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Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #WBC14, Project Genome, What is in the Price

June 25, 2014 7 comments

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #107, Grape Trivia – Blends, Part 10.

This was the last quiz in the Blends theme of the grape trivia – we  are going back to the single grape quizzes for a while, before changing the subject of the quizzes to something else. But for now, here is the final set of the questions about blends – now with the answers.

Q1: Name the region in France, where total of seven of red and white grapes are permitted, but absolute majority of the wines is made out of three grapes, which includes both red and white. Blend and single grape wines are permitted, and majority of the wines (even made from single grape variety) are blended.

A1: Champagne. While  Arbane, Chardonnay, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir are all allowed grapes in Champagne, absolute majority of wines is made out of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Q2: Name region in France, where multiple red and multiple white grapes are allowed to be used in production of a single red wine.

A2: Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 18 grapes are allowed to be used in production of this famous red wine, a mix of both reds and whites.

Q3: This wine in the old world wine region are traditionally made as a blend of 4 grapes (only 4 are allowed) , with one grape considered to be the major, and 3 others used in various proportions, or possibly none at all. These wines are known to have great affinity to oak and have classification based on the aging time in oak and in the bottle. Flavor profile often includes eucalyptus and cigar box, and wines have great ability to age, especially in the best years. Can you name this region?

A3: Rioja. Rioja wines are made out of the combination of Tempranillo, Mazuello, Garnacha and Graciano, with Tempranillo typically being the main grape.

Q4: This protected (trade mark protected) word came around a bit more than 25 years ago to designate the wine blend (can be both red and white) which resembles in its composition and grape usage one of the most prestigious and best known wines and overall wine styles in the world. Do you know what this word might be?

A4: Meritage! in 1988, Meritage Alliance was created in California by the group of winemakers, to promote creation of the Bordeaux-style blends, both red and white, without infringing on the Bordeaux protected name. According to Wikipedia, the red Meritage wine “must be made from a blend of at least two of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, or Carmenère, with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend”. The same goes for the white Meritage wine: “must be made from a blend of at least two or more of the following varieties: Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais, with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend”. Another interesting fact is that Meritage is a trademark protected word, and any winery using it on their labels must pay the alliance a license fee.

Q5: Wine Spectator’s rating of 100 points ( an “absolute perfection” so to speak), is not easy to get – to the date, there are only 75 wines which got the 100 rating from Wine Spectator. Taking into account only the red wines on the top 100 list, which grape or grape-dominated blend got the score of 100 most often? Different vintages of the same wine should be counted as separate votes.

a. Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Sauvignon based blend, b. Merlot or Merlot based blend, c. Nebbiolo, d. Pinot Noir, e. Syrah or Syrah based blend

A5: Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon based blends are definitely in the lead among this elite group – 17 different wines received the coveted 100 points rating from the Wine Spectator. Merlot and Merlot based wines are trailing behind with 11 different wines receiving the honors.

When it comes to the results, looks like I can never estimate the difficulty of the quiz properly. I thought this was somewhat difficult, but I was proven wrong – today we have 3 winners! Jennifer Lewis (no web site), Gene Castellino (no web site) and benway69 (no web site) all correctly answered 5 out of 5 questions, so they are all the winners of this quiz and they all get the coveted prize of unlimited bragging right. Excellent Work! vinoinlove gets an honorable mention with 4 correct answers out of 5.

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

In the mere two weeks, The Wine Bloggers Conference 2014, dubbed WBC14, will take place in Santa Barbara County in California. More than 300 people have signed up to attend the 3 days event, to meet, greet, talk, learn and of course, drink the wine. I’m very excited as this will be my first WBC event, and of course full report will follow. I’m looking forward meeting everyone there (I know that both SAHMMelier and the drunken cyclist will be in attendance), so if you are going, let’s connect! You can find all the details about the conference at the WBC web site.

