Malbec World Day


IMG_20170417_220643_193April 17th was designated as Malbec World Day in 2011 by Wines of Argentia to commemorate the day in 1853, when president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento declared his mission to revive and expand the Argentinian wine market.  Sarmiento sought the expertise of a French soil expert, Michel Pouget, who brought over a selection of vines, including some Malbec.  In France, Malbec was mainly used for blending, because the thin-skinned grapes were highly susceptible to frost, disease and rot.  However, in the drier climate of Mendoza, Argentina, the Malbec vines thrived.  The warmth in Argentina brought out a more fruit-forward flavor in the wines, in contrast to the strong tannins of the French Malbecs.  For many years, the Malbec varietal was only common within Argentina, but in the early 2000s, the popularity started to spread due to its easy drinkability and bargain price.  Malbec wine is often described as both juicy, with flavors of cherries, plums, and berries (blackberries/raspberries), and bold, with flavors like smoke/tobabbo, leather, and black pepper.   Despite their thin skin, Malbec grapes are a dark purple color, which leads to nearly opaque wine with a deep purple/red color.  Malbecs pair well with earthy or smokey foods (BBQ anyone?) or strong flavors, like funky cheese.  Happy Malbec World Day!



2016 Grapes in Review


The past year, I investigated many different grape varietals, so here is the year of the grape in review.


Merlot:  A red skinned grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France.  Common flavors/aromas: Plum, Chocolate, Cherry, Blackberry, Strawberry, Current, Vanilla, Clove, Tobacco, Cedar.

Zweigelt:  An Austrian grape that is also grown in Croatia, New York State, and California. Common flavors/aromas: Cherry, Raspberry.

Carménère:  A red grape that is most commonly grown in Chile, but was originally from France.  Common flavors/aromas: Raspberry, Cherry, Green Pepper, Smoke, Earth

Pinot:  Pinot Noir is the red varietal, and Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are mutations of the red grape.

Sémillon:  A popular white grape from the Bordeaux region of France and commonly used in dessert wines. Common flavors/aromas: Lemon, Apple, Peach, and Oak flavors.

Chenin Blanc:  A white French grape from the Loire Valley. Common flavors/aromas: Apple, Pineapple, Nectarine, Honey.

Torrontés:  The most popular white grape from Argentina.  Common flavors/aromas: Lemon, Peach, Rose Petals, White Flowers.

Grenache:  Originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha, this grape is now very prevalent in France.   Common flavors/aromas: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cinnamon, Black Pepper.

Touriga Nacional:  A red grape almost exclusively grown in Portugal. Common flavors/aromas: Berries, Violets, Vanilla, Mint.

Gamay:  The main grape from the Beaujolais Region in France.  Common flavors/aromas: Raspberry, Cherry, Currants, Earthy, Floral notes.

Cabernet:  Cabernet Franc, a French red grape, is one of the parent grapes of  Cabernet Sauvignon.  Common flavors/aromas of Cabernet Franc:  Strawberry, Bell peppers, Violet, Licorice. Similarly, common flavors/aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon: Cherry, Currant, Bell pepper, Mint.





December Grape of the Month – Cabernet

grape-of-the-month-decemberThere are two varietals known as Cabernet: Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Cabernet Franc is the original Cab,  and Cab-Sauv is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc back in the 17th century.  Cabernet Franc has stayed predominantly in France, but Cabernet Sauvignon has spread far and wide to become one of the most widely planted red wine grapes in the world.   Both are usually high in tannins and acid, which make them good for aging. The dominant flavors in Cabernet Sauvignon are cherry and currant, as well as some vegetal notes such as bell pepper and mint. Cabernet Franc is most commonly used for blending in Red Bordeaux wines, where it brings flavors of strawberry and bell peppers and possibly a hint of violet and licorice.




Tasting Notes – Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebratory wine made from this year’s harvest of Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France.  The light body and fruit flavors make it very easy to drink and a lovely pairing for Thanksgiving dinner.

img_20161128_205444This year I tried the Nouveau from 2 different producers, and they were quite different. Both were light bodied, with strong red berry flavors and aromas.  However, the Pascal Chatelus was extra fruity, while the Jean-Paul Brun had some nice spicy/earthy flavors and a fair amount of tannins.

Producer: Domaine des Terres Dorré, Jean-Paul Brun
Region: Beaujolais, France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Overall Rating:  

Producer: Pascal Chatelus
Region: Beaujolais, France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Overall Rating:  

Tasting Notes – Régnié


Name: Régnié
Producer: Julien Sunier
Region: France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Overall Rating:  ★★
Pairing: So much berry and flavor!  It was delicious to drink while preparing dinner, but it also had the body and tannins to complement my cheesy pasta and squash bake.


Color: Purplish/Ruby
Brightness: Dull

Intensity: Low/Moderate
Age: Youthful
Scent: Cherry and rose petals

Dry/Sweet: Dry/Off-dry
Body: Light/Medium
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors:  Cherries and berries and
Other/Non-fruit Aromas:

Finish: Short(8 sec)

Tasting Notes -Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

DSC_2018Name: Beaujolais-Villages
Name: Maison Louis Jadot
Region: Beaujolais, France
Grape Varieties: 100% Gamay
Overall Rating:  ☆☆
Pairing:   Being a “Villages”, this is a mid-quality wine from the Beaujolais region, but it was a solid pairing for some lamb and chicken kebabs over rice and  a good bargain.  The tart cherry and dust flavors worked with the grilled meats, and the  yogurt sauce was there to cut some of the dryness and tannin.

Color: Brick
Brightness: Dull

Intensity: Low/Moderate
Age: Some Age
Scent: Dried cherry and leather

Dry/Sweet: Bone Dry/Dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors:  Tart cherry, currants, dust/mustiness
Finish:  Long(5-7 sec)

Tasting Notes – L’Insurgé

DSC_2659Name: L’Insurgé
Producer: Jeremy Quastana
Region: France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Overall Rating:  ★★★
Pairing: 100% gamay is unusual, but this was a delicious wine.  Jeremy Ouastana is a young, French winemaker who is all about sustainability.  L’Insurgé is a light bodied red, with excellent fruit flavors and some tartness.  As the French would say, this wine has  plenty of glou-glou.  It is best served slightly chilled and  was a perfect choice for warm fall evening aperitif (i.e. pre-dinner drinks).

Color: Ruby
Brightness: Bright

Intensity: Moderate
Scent: Strawberries and cherries, and some earthiness

Dry/Sweet: Dry/Off-dry
Body: Light
Acidity: Tart
Tannin: Low
Flavors: More berries and cherry flavor, as well as some pepper