here. While yes, there are about 200 grapes in the Muscat family, four  varieties can be identied as “main” – Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat of Hamburg and Muscat Ottonel. Many Muscat grapes, which you know under their unique names will be simply local names for some of these “main” varietals. For instance, Moscato d’Asti is a Muscat blanc à Petits Grains,  and Spanish Moscatel is actually a Muscat of Alexandria.

All the different varieties of Muscat have different growing characteristics and challenges – for instance, Muscat of Alexandria has a tendency to overproduce and needs to be controlled in the vineyard; Muscat Ottonel is a palest of the all Muscat grapes and ripens the earliest. What is common between all the Muscat grapes is aromatics, the characteristic “musky” aroma. Muscat generally very easily accumulates sugar and has naturally low acidity, thus it doesn’t age for too long on its own – but fortified wines, of course, can live literally forever.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: This Italian wine, made out of the Muscat of Alexandria grapes (which has a different local name), is quite unique in having a given vintage receive top ratings from all main Italian wine publications, including Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Bibenda and Veronelli. Can you name this wine?

Q2: This Muscat wine was the last solace of exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Can you name the wine and the country where it was made?

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Banyuls

b. Beaumes de Venise

c. Frontignan

d. Rivesaltes

Q4: Muscat wines often get very high ratings from the reviewers. Based on Wine Spectator Classic wines (95 – 100 rating), which country do you think has the most Muscat wines rated as Classic:

a. Australia

b. France

c. Italy

d. Portugal

Q5: Which should be excluded and why?

a. Muscat of Alexandria

b. Muscadelle

c. Moscato Giallo

d. Muscat of Hamburg

e. Morio Muskat

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

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