Drinking wine is fun (if you disagree, you shouldn’t read this blog). There are many things which we, oenophiles, self-proclaimed wine aficionados, can do to maximize that fun. We age wines, we decant wines, we use fancy openers and pourers, we play with temperature and glasses of different forms and sizes.
One of ultimate fun exercises oenophiles can engage in is a blind tasting. Blind tasting is a “truth serum” for the wine lovers, it levels the playing field for all. Blind tasting eliminates all “external” factors – price (ha, I paid $300 for this bottle, beat that), prestige, winemaker’s pedigree, weight of the terroir (ahh, Bordeaux, it must be amazing), cute and elaborate labels, critics and friends opinion – and leaves your palate one on one with the content of the glass. Don’t say “I hate Chardonnay and I never drink it”, as you don’t know what is in your glass. Don’t say “I don’t like Australian wines”, as you don’t know what is in your glass. Anyone who ever played the game of the blind tasting can surely attest to what I’m saying here. If you never experienced fun and joy of the blind tasting, you are missing and you are missing a lot – but it is easy to fix.
Our tradition of wine dinners goes back more than 5 years, and most of the wine dinners include blind tasting part (here are the posts for some of the past events – Pinot Noir, Champagne, Chardonnay). A few weeks ago, we managed to align everyone’s schedule for a wine dinner and a blind tasting with a simple and non-pretentious subject – Cabernet Sauvignon :).
Remember the dialog at the beginning of this post? I have friends who know my obsession with the wine, and always try to surprise me with various oddities. One of such oddities was a bottle of tomato wine which they brought from Canada. I didn’t want to drink that wine by myself, so the wine dinner was an excellent opportunity to share it with friends. As guests were arriving, I decided to play a role of the mean host (okay, not too mean). Outside of the friend who knew about the tomato wine, the rest were presented with the pour of the white wine and the request to guess what grape that might be. Literally nobody wanted to believe that this was a tomato wine – I had to show the bottle as a proof.
Have I tasted this wine blind, I’m sure I would be in the same boat as all of my friends – this 2013 Domaine de la Vallée du Bras OMERTO Vin Apéritif de Tomate Moelleux Québec (16% ABV) was fresh, with good acidity, touch of raisins on the nose, medium to full body and notes of the white stone fruit on the palate – for me, Vouvray (Chenin Blanc from Loire) is the one which comes to mind to give you the best analogy. This wine is produced from the locally grown heirloom tomatoes – and it is also a vintage – I’m seriously impressed (find it and taste it).
And to the blind tasting off we went. 10 wines were wrapped in the paper bags, opened and randomly numbered (my daughter usually does the honors), then poured into the glasses. The only thing we knew that all the wines will be predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon – no price or region limits.
Below are my notes, in our tasting order, both with my initial impressions and some updates over the next few days as I tasted leftover wines. And by the way, don’t think of this tasting of some stuck-up, snotty process – we openly exchange our thoughts, but each person’s individual palate is an ultimate purveyor of truth here:
C: almost black
P: bright fruit, pronounced tannins, delicious.
P: 2nd day – outstanding, firm structure, eucalyptus, dusty profile, tannins are still fresh.
V: 2013/2014, new world , considerably improved by the end of the tasting!
N: blueberry pie notes
P: beautiful, bright, cassis, blueberry pie with tobacco undertones on the second day, excellent
P: crispy, fresh, great fruit
P: 2nd day – firm structure, perfect balance, dark cocoa, cassis. Truly an enjoyable wine
V: nice finish,
N: strange, rotten cabbage, musty cellar
N: 2nd day: an improvement, tobacco with touch of barnyard on top of cassis
P: nice, bright,
P: 2nd day: great improvement, very enjoyable, shouting a bit of mature fruit with bright acidity and touch of fresh plums.
N: coffee, mocca, dust, excellent
N: 2nd day: coffee and roasted meat
P: nice fruit, bright, spicy
P: 2nd day: palate shifted towards savory too much meat. Probably perfect with the steak, but craving more balance on its own.
V: nice, young
N: blueberry pie, nice
N: 2nd day: pure candy on the nose, more of a lollipop quality, or may be stewed strawberries.
P: sour cherry, wow
P: sour cherries continuing, albeit more muted than yesterday
V: nothing from Cab, but nice. An okay wine.
N: nice balance, good fruit
P: great, dusty palate, firm structure, excellent, precision
N: nice dusty nose,
P: crispy, tart, limited fruit
V: not bad, but not great.