While the next interesting read item is geared more towards the wine professionals, I think many of you will find it quite interesting. Constellations Brands, one of the biggest wine producers and distributors in the world, recently published the result of the multi-year study of the behavior of the wine consumers, under the name of the Project Genome. Based on the results of that study, all wine consumers are split into the 6 different categories (Price Driven, Everyday Loyals, Overwhelmed, Image Seekers, Engaged Newcomers, Enthusiasts), with the detailed analysis of buying patterns of all the people in each category. There is a lot of interesting info in this article, so I suggest you will go read it for yourself here.

Last one for today is an interesting article at Wine-Searcher, written by Tyler Colman (who is also known as Dr. Vino). In the article, Tyler is attempting to break up a price of a $100 and then a $2 bottles of wine, to identify  the price elements attributed to the different participants – the winery, distributor and the retailer, as the bottle of wine is making its way to the consumer’s hands. While it is not necessarily 100% precise, it gives you some food for thought. You can find the article here.

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

Big Time at the Big Winery: Visiting Chateau Ste. Michelle

September 23, 2012 15 comments

As you know, wine is my hobby – I don’t belong to the “wine trade”, but as wine aficionado (oenophile and occasional snob), I’m eternal student of wine (luckily, the world of wine happily offers eternal learning opportunities). How do you learn about wine? There are many ways, but tasting the wines and talking to the people who make them is probably one of the best – I just had a great learning experience which I want to share with you.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is located in State of Washington, about 30 miles north of Seattle. While visiting Seattle not long ago, I realized that I have enough time before my flight back to east coast to visit the winery and (yay!) try some wines.
The place looked pretty impressive as I drove in – I visited quite a few wineries over the years, and Chateau Ste. Michelle probably was the biggest one I ever being to. Took me a while even to realize that the big door was there with the purpose and not just a part of the old mansion. Here are few pictures from you so you will get the idea:

Here is the door I was contemplating to touch:

From here on, this will be pretty much a picture report with some tasting notes, of course.

By the way, just to give you an idea of the size of this winery – look at this conveyor belt – there are between 7,000 and 9,000 cases (!) of white wine made there per day (!):

And those barrels? They all hold white wine, and there are 28,000 barrels in that room (!). And the smell alone in that room – ahh, you really should experience it for yourself – the magnificent Chardonnay aromas filling up the air – you really can enjoy this smell countless amount of time.

Wait, here are the tanks first:

And now, the barrels (no, you can’t see all 28,000 in this picture):

Now, let’s talk about the wine – no more “supporting pictures”.

The tasting was conducted in the library room, were I was surrounded by the wines I really (REALLY!!!) wanted to try – but I had to only look at them… Here are some of the wines I didn’t try:

1977 Cabernet Sauvignon:

Then I didn’t try this 1993 Meritage:

1994 Meritage? Nope, still nothing…

And I didn’t try this 1998 Meritage:

Another wine I missed on, 2000 Meritage:

2004 Meritage? I could touch…the bottle, that’s all:

Okay, that’s it. Yes, I just wanted to share some pictures with you, so it would mean that I didn’t take those pictures for nothing.

And now, let’s talk about wines I actually tasted.

The tasting started with Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvee Brut NV. As a confession of the wine snob (wow! need to patent that – should be a great name for a series of posts) I have to admit that I always passed that sparkler in the wine stores. I will not make this mistake anymore! Perfectly balanced, with the nice notes of green apple, and fresh, clean, high note acidity (and the price of $11 or so), this can be your perfect everyday bottle of sparkling wine.

On a related note I would like to also give you a mini-quiz (the answer will be at the bottom of the post) – below is a picture of the cork – what do you think those numbers mean and why are they there?

Next we moved to the 2009 Canoe Ridge Chardonnay  – it had a touch of butter and toasted oak on the nose, but was somewhat green on the palate – I was hoping for a bit more round profile on the palate.

