Archive for the ‘French wine’ 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.

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.
Light, crisp wine with delicate bouquet in Switzerland. Rather insipid elsewhere.
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.
California High-yielding Muscadelle, Riesling cross. Aromatic, soft, fruity.
Californian name for Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon/Sémillon blend. Fruitier and
less grass than Loire model.
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.

The vine growing regions in Champagne, France

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The Climate

The Champagne region enjoys very favorable conditions for vine cultivation, even with it’s contradicting northerly location. The rivers and forests help to regulate the humidity. The winters are relatively mild, the summer and fall rich in sunshine and the sun’s rays reflect back on the vines from the chalky soil, permitting maximum heat and light.

The Soil

Champagne is planted on chalk. The Grand Crus generally are on the mid-slopes. The soil is a unique chalk a bit below the constantly fertilized topsoil. Thanks to this cradle, Champagne offers such lightness and refinement. The slopes facing South and Southeast attribute to the vines prosperity, protecting them from the Northerly winds and generously exposing them to the sun. The exceptionally intense light is reflected back by the soil expending the sun’s warmth.

The Areas

map of vine growing regions in Champagne, FranceAs the map indicates, the vine growing region in Champagne primary consists in 4 zones. The Reims Mountain, the valley of the Marne river, the Côte des Blancs, the Aube. The vineyards strive on hills stretching 120 kilometres in length and from 300 metres to two kilometres in width.

La Montagne de Reims

The Reims Mountain zone is part of the Ile-de-France region. It consists of the versant meridian of the Vesle River Valley and expands to the Valley of the Marne River at the highs of Epernay. This is a vast plateau 20-25 kilometers in length and varies from 6 to 10 kilometers in width.

La Vallée de la Marne

The Marne Valley zones incorporates the vineyards situated between the towns of Tours-sur-Marne amd Dormans, extending to the city of Chateau-Thierry — in other words into the Aisne and Seine-et-Marne regions.

La Côte des blancs

The zone of Côte des Blancs is named after the white Chardonnay grapes grown there almost exclusively. The hills face east. The cliffs are perpendicular with the Reims Mountain. It is lower in elevation and stretches about 20 kilometers from the North to the South, between Epernay and the Marne River. It extends to Cote des Vertus in the Congy region and the Cote deSezanne hills. South of this zone, in the Aube region is the Cote des Bars zone, close to the villages of Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube.


This part is rather not known. In 2007 Alice Feiring scouted the Montgueux part of it.

Here is about the expansion of the appellation area.

Chapoutier, Rhône Valley

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Location: France, Rhône Valley, Northern Rhône

With the arrival in 1987 of Michel and Marc Chapoutier at their family’s negociant house of M. Chapoutier, a total change of style emerged from the cellars in Tain l’Hermitage.

Michel Chapoutier on the hill of the HermitageGone were wines that were aged too long in old wood, and in their place came in hugely powerful examples of Hermitage and other reds from Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Côte-Rôtie. Elegance has now been added to the power of the wines, which are produced bio-dynamically from a 240-acre estate.

Recent purchases of vineyards in Australia (Mount Benson), in Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Domaine des Béates), in Côteaux de Tricastin (Domaine des Estubiers) and in Banyuls in the late 1990’s show the family’s expansion policies.

Winery address:
18 avenue Docteur-Paul-Durand, 26600, Tain l’Hermitage
Phone: +33 4 75 08 28 65

I’ll profile more well-known Shiraz wineries in the future. Please subscribe to the Shiraz feed.