V: day 2 – past prime 😦
N: nice, classic
N: 2nd day: added perfume and explicit anise notes
P: beautiful, excellent, mint, classic
P: 2nd day: dark, powerful, compressed, espresso, a lot more dense than the day before.
V: 2nd day: less enjoyable than the day before, closed up, lost the finesse.
N: young berries, same on the day 2 but a bit more composed.
P: young crushed berries
P: 2nd day: a bit more restrained. Young berry notes without supporting structure. Not my wine, but might have its audience.
P: 5th day: the sweetness is gone, and the classic Cab showed up, touch of cassis and mint, excellent
V: 1st day – it’s ok, 5th day – very impressive
During the tasting, we decide on two of our favorite wines. After tasting is done, we take a vote, with each person allowed to vote for two of their favorite wines. These are just two favorites, without prioritizing between the two. Below are the results of the vote for our group of 11 people:
#1 – 1
#2 – 1
#3 – 7
#4 – 1
#5 – 0
#6 – 2
#7 – 4
#8 – 1
#9 – 4
#10 – 1
As you can tell, the most favorite wine was wine #3 (7 votes out of 11), and the second favorite was a tie between wines #7 and #9, each of them getting 4 votes out of 11. Now, drumroll please – and the most favorite wine of the blind Cabernet Sauvignon tasting was … 2006 Staglin family Cabernet Sauvignon! Staglin Family Cab is definitely not a slouch in the world of cult California wines, and the group clearly fell for it. Here is the full lineup, in the order of tasting:
#1: 2012 KRSMA Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Hampi Hills Vineyard, India (13.5% ABV)
#2: 2013 LangeTwins Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi, California (14.4% ABV)
#3: 2006 Staglin Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Napa Valley (14.9% ABV)
#4: 2002 d’Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale, Australia (14.5% ABV)
#5: 2014 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon WO Robertson, South Africa (14% ABV)
#6: 2015 Vinca Minor Cabernet Sauvignon Redwood Valley California (12% ABV, 1 barrel produced)
#7: 1995 Château Clerc Milon Grand Cru Classé Pauillac AOC (12.5% ABV)
#8: 2000 Château Lanessan Delbos-Bouteiller Haut-Médoc AOC (13% ABV)
#9: 2009 Tasca D’Almerita Tenuta Regaleali Cabernet Sauvignon Sicilia IGT (14.5% ABV)
#10: 2014 Crosby Cabernet Sauvignon California (13.5% ABV)
10 wines, 6 countries, 10 different regions, $7.95 – $150 price range, 1995 – 2015 vintage range – I think we did pretty well in terms of diversity. Staglin Family being the favorite wine is not that surprising (but still interesting, considering that it is the most expensive wine in the lineup at $149). My biggest surprises, though, were super-solid KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon from India (India? really?), an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon from Sicily (who would’ve thought!), and the cheapest wine in the group, Crosby Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.95), which opened up magnificently 5 days after the bottle was opened – of course, nobody has a desire to wait that long for the wine, but forgetting a few bottles in the cellar might be a right move.
The dinner quickly followed the tasting (after 110 glasses were safely removed from the table). I don’t have much in terms of pictures, but we had Russian Meat Soup (recipe here) and beef roast as the main dish. The deserts were pretty spectacular and paired very well with Cabernet wines:
And that concludes my report about our great fun with Cabernet Sauvignon wines and the blind tasting. Now is your time to share your blind tasting and odd wines stories – and if you had any of the wines I mentioned here, I want to know your opinion about them.
Lastly, if you never experienced the pleasures of the blind tasting, you must fix it as soon as possible. Cheers!
At this point, you most likely already read a number of reviews from Gambero Rosso 2015 (here are the links for the John and Stefano posts, the two that I know of), so it will be difficult for me to add much there. Considering that lots of hard work is already done by the others, I will take an easy path and this year will limit my post only to the 10 (or so) of the personal highlights. But before we will get to those, a couple of notes.
First of all, just in case you didn’t read the other posts and in case you are not familiar with Tre Bicchieri, let me explain what Tre Bicchieri is all about. In 1986, an Italian food and wine magazine was created under the name of Gambero Rosso (in translation from Italian it simply means “red shrimp”, and it comes after the name of the tavern in Pinocchio). Starting in 2002, the magazine introduced the rating of the Italian wines using the symbol of glasses (Bicchieri), with 3 glasses (Tre Bicchieri) being the highest rating. This rating proved to be successful and demanded, and since then the Gambero Rosso created a special event, called Tre Bicchieri, to celebrate all those best wine Italy has to offer. Tre Bicchieri events take place around the globe, and the event I attended was in New York (it was the third Tre Bicchieri event I attended in the past 3 years, all in New York).
