Bordeaux---the term conjures up the magical blends across the region, right bank vs left, merlot dominated vs cab franc dominated, the hunt for malbec and carignan, now almost nonexistent in Bordeaux...So many of us try to recreate or favorite Bordeaux blends (or Rioja blends, or Super Tuscans, well, because they exist. While that is a fantastic endeavor, they end to be very difficult to emulate, no matter how good your grapes and winemakeing are. Of course, your wine is great, but why does it not taste like tha fabled bottle you enjoyed on that romattic trip so many ears ago? There are a few reasons. fistly, a region will grow grapes that thrive in its climate, soil, and taditions of winemaking. Add that to the idea that wine regions also competed with each other, and when wanting to differentiate themselves from th neighboring wine region, needed to find grapes that might grow better in their reigon, then blend them to have "local" wines of distinction.
Sometimes we get limited by trying to recreate regional lends, and put aside our own tastes, preferences, and attributs of teh grepas we can buy. Terroir is a grat divider...cabernet franc grown in say Italy, simply will not taste the same as vines from say medoc, or even the Loirew alley where it reigns supreme. ditto for other areas where it is grown, san Finger Lakes, Oregon, and other places.
So if you find yourself in a regional blends box, it si time to jump out of it! Try blending Grenache Noir with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz with Petiti Verdot and a splash of Grenache Blanc...set your mind free!
Set up some trials. Say you have 3 wines, each made with different grape. Botle up half of each varietal on its own. Now the fun begins. Taste each individual wine, thinking about color, flavors, aromas, body...and construct your new favorite wine by assembling a wine that manages to diversify its provile becasue of the addition of various flavors, aromas, and other characteristics of each individual wine. I will go out on a limb, and bet a year or two down the road, your favorite wine just may be your own personal assembly. And voila, you now have your own private appellation!
...the little green one, roughly translated. A Bordeaux varietal which is rarely used in Bordeaux because of its need for a longer ripening season, this grape thrives in our Aussie vineyards. Long warm days, and a long growing season allow for full development of flavor, color, body and character. When grown in these optimal conditions, it produces big bold wines, that benefit from several years ageing to develop full character. Lots of bold dark fruit, aromas of violets and prunes make this a full bodied, rich wine standing up to the most flavorful of foods. As a blender, it is also excellent. Providing a rich bottom end of dense flavor and color to wnies, it allows for other varietals to shine on top of it. Even just 10% in a blend with Grenache Noir ( a favorite blend of mine) puts the Grenache on steroids. This puts many a Chateau Neuf to shame!
The most important grape to Chateau Neuf Du Pape wines, and the dominant grape of the Cotes Du Rhone, it's ancestral homeland is in Catalonia, Spain. Luckily for us, our winery is not only in the heartland of Catalonia, but they also grow remarkable Grenache Noir! This year is proving to be the best yet! the number geeks will love seeing 25 brix, and a ph of 3.66, the wine tasters will melt when the fantastic aromas of fruit, red berries, and floral notes of the jsut finished fermenting wine hits your nose! The entire harvest this year was quite amazing, and I will fill you in on some of the other varieties over the next few months. Cheers!
For a country as blessed as South Africa is with fantastic terroirs capable of growing a huge range of exceptional grapes, you would think that the wine world would be more aware of it, and its hidden gems. Fortunately, the fall of the Apartheid government has led to greater acceptance of South Africa in the world. It's beauty, and diversity are gaining world attention. The world of wine is no exception, with it's unique grape, Pinotage, raising eyebrows and getting tongues wagging, as it makes headway in the challenging world of wine marketing.
A cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir, it is unique to me in that you can actually taste the "pinot" side of it. To me, it is like a pinot noir on steroids. While warm contry pinot noir is often unlike its Burgundy forefathers, Pinotage seems like a Burgundy Pinot Noir on steroids. Big, bold and rich, with excellent notes of plums, blackberry, and licorice, spicy and earthy notes, all common, though more muted in Burgundy, shine brightly. Because of its bold strokes, it is delicious on its own, or as part of a thoughtfully designed blend, where its flourishes can compliment the jaminess and sweeter notes of a syrah, the floral and red berry notes of grenache noir, even the bold dark notes of a great Cab Sauv.
