Friday, March 30, 2012



SKU: 1081843  
In the Glass – clear, deep lemon.

On the Nose – medium to pronounced aromas of oak, charred and smoky wood, pineapple, ripe/baked fruit  (clearly warm climate grapes) with notes of honey and cream.

On the Palate – I found this wine dry with medium acid, medium to full body. It has flavors of tropical fruit, apple pie, clove/cinnamon, butter, (lee stirring) weighty and richness with a strong to medium finish. It has a noticeable bitter/burnt finish, which is from the warmer climate.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced out of the Oak Knoll district of Napa. They use yeast that’s present in the vineyard and facilities and they use 100% French Oak to age for 14 months. Now I have a bit of an opinion on American wine (and Canadian wine too for that matter).  Its considered new world, because we haven’t been making wine for as long as the rest of the world has. I’m sure there is a more technical reason for it but that’s basically what it equates to. Because we haven’t been doing it as long we don’t know what exactly which grapes work in all the different regions we have here. Which is fine. But I think a lot of the California producers have jumped on this Chardonnay bandwagon for the instant revenue when they should be trying to branch out to varietals that would better suit their land and help thin out an already saturated market. Every ones got an oaky Chardonnay in Napa. Everyone. Its like going through your sex ed. class in high school. We’re not really sure how putting the rubber on a banana is helpful but everyone has done it.

In the end I don’t think $42 for this wine is a far price unless you were really hard up and really want oaked Chardonnay, and even then I would probably point you to another one. But that’s just my personal preference. Yes, it has a full mouth feel, yes it has tropical fruit and yes it had the butter from the oak. But it didn’t blow me away; it didn’t really stand out or draw me in. it was just too simple to be in that price point. If some one ordered it for me I would certainly be happy enough to have it, but I wouldn’t order it my self.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012



SKU: 705326  

In the Glass – clear pale to medium lemon with almost no legs or coating on the rim

On the Nose – light/ medium intensity. I got a lot of stone fruit, ripe melon and sweet fruit like over ripe pineapple, mandarins and late harvest apples.

On the Palete – off dry, balanced, with medium body, which I attribute to the higher sweetness. With flavors of peach stewed fruit, and your basic Riesling flavors and a medium finish.

I would serve this with just about any white meat, or with anything spicy, and at 25$ a pop it’s not bad to have with Thai take out at home. Not that I would know anything about that…

The front of this bottle advertises that it’s a Saar wine. What is a Saar wine?

Good question.

German has 13 wine regions that are sub divided into smaller regions. Saar is a sub district of Mosel. It’s a collection of steep southern slopes along the Saar River in the north and follows the river down where it eventually feeds into the Mosel river. This division occurred in 1998. It’s just a young’en in the Germany senses of wine making. I’m not sure why but labeling a wine from its mini district has fallen out of style so we typically only see things like “Mosel” on the bottle. I like that this one is proud of where it comes from.


Sunday, March 25, 2012



SKU: 1875

Agent: Bacardi Canada Inc.

In the Glass – Clear but pale lemon yellow with soda sizes bubble coming up the side of the glass. It immediately stuck me as something that had been carbonated after the fact because of soda pop look it had.

On the Nose – clean, light with a strong peachy fruit and floral aroma. It just kind of lays the cards out for you on that one and I didn’t get much more.

On the Palate - stone fruit and peaches with a touch of citrus, medium sweetness, aggressive and prickly bubbles; this is due to the tank fermentation, light to medium weight. Over all this one strikes me like a honey soda. Sort of mixed with the pineapple crush that the Newfies drink.

Over all, it’s pretty easy to drink, either sipping with appys or to finish a meal but I like my bubbly on the dry to very dry side so it’s just a touch too sweet for me. But a nice cheap treat at under 15$ a bottle on the shelf.

This Asti is made from the Moscato Bianco grape and is actually DOCG certified. Which surprised me because its sooo mass-produced that I thought they would have to source out for the grapes. Here's a quote from their web site.

