Posts Tagged ‘Pinotage’

Labels and Beyond – Creativity in the Wine World

May 28, 2016 12 comments

There is a famous Russian saying  – “meet by the clothes, part by the smarts”. Yes, I know I’m butchering the original with this translation, and typical proper analogy in English will be “Don’t judge the book by its cover” – but I wanted to emphasize that “meet by the clothes” part.

In the world of people, our first impression of the stranger is often directly related to the way the person is dressed – however, once we get into the conversation and get to know the person, the dress becomes of no importance at all – if, of course, we manage to find common ground and enjoy each other’s company. More often than not, we use clothes as a differentiator – this is our way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed – and I’m sure you all can attest – that generally works; clothes matter, especially for the first impression.

This is the wine blog, right? So let’s get to it. What are the “clothes” for wine? The bottle and the label, isn’t it? We, wine drinkers collective, are often very quick to make serious assumptions about the content of the bottle just from a quick glance at the bottle. Ahh, a cute creature? The wine must be cheap and terrible. Look at how solid this heavy bottle with black and gold label is – I’m sure the wine will be delicious. Been there, done that.

The wine today is at a pick of popularity – for sure in the US. Which means that there is more and more wine produced all the time, to the pleasure of a wine drinking public. But here also lies a flip of the silver lining – looking at the wine store shelves is overwhelming, so how can producers ensure that someone will pick the bottle of their wine? This is where the “clothes” come to the play – all other things been equal, the label and the bottle are the only differentiators winemaker got (the brand recognition of course will be superior to the label differentiators, but we should put it aside for the sake of this post). What I’m observing lately is an explosion in creativity in the wine labels, names of the wines and even the bottle shapes (or overall packaging, such as “wine in the can”). And this is what prompted this post – over the month, I came across a few wines which I felt I just wanted to share with all of you.

Here is the first one – Honoro Vera Grenache. When I saw the bottle, it was an instant “wow, that looks beautiful” – I must try it. The fact that it was Spanish Grenache (hard to go wrong with), priced at $7.99, make that decision even easier. And the wine didn’t disappoint with fresh core of the dark fruit and mocha – round and delicious.

The love of the next label might be giving away my age – but this “post card formatting” somehow always attracts my attention, as the nod to the times when people actually used paper and their hands to write, and not only to type. One look at the bottle and I knew I had to get this Bob’s Pinotage from South Africa – and of course at $6.99, the risk was minor. Pinotage used to have a lot of bad rap in the past, but this wine was delicious – fresh strawberries, hint of gaminess, medium to full body, good balance – excellent food friendly wine.

How about the label which takes guessing out of the wine enjoyment? The label on this Rosé La Princess from Provence will change when the wine will be chilled to the suggested drinking temperature, and will definitely encourage you to drink it. One would’ve thought that this is too gimmicky (and I did), and to my delight, I found classic, gentle, strawberry driven, perfectly refreshing wine in this bottle. All for $11.99.

We all know that wine and flowers make perfect gift for anyone. How about the wine which essentially includes flowers? How I mean, you ask? Take a look below – this Côte des Roses bottle features the bottom which looks like a perfect Rose flower. Going all the way, take a look at the pink glass enclosure – isn’t it beautiful? And the best part is that wine itself is a beautiful Rosé – restrained, delicate, tart and refreshing. And despite the overindulgent bottle, the wine retails for the same $11.99 – a great value for Rosé if you ask me.

Let me finish this labels galore with a series belonging to the wine called Machete Red. This wine is produced by the legendary Dave Phinney, and each case sports 12 bottles with 12 different labels  – from the same theme. I didn’t have an opportunity to taste this wine, and it retails for quite a bit more than any of the wines I mentioned before ($45.99), so in this particular case I can’t tell you if content of the bottle matches the creativity on outside – but I surely hope it does.

Machete Red

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That’s all I have for you for today. What are your creative label discoveries? Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, WTSO Magnum Marathon, #MalbecWorldDay, Can Wine Critic be Objective?, Pinot Noir #winechat

April 16, 2014 4 comments

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #98, Grape Trivia – Blends, Part 2.

For the long time, the grape trivia series was focused on the single grapes. But now we are stirring things up, so all the questions in the quiz are about blends (well, even if it is a blend of one ), as most of the wines in the world are actually blends. As usual, there were 5 questions in the quiz.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: This grape was created as a cross between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir. Can you name the grape?