Give yourself a winemaking challenge this year..veer off the beaten path a little, and explore the uniqueness of a great South African grape on its own, or as part of your masterpiece blend!
For many years now, New Zealand held the mantle for Sauvignon blanc distinction, and many wineries, and even wine drinkers and winemakers tried to emulate that style. Great to do, but also a bit of a shame that other great Sauvignon Blanc styles seemed to loose their sheen a little.
The Sauvingnon Blanc from South Africa gives us a great opportunity to rectify that. Of course, terroir plays a big role in wht the characterisitcs of the grapes might be, but a carful hand will allow you to shape your Sauvignon in many ways. One way is becoming a house favorit of mine, making a fumé style.
With the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, I added about a half gram of tartaric acid per liter, and treated it like a typical sauv blanc, targeting bright flavors, crispness, and the more typical aromatics.
As an experiment, I ran some as well with no acid adjustment, using d47 yeast, and fermenting with a touch of oak, and voila...a fumeé blanc!
Very food friendly, and palate pleasing to a broad diversity of tastes. The moral of the story is..don't limit yourself to only one vision of wine, great wineries and winemakers that start with great raw materials have the greatest opportunity to stretch out, and make seveal different, and delcious wines from the same grape!
I must say I ha e been pretty negligent about updating our blog with information you might want, and I promise to be more regular in posting!
Spain 2019 provided an excellent harvest, all varietals showing true character, flavor and body. So that is pretty exciting on its own, but for me, the coolest part of the harvest was haveing 3 friends fly over and join me in the vineyard, working on harvesting merlot. We carefully marked the containers with grapes they harvested, and when we unloaded them, brough them in to our facility to began making wines with them. Since October, we have been collectively making the wine, and Friday, March 5, we will be doing a tasting, comparing 2 different oak profiles, before making a final call. If you want to follow that adventure, search #100bottlesofmerlot on instagram.
A better grape could not have been chosen for this project, 25 brix, ph 3.71, a fantastic place to start making world class wine, as we relentlessly pursue the perfect wine cellar!
2017 looks to be another blockbuster year! On the heels of the exceptional vintage in 2016, mother Nature has again cooperated. Warm days, cool nights, limited yields drip irrigation and the watchful eyes of the winery owner were apaprent during the harvest. the vines looked very healthy, teh grapes tasted great, ripe seeds without harsh tannins, lots of flavor and aroma in teh skins and juice bode well for winemakers again this year.
another harvest begins... An early start to another exceptional harvest begins, and I will arrive September 9 with grape shears in hand to begin harvesting our next season of grapes! Last June, I visited our vineyards, check out how the merlot look
...but well worth the effort. This year's grapes are exceptional! I think my favorite is the tempranillo, mine weighed in at 24.5 brix, I did a small acid adjustent, and it rocks! Big bold tannins, lots of dark berries and blueberry on the nose! We still have tempranillo, syrah, merlot and a bit of carignan. When you taste this carignan, you will know what it should be- rich dark, earthy and berry perfume...not the typical carignan from California to say the least!
Well, the only thing better than a fantastic harvest is getting the grapes! Every year, I bet on which will be the best grape from a group of fantastic options, and this year, so far my bet is on the tempranillo, after having tasted all varieties in the vineyard, and crushpad. When the grapae arrived, i too the opportunity again to taste the various pails of must that I thawed for my first winemaking run of the season, and yet again, my bet is on the tempranillo.
Of course, I am a big rosé fan, and I did manage to press 10 pails of grenache noir as soon as it was thawed, and have enough fantastic juice to make some great rosé. Check out the amazing color!
I am running with the natural yeasts, which are doing a fantatic job of fermenting. As of today, the gravity is 1.014, and the aromas are heavenly! At pressing, we had 26 brix, and a ph of 3.60, I dropped in acidualted water to bring my brix down to 24 ( a 14% rosé should be strong enough...) and adjusted the ph to 3.5.
Racking in a few days!