“MARTINI® Asti is crafted from 100% handpicked* Moscato Bianco grapes, grown in Northern Italy. It is ranked D.O.C.G. (denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin), the highest classification granted to Italian wines. Its aroma will lure you in like a siren’s song, boasting fruity and floral notes. Sparking on the tongue, the natural sweetness of the grapes comes through with full flavor and wonderful texture. Recommended for after dinner, pairing with cakes and other desserts or sweet fruits.”
The more I researched Martini & Rossi the more respect I had for them as a mass production organization. From what I can tell the business was family started and Rossi’s sons took it over in 1982, then his grand sons took it over in 1930. In 1977 the company became part of the “General Beverage Corporation”. Then in 1993 they merged with Bacardi. I’m not sure when the Martini Vermouth came to be a part of it but no doubt that was a huge win for Bacardi. 1993 was also when the asti received it DOCG designation.
*I don’t mean to be rude but I highly doubt that this is accurate simply because of the price point; handpicking grapes is VERY expensive. So unless they have a team of fiddler elves picking grapes for them out of the kindness of their heart this would be near impossible to achieve. Not judging, just sayin’.

Friday, March 23, 2012


SKU: 1082284 
Agent: Tandem Wine Selection Inc.
Here we have a champagne by Veuve A. Devaux  which from  Champagne, France
In the Glass - This wine is a pale yellow with a bit of gold, bit is almost clear. It has fine lines of bubbles rising through the glass. It's really very pretty to see.
On the Nose – clean, light and bright with strong fruit and bready notes . Stone fruit such as peach are easy to pick out along with some honey and light floral
On the Palate - Fine smooth bubbles over the tongue, and flavors keeping with its stone fruit and biscuit nose. Dry with medium acidity, light to medium body, medium length. Its weight is due to the fact that this wine is done in the traditional champagne method.

Due to the nature of champagne and legal requirements it is a blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay higher than average proportion of about 30% of reserve wines. All of which is matured in oak barrels
According to Wikipedia The Devaux Champagne house has been part of the legend of Champagne since the mid 19th. Century. Founded by the Devaux brothers, Jules and Auguste, the company was how ever controlled by a widow named Madame Veuve Augusta Devaux. She was one of the famous ladies of Champagne who directed their companies with great energy and talent and one of the select band of widows seeming to hold the key to Champagne during the nineteenth century. Because of the talent and energy that she put in her work the people that came after her inscribed her name on the facade of the house in Epernay to continue her memory. It was in 1986 it was decided to entrust the future of The Devaux Champagne house to Union Auboise, which is one of the largest groups of Champagne growers in area of Domaine de Villeneuve at Bar sur Seine. Since then  Devaux has been a co-operative label.

At under 60$ on the retail shelf I would drink this one fresh with appetizers, popcorn, chicken, oysters or anything... really.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



SKU: 735254 
Origin: Spain 
Agent: Pure Global Imports Inc.

This little Spanish harlot is actually one of my favorite wines and it seemed only fitting that I rip off the winter bandage with a bottle of it among friends.

So, what is a Gran Reserva you ask? Well, I can tell you. In Bodegas it means that it must be aged for a minimum of 5 years before it’s released. This one in particular spends at least 2 years in oak casks and at least 3 more years in the bottle. How ever the majority of the wood that it sees is actually old oak so it imparts very little of the big, toasty, vanilla extract and stucco that you see with a great deal of other wines that spends the equivalent amount of time in new oak.

Being mostly tempranillio, 80% to be exact, its exceptionally close to its traditional expression even with its blend of 17% Grenache, 2% Mazuelo and 2% Graciano. Lets break it down shall we.

In the Glass; Off the start I noticed that this wine wasn’t the full red like I thought it would be, but it is over 10 years old so its no surprise to see that the bright ruby red I was expecting had faded a fair bit and has some tawny to it

On the Nose; starting off a bit dull but after a quick swirl she came right to life. I had strong ripe and dried fruit off the top with this one, and strong earthy notes as well. Like is said, its very close to the traditional Rioja style and comes with sparks of vanilla and chew tobacco and something that I can only describe as “cowboy-esk”. It’s like woods, and campfire (perhaps because I was drinking it beside a bonfire?), herb garden and wonderful saddle leather notes – the kind of leather that’s well worn. Even though this wine sees an exceptionally long time in oak, but not new oak, my cowboy aromas are just hints and not over the top. An absolutely wonderful integration of oak on the nose of this wine.

On the Pallet; Before we start I would highly recommend decanting this wine; in one of the bottles I had before there was a bit of sediment in the bottle (but not this one luckily enough, cause I didn’t have a decanter with me), but 10 or so minutes with some air really helps wake this girl up. When she’s up, we get spicy black cherry, tobacco, vanilla, and that cowboy quality I was talking about before. But we also get some great sandalwood and minty coolness. With a long but gentle finish this medium to full body wine has a great complexity and you can actually feel it evolve in your mouth.

