Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Blogging Wednesday Returns, New Wine Writing Challenge Announced, And more
Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #66, Grape Trivia – Chardonnay. In that quiz you were supposed to answer 5 questions about probably most popular white grape in the world – Chardonnay.
Here are the questions, now with the answers.
Q1: Name the producer of the most expensive Chardonnay wine in the world. As an added bonus, please also provide the name of the wine.
A1: Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC), which is probably the most famous in the world producer of red Burgundy wines also makes a tiny quantity of the white Burgundy in Montrachet. This wine is impossible to find, but if you will, it will set you back by at least $3,000.
Q2: Chablis used to be the bustling Chardonnay producer in France, supplying most of the wine in Paris and beyond, until it came to the severe decline during the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. Do you know what was one of the biggest factors which led to that decline?
A2: The time periods in this question should be slightly adjusted – it should be really late 19th century, not beginning to middle of the 20th. Nevertheless, the quick answer here is … railroad. Until the railroad was built in France in 1850s, Chablis held near monopoly on Parisian wine market, being able to easily supply the wine by the river. Railroads allowed easy access for much cheaper wines of South of France to the lucrative market, which shook Chablis’ dominance. Then there were other factors, such a philloxera, but it all started from the railroad…
Q3: Name 3 main flavor descriptors of the *big* California Chardonnay
A3: Vanilla, butter and oak – read the description of any “big” California chard, and most likely you will find all these words.
Q4: Judgement of Paris of 1976 was instrumental in bringing California Chardonnay onto the world-class wine map. Do you know which California winery we need to thank for that?
A4: Chateau Montelena was the one!
Q5: As with many other grapes, various clones had being developed for Chardonnay, to adapt better for the particular region and/or resulting wine style – for example, there is a number of so called Dijon clones of Chardonnay, which can be used by anyone wishing to produce a classic Burgundy style wine. One of the clones was developed in California in the middle of 20th century, and it is still a very popular choice among many California Chardonnay producers to the date. Can you name that clone?
A5: Wente clone. It took about 40 years to create the Wente Chardonnay clone, which became a popular choice among winegrowers in California in the 1940s – 1950s. You can read this article for more details.
Looking at the results of this quiz, I have to tell you that I actually anticipated higher success rate – but it seems that outside of the question 4, which was answered correctly by all, the rest of the questions came up to be rather difficult. We don’t have a winner today, bu the honorable mention goes to Asueba, who correctly answered questions 1 and 4, and was quite close with the answers for the questions 2 and 3.
Now, to the interesting stuff around vine and web!
Well, I don’t even know where to start – lots of interesting things are happening!
First, the newly minted queen of the Wine Writing Challenge, Kirsten, a.k.a. The Armchair Sommelier, announced the new trouble theme for the 2nd Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. Why “trouble theme” you ask? That’s just the name of the theme – Trouble. You can read all the details here, and start getting in trouble. Oh yes, and if you are a creative type, we are also looking for the cool loge for this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge exercise – get your creative juices flowing! The submission deadline is August 17th – summer days are flying fast, don’t get in trouble and don’t miss your chance to steal the crown…
Now, I have to tell you that Wine Blogging Wednesday is back!!! For those of you who missed it ( which will probably be quite a few people), this was a popular monthly wine blogging exercise. Every month a new theme was announced, like Cabernet Sauvignon, or Viognier, or Single Vineyards and so on, with various bloggers playing role of the host. This was not a competition, but rather a thematic submission with the host producing a summary blog post after the wine blogging Wednesday, or #WBW, would take place. These #WBW events stopped for almost a year – and I’m glad to see them come back. The theme for the Wine Blogging Wednesday #80 (#WBW80) is Dry Rosé, and the #WBW80 event will take place on August 14th. For all the details on the #WBW80 and previous 79 #WBW events, please visit Wine Blogging Wednesday web site.
It is hot. It is the summer. But – 31 days of Riesling event is in full swing! Nothing cools you off better than nice and refreshing glass of Riesling. The 31 Days of Riesling event is going on until the end of July – check the event web site for the participating restaurants, stores and tons of interesting stuff about Riesling.
When was the last time you tasted Chenin Blanc wines? Lettie Teague, the wine writer for the Wall Street Journal, calls Chenin Blanc a “delicious underdog” in her recent article. You might want to read it, and then may be even grab a bottle or two based on her recommendations – you might be in for a delicious surprise, as I was with Field Recordings Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc.
Last but not least, I want to bring to your attention a rant by Duff Wines about the way we taste the wines and live our lives. It will worth your time, so I highly recommend it.