Next wine was 2008 Artist Series Meritage – 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% malbec and 1% Petit Verdot – this was actually a first year for the whole period of Meritage production when all 5 classic Bordeaux varieties had being used. The wine was beautiful, perfectly balanced and reminiscent of a classic Bordeaux.

2009 Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – single vineyard Cabernet was perfectly clean with eucalyptus and earthy notes, soft fruit and long finish. As Renee ( my host) explained, this wine is usually not really welcomed by guests from California, as it shows much less exuberance compare to the traditional California Cab.

However, Washington Merlot, such as 2009 Ethos Reserve Merlot is fully redeeming the softness of Cabernet – this wine has broad shoulders, very big, powerful, with blueberries and blueberry jam, tobacco and dark chocolate  notes – very impressive wine.

Last in that line of tasting was 2006 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, single vineyards from Horse Heaven Hills, RS 17.8% – this wine was perfectly balanced, with notes of honey and apricots, and clean, fresh acidity – very nice.

You think we are done? Nope. There are few more wines to report: 2008 Stone Tree Vineyard Syrah Wahluke Slope was soft and supple, with a touch of spice:

And then there was 2008 Ethos Reserve Syrah, which I have to simply call Best of Tasting – it was a “wow” wine, perfect BBQ wine with the nose of smokey roast, perfect power, balance and beauty:

And… We are not done yet! Then I had an opportunity to try Col Solare wines, which are a product of partnership between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori. The winery is situated on the Red Mountain in Washington, a part of Columbia Valley appellation, and the vineyards and the whole winery are resembling sun rays – you can see it for yourself in this picture on the web site.

The wines are done in the true Super Tuscan style, powerful but reserved. I had an opportunity to try 2006, 2007 and 2008, and as a common point I can only say – these wines need more time…

Dense and a touch chewy, with nice dark fruit, cherries and plums, earthy notes and good acidity, very balanced. This wines are not easy to find, but worth seeking.

And for me – here is something again which I didn’t try:

Okay, your photo-torture is done. I’m taking complains in the comment section. And I’m pretty much done with my report. Ahh, yes, almost forgot – that mini-quiz… Did you figure out those numbers on the cork? Of course you did, it is a production date. But I managed to surprise even my host Renee, who didn’t know about that date being printed on the cork (I even surprised myself as I never saw it before and only red about it) – the importance of this information is that with this date, you can know how long ago that non-vintage sparkling wine was produced. And I don’t know if you tasted a NV sparkler which was laying around for 5-6 years – it tastes very different from the fresh made version. And with the date on the cork – now you know.

Now I’m done with this post for sure. Find the bottle of Chateau Ste Michelle wine and have a glass – if you managed to read up to this point,  you definitely deserve it. And if you are visiting Seattle – well, now you know what  you shouldn’t miss. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #PinotSmackdown Results and more…

September 12, 2012 6 comments

It is Meritage time!

Let’s start from the answer for Weekly Wine Quiz #28, Where is the wine in this picture? This quiz was done in a different format ( no multiple-choice answers), and it had a lesser number of answers than I would want to – but, we have a clear winner. Here is the answer, also in the form of the picture:

That glass fruit bowl which was shown on the picture in the quiz was a photograph of the original artwork of Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, which I took at the winery, and that is what was shown on the the label of 1998 Artist Series Meritage wines. Congratulations to Mika on figuring out this (very difficult) wine quiz!

In the “interesting news” category, I only have a few things for you. First, the results for the #PinotSmackDown event, held on Twitter on September 6th (which I missed with the wine, but I cast my vote) were tallied up, and the winner was New Zealand (#NZ was actually my vote, but somehow I thought that I’m pretty unique with that opinion and New Zealand would not win) – here is the summary post for you.

Looking over recent posts at The Gray Report, I found this post with the link to the video from the series “Real Winemakers Read Wine Spectator Reviews” – the video is very entertaining, and you will also find more videos from the same series once you will finish watching the first one.

Believe it or not, this is all I have for you in today’s Meritage issue. Until next Wednesday – cheers!

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