Food suggestion: Beef or lamb, I had a peppercorn steak and baked potato with it. The peppercorns were a bit much with the wine but they were both really tasty and I pulled through just fine.

Like is said, Rioja Bordon is one of my absolute favorite wine producers. I have yet to be anything other then extremely pleased with all of their products so even I highly recommend that you all go try this wine. Even if Spanish wine isn’t “your thing”.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Wine and You - The Restaurant

Carrying on with a series of ideas on how we interpret the commodity of wine, we have wine and the restaurant. As I said in the consumer-based post, there are a much higher percentage of people that are open to trying something new. Because most people treat dining out as a ‘new experience’ they become more open to the inspirations and suggestions of their fellow diners and service staff.  This gives us the ability to discuss, segue and over all generate conversation over a bottle, or glass, of wine and is an often-utilized tactic with people that you may not know or like. How do I know? Because I’ve used it.

For a restaurant there are many things to consider for their wine service, from staff knowledge and incentive to sell, wine makers dinners and tastings, the actually wine list and wine availability and how it goes together with their menu and atmosphere.

A restaurants service staff is like its front lines. They immediately reflect how much time and care the establishment has put into their wine. You want them trained, in how to serve wine, not just properly but with style, you want them knowledgeable and most importantly you want them to SELL. And I say that with no shame. Wine is a commodity, just as cars, paintings and toilet paper is. So you just gotta sell it.

So how do restaurants sell it? First and foremost you want your staff to know about the wines that you carry. From my personal experience in this side of the industry I know that most of the restaurants that pride themselves on their wine list will do tastings with their staff on all their wines by the glass. They can have different companies, some retailers and some importers, that will come in and train them on wines that they do by the bottle.  I LOVED these events, and quite honestly it’s where I started. I feel that providing staff training is not only good for sales but also very much drives staff moral. ‘Cause who wouldn’t want a glass of wine after work once a week? During these tastings we can also address staff incentive – “ if you sell the most glasses of XYZ wine then you get a free bottle to take home”. Uhhh Score! This is even more motivation for the staff to get out there, get educated and sell it to the patrons.

But how does the specific selling work? Way back when I was a server *insert flash back sequences here* I would often start out by trying to get to know my customer, seeing what they were in the mood for, even if they didn’t know the what they were ordering to eat yet. From there I would make a few suggestions and tell them why.  This is where a lot of food pairing knowledge came in handy. But more often than not it didn’t matter what they were having as long as I knew about the wine. For example (and I don’t mean to step on any toes here) the wines produced by Blasted Church in BC, were super easy to sell because they blew up a church; hence the name. Of course, my selling it was much more then “it got blowed up” but it made for a nifty story. And stories lead to conversation, conversations lead to memorable experiences and now suddenly you have a restaurant that has become a part of an experience. What greater publicity can you ask for?

Now, depending on the restaurant, there may be the possibility of wine makers dinners. This is where a wine maker, or producer actually comes in to the restaurant and host a dinner for 10 – 25 people. Typically the menu is crafted to specifically match the wines that the host represents.  They are an immense amount of fun and incredibly informative. If you ever get the chance to go to one of these – JUMP ON IT. You won’t regret it, I promise.  Typically tickets to these events are all inclusive. As in, they include dinner, drinks and typically as well gratuity.

The most essential item that a restaurant has in selling wine, aside from their staff, is their wine list. Just in case you don’t know what a wine list is lets go to wiki for a definition.

“A wine list is a menu of wine selections for purchase, typically in a restaurant setting. A restaurant may include a list of available wines on its main menu, but usually provides a separate menu just for wines. Wine lists in the form of tasting menus and wines for purchase are also offered by wineries and wine stores.”

Typically a wine list is built by the restaurants’ sommelier but there are some companies that offer this services to places that don’t employ sommeliers. Over all, an effective wine list covers all counties and appellations - within reason - and it accents, highlights and in some cases, compensates for their food menu. For example, if there is a lot of red meat on the menu, then you wont see a lot of white wine on the list. If there is a lot of spicy food, then you’re going to see a higher proportion of sweet wines on the list.
The retailer(s) the restaurants buy their wine from and also the availability to get the wines in the province (or state) can limit a wine list. However, a good wine list will have enough selection to compensate in the event of a shortage, or it should be updated to include wines that they can get. Over all a wine list is can be viewed like the restaurants resume of wines.

