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Category: Noble Grape Challenge (page 1 of 2)

Noble Grape Challenge – Riesling, the Wine Lover’s Grape

It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time around we began the second half of the challenge by getting to know Pinot Grigio. Now it’s time to move on to one of my favourite white varietals – Riesling!

About the Noble Grape Challenge

Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

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Entering the Second Half of the Noble Grape Challenge

It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. This time around we begin the second half of the challenge – nine whites await us! Last time I reflected on the first half and the nine reds I worked through, and today we get to know our first white, Pinot Grigio.

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Halfway Through the Noble Grape Challenge

With my post about Malbec a couple of weeks ago I’m now halfway through Wine Folly’s Noble Grape Challenge. Created as a challenge to learn about the range of wine, the Noble Grape Challenge lists nine red and nine white ‘noble’ varieties – generally speaking, the most widely planted varieties throughout the world – and challenges the reader to taste through them all as a way of getting to know the breadth and depth of wine created throughout the world.

At this point it feels like a good time to take a look back on how things went and a look ahead at what awaits.

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Noble Grape Challenge – Last of the Reds

It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. This time around we learn about our last red variety, which means after this post we’ll officially be halfway through the list. Last time we explored the wild and wacky world of Syrah/Shiraz, and today we get to know Malbec.

About the Noble Grape Challenge

Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

Continue reading

A Return to the Noble Grape Challenge

After an extended break it’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we explored what Cabernet Sauvignon was all about, and today we’ll get to know Syrah/Shiraz.

 

About the Noble Grape Challenge

Remember the Noble Grape Challenge? Yeah, I kind of forgot about it too. Let me refresh you on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

 

Continue reading

Starting the New Year Right with Cabernet Sauvignon

Well friends, the holidays are over. Gone are the family visits, the hours spent languishing on the couch, and the never-ending feasting on delicious treats.

 

But before we continue boldly into 2016, let’s recap a few highlights of my holidays.

  • 10 – Days spent at my parent’s place, being fed and wined to my heart’s content
  • 5+ – Bottles enjoyed with family and friends that were at least 10 years old
  • 3 – Litres in the bottle my family enjoyed at Christmas dinner (a double magnum!)
  • 2 – Bottles generously given to me on Christmas morning (a 2008 Rioja and a 12yr DoubleWood Balvenie, if you must know)

 

All in all a delicious and productive holiday, if you ask me.

 

And now, it’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we tasted our way through the Tempranillo grape. Now, as we taste the first of the last three reds, we turn our attention to one of the most well known varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

About the Noble Grape Challenge

I know, I know, it’s been a while since we did this. Let me refresh you – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

 

About Cabernet Sauvignon

Unsurprisingly, France grows the most Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, buuuuuuuut they usually blend it with other things. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the main five varietals of the Bordeaux region, and most (if not all?) wines in that region are blends.

 

Also, did you know that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is actually a hybrid? It’s true! Check out the centre column of the adorable drawing below.

 

credit: http://winefolly.com/review/enthusiasts-guide-sauvignon-blanc/

credit: http://winefolly.com/review/enthusiasts-guide-sauvignon-blanc/

 

See? Cabernet Franc + Sauvignon Blanc = Cabernet Sauvignon!

 

I’ll wait while you recover from your newly blown mind.

 

Ready? Ok.

 

Cab Sauvs are one of the more fuller bodied reds out there, and tend to be more opaque but still reddish in colour. Flavours found often include dark fruits and black pepper. Generally speaking this is a confident wine that you could drink with other stronger flavours (a burger or some full-flavoured cheese, perhaps) or sip on its own.

 

The Test Case

To delve more intentionally into the world of Cab Sauv I chose to try the Art de Vivre 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by Gerard Bertrand. I’ve told you about Gerard Bertrand before – this is one of my favourite winemakers. I have yet to be disappointed by any wines I’ve had from them. Or is it him? Either way, the wine is great, and you should try it immediately.