That’s all I have for you, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way! Until the next time – Cheers!
Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Transportation Challenge Round Up, Cabernet Day, Can We Resurrect #WBW?
Let’s start with the answers for the wine quiz #64, Grape Trivia – Riesling. In that quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions regarding Riesling grape.
Here are the questions, now with the answers:
Q1: Riesling is a very popular grape in US and Canada, growing in many regions. Considering the plantings of the Riesling in the regions, can you sort the list below from the biggest area plantings to the smallest?
a. California, b. New York, c. Ontario, Canada, d. State of Washington
A1:correct sequence is Washington, California, Ontario, New York
Q2: Have you heard the term “noble rot”, which is often associated with certain types of Riesling? Can you explain what this term means and to which Riesling wines it is typically applicable (at least in Germany)?
A2: Noble Rot is actually a grape fungus, officially called Botrytis Cinerea, which affects a number of different grapes and leads to subsequent shriveling (drying) of the grapes while on the vine. This drying of the grapes tremendously concentrates sugars, which allows for the grapes to be used in production of the sweetest of all Rieslings – Trockenberenauslese.
Q3: Riesling is known for sometimes developing a specific aroma which has typically nothing to do with the wine – but it is not a fault. Do you know what aroma is that?
A3: Petrol. Believe it or not, but many Riesling wines (in some rare cases, even Riesling wines outside of Germany) can develop this petrol aroma. It is usually perceived only on the nose, and it doesn’t give you a feeling of being at the gas station – it is just a light hint, but when it is present, you can safely guess your wine being Riesling even in the blind tasting.
Q4: Name one major(!) wine producing country which doesn’t produce any Riesling wines.
A4: Spain. Spain is a home to the plenty of wonderful white grapes – but it doesn’t produce any Rieslings at all.
Q5: If you look at the bottle of German Riesling, you will typically see the word such as Kabinett or Spatlese written on the label. Such words typically indicate the level of sweetness you should expect from wine – even though this is not a precise definition, as these words only indicate sugar amount in the freshly pressed grape juice – the level of sugar in the resulting wine can be quite different depending on the way the fermentation is done. Can you sort the following list of these key indicators from the lowest sugar content to the highest?
a. Auslese, b. Berenauslese, c. Eiswein, d. Kabinett, e. Spatlese, f. Trockenberenauslese
A5:The correct line up is Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Berenauslese/Eiswein, Trockenberenauslese (if you need full level of details, you can always go to Wikipedia).
It seems that the first question proved to be most challenging of all, as nobody was able to provide the right answer – as the result, we don’t have a winner this week. At the same time, The Wine Getter and Foxress both get an honorable mention with 4 correct answers out of 5.
Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and web!
First of all, I want to bring to your attention a roundup of a Monthly Wine Blogging Challenge started by Jeff (a.k.a. The Drunken Cyclist). About a month or so ago, Jeff announced a wine blogging challenge based on the theme, similar to the challenges which are popular among photography bloggers. The first theme was Transportation, and the idea was to write the wine blog post which would relate to the designated theme. 10 wine bloggers participated in this challenge, and you can find links to all the blogs posts in this round up. I think this is a great idea and I hope more wine bloggers will participate next time.
Who remembers the Wine Blogging Wednesdays (#WBW)? Similar to the challenge I mentioned above, the WBW events had a theme, which in the most cases was a grape, a type of wine or a wine region, and they also had a host. The host was typically the one who suggested the original theme, and also it was the host’s job to provide a roundup of all the submitted blog posts. These #WBW events had a very good run of almost 8 years, and there was a dedicated web site which is still somewhat accessible. I think it might be cool to bring the #WBW events back – in case you experienced any of them, feel free to comment – do you think Wine Blogging Wednesday events should be resurrected?
Last but not least – the Cabernet Day is coming! Well, not tomorrow – but August 29th is the day. And you know how it works – the summer will be over in a blink, so it is never to early to prepare for celebration of such a noble grape as Cabernet. Here is the link to the invitation I received for the this Cabernet Day – join the festivities!
That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is is empty – but more Meritage is coming. Cheers!
Let’s start from the usual routine – the answer for the Wine Quiz #21 – Do you Know the King? Similar to the previous quiz, this one also had a diversity of opinion as to which wine is called a “King of the Wines”. And the answer is … Barolo!
Believe it or not, but until the middle of the 19th century Barolo was a sweet wine (it probably sounds funny for anyone who experienced the power of Barolo) due to the deficiencies of the winemaking process. In the second half of the 19th century, invited French oenologist managed to change the winemaking process which resulted in production of completely dry wine. This dry Barolo wine became so popular among nobility of Turin that it was often described as “the king of wine” (here is a link for you with more information on the subject). Now that you know the king, you can enjoy Barolo even more (but don’t forget to decant it!).
