Below are brief descriptions of several varieties of wines. If there is one that interests you please inquire about bottles available for purchase or special order!
The preeminent classic red grape variety is cabernet sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon has vast ranges of quality, structure and maturity. Its aromas and flavors are so compelling that we’re come to think of them as the cynosures of red wine. Blackberry, black currant, cassis, mint, eucalyptus, cedar wood, leather and plum swirl together into a delicious amalgam as the wine ages. Great cabernets need oak and bottle aging to pull the grapes powerful fruit and linear structure together in harmony.
Very similar in flavor to cabernet sauvignon, merlot the name means blackbird- is easily confused with it in blind tastings. Its aromas and flavors include blackberry, cassis, baked cherries plums, chocolate, mocha and sometimes leather, Merlot is grown and made principally in: California, Chili, France (Bordeaux and Languedoc), Italy (Tre Venezie) New York, Virginia and Washington State
Argentina’s most important and impressive red, Malbecs are wines of grip, structure, depth and velvety textures.
More than any other wines, pinot is described in sensual terms. Pinot Noir’s association with sensuality derives from remarkably supple, silky textures and erotically earthy aromas that great examples display. In your mouth the best pinots exude warm baked cherries, plums, damp earth, mushrooms, cedar, cigars, chocolate, worn leather, sweet, and dry leaves. It is lighter in body and color, too, leading beginning wine drinkers to assume its flavors are feeble. For the great pinots, just the reverse is true.
Rustic, manly and yet elegant. British scholar and wine writer George Saintsbury described them as the “manliest wine” he’d ever drunk. Flavors lean towards leather, damp earth, wild blackberries, smoke, roasted meats and especially pepper and spice. The best wines have a kinetic mouthfeel with flavors that detonate on the palate like tiny grenades. Syrah is grown and made primarily in Australia (where it is known as Shiraz), California, France (in the Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon), and South Africa (where it is also known as Shiraz). It is not clear why the name was changed to Shiraz in South Africa and Australia, although a popular yet unlikely theory is that syrah may have originated near the Persian city of Shiraz and later traveled to France by way of Greece. Of course, this still does not explain why a grape known as syrah in France would be given a Persian name once it was brought to South Africa and Australia…
Italy’s most famous grape, Sangiovese is responsible for three great wines of Tuscany: Chianti, Vino di Monte-Pulciano and the magnificent and expensive brunello di Montalcino. Along with cabernet sauvignon, it is also a major grape in prestigious wines known as the Super Tuscans. Some sangioveses are as thin as red-stained, watery alcohol; some are as earthy and rich and complex as a great sauce. In flavor and structure sangiovese is closer to pinot noir than cabernet sauvignon. When it is young sangiovese has the wonderful feel of a warm cherry pie. As it ages it may take on dried leaf, dried orange peel, tea, mocha and earthy flavors.
Super Tuscan are made in an international style. Generally flamboyant, dense, and powerful, they are wines packed with tannin and wrapped in the vanilla robe of flavor that oak imparts.
True Zinfandel is dry red wine crammed with jammy blackberry, boysenberry and plummy fruit. Made in the traditional style it can be thick, chewey and notorious for staining ones teeth the color of cherry Kool-Aid. The zinfandel grape has a long history in California and since almost no other wine region in the world has plantings, it is thought of as an indigenous American variety. It is not-Zinfandel belongs to the European species vinifera. As a result of DNA testing, it is now thought that zinfandel probably originated in Croatia. It is identical to the Italian grape primitive.
Despite its neglect in the United States, Riesling is considered by many wine experts to be the most noble and unique white grape variety in the world. Great Riesling has soaring acidity and considerable extract (the non-soluble substances in wine that add to it flavor). This wine is often low in alcohol and thus light in body. Riesling’s refined structure is complemented by delicate flavors of fresh ripe peaches, apricots and melons and is sometimes pierced with a vibrant mineral quality, like the taste of water running over stones in a mountain stream. Riesling may be dry or sweet.
For several decades, Chardonnay has been one of the world’s most successful white wines in the world. Chardonnay is grown and made all over the world. The wine’s appealing, big flavors- vanilla, buttered toast, custard, green apple, tropical fruit, lemon, pineapple- are matched by equally effusive textures – creamy, lush, and full bodied.
This wine is the opposite of Chardonnay- where Chardonnay is all buttery roundness, sauvignon blanc is taut, lithe and herbal, with a keen stiletto of acidity that vibrates through the center of the wine. The name sauvignon comes from the French word sauvage, meaning wild. Some California vinters use the term fume blanc for their sauvignon blancs. This is purely a marketing decision, for both wines are made from sauvignon blanc grapes. Flavors include straw, hay, grass, meadow, smoke, green tea and green herbs.
Whimsical as the name may seem, there can be something broad, pure and cottony about the young Semillons. With older Semillons a rich, honey flavor and a lush lanolin-like texture is found.
Pinot Gris is a light crisp wine. It became popular for drinking in the spring and summer seasons because of its pear and spice-cake flavors.
A white wine that is sweet and, as such, could accompany or be dessert. In the United States such wines often fall into the category of “late harvest.” These wines come to be sweet enough to be a dessert wine through a process that starts with grapes that are very high in sugar because they were: picked after the regular harvest; laid out on mats and allowed to raisinate, thereby concentrating their sugar; permitted to freeze on the vine so that the water can be separated from the sugary juice; attacked by the fungus Botrytis cinerea (the noble rot of French Sauternes), which consumes the grapes and helps more to evaporate, again concentrating the sugar.
A United States trademarked designation, adopted in 1988 by the Meritage Association, for the California wines that are a blend of varieties of grapes used in Bordeaux. A red meritage may be made up of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. A white meritage would be a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillion.
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