For the next note, here comes the rant. Yes, Tre Bicchieri is a great event which gives an opportunity to taste some of the best Italian wines. But in terms of the overall organization, this is one of the worst wine tastings I ever attended. I have two major problems with the event. Just so you understand the size of the event – there were 185 producers showing between 1 and 3 wines each, which would roughly equate to 350 wines. First problem is that all the producers were not organized by the region. And they were not organized alphabetically by the producer, oh no, that would be too logical, right? Instead, the tables were arranged in the alphabetical order of the … distributors! So the wine from Tuscany stands next to the wine from Sicily. What makes it even worse is that the numbering of the tables is not straightforward, so the table #142 can be next to the table #50; to make matters even more interesting, some of the distributors who pour the wine, don’t have enough people to cover all the separate tables, so some of the tables had been simply “pulled in” to have #122 to be nested between #42 and #43 – makes it easy to find, eh?
This story was the same for the past 3 years I attended the event – but I still can’t get used to it and still find it very annoying.
The second problem was probably even more annoying, and for all I remember, it is getting worse, year after year. The problem can be expressed with one word (okay, two) – wine glasses. Puzzled? Let me elaborate. When you arrive to the event and show your registration, you get a little piece of paper, which is your coupon for the wine glass (! only at Gambero Rosso!). You come to the counter and exchange your coupon for the glass. All is good so far. Now, you start tasting, which means that white, red and even dessert wines get to be poured into the same glass – after 50 – 60 pours, the glass has traces of wine all over it, inside and outside, and what you can do at the regular wine tasting is to put your glass aside and go get a fresh glass. Makes sense, right? But not at the Tre Bicchieri. They bring best wines of Italy for a special tasting – but they can’t procure enough glasses for the people who would want to get a fresh glass to be able to do so. Believe me – I tried, was almost screamed at. I don’t remember having this problem 2 years ago; I was able to get a clean glass with the organizers intervention last year, but this year – no, was told to go away by the multiple people. Of course I appreciate been invited to the event where you can taste the best Italian wines, yes, for free – but I just think that organizers must make an effort to match the level of the wines with the overall level of the event.
Okay, I vented, so it is the end of the rant. Now let’s talk about the wines.
As you tell from the title, I want to mention here only the highlights. Before we talk about those, a few general notes.
- No, I didn’t taste all 350+ wines. May be someone did, but no, that was not me.
- There were lots and lots of truly spectacular wines, as you would expect at an event like Tre Bicchieri, where only the best wines are presented. But don’t assume that I found all wines to be spectacular. Some were just good, some were just okay, and a few I regarded in my personal notes as “terrible”. Taste is personal, and that’s okay.
- I want to reiterate it again – while there were lots of wines and wineries worth mentioning, I’m purposefully limiting this post only by 10 – they might not be all around the best, but they were the most memorable. Oh yes, these are not the wines – these are rather 10 wineries – yep, guilty as charged.
- As usual in the overwhelming tastings like this, I’m using the “plus” ratings. “+++” should stand for Excellent, but trust me, I had more than a fair share of “++++” spectacular.
Okay, now we are ready – here we go.
I want to start with one of my favorite wines which I was very happy to find at the Tre Bicchieri event – Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot from Tuscany. This wine is made out of unique, “self-created” but officially recognized grape called Caberlot, which came to being as a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. First time I tasted this wine was 2 years ago, and it was a love at first sight, errr, taste. The wine is produced in minuscule quantities and only made in magnums – and needless to say, very hard to find. We tasted the following wines:
2012 Poderel Il Carnasciale Carnasciale, Tuscany – +++. excellent, old world style
2010 Poderel Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++, wow! classic Bordeaux blend, spectacular taste profile
2011 Poderel Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++, similar to the 2010, only with more tannins
There were lots of other great wines coming from Tuscany ( just think about all the super-Tuscans), so I had to limit myself in what to include in this post. Here is one more winery where I was literally blown away by the quality – Azienda Agricola I Luoghi:
2010 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Campo al Fico, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, wow!
2011 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Ritorti, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, beautiful, clean
2011 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Fuori Solco, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, wow!, precision!