In general for what a wine is to a restaurant is still a commodity, but just like a painting it needs to fit with is surrounds and accent the decorum. A lot of time and preparation goes into the training of the people who sell and serve it, its availability to be sold and the way it interacts with the other components of the diners’ experience. Finely picked and cared for it can truly make a great restaurant exceptional.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review 1884 Malbec Reservado 2009

Review - 1884 RESERVADO MALBEC 2009
SKU: 770925 

So last night was had a bit of a family get together dinner and we were pleasantly gifted with this deceiving little wine.

On the Nose; full, warm plump berries, red fruit but it was slightly restrained which I found surprising. With a lot of the Argentina wines I’ve had lately, it’s a bit like being assaulted with a fist of hot ripe fruit. I very much appreciated and enjoyed not being punched in the face by a wine

On the Pallet; Smooth, smoky and sweet, with soft tannins.  It has a short to medium finish. I didn’t find a lot of follow through on this one. It may have been due to the sweetness of it, which I think comes from the oak. But don’t get me wrong it wasn’t offensively sweet. I think this wine would make an excellent cold night next to the fireplace wine. I wouldn’t want to pair it with anything to heavy, because it’s so timid and reined in. For example I had this with BBQ’d burgers and I had to put the wine down while I was eating because it was all but lost in the meal.

Over all I like the throw back to the old malbec styles with wine, where it’s not the huge over the top fruit bombs like we’ve seen coming out of Australia in recent years. I liked that you could sit back and just enjoy it without the flavors and mouth feeling distracting me. But that is also its downfall in my opinion. It is soo mild, so if you are even considering pairing something with this, it’s going to be left behind.

 For under $15 a bottle and it being in most retail liquor stores it’s pretty easy to get your hands on. If you are looking for a cheap red to try with a friend or a date and watch a movie, over all I would recommend this one.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wine and You - The Consumer

So I’m all set to start my WSET level 2 in the next 3 weeks.  But before I start up on all that fun stuff, I want to discuss with you a series of ideas on how we interpret the commodity of wine as consumers, retailers, restaurants, importers and makers. These aspects are all very much related.

First, and most importantly in my opinion, we have wine and the consumer. I am a wine consumer, and if you’re reading this blog, then I can only assume that you have consumed wine yourself. If not, then you should, I definitely recommend it.

When we go into a liquor store or a restaurant, what exactly are we looking for in a wine? Do we know what we want or do we let inspiration take us? Do we actually see it as an experience we are purchasing, be it the flavor of the wine or the company and atmosphere we whish to propagate?

Yes and no… ehh, lets go with “kinda”.

I think as a consumer we are looking for something that does speak to our specific taste and when we go shopping for a wine in a store, none of us bring a strict shopping list but we do have a motivation. Be it price point, varietal or food to go with it, we have something in mind. It’s not often we just magically find our selves in a liquor store with our eyes closed as we blindly fumble down the isle playing musical chairs with our wines. How ever entertaining that notion may be.

I would estimate that 4 out of 5 times that a normal consumer buys a wine from a liquor store, they have gone in for a purpose; be it a brand they recognize or a pairing they’ve been told about.  It’s safe. There is a list to follow. Just in and out. Hopefully there’re no lines.
But that 1 out of 5, and honestly them ain’t bad odds, will meander through the store, picking which isle to go down and looking at labels and reading descriptions. Waiting for a gem to call out to them so they can try something new. I think the BEST wine shops hire people that do that themselves. Because it takes one to know one. And while the staff may lose 15 minutes discussing 2003 California wines, the consumer is going to be happy as a clam, and satisfied with their experience even if they don’t take to the wine they’ve bought. And heaven forbid if one of these wine pioneers finds the boutique and high-end wine! The racks become library shelves and hours can be lost.

However when a consumer buys a wine in a restaurant, there is a much higher percentage that are open to trying something new. Most people I believe treat dining out as a ‘new experience’ and open to the inspirations and suggestions of their dining guests and service staff.  The whole notion of going out and ordering a bottle of wine with dinner, or even just a glass, is seen as an event and people are with peers where they can discuss this new experience.

