Archive for the ‘chardonnay’ Category

How to enjoy Champagne wines

Monday, November 26th, 2012

How should I store Champagne?

Champagne wines should be kept in a cool, dark place away from heat, light, vibrations and severe temperature variations. Unlike the best wines from Bordeaux or California, Champagne wines are ready for consumption when they are shipped to the market. However, some wine lovers also enjoy cellaring their Champagnes for a few extra years.

What is the best way to chill Champagne?

Before opening, chill the wine well, but do not freeze it. Champagne is best chilled by placing the bottle in a bucket filled with ice and water for 30-40 minutes or in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator for several hours.
Lovers of (French) Champagne always keep a bottle there for inspiration, unexpected guests and homey dinners.

How do I open a bottle of Champagne?

The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is equivalent to that of a tire of a double-decker bus, about ninety pounds per square inch. Slant the bottle at a 45 degree angle away from guests. Put a thumb on the cork, untwist and loosen the wire muzzle. Grasp the cork firmly, twist the bottle slowly and let the pressure help push out the cork. Allow a light and merry pop.

How should I serve Champagne?

Drinking Champagne by the bottleChampagne is best served in tall flute or tulip glasses, at a temperature of 42-47 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiny bubbles will rise in a continuous stream. When serving, pour a small quantity of wine into each glass and allow it to settle. Then fill each glass two-thirds full. Victorian saucer-shaped glasses are best kept for the service of sherbet or ice cream.

How much Champagne will I need?

For a Champagne apéritif at cocktail hour, allow one bottle for every three or four guests. When served at a meal, count on one bottle for every two or three people. And for the traditional Champagne toast to the bride, one bottle can serve six to ten people.

Related articles: the regions that produce Champagne and the red grapes that go into Champagne.

47 white wine varietals

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Here is a list of vine varieties with a description of the white wines made from them.

Variety
Origin
Description
Aligoté French Poor man’s Burgundy. Pale, light, crisp wine. Not for ageing.
Alvarinho Portugal Produces Vinho Verde, very crisp, light with a slight prickle.
Auxerrois French Acidic, very dry and full-bodies, Chablisesque.
Bacchus German Silvaner, Riesling and Müller-Thurgau cross. Flowery, light Moscato bouquet, low acidity. Used mainly for blending.
Bual Madeira Sweet full-bodies fortified wine, burnt amber colour, fig-like bouquet.
Chardonnay French Ranges from crisp, apple-like flavours in cool climates to caramel, pineapple
and tropical tones in warm areas. Buttery, toasty or clove-like finish.
Ages well, usually in oak.
Chasselas E.
Europe
Light, crisp wine with delicate bouquet in Switzerland. Rather insipid elsewhere.
Chenin
Blanc
French Honeyed, high-acid wines in the Loire. Lots of fruit. Ages many years. California
model is much softer and fruitier.
Colombard French (French Colombard) Originally a cognac grape, now grown in California for soft,
flowery wines.
Emerald
Riesling
California High-yielding Muscadelle, Riesling cross. Aromatic, soft, fruity.
Fumé
Blanc
Californian name for Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon/Sémillon blend. Fruitier and
less grass than Loire model.
Folle
Blanche
French Once a major grape in Cognac. High acid, not much character.
Furmint Hungary Principal grape of Tokay. Can be dry, off-dry or sweet. Apple or apricot and toffee bouquet, depending on style.
Gewürztraminer Italy (Traminer)
Spicy, exotic, rose petal and lychee bouquet. Can be dry (Alsace) or sweet (Germany, California).
Grüner Veltliner Austria Fresh, lively, fruity, dry wine for drinking young as in the “new” wine, Heurige.
Hárslevelü Hungary Spicy, full-bodied, aromatic. Good for sweet wines.
Jacquère French Light, very dry and brisk wine from Savoie.
Kerner German Red
Trollinger, Riesling cross. Spicy, fruity wines with good acidity.
Malvasia Greek Produces lusciously sweet dessert wines in warm climates and crisp dry ones in northern areas. The grape of the sweet Madeira, Malmsey.
Marsanne French Deep-coloured, high-alcohol wines blended with the more delicate Roussanne in the Rhône.
Morio-Muscat German Silvaner, Pinot Blanc cross. Full-bodied, fruity with spicy bouquet.
Müller-Thurgau German Riesling, Silvaner cross (or two clones of Riesling). Less acidic than Riesling,
soft and fruity. Lacks ageing potential.
Muscadelle French Perfumey grape used to add bouquet to some white Bordeaux (Sauvignon and Sémillon).
Muscadet French (Melon de Bourgogne) Light, pale, racy wines with lively acidity from the Loire.
Moscato Greek Perfumed, raisiny bouquet with a characteristic spiciness in dessert wines. Can also be made dry as in Alsace and Australia.
Palomino Spanish The grape of sherry. Neutral wine, low acidity.
Pedro Ximenez Spanish A very sweet white wine used in sherry, thought to be Riesling.
Picolit Italian Dessert wine grape of Friuli. Deep coloured, rich, slightly bitter.
Pinot Blanc French (Pinot Bianco/Weissburgunder) Relative of Chardonnay but with less character and ageing potential. Best from Alsace.
Pinot Gris E. Europe (Pinot Grigio, Ruländer) Full-flavoured, elegant wines capable
of ageing.
Riesling German (Johannisberg Riesling, Rhine or White Riesling)
Finest German variety, capable of making a range of wines from steely dry to toffee-sweetness. Floral nose, keen acidity.
Rkatsiteli E. Europe All-purpose grape producing ordinary table wines, dessert wines and fortified wines.
Sacy French The name suggests it all. Frisky, tart wine from Chablis region.
Savagnin French Makes Sherry-style vin jaune in the Jura region.
Sauvignon Blanc French Makes grassy, gooseberry, smoky wines in the Loire and accompanies Sémillon
in dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux. California model is rounder and fruitier and fig-like.
Scheurebe German Silvaner, Riesling cross. Aromatic, fruity with pronounced acidity. Best in dessert style.
Sémillon French Honey and apricot bouquet when affected by Botrytis (see page 22). Blended with Sauvignon Blanc for dry Bordeaux. Lacks acidity.
Sercial Portugal Produces the driest, lightest style of Madeira. Good acidity. Ages well.
Seyval Blanc French Hybrid.
Makes dry wines with a grassy, green plum flavour. Does not age well.
Silvaner Austrian Mild, neutral wine with good body. Useful for blending.
Trebbiano Italian (Ugni Blanc, St. Emilion) Pale colour, high acid, medium-body, shy bouquet.
Verdelho Spain Produces off-dry Madeira and soft, nutty table wines.
Verdicchio Italian Crisp, dry wines with a hint of bitterness.
Vidal French Hybrid.
Good fruit and acidity. Can range in styles from tart Sauvignon Blanc to Late Harvest and Icewine.
Viognier French Rich, elegant, full-bodied, floral-peachy wine especially in the Rhône.
Capable of ageing.
Viura Spanish (Macabeo)
Fruity aromatic wines with high acidity capable of wood ageing.
Welschriesling French (Riesling Italico, Laskiriesling, Olaszriesling)
Floral, zesty, versatile but not as elegant as Johannisberg (White or Rhine) Riesling.