Now it is time for the wine news. Let’s start form the Wine Blogging Wednesday #79 – Summer Reading, Summer Wine. This is probably one of the more difficult WBW events, as you are required not to drink the wine yourself, but rather explain to the world what kind of wine your favorite fiction character should be drinking, and why. I’m still not decided if I will will be writing my blog post for #wbw79 – may be yes, may be no – but I’m sure it will be fun to read what the other people will have to say.
Now, all the wine lovers who like value – please pay special attention. Wine Till Sold Out (a.k.a. WTSO) Cheapskate Wednesday is coming up on August 8th. Starting at 6 am Eastern, deeply discounted wines will be offered for sale every 15 minutes or may be even faster. All the wines will be priced in the range of $7.99 to $18.99 and you will have to buy 4 bottles or more to get free shipping. These “marathon” events are usually offering great values and shouldn’t be missed – here are couple of reports (one and two) I compiled from the past events in case you want to have a frame of reference. Get your cellar ready!
Moving along. Next, I want to bring to your attention two more interesting posts. First, W. Blake Gray wrote about the results of market research of consumers’ emotional attachment to the brand (of course primarily concerning alcohol brands). This is pretty short post (here is the link) – read it, some of the results are staggering and hilarious at the same time.
Last but not least: if you love wine and live in a close proximity of Boston (remember, airplanes are known to greatly shorten the distances), there is a restaurant you must visit until the end of August. Why? Because this restaurant (Troquet) is offering mind boggling dealson superbly aged wines (1966 Bordeaux for $75? unreal…) – for more details, please read this post by Richard Auffrey who writes The Passionate Foodie blog.
That’s all for today, folks. Hope you enjoyed this Meritage, and don’t worry – the next Wednesday will be here much sooner than you are expecting, so we will be talking again. And… don’t forget to leave a comment. And – think about your #WBW79 post. Cheers!
Viognier. A white grape, with more than 2000 years of history, and nearly extinct by 1965 with only 8 acres of plantings left in Northern Rhone – for the full history of the grape you can refer to this article in Wikipedia.
By the way, can you pronounce that “Viognier”? I’m not trying to insult the intelligence of my readers, but this french word is anything but easy. If you need a little help, here is a very short video for you:
If you wonder why are we all of a sudden talking specifically about Viognier (after all, there are other 9,999 grapes supposedly growing in the world), the reason is simple. Yesterday was Wine Blogging Wednesday event number 78, hosted by Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like blog, and the event was dedicated to Viognier, which sprung back to life and now successfully grows pretty much all over the world.
Viognier is no stranger on this blog. Two years ago, I was able to taste Virginia Viognier at Chrysalis Vineyards – it was very good. Then I had probably my best Viognier experience ever at the Lavinia wine store in Geneva – there I tried 2009 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu, a classic Viognier from Norther Rhone (it was outstanding with Drinkability rating of 9).
For this WBW78 tasting I had a few prerequisites. For one, I would love to taste Virginia Viognier – but it is not available in Stamford, CT. For the second one, I knew that I don’t want to taste California Viognier. Why? First, about two month ago, I had bad experience at a number of wineries in Temecula Valley in California. Second, there some some advantages in writing this blog post somewhat late – you can refer to the work of others. Please read the description of Rosenblum 2008 Kathy’s Cuvee in the blog post by the fellow blogger Gwendolyn Alley, especially the last part: “…finishes tart and savory yet cloying”. No further comments.
I definitely wanted to have classic Condrieu Viognier – but that is typically not a cheap option. Thanks to the advice of Zak from Cost Less Wines, I ended up with two bottles of Viognier – one from France, and another one from Australia.
My Viognier #1 was 2011 Les Vines de Vienne Viognier ($19.99, 13% ABV). Interestingly enough, this wine was made in the region surrounding the town of Vienne in Northern Rhone region of France – one of the legends has it that this town (Vienne) gave the name to the grape itself (Viognier). Another interesting fact is that Les Vines de Vienne wines are product of obsession of the three wine makers – read more about it here.