Moving from Tuscany up north to Piedmont, Michele Chiarlo was perfectly representative of the area. Yes, there were other Barolo present in the tasting, but some were boring, and some where plain undrinkable due to the tannin attack (not just attack, a juggernaut rather). This wine was just perfect.
2010 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio, Piedmont – ++++, outstanding, clean, lavender, herbs
Continuing to explore the Northern Italy, we are now moving to Trentino, where we can find one of my favorite Italian Sparkling wines, Ferrari. While Ferrari wines are very hard to find in US, they are well worth seeking. Ferrari had 3 wines presented at the Tre Bicchieri, one better than another:
2004 Ferrari Trento Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore – ++++, spectacular, notes of fresh dough, bread, yeast
2006 Ferrari Trento Brut Lunelli Riserva – ++++, very unique sparkling wine, undergoing maturation process in the oak casks, silky smooth palate
2007 Ferrari Trento Brut Perlé – ++++, beautiful!
Representing Campania, a few delicious wines. First, a beautiful white:
2013 Pietracupa Fiano di Avelino, Campania – ++++, fresh fruit on the nose, perfect palate with lemon and tart apples
And then the red and the white from the Fattoria Alois:
2011 Fattoria Alois Trebulanum Casavecchia, Campania – +++, rare grape, powerful tannins
2013 Fattoria Alois Pallagrello Bianco Caiati, Campania – +++, nice, acidic, clean, with some oily notes, unique and different. Plus, a new grape – Pallagrello Bianco.
A few wines from Puglia:
2012 Torrevento Castel del Monte Rosso Bolonero, Puglia – +++-|, fruity, open, beautiful ripe raspberries
2012 Torrevento Primitivo di Manduria Ghenos, Puglia – +++-|, playful, notes of tobacco and cedar
2012 Tenute Eméra Sud del Sud Salento IGT – +++, very good, soft approachable, reminiscent of Gamay, chocolate mocha notes
2013 Tenute Eméra Qu.ale Salento IGT – ++++, spectacular, great palate – not only this wine was outstanding, it was also a part of the very interesting project called Wine Democracy, which is all about making great affordable wines for the people and taking care of our little planet. Great cause, great wine.
Now, I need to mention another one of my favorite Italian producers – Jermann. Jermann wines represent Friuli Venezia Giulia, and I think these are some of the most thought-provoking Italian wines you can find. And as a side benefit, many of Jermann wines will age extremely well.
2012 Jermann W…. Dreams…. Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – +++-|, spectacular, Chablis nose, light palate
2012 Jermann Vintage Tunina Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – ++++, complex, delicious
2013 Jermann Pinot Grigio, Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – +++
We are already at 9, and there are yet a few more wines I have to mention. I guess I’m really bad at math and self-control. Oh well, I hope you are still with me – here are few more wines, wineries and regions.
A very interesting wine from Lazio:
2012 Principe Pallavicini Casa Romana Rosso Lazio IGT – ++++, outstanding claret, perfectly classic
And then an excellent wine from Veneto. Of course Veneto is best known for its Amarone. And those who can’t afford Amarone, should settle for the Valpolicella, often made from the same set of grapes (Corvina/Molinara etc.). I generally not a big fun of Valpolicella, as I hadn’t been successful in finding the Valpolicella wines which would speak to me. Until now.
2012 Musella Valpolicella Superopre DOCG – ++++, simple, clean, with dried fruit on the palate, excellent! Wine is produced biodynamically, and probably the most amazing part is cost, at about €5! For the price, this is simply a stunning wine.
I would feel bad if I wouldn’t have at least one wine to mention from Sicily, where volcanic soils produce unique minerally-driven wines.
2013 Cantine Rallo Beleda Alcamo Catarratto, Sicily – ++++, spectacular, touch of sweetness, full body
And we are going to finish with some sparkling wines from Emilia-Romagna. There were lots of sparkling wines at the tasting, and many of them were outstanding. However, these wines really stood apart for me, as they were produced from the grape which generally commands very little respect – Lambrusco, and they were pretty much on par with any classic Champagne.
2013 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Sorbara Rimosso, Emilia-Romagna – +++, excellent, fresh, crisp
2010 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Modena Brut Rosé, Emilia-Romagna – ++++, classic Champagne nose
2010 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Modena Brut, Emilia-Romagna – +++, excellent!
Yep, this is the end of my report. As I said before, this is only a small excerpt from a great selection of spectacular wines – but I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m curious in your opinion if you had any of these wines. Cheers!