On this website here is a list of red wine varietals.

Champagne is bready from autolysis

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Or isn’t it?

In biology autolysis refers to the destruction of a cell through the action of its own enzymes. The term “autolyse” was coined by French baking professor Raymond Calvel. The term derives from the Greek words αυτό (“self”) and λύσις (“splitting”).

Mumm Brut rosé sparkling bubblesFor making sparkling wine, autolysis involves killing the yeast and encouraging the breakdown of the cells by enzymes. It is used to give different flavours.

Steve Goodwin is a sparkling winemaker at Seppelt, Australia. He was once interviewed on the cause of the bready, yeasty character found in champagne and other sparkling wine: “most of that is just bottle-developed pinot noir character (rather) than autolysis,” said Steve. His comment contradicts the traditionally accepted view that contact between the wines and autolyzed yeast lees – i.e. broken down yeast cells – is responsible. Curiously, a former Seppelt sparkling maker, Warren Randall, claimed that the bready character came mainly from pinot meunier.

In 2008 I asked French champagne maker Benoît Gouez (of Dom Perignon) about this. He had no doubt that autolysis causes the yeastiness in champagne, adding that autolysis is expressed quite differently by different grape varieties. “However, the more fruit in a particular wine the less yeast will be evident,” he explained.

Well-known amateur sparkling winemaker, MF (those five years spent as sous-remueur – translation: riddler – at Bolli were not wasted) reckons that the bready character does in fact come from yeast autolysis — rather than aged pinot noir or pinot meunier. His reasoning? Rising bread dough and bread just out of the oven have this smell. Where does it come from? Er, the breakdown of yeast cells after the bread has risen.

Pertinent questions: Has MF ever encountered this yeasty smell in bottles of still pinot noir or pinot meunier of any age? No, never.

Has MF ever encountered this yeast lees character in bottles of bubbly that do not contain either of the pinots, i.e. blanc de blancs made solely from chardonnay? Yes, your Judgeship, often.

If so-called yeast autolysis character comes mainly from pinot noir why do sparkling wine makers waste their time and money leaving fizz in contact with yeast sediment for years, when they could just as easily add more pinot noir to the brew? Beats me, your be-wigged Excellency.

