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Weekly Wine Quiz #102: Grape Trivia – Blends, Part 6

May 10, 2014 12 comments

two cremantsThe 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 weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series,  focusing on the blends, even if it is a blend of 1. White, Red, Rosé, Sparkling, Still, Fortified and Dessert – all goes. Oh yes, and we will blend in some regions and even wineries as well, just to make it more fun.

Absolute majority of the wines are the blends of some sort, but there is one wine which to me is a complete standout in terms of the art of blending – I’m talking about Champagne. A typical bottle of the so called Non-Vintage Champagne is a blend of different wines from different vintages, all magically concocted together to achieve the consistent taste. As a special tribute to Champagne, I would like to focus today’s quiz only on the sparkling wines, which nowadays are produced absolutely everywhere.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: French sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region are generally called Crémant. Today, the Crémant wines are produced in most of the well known regions in France, each region imposing its own requirements on the winemaking techniques. For one of sparkling wines below, if it is identified as Crémant Blanc, it is required for at least 50% of the grapes to be Chardonnay. Do you know which wine has this requirement?

a. Crémant d’Alsace

b. Crémant de Bordeaux

c. Crémant de Bourgogne

d. Crémant du Jura

Q2: Among other reasons, complexity of sparkling wines comes from the extended time the fermented juice have to stay in contact with the yeast (it is also called aging on the lees). Sort the list of the sparkling wines below based on the minimum time required for the non-vintage wine to be aged on the lees, from the longest to the shortest:

a. Cava

b. Champagne

c. Franciacorta

d. Trento

Q3: Dom Pérignon, a benedictine monk, largely considered to be the father of Champagne, had a very significant impact on creation the Champagne as we know it. From the list below, what do you think was Dom Pérignon’s major claim to fame?

a. He created the Champagne bottle

b. He discovered the Méthode Champenoise

c. He created the riddling table

d. He mastered the art of blending to improve the taste of the resulting wine

Q4: Below is the blend composition of the sparkling wine – can you name it?

Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac

Q5: As tomorrow is the Mother’s Day in US, here is probably an open ended and debatable question, but: Who would you call the Mother of Champagne and why?

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

Celebrate! Celebrate! Let’s Open Some…

December 30, 2010 1 comment

Champagne! Of course, Champagne. No celebration is complete without the toast of “bubbly” – New Year’s arrival, wedding anniversary, winning of the Grand Prix, christening of a new ship, and many other occasions, big and small are acknowledged with Champagne.

Champagne is a very interesting subject in general, but even more so when New Year’s arrival is around the corner. You can find articles and blog posts about Champagne everywhere – here is a good example, post by Dr. Vino. Well, let’s join the conversation about Champagne.

Champagne is a wine which belongs to the group of so called “sparkling wines” – the wines with many tiny bubbles (there are at least 49 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne – feel free to count yourself if you don’t believe it). As many other things in life, discovery of Champagne is a combination of accident and luck – on a very primitive level, not fully fermented bottle of wine was frozen, then temperature rose, fermentation restarted (this time, in a bottle) – voila, you got a bottle of Champagne.

Well, small clarification will be appropriate – Champagne is both a wine and a place – in France, of course, where else. Are Champagne and Sparkling wine synonyms? No. Any Champagne is Sparkling wine, but not any sparkling wine is Champagne. Only sparkling wines produced in Champagne region in France using so called méthode champenoise can be called Champagne. All other sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region, even using the same method, can only be called Sparkling Wine.

Let’s play a little game which we will call “what is in the name”. Champagne only comes from Champagne, what about about other sparkling wines? Today sparkling wines produced everywhere, from wide variety of grapes and at ever increasing pace. Only this year I had sparkling Malbec (very good) and sparkling Shiraz (don’t do it). In United States sparkling wines are produced in California (lot’s of good wines), Oregon, New Mexico (surprisingly good), New York and many other states. Traveling through the world, a lot of sparkling wines have their own names. Let’s see if you will recognize some of them:

Prosecco – sparkling wine from Italy

Sekt – sparkling wine from Germany

Cava – sparkling wine from Spain

Cremant – sparkling wine from France (Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Loire, Cremant du Jura and many others)

Blanquette de Limoux – comes from Limoux in Languedoc, France with the claim of being the first Sparkling Wine, before Champagne became Champagne.

Champagne is endless subject – no way to cover it in the short blog post. Let’s stop our world tour right here, and let’s talk about the celebration “at hands” – New Year 2011. What bottle are you going to open to celebrate arrival of the New Year? How about a little dream? Again, you said? True, just a few days ago I wrote a post about the wines to dream of. Something was missing in that post, I think – and that “something” is … Champagne! There was no Champagne mentioned in that list. So we need to fix it. And if you need a Champagne to dream of, I have only one recommendation – Krug.

If you wonder why I so focused on one and only one Champagne, I can tell you – I had a chance to try it, and I was blown away. At the PJ Wine Grand Tasting event in November 2009, Krug 1996 was served among others, no doubt excellent Champagnes (Veuve Clicquot Rose, Dom Perignon 2000, …). I made a mistake – pretty much fatal, as it appeared – to start tasting from the Krug 1996. I had vintage champagnes before, and never really appreciated them. Krug 1996 was something else – with richness of freshly baked bread, nutty and creamy, fine-tuned refreshing acidity, ultimately balanced – it was incredible. All the Champagnes in that tasting, with pedigree or not, literally tasted like water next to Krug 1996. Yes, this wine is expensive (about $300+, you can check the price here), but it worth every penny – and worth dreaming about. And if you need to expand your Champagne dream list, you can find a lot more recommendations here.

There are few days left before we will toast new hopes, new dreams, new desires with the New Year 2011. No matter what will be in your glass, I wish for your wildest dreams to become reality. Raise your glass To Life, and keep dreaming!

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