Friday, February 24, 2012

All Dressed in White - What does day 2 cover? Part 2 of 3

This is the second entry of a 3 part post on my second day of wine training. This day we touched on three rather basic, but immensely imperative, ideas in the wine world; the evaluation of wine quality, food and wine matching and the classic white grape. Today I’m going to break down the basic white grape for you

We have a multitude of grape varieties, each one with its own scope in structure elements, flavor characteristics, growing requirements, and “blend-ability”. Below I’ve listed some of the most common types of white grapes and a very brief summary of them. 

Sauvignon blanc
Great with food! Always dry, crisp, acidic, intense aroma, light to med body,  - tannins, acidity, sugar. Typically this kind of wine is unoaked, unless its fume blanc (primarily from California) Also there is Sancerre which is 100% sauvignon blanc. Some of the top Sauvignon blancs are produced in New Zealand and California

Typical flavors via climate
·         Cooler - Green fruit flavors, herbaceous, asparagus, fresh cut grass.
·         Warmer - Grapefruit and peaches, gooseberry and asparagus/cat pee

Chardonnay is in all likely-hood the most widely produced, toyed with and know white wine in the world. It grows nearly everywhere in world, but thrives particularity well in cool climates, like Canada and New Zealand. Even coastal regions of the states like Sonoma and Marin County. Montrachet, in south burgundy produces some of the words best chardonnay.
Chardonnay is often seen in blends done by wine makers, to achieve a certain flavor or profile. I find it to be a bigger and more robust grape typically, so it is often used to “fill out” a wine. It is also one of the 3 grapes that are allowed to be used in blending champagne
One of the big techniques seen in chardonnay today is letting it age in oak barrels, this is particularly seen in French and American wines in a variety of oaks. In my opinion this is way over done in the states, chardonnay grapes grow on vines, not oak trees.

Typical flavors via climate
·           Cool – Chablis – green apple, lemon
·           Hot – Peach, tropical fruit
·           Oak – toasty, butter cream = Malolactic fermentation

                Riesling is another incredibly versatile grape, going from the “Dr. LosenÜber sweet wine (You see what I did there?) to the bone dry Australian Rieslings.  On the nose you often get diesel and petrol, which can sometimes be hard to get past but on occasion it’s similar to a sauvignon blanc, intense fruity aromas from bone dry to very sweet in nature.  Typically this is a lighter to medium body wine and higher acidity to balance the sugar content. This varietal is typically unoaked and the vine excels in cool climates and high altitudes.
·           Green apple
·           Citrus
·           Peach, mango and honey spice when on the vine longer
·           Mineral
·           Australian Riesling – more diesel smell then French Rieslings

These are 3 of the bench mark wine varietals found throughout Europe wine super powers like France, Italy, and Spain, as well as new world wines in the USA and Canada. But there are sooo many different kinds wine grapes that listing them all here right now just isn’t possible. But as time goes on I will have more information on varietals as they come up.


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