 

GerardBertrandCabernetSauvignon

Even the label design is lovely.

 

GerardBertrandCabSauvinglass

 

Tasting Notes

Right off the bat I could see some age in the colour. It was still decidedly red, but there were some brownish undertones that tell me this isn’t a wine that was bottled yesterday.

 

It smelled nice and bright and quite fruity. I came back to it the next day and smelled lots of depth and earth, too. I love how much wine changes over time once you open it, always full of surprises!

 

The flavour was full of fruit – all I could think of was ‘red fruit’ but, as usual, couldn’t pin it down more than that. I was intrigued and excited to taste some black pepper too, it helped balance the fruitiness. As expected, on day two the flavour had softened quite a bit. It got more velvety and I tasted some vanilla that wasn’t present the first night.

 

Bottom Line

A wonderful and enjoyable Cab Sauv. I know I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to wine (there is very little I don’t like) but I do think this is a really solid wine, and in keeping with everything else I’ve had from this maker.

 

But does it taste like what we now know a Cabernet Sauvignon should taste like? You bet it does! Full bodied and fruity, with some lovely peppery-ness when you take a sip – this is a great example of a Cab Sauv.

 

It’s also a great example of a wine that can be enjoyed over a couple of nights. No need to finish it on night one – you should get a bottle just for you and taste it over two or three evenings to see how it changes.

 

Well, that was fun! It’s nice to be back in the swing of things.

 

Next up – Syrah!

Tasting the Spanish Sun in Argentina

It’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time around we hung out in Italy to learn about the Nebbiolo, and today we finally leave the Mediterranean to get acquainted with the Tempranillo.

 

About the Noble Grape Challenge

Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of wine flavours found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

 

About Tempranillos

Temps are most commonly grown in Spain but also grown in the US, Australia, and Argentina. Some of the most common flavours are cherry and plum with some leather, tobacco, vanilla and clove. Acidity and tannin is usually middle of the road, which can make Temps a bit smoother than other wines.

Oh, and one more thing! Since the word comes from Spanish, the double L at the end is a E sound, so it’s pronounced temp-ran-EEE-o and not temp-ran-ILL-o.

 

The Test Case

What a treat! I went home for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and discovered that my stepdad had brought a 2005 Zuccardi Tempranillo out of his cellar for me!

Zuccardi Tempranillo from 2005 - quite the treat!

Zuccardi Tempranillo from 2005 – quite the treat!

I couldn’t find this wine in the LCBO database (Ontario’s government-operated liquor-selling store), but I’m familiar with the maker and would recommend any of the wines the lcbo has brought in for our tasting pleasure.

Specifically, Zuccardi makes one of my favourite go-to wines – Santa Julia Magna. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon, but is similarly full-bodied wine to the one I tasted for this post.

It’s also worth noting that this Tempranillo is from Argentina, even though Spain is more well known for this varietal.

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So dark! Doesn’t that look delicious?

 

Tasting Notes

Is this wine ever dark! It’s very dark in colour, and quite opaque. The colour is a little garnet-ish, but also has some of the beginnings of browning on the edges – a sign of its age. It has lots of legs and a fair amount of depth on the nose, though I had trouble identifying anything specific. Leather? Cinnamon and clove? Who knows! (Seems there’s always more tasting work to be done, more to learn…)

I may have had a hard time knowing what I did get, but I do know what I didn’t get. I didn’t notice any floral or fruity notes, nor any smoke. When I’m struggling a bit I find it helpful to come at tastings from the other side, finding out what’s in the wine by process of elimination. There are a bunch of handy tasting charts that can help with this.

When it came down to it I thought this wine just smelled warm and cozy. I can easily imagine having this wine on a cold winter night in front of a fire… so maybe I was smelling some baking spices, but more in an amorphous way. I also got some vanilla on the nose after the wine had opened up a bit.

The flavour was smooth,  with some spiciness on the finish, and the warmth I smelled carried over. It was beautifully full flavoured, which I love – this is a confident wine!