A1: Pinotage, the famous grape of South Africa

Q2: Take a look at this list of the grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, ?, Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris. Two questions:

a. Name the missing grape

A2a: Pinot Meunier. Listed above are the names of all grapes allowed to be used in the Champagne region in France, so the missing grape is Pinot Meunier

b. What wine is made most often by blending some of these grapes?

A2b: Champagne!

Q3: Which grape is missing?

– Tempranillo, Garnacha, ?, Graciano

A3: Mazuelo. This is the list of the grapes typically blended in production of the Rioja wines.

Q4: This dry red wine from California is related to famous Caymus, and made out of the unknown, secret blend of grapes. Can you name this wine?

A4: Conundrum. The famous Caymus wines are made by Wagner family in California. The same Wagner family produces the wine called Conundrum, both white and red, where the exact composition of the blend of grapes is kept secret.

Q5 Carménère to Merlot is the same as Douce Noir to ?

A5: Bonarda/Charbono. Carménère grape (originally from Bordeaux), was mistaken for Merlot for the very long time in Chile. Similarly, the popular Argentinian grape Bonarda, which happened to be identical to the Charbono grape in US, was actually the almost forgotten french grape called Douce Noir in Savoie region.

When it comes to the results, I’m glad to report that again there was good participation in the quiz. We also have a winner – Wayward Wine , who correctly answered all 5 questions, and thus gets the coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights. Jeff the drunken cyclist and Suzanne of apuginthekitchen get honorable mention for correctly answering 4 questions out of 5. Well done all!

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

WTSO is on it again- the time has come for the famous Wine Til Sold Out Marathon! Mark April 22nd in your calendar – it will be go big or go home day – WTSO Magnum Marathon. Starting from 7 AM Eastern until midnight, WTSO will be offering wines in the 1.5L or 3L format. Each wine will be available for 30 minutes or until it will be sold out. All new wines will be announced only on Twitter, so make sure you follow @WTSO if you want to get real time notifications about new wines.

Do you like Malbec? There is a good chance you do, as many other people around the world. Just two easy references for you – shipments of Argentinian Malbec to US increased from 1.9 million cases in 2008, to over 4 million in 2013. Argentinian wines are also most popular wines among people of 25-34 years old in UK – for more interesting details on Argentinian Malbec, here is an article for you to read. Why all of a sudden we are talking about Malbec in the news section? Because tomorrow, April 17th, is Malbec World Day! Get the bottle of your favorite Malbec, pour the glass and join the celebration! Oh yes, and don’t forget to tweet about your favorite Malbec using the #MalbecWorldDay hashtag.

With hundreds of thousands of different wines produced around the world every year, we need to have some guidance as to what is new, what might worth our attention, what might not. This is where the wine critics come into a play – to help us navigate that ocean of wine by writing the wine reviews and rating the wines. Here comes an interesting question – can the wine critic be 100% objective, or can her work be influenced by personal preferences? Here is an interesting post on Jamie Goode’s wine blog, which raises this question – be sure to read the post and all the comments, it is quite a lively discussion.

Few more updates regarding the #winechat (if you are not familiar with the concept of #winechat, here is the blog post which will explain it). Last Wednesday, the #winechat was focused on Lenné Estate Pinot Noir from  Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon. Continuing the Oregon Pinot Noir theme, the subject of tonight’s #winechat is biodynamics of Youngberg Hill vineyards. The next week’s #winechat subject is wines of J Wrigley Vineyards from Willamette Valley in Oregon. All #winechat take place on twitter on Wednesdays at 6 PM Pacific/9 PM Eastern time. You can always participate using the #winechat hashtag. Join the conversation, it is fun!

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

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC7 Theme, Booze Map of the World, Wine Obsessions

January 29, 2014 3 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #90, grape trivia – Pinotage. In this quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about South Africa’s signature grape, Pinotage. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the origin of the name Pinotage

A1: While Pinotage was born as the result of the cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, Cinsault, one of the Rhone varietals, was known in South Africa as Hermitage (which is actually the name of the region in Northern Rhone), hence the name Pinotage.

Q2: While Pinotage primarily grows in South Africa, California also has some plantings of the grapes. Can you estimate the approximate size of Pinotage plantings in California?

a. 50 acres, b. 250 acres, c. 500 acres, d. more than 1000 acres

A2: The amount of Pinotage growing in California is miniscule, but it is trending up. The correct answer is 50.