I didn’t plan any dinner or an event around this Viognier tasting, so I decided to pair it with a few random things I could grab from the fridge. But before we will talk about pairing, let’s talk about the wine itself. Here are the tasting notes “in progress”. Nice golden color, beautiful nose of green apple and orange zest. There is clean residual sweetness on the nose. One the palate – touch of sweetness, lemon tartness, golden delicious apple, perfect acidity. As wine opens up, sweetness disappears and acidity kicks in. Perfectly refreshing and balanced, very clean. Drinkability: 8+. Taking into account the results of tasting on the second day, I want to note that it is important not to over-chill this wine. Taken directly from the fridge on the second day, the wine had slightly unpleasant sharpness, a bite, which disappeared as soon as the wine warmed up a bit.
As I said, the food pairings were rather a game than anything thought through and planned. I tried this wine with slow roasted Jalapeno ( our local Fairway had selection of large size Jalapenos, which were a killer after being slow roasted on a grill) – the wine was not enough to remove the heat of Jalapeno (fire hose was more appropriate for that). Wine worked very well with French goat cheese called Crottin de Champcol. It perfectly complemented grilled yellow squash and worked nicely with grilled asparagus.
Viognier #2 was 2011 Yalumba Viognier South Australia ($11.99, 13.5% ABV). A touch darker in color than the #1, less bright. Nose of pear, herbs, white peaches and mango, more exuberant than the wine #1, but not to the point of being overwhelming. On the palate, there was more fruit than in the wine #1, but it was predominantly white grapefruit. While the wine was showing round enough, there was not enough acidity. Drinkability: 7.
None of the previous food pairings worked well. With Jalapeno, the wine was showing very acidic. It was too fruity against goat cheese, and didn’t do anything to asparagus, and grilled squash was the only okay pairing for this wine. Still, I think this is quite reasonable wine for the money.
This concludes my report about Viognier experience. I would highly recommend the Les Vins de Vienne Viognier – the wine is definitely worth seeking, especially considering that anything comparable and coming directly from Condrieu will cost you three times more.
So, how about you? Did you have Viognier yesterday? I hope you did, and if you did not… what are you waiting for? You should be on the way to the store now. Cheers!
Not sure if it will become a permanent feature on this blog, but I want to continue my short “wine news flash” posts on Wednesdays, and even came up with a fancy name for these posts, as you can judge from the title.
First, an answer for the Wine Quiz #16, Father of California Wine: those of you who chose Junípero Serra were … absolutely correct! Under direction of Father Junipero Serra, Franciscan missionaries planted first sustained vineyard at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1779, and subsequently, vineyards had been planted at another 8 missions. Those plantings had being known as Mission grapes, which dominated California wine industry for about 100 years.
Today is a special Wednesday, which happens once a month in wine bloggosphere – it is so called Wine Blogging Wednesday. To be more precise, today is Wine Blogging Wednesday 78, or as it is abbreviated on Twitter, #WBW78. For 78 month in a row (if I’m not mistaken), special wine theme is selected for a third Wednesday of the month, and everybody are invited to participate and share the experiences. The theme for #WBW78 is called “Get yo Viggy On” (not that I personally like the way it is phrased), and it is dedicated to Viognier, a very interesting white grape originated in Northern Rhone in France. Viognier wines should be widely available – hope it is not too late for you to get a bottle and join the festivities. I plan to report on my experience later on tonight or tomorrow.
For the rest of the interesting wine news, I decided to share only one note, which I came across yesterday, reading Tom Wark’s Fermentation wine blog (if you are not reading his blog – you are missing a lot). I know that some of my readers come from Canada, and I learned from this post that Canada is about to allow direct shipments of wine across provinces. As I believe US wine laws are arcane, I had no idea that Canada wine laws were even worse! I’m glad that this problem is about to be solved for Canadian wine lovers.
That’s all I have for you for now, folks. Cheers!
Today is Wednesday, right? Well, yes, of course, it is already Thursday for half of the world, but at least here, on US East coast, it is still Wednesday. And it is not only #WineWednesday as celebrated all over the Twettersphere, it is also a Wine Blogging Wednesday #76, a.k.a #wbw76, with the theme Barossa Boomerang. In other words, it is all about wines coming from Barossa Valley region in South Australia.
Winemaking history in Australia goes back more than 200 years, of course with ups and downs. From 1990s, Australian wine imports were growing very steadily, with Australia literally becoming a number one wine importer to US around 2005-2006. Australian Yellow Tail was the most popular wine on the shelves of US wine stores. And then…it all went down. The glut of inexpensive but at the same time absolutely indistinguishable wines was one of the reasons for that demise. Of course there were more reasons than that, but this is not the subject of today’s post – however, if you want to read more, here is a very good post by Jancis Robinson. As of late, Australian wines are slowly working its ways up the ladder, but it will take time and dedication to regain the lost positions.
