If only they'd taught us this in school instead....

Colombard

January 24, 2010


image from in vino san francisco

Colombard has long been what is termed a "workhorse" grape - grapes that are used as blenders to bulk up other wines, to mellow out grapes which may otherwise have too much character and verve or to lend acidity to wines that lack it.

It is a high yield grape that produces light wines with abundant acidity and little other notable attributes apart from a pleasant floral aroma. It is for this very reason that the Colombard grape has traditionally been distilled for the production of brandy, where neutral or bland grapes are the preference, so as not to impose too much of themselves on the finished product. Its other main role used to be in the production of cask wine, especially in California, during the 1980s.

Before the onslaught of Chardonnay, Colombard was very much more widely planted than it is today.

Perhaps the main attribute of this "second fiddle" grape is it's rare (in the grape universe) ability to retain high acid levels, even when grown in warmer climates. It is this prized acidity that lends backbone to other wines produced in warmer regions that while having all other desirable characteristics, have had their acidity neutralised by too much sun. The most distinguished wine, without acidity, is like a beautiful, polished, woman.... without shoes; a sartorial disaster, and in the case of the wine, a dissapointment in the glass.

While it has never really been much used as a varietal wine grape, rebellious Australian vintners have capitalised on its ability to retain its acidity in the generally warmer Australian climate and experimented with Colombard, pairing it so far, with the edgy Sauvignon Blanc, voluptuous and distinctly floral Viognier and the well loved Chardonnay. The results have been encouraging, so keep an eye out and have your wine glass at the ready.

 

Chenin Blanc

January 9, 2010


image from www.culinarymanager.com


The Chenin Blanc grape which originates from Anjou, in the Loire Valley of France, is a greatly underrated grape and is so versatile, it's almost schizophrenic. It can produce both honeyed dessert wines like Vouvray (though usually sweet, Vouvray also comes in dry versions) or dry wines like Saumur. Both these wines come in still or sparkling variants. And you thought it was only good for the inexpensive, undemanding, quaffers lining supermarket shelves?

If ...


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Cabernet Sauvignon

November 17, 2009


image from uscellars.com


The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is distinctively small and strikingly dark, in fact,  an inky almost bluish purple, with a skin thicker than that found on most other grape varieties. Hence, there is a high ratio of skin to flesh so this grape is never short on tannin - the reason it so capably produces long lived wines.These wines are in fact downright undrinkable in their youth, because of abundant tannin and many require longer than usual aging before they are even ap...


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Cabernet Franc

August 22, 2009


image from post wine and spirits


Cabernet Franc is believed to be the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon but is in fact, rather like a watered down version of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a thinner skinned and earlier ripening grape with less acidity but more cold weather resistance than Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is one of the most planted vines in France, especially in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. 

It's main role is that of a blending grape, lending it's fruitiness and softness to the  many austere ...


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Bourboulenc

July 30, 2009


image from Vins-Rhone


Alright, all you Dionysian degenerates (a group I am a very happy member of) here is an ancient variety that is thought to have originated from Greece. Bourboulenc is a little known grape outside of Southern France and one that is rarely made into a varietal wine.

It is a white, late-ripening, high-acid variety that is primarily used as a blending grape to lend acidity to both red and white wines, especially in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It has a tendency to produce neutral w...


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Barbera

July 25, 2009


image from ITS Malta


The Barbera grape originates from Piedmont, in northern Italy and is a high acid grape that possesses some of the characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon, but overall, lacks the finesse of Cabernet. It produces wines of generally medium to full body, moderate tannins and a deep garnet colour and is commonly used as a blending grape to add acidity to wines that lack it.
 
Although globally cultivated, the Barbera gives its best in northern Italy, where it goes into the making o...


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Aligote

July 21, 2009


image from (sue me, i wasn't paying attention)


The Aligote grape is originally from Burgundy, France and produces a light white wine of high acidity, with apple and lemon flavours and aromas. It is uncomplicated and best enjoyed young with fish and shellfish. In the region of Burgundy, it has been supplanted by Chardonnay which is far more popular with winemakers and consumers and is usually planted in less "desirable" sites often at the lower and upper ends of the Burgundian slopes that are u...


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Alicante

July 19, 2009


image from Cephas Picture Library


Here is a wine that is on my "to drink" list. I can't tell you anything from personal experience but hope to be able to soon. I'm keeping an eye out for it but what I do know is that this grape is unusual in that it is one of the very, very few that actually produce red juice. The overwhelming majority of grapes, regardless of the colour of their skin, produce juice of roughly the same indistinct colour, a pale yellowish green.

For this reason, the originall...


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Albarino

July 18, 2009


image from Cephas Picture Library


Albarino is the main grape used to make dry white wine in parts of Galicia, Northwestern Spain. It is widely credited as Spain's premier quality white wine. In Portugal, it is known as Alvarinho and is often included in the country's best examples of Vinho Verde, one of my favourite white wines and in my opinion, one of Portugal's best, for easy drinking.

These grapes have a relatively thick skin when grown in Galicia, resulting in lively wines with intense ...


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Aglianico

July 17, 2009


image from The Italian Wine Connection


The Aglianico vine is said to have originated in Greece but now makes its home in Campania and Basilicata, Italy. It was brought to Campania by Greek settlers and its very dark grapes produce deep garnet coloured wines.

In early Roman times, it was the principal grape of the famous Falernian wine, a sweet white wine favoured by no less than kings and so named because it was made on the slopes of Mount Falernus. In its day, it was the ancient Roman equiva...


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