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Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Chinese Terroirs, #MWWC3 Last Chance, [again] Wine Reviews and more

September 18, 2013 10 comments

Y d'YquemMeritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #73, grape trivia – Sémillon.

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

Q1: Name a grape, primary blending partner of Sémillon

A1: Sauvignon Blanc. While Muscadelle is also allowed as part of the blend in Bordeaux, the most popular combination worldwide is Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Q2: Below is the list of years. There  is something common between all of them (and of course it has a relationship with Sémillon) – do you know what is common among those years?

1930, 1952, 1964, 1974, 2012

A2: This is a partial list of years when Château d’Yquem Sauternes, the most famous Sauternes wine, was not produced. Since 1825, there were only 10 years when d’Yquem Sauternes was not produced: 1910, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974, 1992 and 2012.

Q3: Ture or False: Sauternes produces only sweet wines

A3: False. Dry wines are also produced in Sauternes, under a designation of Bordeaux Supérieur. Example – “Y” by Château d’Yquem, 50% Sémillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc.

Q4: Name a key factor for the great tasting dry Sémillon wines

A4: Bottle age. While acidity is important, dry Sémillon wines, such as those produced in the Hunter Valley in Australia,  are known to fully develop and really blossom after about 10 years of age in the bottle.

Q5: What is Semageddon?

A5: Semageddon is a new annual event in Napa Valley, created to celebrate Sémillon grape. You can read more about the event here.

This was somewhat of a difficult quiz. We don’t have a winner, but we have three people who get an honorable mention – the drunken cyclist, EatwithNamie and Vinoinlove.

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

What do you know about wine in China? Do you think China will be able to produce the wines we will all crave? Well, can’t tell you about the craving yet, but the hard work already started. Here is an interesting blog post from The Wine Economist blog, talking about the Chinese Terroir quest which is already under way.

Another interesting post is coming from the Joe Roberts of a 1WineDude fame. Joe is bringing up a well beaten subject of the wine reviews, relevance of the wine critics, collective wisdom of the crowd-sourced wine reviews (yep, of course the CellarTracker) and more. You can read the post here, and of course please make sure to read through all the comments.  I personally don’t understand why is it so popular and necessary to return to this subject over and over again. I might respond with the rant of my own – if I do, you will be the first to know.

Next important subject: Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #3 is almost over! You need to make a final effort to convert your obsession into possession, and finally publish that blog post. Submission deadline is September 23rd, and for more details please check this formal announcement with all the rules and dates.

As I mentioned last week, Spanish Wine Festival is coming to New York City. If you love Spanish wines and want to taste something amazing, don’t miss this event! For more details and tickets please click here.

And one more event I want to bring to your attention. If you love (or at least like) whiskey, this is the right event for you. WhiskeyFest is coming to New York on October 11-12. For more details and tickets, please use this link.

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 #73: Grape Trivia – Sémillon

September 14, 2013 11 comments
Sémillon grapes affected by noble rot, as shown in Wikipedia

Sémillon grapes affected by noble rot, as shown in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, still focusing on the white grapes, and today’s subject is Sémillon.

Sémillon is a white grape, once considered the most planted grape in the world. One interesting fact is that the origin of Sémillon is not easy to pinpoint – while working on this quiz, I went through quite a few articles on Internet and even books, and it is hard to find any historical data outside of the fact that Sémillon was very popular in the early 19th century throughout the world. In the early 19th century, over the 90% of all grape plantings in South Africa was Sémillon – considering its popularity, it was simply called Wyndruif, the “wine grape”. Today, Sémillon occupies roughly 1% of the grape plantings in South Africa. It is still the most planted white grape in Bordeaux, where it is used in the production of most of the white wines, from dry wines of Pessac-Léognan, Graves and Entre-deux-mers, to the spectacular dessert jewels of Sauternes and Barsac. Sémillon plantings exist in many other winemaking countries – Australia, Chile, Italy, New Zealand, California and Washington in US – but you rarely hear about Sémillon, as it is mostly used as a blending grape. Well, this might be changing – but we will not be talking about it in the quiz.

The issue with Sémillon is that under normal growing conditions, it tends to produce plump and dull wines, the wines which are not showing much of the aromatics and have very low acidity. When the grape is forced to work hard, it can produce amazing wines. In Sauternes, Sémillon is typically affected by Botrytis cinerea, the noble rot, which leads to the shriveling of the grapes which concentrates the sugar – dessert wines produced from such shriveled grapes are some of the best in the world (Châteaud’Yquem, anyone?) – they also make some of the longest living wines in the world, being capable of ageing for 100 years and beyond. In Australia’s Hunter Valley region, the grapes are exposed to the harsh climate with the high level of humidity, which leads to the grapes accumulating high level of acidity. Hunter Valley Sémillon is known to age very well, and the wines also improve with age quite significantly.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name a grape, primary blending partner of Sémillon

Q2: Below is the list of years. There is something common between all of them (and of course it has a relationship with Sémillon) – do you know what is common among those years?

1930, 1952, 1964, 1974, 2012

Q3: Ture or False: Sauternes produces only sweet wines

Q4: Name a key factor for the great tasting dry Sémillon wines

Q5: What is Semageddon?

There is nothing wrong with answering even only one question from the quiz – your participation is always appreciated! Also, without any regard to the questions, please share your personal experiences with Sémillon wines.

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

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