The court will rise…

To help you make up your judgment, here are related articles – at other sites:

California wine country

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Alexander Valley - Sonoma

The Wine Country is a region of Northern California in the United States known worldwide as a premium wine-growing region. Viticulture and wine-making have been practiced in the region since the mid-19th century. There are over 400 wineries in the area north of San Francisco, mostly located in the area’s valleys, including Napa Valley in Napa County, and the Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Bennett Valley, Livermore Valley and Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. Wine grapes are also grown at higher elevations, such as Atlas Peak and Mount Veeder AVAs. The region is defined not only in terms of viticulture, but also its ecology, geology, architecture, cuisine, and culture. The majority of the grape harvest, in terms of both area and value, derives from Sonoma County.

Communities associated with the Wine Country include Kenwood, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga, Geyserville, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Guerneville, historic Fort Ross and Ukiah.
Contents

Appellations

Sonoma Mountain AVA with background of the Mayacamas Mountains

Wine Country proper is generally regarded as the combined counties of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. However, some reference works include part of Lake in the term Wine Country. These counties contain the following American Viticultural Areas (AVAs):

  • in Mendocino County: Anderson Valley, Covelo, Mendocino, and Potter Valley.
  • in Napa County: Atlas Peak, Los Carneros, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, Saint Helena, Stags Leap District, and Yountville.
  • in Sonoma County: Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Knight’s Valley, Los Carneros, Northern Sonoma, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley.
  • in Lake County: Clear Lake, Guenoc Valley, High Valley, and Red Hills Lake County.

The six-county North Coast AVA overlaps with the Wine Country as defined here. In addition, the names of the counties themselves are legal for use as appellation names.

History

Yountville historic rail station, Napa Valley

The earliest prehistory of the Wine Country involves habitation by several Native American tribes since approximately 8000 BC. The principal tribes living in this region were the Pomo, Coast Miwok, Wappo and Patwin, whose early peoples practiced certain forms of agriculture, but probably not involving the cultivation of grapes. During the Mexican Colonial period and after, European settlers brought in more intensive agriculture to the Wine Country, including growing grapes and wine production. Some of the historical events that led to the establishment of California as a state transpired in the Wine Country. In particular, the town of Sonoma, is known as the birthplace of American California. Agoston Haraszthy is credited with being one of the forefathers of the California wine industry in Sonoma by his planting of grapes in the lower Arroyo Seco Creek watershed of Sonoma County.

As home to both Buena Vista winery, California’s oldest commercial winery, and Gundlach Bundschu winery, California’s oldest family-run winery, the Sonoma Valley is known as the birthplace of the California wine industry.

Ecology

Pygmy forest along a popular Wine Country hiking trail of Hood Mountain. Note darker vegetation in upper right is a mixed oak woodland

A diversity of aquatic and terrestrial organisms populate the Wine Country and its riparian zones. Winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tsawytscha), Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and steelhead (Onchorhynchus mykiss) are the most prominent fishes. Anadromous fish movements in Sonoma Creek and the Napa River as well as the Laguna de Santa Rosa have been studied extensively not only in the mainstems, but in many of the tributaries. These investigations have demonstrated a historical decline in spawning and habitat value for these species, primarily due to sedimentation and secondarily to removal of riparian vegetation since the 19th century.

A variety of salamanders, snakes and frogs are also present in the Wine Country. The federally listed as threatened California red-legged frog is present in the northern reach draining the south slopes of Annadel State Park. Several endangered species (mostly associated with the Napa Sonoma Marsh) present include California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris), California Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), California brown pelican (Pelicanus occudentalis), California freshwater shrimp (Syncaris pacifica), Salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris ), Suisun Shrew (Sorex ornatus sinuosus), Sacramento splittail (Pogonichtys macrolepidotus). The above are endangered species with the exception of the splittail, steelhead and black rail, which species are federally designated as Threatened.

Upland ecosystems drained include mixed California oak woodland, chaparral and savannah woodland. In these upland reaches one finds plentiful Black-tailed Deer, coyote, skunk, raccoon, opossum, wild turkey, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk and occasionally bobcat and mountain lion. Prominent higher elevation trees include: Coast live oak, Garry Oak, Pacific madrone, California Buckeye, Douglas fir, whereas Valley oak is prevalent on the Wine Country valley floors.

Tourism

The Wine Country has undergone a boom in tourism. In 1975 there were only 25 Napa Valley wineries; today there are well over 400 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Tourists come to the region not only for wine-tasting, but also for hiking, bicycling, hot air ballooning, and historic sites, as well as the extensive culinary choices. Numerous notable chefs and restaurateurs are present in the Wine Country, including Thomas Keller, John Ash, and Sondra Bernstein. Besides the obvious winery attractions, the Wine Country is known for its hot springs baths, petrified forests and other natural areas.

The Wine Country tourism boom has its downside, exemplified by traffic congestion on State Route 29, particularly on summer weekends, when the number of tourists often exceeds the carrying capacity of the road. The Napa Valley is also experiencing pressures for increased urbanization and roadway upgrading.

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