False Friends

Learning about wine is a bit like learning a new language, and when learning a new language there’s bound to be some points of confusion or “false friends“.  Here are a few wine terms that are easily mistaken.

Claret vs Clairette

  • Claret is a British term for red wine from Bordeaux, France.
  • Clairette is a white grape used in winemaking in the Rhône Valley in France

Muscat vs. Muscadet vs. Muscadelle

  • Muscat is a family of grapes that has varieties used in wine making and for eating.  In Italy, the sparking wine Moscato is made from the the Muscat grape.  In France and Spain, Muscat grapes are often used to make fortified wines.
  • Muscadet is a dry, white wine made in the Loire Valley from the grape called Melon de Bourgogne.  It is not related to the Muscat family of grapes – it is a cross between  Gouais blanc and  Pinot blanc.
  • Muscadelle is another white grape that is used for blending in the Bordeaux region in France.  It is not related to the Muscat family of grapes – it is a cross between Gouais blanc and an unidentified grape variety.

Syrah and Petit Sirah

  • Syrah is a red wine grape originating from France.  Syrah is known as Shiraz, in Australia.
  • Petit Sirah is a red wine grape that resulted from a crossing of Syrah and Peloursin Grapes.  Petit Sirah is also known as Durif.

Pouilly-Fumé  vs. Pouilly-Fuissé

  • Pouilly-Fumé is a wine region in the Loire Valley of France that is known for its Sauvignon Blanc wines.
  • Pouilly-Fuissé is a wine region in Burgundy, France that is known for its Chardonnay wines.

VDN vs. VDL

  • VDN stands for vins doux naturel.  VDNs are fortified wines, common in the south of France, where brandy is added to the wine to stop the fermentation.
  • VDL stands for vin de liquer.  VDLs are also fortified wines; however, the brandy is added to the unfermented grape juice.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo vs. Vino Nobile de Montepulciano

  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is made in the region of Abruzzo, from the Montepulciano grapes.
  • Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is made in the town of Montepulciano, from Sangiovese grapes.

 

Tasting Notes – Jacqueline Bahue Cabernet Franc

 

Producer:  Jacqueline Bahue
Region: Sonoma County, CA, USA
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Franc
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  
Pairing: Moliterno with Truffles, an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk.  The truffle flavor in the cheese was a great pairing for the smokiness of this wine, and the cheese also cut the tannins a bit.

img_20161221_101914_135

Sight
Color: Purplish/Ruby
Brightness: Dull

Aroma
Intensity: Low/Moderate/
Age: Some Age
Scent: Cherries and Leather

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium/Medium-Full
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Medium
Flavors:  Cherries, maybe some blackberries and a bit of smokey/tobacco flavor

Tasting Notes – F. Stephen Millier Black Label

Name: Black Label
Producer: F. Stephen Millier
Region: California
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  ☆☆
Pairing:  I went with the classic pairing of a burger and and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The burger was from Bareburger and the wine is from one of the Naked Wines producers.  It was a nice Cab Sauv – medium bodied, a bit acidic, and some tannins, which stood up to the burger, but my mistake was choosing blue cheese on the burger, which wasn’t an ideal match with the sour cherry flavor.

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Sight
Color: Purplish
Brightness: Dull/Opaque

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate
Age: Some Age
Scent: Cherries, but also something a little chemically

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Medium/
Acidity: Fresh
Tannin: Low/Medium
Flavors: Cherries, but sour, with some cinnamon spice, but also an herbal quality

Tasting Notes – The Pilot Hill Gang

img_20161206_091759Name: The Pilot Hill Gang
Producer: Scott McLeod and Matt Parish
Region: El Dorado, California
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage2014
Overall Rating:  
Pairing: This was lighter than I expected from a Cab Sauv., and I had a glass while waiting for my delivery  of “The Kitchen Sink” (Pork meatballs and mushroom sauce over fresh greens, with roasted carrots and delicata squash) from The Meatball Shop.  Once my dinner arrived, the tart cherry flavors complemented the spice in the meatballs  and the dusty tannins were perfect with the sweetness of the carrots.

Sight
Color: Purplish
Brightness: Dull/Hazy

Aroma
Intensity: Moderate/Aromatic
Age: Some Age
Scent: Leather and cherries

Palate
Dry/Sweet: Dry
Body: Light/Medium
Acidity: Fresh/Smooth
Tannin: Medium
Flavors: Tart cherries and dust

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
Vintage2016
Overall Rating:  

Producer: Pascal Chatelus
Region: Beaujolais, France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Vintage2016
Overall Rating:  

Tasting Notes – Régnié

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Name: Régnié
Producer: Julien Sunier
Region: France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Vintage2015
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.

 

Sight
Color: Purplish/Ruby
Brightness: Dull

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

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

Finish: Short(8 sec)