I know it probably sounds pretentious, but I often swish the wine around in my mouth a bit to see what other flavours might present themselves when I do. When I did this with this wine I get some fruit! Dried red fruit I think – cherries or cassis maybe – definitely dried though, because the flavour tastes pretty concentrated.

 

Bottom Line

Does this wine match up? Oh yes! Very pleasantly too – this wine smells and tastes like a textbook Tempranillo. I really loved it! I have a soft spot for wines that taste like a cowboy hanging out on a ranch, and this is definitely that.

I’m so grateful to my to my Stepdad for giving me this wonderful wine!

 

Next up – The beginning of the home stretch with Cabernet Sauvignon!

 

Getting to Know the Nebbiolo

It’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last episode we jumped into the world of Sangiovese, and today we stay a little while longer in Italy to get to know the Nebbiolo.

 

About the Noble Grape Challenge

Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of wine flavours found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.

 

Characteristics

First of all, can we just take a second to appreciate the name, Nebbiolo? Say it with me now – nnnnnneeebiooooooooolooooooo. So good.

Nebbiolos are most commonly from the Piedmont region in Italy. But what we do we know about Italy? They like to blend! So, Nebbiolo is commonly used in blends like Barolo, one of the more famous Italian wines out there. Also, I find it interesting that Nebbiolo is considered a noble grape when other regions have had trouble creating high quality wines from it – but I guess being noble is about how great the wine is, not how easy the grapes are to grow.

 

To try out Nebbiolo I tasted Enrico Serafino Barbaresco.

(I want to note that I found it very tough to find a wine that was purely a Nebbiolo and not some sort of Italian blend. I eventually found this bottle which, admittedly, is out of my everyday wine price range. But, in the interests of fully committing to the Noble Grape Challenge, I decided to splurge. Plus, it looked like a good wine and a nice treat.)

IMG_1076

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Tasting Notes

I’ve never had a Nebbiolo before, so this is a complete adventure for me. I’ll have to use the other things I know about wine, along with the research I’ve done, and trust my palate and my own tastes, which is what you should do every time you taste too.

My first observation: wow, is this ever light in colour! You can see the entire glass under the wine! This wine is super transparent, which isn’t something I usually see outside of a Pinot Noir, though, to be honest, I tend to favour big reds that often look like ink in my glass.

This wine also looks a little brownish at the edges, which isn’t surprising considering the only Nebbiolo I could find was from 2010, and wines start to get some brown in colour as they age, especially around the edges.

The wine had been in the glass for a while before I got to smell or drink it, and I’m happy it had a chance to open up. I found the nose to be earthy, with a bit of spice and some vanilla. Overall very soft and smooth.

I found the flavour pretty similar to the nose – smooth, spicy on the finish, with some tang/tannin/acidity, which is a common neb trait. I also found it quite big and full-bodied, which isn’t surprising knowing that Nebbiolos are common players in a Barolo, but was surprising given how lightly coloured the wine is. This wine is definitely keeping me on my toes. I was disappointed not to get any smoke from this particular Nebbiolo, knowing that’s also a common trait. I love me a smoky wine.

 

Bottom Line

So, what do I think of this wine? I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I drank it over a few nights and was disappointed that it didn’t mellow much over that time – I think I was hoping the tannins would settle down, which they didn’t. I liked the full body in the flavour but the acidity got in the way of true enjoyment. If I’m going to buy a big red I’ll steer more toward something from Chile or Argentina. That being said, if you like Italian wine (and can afford $20 a bottle) then I would recommend this wine.

I do want to note the cork. The wine had crept halfway up – wow! This is a often another sign of age, or sometimes of a bad seal. I’m happy this bottle found its way to me before the wine crept all the way up, since it would have meant the end of the cork and therefore the end of the wine. Luckily I managed to save it first and give it a good home.

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Are you familiar with Nebbiolo? What do you think of it?

 

Next up – Tempranillo! Olè!

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