As old as ancient Greece, yet as fresh and new as spring day, Greco di Tufo is an Italian white wine from the Compania region of Italy with a long history and a lasting impression. It is perfectly matched to some of the best Italian specialties that share its geography, including tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and seafood. (more…)
July 9th, 2011 by eileen in wine varieties and styles
Ending a meal with something sweet is an age-old tradition. The word “dessert” comes from the French word “desservir” meaning “to clear the table.” While we typically default to cake, cookies, ice cream and other confections, sweet wines are an interesting and refreshing alternative (more…)
May 12th, 2011 by jenn in wine varieties and styles
Lighten up. Let your hair down. Isn’t that what summertime is all about? And, what better to go with that “chilled out” feeling than a crisp, cool, and exotic refreshment wine. (more…)
April 1st, 2011 by jenn in wine varieties and styles
Sipping a rich and fruity Pinotage or a crisp golden and grassy Chenin Blanc you can almost feel the intense sunlight and dry heat or the cool Mediterranean sea breezes that characterize the magnificent southern tip of the African continent where 1.5% of the world’s grape vineyards now are located. (more…)
It’s that time of the year again – the time when Vintner’s Circle releases its much sought-after Limited Edition wines! Our Limited Editions are great ways to try distinctive regional specialties (like this year’s Austrian Grüner Veltliner) and unique proprietary blends (like this year’s Pacifica White or the perennially popular Chocolate Raspberry Port). The wines are, as their name suggests, available for a short time only, and you must reserve your sessions or kits soon in order to start making the wines after the new year.
This season, we’re offering three Limited Edition red wines and two Limited Edition white wines. (more…)
Goodbye, Labor Day. Goodbye long days, warm nights, beach vacations, dinners by the pool and drinking outdoors. Welcome chilly mornings, early evenings, long sleeves and lit fireplaces. With the passing of the holiday weekend, we give a sad salute to summer and gear up for brisker weather.
But summer hasn’t given up on us yet, and I resolve to hold on to its sweet promises until I have to pull out extra quilts from the attic. To help preserve the best of what summer has left, here are a few end-of-summer wines still perfect for dinners on your patio – even if you might have to move indoors for dessert. (more…)
In honor of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, I would like to introduce (or re-introduce, for those of you already familiar) a few American grape varieties and the types of wines they make. (more…)
August 31st, 2010 by jolan in wine varieties and styles
Cataluña is a region in northeastern Spain, nestled on the Mediterranean coast and stretching into southeastern France. Cataluña is populated by proud, independent people (more…)
As summer edges into fall, with days getting shorter and leaves enjoying their last few breaths of warm August sun, grape growers in the Northern Hemisphere are ever closer to the fall harvest. Perhaps none are closer to actually bottling and selling this season’s produce than wine makers in Beaujolais, France. This region, nestled in the southern region of greater Burgundy, produces the Gamay grape-based wine Beaujolais, and is famous for its Beaujolais Nouveau.
What is Beaujolais Nouveau, exactly, and how does it differ from traditional Beaujolais? Both Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau come from Gamay grapes, but instead of going through the standard red wine fermentation process, grapes for Beaujolais Nouveau go through a speeded-up crushing and fermentation process (known as carbonic maceration, aka whole berry fermentation). Most red wines are bottled a year or more after grapes have been harvested; Beaujolais Nouveau is ready to drink just a few weeks after the regional Gamay grapes have been picked.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a symbol of festivity and the sheer joy of drinking wine. Its unique maceration process yields a wine that is extremely fruity and juicy, often featuring flavors of figs, bananas and strawberries. Beaujolais Nouveau is also a very light-bodied red wine, and its relatively low tannin content makes for easy, soft sipping. Its wine making process means that Beaujolais Nouveau is not meant for long-term aging (professional reviews of bottles always read, “Drink now!”), but no matter, as this is a wine made for easy enjoyment rather than extensive appreciation.
Wine makers in Beaujolais celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau’s annual release on the third Thursday of November. Cafes selling the freshly bottled wine tout balloons and signs that say, “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” or, “The new Beaujolais has arrived!” Beaujolais Nouveau fervor spans the Atlantic, and makes a great choice for Thanksgiving: its smooth tannins go well with a variety of holiday foods, including roast turkey, and its straightforward fruitiness pleases the wide range of picky guest palates. Most importantly, perhaps, Beaujolais Nouveau is a festive wine made for drinking, sharing, and celebrating – a perfect companion for the Thanksgiving table.
A few helpful notes: Beaujolais Nouveau should be served nicely chilled, around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or so. You can read Wine Spectator’s reviews of the 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau vintage here*, or even check out Jancis Robinson’s recent article on the traditional 2009 Beaujolais vintage. Making your own Nouveau-styled Gamay is a blast, too, and if you start the wine making process soon, you will have plenty of bottles ready for smooth, easy, celebratory drinking this fall.
June 21st, 2010 by jolan in wine varieties and styles
The Douro Valley lies in Northern Portugal, the wine region partially demarcated by its namesake river and heavy hand of pre-Cambrian shist. Douro is the official name of the region, one of the oldest delimited wine regions in the world, and is most famous as the home of Port with a capital P.
Port is a fortified wine, whose name comes from Oporto, the second largest city in the country. In the context of Port, “fortified” means that aguardente (a liquor similar to brandy) has been added to fermenting grape must, which stops the fermentation process, and yields a drink rich, sweet, and thanks to the extra kick of liquor, an alcohol percentage hovering around 20 percent.
Port, beyond its basic structure as a fortified wine, varies greatly in styles and in colors (and the latter often defines the former). Most of us are familiar with Port as red, strong, and sweet, but there is also white Port, and dry styles of both colors; Port is also categorized according to whether it has been aged in cask or in bottle. Common styles of Port include Ruby, Tawny, Aged Tawny, and Vintage Port. They are listed, rather casually as most wine generalizations must be, in order from least to most complex. Ruby Port, for instance, is strong and fiery, whose personality the British once tempered by mixing it with lemonade. On the other end of the spectrum, Vintage Port has yielded some of the most long-lasting, famously delicious, and infamously expensive wines in the world: the Quinta do Noval 1931 Vintage sold for 5,900 dollars in the late 1980s. (Joe Roberts writes about 2007 potentially being the vintage of this decade.)
According to Jancis Robinson (a brilliant English wine writer whom I highly recommend you read), there are more than 80 different grape varieties authorized for the production of Port, but “few growers have detailed knowledge of the identity of the wines growing in their vineyards. All old vineyards contain a mixture of grapes, often with as many as 20 or 30 different varieties intermingled in the same plot.” With wine, history is not relegated to old notes in dusty books, but grows on gnarled vines: living, breathing, life-giving.
Have you tried a good glass of Port? What is your favorite style?