Q3: Here is the list of of nasty aromas often associated with the smell of Pinotage wines, except one. Do you know which one doesn’t belong?

a. Burnt rubber, b. Rusty nails, c. Paint solvent, d. Sauerkraut

A3: Sauerkraut flavor is not generally associated with Pinotage.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Pinotage-based wines rated in the Classic category

A4: True. 93 is the highest rating allotted by Wine Spectator to Kanonkop Pinotage.

Q5: Pinotage was created in 1925, but for the long time it was used only as blending grape. Do you know when single-grape Pinotage bottling was first released in South Africa?

a. 1946, b. 1961, c. 1976, d. 1989

A5: b, 1961. While the first released vintage was 1959, the wine was commercially available in 1961.

I’m glad to report that we had a good number of participants in the quiz, who also expressed a lot of admiration for Pinotage wines. We have 3 winners this time around – barring spelling mistakes, the drunken cyclist, the winegetter and Wine Everyday answered 5 questions correctly, so they all get the coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights. I would like to also acknowledge Caspernick who correctly answered 4 questions out of 5. Well done!

And now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web.

The new #MWWC7 Theme had been announced, and it is … Devotion! With all the love and devotion in the air (February 14th – Valentine’s Day – is rapidly approaching), the theme sounds very appropriate. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sharpen your pencil (okay, flex your fingers) and start writing! The submission deadline is February 17th. For the detailed rules and regulations, please take a look at the announcement post by SAHMMelier, the winner of #MWWC6.

Want to know what is the most popular drink in the United States? Italy? China? Now you can! Few days ago, Yahoo! published Booze Map of the World (if you want to skip the article, here is direct link to the map). So it seems that Vodka is a drink of choice in most of the places (USA included), but then Rum in Italy? Really? Was Grappa even on the list? Anyway, have fun analyzing the map.

Last but not least – are you wine obsessed? Do you search for the most unusual wine on the restaurant wine list? Do you remember what is the next “almost extinct” grape you always wanted to encounter in the bottle? Matt Kramer, one of my all time favorite wine writers and Wine Spectator columnist, wrote a very interesting article regarding the wine obsessions – I suggest you will read it for yourself here,  it definitely worth your time.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but the refill is on the way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #90: Grape Trivia – Pinotage

January 25, 2014 19 comments

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 the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Pinotage.

Have you heard of Pinotage? Have you ever tasted it? What do you think of it? What, looks like I start with the quiz before the quiz? Well, kind of. Just setting the scene.

Pinotage is a unique grape, purposefully created in South Africa by Professor Abraham Izak Perold in 1925. Pinotage was created as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes. Originally used only for blending, little by little Pinotage developed into a signature grape of South Africa, similar to what Zinfandel is for California, or Malbec for Argentina.

Pinotage might be one of the most polarizing grapes in the world – well, not the grape itself, of course, but rather Pinotage wines. From the very first smell, not even a sip, Pinotage effects a love/hate relationship on wine consumers and professionals alike. Sometimes, the off putting aromas are so strong, it really makes people to put Pinotage into the “never again” category.

Lately, with the advance of the latest winemaking methods and improved winemaking knowledge, there are more and more Pinotage wines which are easy to like. A good Pinotage typically shows dark ripe berries, accompanied with hint of smoke and earthiness, without any of the “non-wine related” flavors. While Pinotage is a South Africa’s signature grape, it is also successfully growing in many other parts of the world – New Zealand, California, Virginia, Brazil, Australia are all making interesting wines out of the Pinotage.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Explain the origin of the name Pinotage

Q2: While Pinotage primarily grows in South Africa, California also has some plantings of the grapes. Can you estimate the approximate size of Pinotage plantings in California?

a. 50 acres

b. 250 acres

c. 500 acres

d. more than 1000 acres

Q3: Here is the list of of nasty aromas often associated with the smell of Pinotage wines, except one. Do you know which one doesn’t belong?

a. Burnt rubber

b. Rusty nails

c. Paint solvent

d. Sauerkraut

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Pinotage-based wines rated in the Classic category

Q5: Pinotage was created in 1925, but for the long time it was used only as blending grape. Do you know when single-grape Pinotage bottling was first released in South Africa?

a. 1946

b. 1961

c. 1976

d. 1989

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

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