Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Que Syrah, Syrah...

I just realized that tonight's WoW (Wine on Wednesday) study is on Syrah and I am bringing a Perrin & Fils Les Sinards Red Chateauneuf du Pape. I am dismayed (and slightly embarrassed) with myself that I didn't have this epiphany earlier... Why am I chastising myself?

Well, the wine that I am presenting this evening is only 10% Syrah! MAJOR Faux pas!
According to Wikipedia: (pronounced /ˌfoʊˈpɑː/, plural: faux pas /ˌfoʊˈpɑː(z)/) is a violation of accepted social norms (for example, standard customs or etiquette rules).[1] Faux pas vary widely from culture to culture, and what is considered good manners in one culture can be considered a faux pas in another. The term comes originally from French, and literally means "false step".

So, yes, a false step - I wanted to bring a bottle that cries out, "SYRAH!!" when you see it. And in my mind I made the leap to a CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape), which is what I think of when I think of a French Syrah, the Rhone, the SOUTHERN Rhone, a Cotes du Rhone wine, a CLASSIC Cotes du Rhone wine.

I have a mnemonic device for remembering Syrah from the Rhone Valley ~ "The B-ottom is a B-lend, the N-orth is N-ot", meaning that the wines from the south of the Rhone Valley are blends, and the wines of the north of the Rhone Valley are not, they are almost 100% Syrah (maybe a touch of Viognier in Cote Rotie).

But, as I said, tonight is Syrah night, and my wine is only 10% Syrah, the majority is Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, then my measly little touch of Syrah... Bummer.  Again, why such a bummer? Well, this wine is a 2005 and has a lifespan of  15 years and in my rush to share a wine I love, I have opened it in its adolescent stage, not its mature phase.

So, this wine will present as a skinny, pimply-faced version of its suave, sophisticated mature self ~

and I'm afraid will be a disappointment to me and my fellow wineaux who will attend this evening. Bummer. Such a waste of good wine...

Oh, well ~ live and learn.
Here's to (hopefully) opening no wine before its time!
 Salud! KathyD

Monday, July 26, 2010

99 kinds of grapes on my list, 99 kinds of grapes...

Take that old beer-drinking song to a new level with 99 kinds of grapes!

There's a little-known (yet very popular) club that many wine aficionados are queuing up to join ~ The Wine Century Club. To be considered for membership in this oenological society you must have sampled 100 different varietals... Sounds impossible?  Think again! For the average wine drinker     (Am I average? Not certain ~ I've been told I'm a highly advanced "wino/wineaux" ~ not sure what that means, but I guess I'll take it and say, "thank you".) Anyway, most people (who would perhaps be the sort to google wines, or read wine articles, or frequent wine bars) would be familiar with at least 30 different varietals.

Let's look at a fairly mainstream list:
Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer. Fairly common, right? Now, let's look at regions... Have you ever had a Chateaunuef du Pape wine? If so, you could have tried up to 18 different varietals right there in one glass! (That's how many types of grapes are allowed to be used in the production of CDP.  It used to be 13 officially, but in 2009 that was changed to 18, citing that white and rose` versions of the grapes are completely different.)  So, you could possibly add these red varieties: Cinsaut, Counoise, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir, and Vaccarèse (Brun Argenté). White and pink varieties are Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche, Clairette Rose, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Picardan, Piquepoul Blanc, Piquepoul Gris, and Roussanne.  What about a White Bordeaux? That'd be Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Have you ever had Chianti, if yes you can add Sangiovese.  How about a true Champagne? Put Pinot Meunier on your list (In Champagne, the classic blend for bubbly is Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.)  Ever enjoyed a Vouvray? Check off Chenin Blanc.  How about Cava, Spain's sparkling wine? If yes, you can cross off Parellada, Xarello and Macabeo/Viura ~ those are the traditional grapes used in the production of Cava. Ever had Port? Chances are you can round up at least eight new varietals, since that's the number of different grapes typically used when making a Port. ( Although there are 30 recommended and 82 permited grape varieties in Port wine production!) The six most common reds are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão and Tinta Amarela.  White Port? Hmmm, that'd be Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.   No Ports? Hmmm, how about Marsala... That would be Grillo, Inzolia, and Catarratto, and maybe some random other varietals. (By the way, serve that Marsala chilled and in between the first and second course ~ as an aperitif.)

See how easy it is?!  You are a wineneaux and you didn't even know it!  Forget about those folks who go "birding" and hide in the bushes to catch a glimpse of a rare bird. Who wants to look up and get pooped on?

Forget the birds! Go out in search of 100 varietals and the quest for entry into the Wine Century Club ~ its MUCH more civilized (and tasty, too!), plus ~ no chance of getting pooped on while your working on your list.

Here's the link to the club's website. Trust me, once you start on your journey in search of obscure grapes, there is NO turning back... You will be addicted to the hunt!

Find 'em ~ Buy 'em ~ Try 'em ~ Cross 'em off your "life list" 
You'll love it!
Salud! KathyD

Friday, July 16, 2010


Yep, I said it...

It's time to get NAKED! We did this past week at WoW ~ CHARDONNAY! One of my group brought the Four Vines Naked Chardonnay as a representation of Santa Barbara, California un-oaked chard. It was right at the top of the heap in terms of group favorites.

Naked is done totally in steel for a true representation of the varietal, allowing the fruit to speak for itself. The grapes were hand-picked and whole cluster pressed (gentle pressings of the entire cluster, that allow the berries to burst softly, resulting in free-run juice and no bitterness from the skins being pressed). With no oak or MLF (malolactic fermentation) the acidity is higher than most Cali chards and the fruit is definitely fresh and bright. Even without the MLF, there is a creaminess achieved by prolonged contact with the lees (yeasts).

In your glass you have aromas of fresh-picked apples and pear-spiced cobbler, followed by tastes sweet peaches with a hint of tangerine and soft, lingering finish.....

Get Naked and you'll agree with me ~  it's the most fun you've had in a glass in a long time!

Find it ~ Buy it ~ Try it ~ Love it!
Salud` KathyD

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