So the theme of today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday should help exactly with that – there are many great wines produced in Australia, and this #wbw76 certainly helps to bring attention to the Australian wines. Barossa wines are somewhat of an easy subject, as there are lots of wines produced in the Barossa Valley, so finding the bottle to open is definitely not an issue. Would the subject be Victoria or Great Perth, it would make the task of finding the appropriate wine a lot more difficult. Outside of sheer availability, another great fact about Barossa region is that it is a home to some of the best and most famous wineries in Australia, such as Penfolds, Henschke, Seppeltsfield and others.
Okay, enough fluff, let’s talk about the wine. When the theme of #wbw76 was announced, I pretty much new only one thing about the wine I’m going to select – it will be a Shiraz. Which one exactly – I had lots of ideas in mind, until two days ago, when I saw 2008 Fetish Playmates Barossa Valley wine on sale at local Bottle King for $8.99. Considering the price and the fact that label looked very inviting, the decision was made rather easily.
Here are my tasting notes, in quasi-real time: Dark chocolate and blackberries on the nose, slight hint of vanilla. Very round on the palate, showing lighter than expected just by the smell. Touch of spice and wine disappears on the palate, leaving it coated with tannins. Lots of tannins. This wine needs time to allow fruit to develop to support the nose experience on the palate. Very easy to drink… and then this wine grows on you – seductive, escaping and effervescent – if you can say that about red wine. Before you understand what happened, you are looking at the empty bottle – you still want more… but it’s gone.
If you care for a bit of technical detail, this wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz, 10% Grenache and 10% Mataro, ABV 14.5%. Drinkability: 8.
There you have it, folks – great seductive Barossa Shiraz for the Wine Blogging Wednesday. How was your #wbw76 experience? Cheers!
Looking at the wine label, you will always find designation of place. For new world wines, it is usually easy to see where the wine is coming from – Napa Valley in California, Maipo Valley in Chile, Barossa Valley in Australia. For some of the old world wines, it might be more tricky to figure out the place versus just the wine name, but with the little effort, you can always find out where the wine is coming from.
Wine is made in different places all over the world. Each place has its own unique characteristics, called Terroir – soil, climate, altitude, typical weather conditions, ecological surroundings – all contribute to unique terroir.
Let’s talk about wine origins for a second. Imagine nested circles. First circle is a big geographical area, like California or Bordeaux. If the wine is made out of the grapes grown anywhere in California, it can have a California designation on the label. If the wine is made out of the grapes grown anywhere in Bordeaux, it will have a Bordeaux designation on the label, most typically something like “Grand Vin de Bordeaux”. The next circle will be smaller, representing some specific area within the bigger region – for instance, Napa Valley instead of the whole California, or Medoc instead of the whole Bordeaux. If the grapes are grown only in Napa Valley instead of the whole California, this will be appropriately designated on the label. Inside Napa valley, there are again smaller grape growing areas, each one with its own unique terroir – for instance, Stag’s Leap District or St. Helena. Again, if the wine is made out of the grapes grown in such a specific area, it will be stated on the bottle.
Now we need to place one more circle inside of all the circles we already drew – this circle should signify the Estate, or the whole winery. If you saw something like “Estate Grown” on the label this is what it usually relates to. Okay, now let’s jump to the smallest circle of all – yes, we got to the level of individual vineyards. Wine makers and grape growers always made an effort to identify which vineyards or even parcels of the vineyards produce the best grapes, and subsequently, best wines have being produced from the best vineyards. The wine produced from one individual vineyard is commonly referred to as a “Single Vineyard” wine and often carries the name of the vineyard on the label. This is definitely a common practice for California wines – however, if you think about the place where the “single vineyard” concept reached its ultimate expression it would be Burgundy, where individual domains own vineyards or even specific parcels of the vineyards – of course you would only see a designation of Domaine on the label.
What is the importance of the “single vineyard” concept? This is usually where the best wines are coming from, the wines with the character, the wines which can be identified and related to. And these single vineyard wines are the subject of today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday event!
What is my choice of the wine for today? I had a long back and force with myself, until I finally settled on one – the wine for tonight will be 2007 Mara Pinot Noir Laughlin Road Ranch, Russian River Valley, which was my personal Wine of the Year for 2010. It is a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley region, and it should be a perfect choice for tonight (I also have another reason to open a great bottle of wine – it is my daughter’s 10th birthday). It will be really interesting to see how this wine evolved and what my impression will be now – but this will be a subject of another post.
Happy Wine Blogging Wednesday! Find your special Single for tonight and have fun! And don’t forget to leave a comment about your experience! Cheers!