Life is an interesting thing (wow, what a deep opening thought, huh?). I was supposed to depart at 6 am on a direct flight from New York to Miami to attend the conference. Thanks to much-hyphed-but-never-really-happened blizzard, my flight was cancelled and I was automatically re-booked, now on the flight with the stop, connecting through Charlotte. Charlotte. You know, there are some strong emotional words which I’m striving to avoid, whether conversing or writing. One of such words is “hate” – and I will explain the connection in a second.
I travel a lot, and I have interesting memories of the different airports and trips, some better and some worse. But – if there is an airport which I “hate”, that would be the Charlotte. Reason is simple – lots of memories of severely delayed flights, cancelled flights, indifferent customer service and even sleeping on the floor as no other options were available. Yes, I know – it is actually stupid to “hate” airport – but I wanted to explain my feelings when I saw that I’m connecting through the Charlotte.
Okay, so I have no choice (called my travel agent multiple times – no way no how, either I take the flight as it is, or just cancel the trip). Short uneventful ride to the La Guardia airport, and I’m at the terminal C. It is probably been a few years since I used that terminal, so once I get through security and walking to the gate, and I’m literally saying “wow”. The terminal looks very modern, screens and everything. I stumble upon a cafe which has lots of seats, with an iPad standing in front of every seat. iPad can be used for ordering, or just some limited internet browsing. Cafe features very attractive looking menu with lots of food options, mostly written in French, the language of “love of sophisticated food”. And the wine list looks quite reasonable, both in terms of international selection and price. Yes, definitely not something I was expecting to find.
Anyway, it was kind of early for wine and I was not hungry, so this was mostly a “note to self” for next time I might be using the same airport. To my surprise, the flight departed on time (almost a miracle for the La Guardia airport), and arrived to Charlotte ahead of scheduled time.
Many times in the past while flying through the Charlotte I stumbled upon a little wine shop, more of a tasting room for the Yadkin Valley wines. My schedule never allowed me to actually visit it. Then I remember been at the Charlotte airport at the reasonable time, only to find that the store was gone. This time as I knew that I will be connecting through the Charlotte, I decided just in case to check if there are any of my favorite Vino Volo restaurants at Charlotte. No, there were none, but I found a wine bar called Beaudevin, with a number of raving reviews, including the mention in the very reputable Fodor’s travel guide as one of the 8 top wine destinations in the airports in US. So the early arrival gave me enough time to stop by Beaudevin, which is conveniently located right in the middle of the terminal, in the section called Atrium.
It appears that Beaudevin uses similar model to the Vino Volo, offering wines both by the glass and as part of the tasting flights. To my delight, one of the featured flights consisted of North Carolina wines, and of course this is what I went for.
Somehow it was stuck in my head that I recently read some rather negative reviews of North Carolina wines, so I approached these wines with a bit of trepidation. But – call it luck, fruit day or anything else, but I was rather blessed with a wonderful treat.
The flight contained 3 wines, 2 whites and 1 red – Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon. I started with Sauvignon Blanc, and it was delicious, Viognier – delicious again, and then Cabernet Sauvignon – spot on! Here are the notes:
2011 Childress Sauvignon Blanc North Carolina (12.9% ABV) – Nose of white fruit, intense, with touch of herbs, hint of fresh cut grass. On the palate, nice acidity, dry, tart, lemon notes, good minerality, medium to full body. This is an excellent summer wine – every sip makes you think of summer. Drinkability: 8-
2011 Childress Viognier North Carolina (13.9% ABV) – sweet candy on the nose, very intense, with the characteristic Viognier “perfume” showing in a distance. Compare to the nose, the wine is surprisingly restrained on the palate – hint of candied sweetness, white stone fruit, lychees. Excellent balance. Drinkability: 7+/8-
2012 Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina (13.6% ABV) – a welcoming nose of warm climate Cabernet Sauvignon, with sweet oak, vainilla, ripe blackberries. Very elegant on the palate, cassis, warm notes of red fruit, medium to full body, touch of green bell peppers, luscious with soft tannins. Excellent balance. Drinkability: 8-
And now, let’s talk about the spectacular pairing. Beaudevin offers essentially a full restaurant menu – if you have a long connection, you can spend quite an enjoyable time there. As my time was limited, I decided on a Charcuterie salad (lettuce, prosciutto, dried cranberries, green beans, dried cheese), with addition of smoked salmon.
When it comes to the salad in general, I never even attempt to pair it with the wine – I believe generally it is not an easy undertaking. In my case here, I finished my “tasting” and “note taking” session, and I had the wine left, so I really had nothing to lose. I started from Viognier, and “wow” – the wine greatly complemented sweet profile of the dried cranberries and dressing, so together it was almost a revelation. Next bite and sip, this time of Sauvignon Blanc – and yet another revelation – this time with the clean acidity cutting through the sweetness, contrasting and enhancing flavor. Last but not least, Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly complemented saltiness of prosciutto and even smoked salmon – totally unexpected, but considering the soft and delicate profile of the wine, it was again a home run. Three wines out of three, working perfectly with one dish (salad!) – this was definitely not something I was expecting, but I’m glad I was able to experience it.
Life is an interesting thing. Cancelled flight led to the very pleasant and educational experience – life can take one thing away from us, and give us something else instead – for sure my case with this trip. Also, it is very interesting to see how the wine culture is changing in the US. From unfathomable plonk only 3–4 years ago (I would never think of ordering wine at the airport 4 years ago – beer would be my only choice), to the upscale wines and wine flights – we are definitely looking at the cultural shift, and I don’t know about you, but I’m very happy to see this happening. Heck, I might even start looking forward to my next trip through the Charlotte airport. Cheers!
This was one of my early blog posts – almost 4 years ago, I was blogging only for about 4 month, and had probably 1.5 readers (okay, fine, may be 1.7). This is one of my most favorite blog posts in this blog, which I think is still very relevant. Therefore, as I’m incredibly behind my publishing plans, I would like to share it with you on this rainy [in Connecticut] Thursday – and of course I would love to hear your comments. Cheers!
Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #63, grape trivia – Malbec. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Malbec grape.
Here are the questions, now with the answers:
Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Malbec.
A1: Malbec is a very old grape. It was originally known as Auxerrois, then as Pressac, and subsequently in the 1700s it was named Malbec in the honor of Sieur Malbek, who made the grape popular in Medoc, Bordeaux.
Q2: In France, Malbec is known under a number of different names, used in the different regions. Can you name at least two of those “other names”?
A2: Auxerrois, Cot and Pressac are the three names which are used for Malbec in different regions in France (there are other names, of course).
Q3: About 200 years ago, Malbec was widely planted in France, and it was considered to be one of the major grapes. Two events lead to severe decline in plantings and almost disappearance of Malbec as a grape of any importance. Do you know what events were those?
A3: First it was phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s, and then the frost of 1956 which literally destroyed most of the Malbec plantings in France, after which the Malbec vineyards were replanted mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Q4: Some of the best Malbecs in the world come from Argentina. The quality of Malbec grapes in Argentina is also often associated with high altitude at which grapes are growing. Do you know what is the highest altitude of Malbec vineyards at the moment?
A: 1,500 feet, B: 5,000 feet, C: 7,000 feet, D: 3,000 feet
A4: Catena Zapata in Mendoza has Malbec vineyards located in Valle de Uco at altitude of about 5,000 feet (1,500m)
Q5: In its best times, Malbec was the grape made into so called Black Wine, very popular among Royal families. One Royal family went as far as even associating health benefits with consumption of Black wine. Now, do you know what Royal family was that and where the Black Wine was made?
A5: Black Wine was made in Cahors, with the name coming from the fact that wine was practically black in appearance. Many Royal families had the highest regard for the black wine, but Russian Royal family, starting from Peter The Great was one of the biggest aficionados, also attributing lots of health benefits to the Black Wine.
Now, when it comes the answers, there was only one answer given to this quiz! Don’t know if it was too boring, too intimidating, or both. Anyway, we don’t have a winner, but Barbie at Blindly Guessing Grapes definitely gets an honorable mention for trying. Hope to see more answers next week!
And now to the interesting stuff on vine and web!
I have only two articles which I want to share, but I think they both deserve your attention.
First, on the subject of the science of the wine tastings, there is an interesting article from The Guardian, arguing that all the science behind wine tasting doesn’t really exist. As usual, this is highly debatable subject, but if anything, it is an interesting read.
Another interesting article I want to bring to your attention is written by Jancis Robinson for the Financial Times, and it talks about changing the laws of Barolo appellation to make it illegal to specify two different vineyards (Crus) on one label. This creates an interesting issue for some of the producers such as Giuseppe Rinaldi, for instance, where he would need to come with the new way of labeling his wines which in the most cases produced as a blend from the different vineyards.
That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but refill is coming. Until the next week – cheers!