I think a wine that will ultimately appeal to a consumer is one that they know about, which is hard, because lets face it. Wine isn’t self-explanatory. There are so many label variations, varietals, appellations and years that it simply cant be helped that you don’t know what the stuff in the bottle is going to taste like. I think some of the best ways to counteract this is simply to educate yourself. Ask your friends, what wines they drink what they like in wine and why. Or ask your store clerk, or your server. If you’re too shy to ask, or if you are unfortunate enough to have been dealing with someone who knows less then you do, then Google is going to be your best friend. But even then, it’s not like buying a liter of Pepsi, where it’s the same flavor every time. Get informed on your wines and keep an open mind. Just as it is with most product choices; you wouldn’t go with the first insurance company you found, you’d shop around and see what other quotes you could get and educate yourself.

And yes, I know for most people picking a wine isn’t as important as insurance. Well, maybe for me it is. Kinda.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review - 2009 Michael and David Vineyards 6th Sense Petite Syrah

Review 2009 Michael & David Vineyards 6th Sense Petite Syrah Lodi California

It’s a petite syrah not actually a syrah. The difference being?? The flavor, syrah has always stuck me as more of a jam based Australian wine but that’s probably because the time frame that I was first really introduced into wine, Calgary had HUGE influx of big jammy auzzie wines. All you had to do to sell a $100 bottle of wine was tell them it grew next to a kangaroo farm and was personally touched by Steve Irwin. The wines themselves were the kind of wines where it felt as if you were punched in the mouth by the grape Kool-Aid guy. OHHH YEAHH!! Not a lot of finesse. Just FRUIT.

 With petite syrah I find it to be a lot more about then finesse. Similar to Pinot Noir in that it has got some class and style to it. But much heavier on the smoke, cedar and forest flavors. If pinot noir is Lumière  from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, petite syrah would be Cogsworth.

Just like all of Michael & David creations, the marketing on it is fantastic! The Back of the wine bottle has an eerie poem and is reportedly named after a relative of theirs whom had a 6th senses himself!

smell with one nose, an ancient black rose, a memory lingering, briefly exposed. I see with two eyes, through shadows and lies, a secret revealing, wrapped in disguise. I hear with my ears, three fallen tears, echoing softly, heightening my fears. I taste with my tongue, my panics begun, four sides enclosed, melding as one. I touch with my hands, a sinister plan, five fingers discerning where I do stand. I sense with my mind, a thought so unkind. I’m trapped six feet under in a bottle of wine.

On the Nose we get good oak and smoky aromas with a hint of vanilla and dark fruits. But it doesn’t really give any hints to the pallet.

On the pallet I find that it has this incredible full mouth feel that I was having trouble describing but is so a kin to bacon fat that its unreal. It stands up with cracked black pepper and a variety of dried herbs and dark berries.

It was absolutely delicious and a great mid-level wine for someone who doesn’t want to invest into the $90 trio of seven deadly Zins done by the same makers


Friday, March 9, 2012

Daily dose of yesterday - Day 4 of the WSET foundation course

So in the last night of the WSET wine training we, again, covered a pretty mass amount of material. From locally produced wine to wines out of Italy, Portugal and Spain. We covered tips on purchasing and working in the business. We then reviewed and had our exam.

Out of all the topics I think the Canadian wine was the most interesting.
We stared with a very brief history of wine in Canada, specifically in BC. Over all its safe to say that it wasn’t that bloody eventful. People go drunk, it was deemed bad, and they kept getting drunk anyways. But here are a few points that I thought were neat.

1860  -           The first Canadian vineyard was planted by Father Pandosy for his church and personal use at the Oblate missionary near what is now Kelowna

1916 - 1922 -Prohibition came to Canada. Pfft! See how long that lasted… and how well too…

1974  -            There were 3000 resisted acres are dedicated to grapes and vineyards

1984  -            There are 13 registered wineries registered in British Columbia

1988  -            We get free trade and we drop to only 1,000 vineyard acres’. This is because the government paid the growers over $8,000 and acre to focus on quality as apposed to quantity.

1990  -            We see a huge boom in vine planting in BC because the VQA is adopted as wine law. It forced BC growers to ensure that their wines were 100% produced inside of BC.

1994  - Mission Hills Winery wins IWSC and the real BC wine boom begins

2011  -            We have over 160 wineries and over 10,000 acres dedicated to grape and wine production

In addition to the history we also talked a bit about the different growing regions and what the VQA means for wines coming out of Canada.

The biggest region that I think everyone will know is the Okanagan. This includes sub regions like Kelowna, Naramata, Osoyoos Westbank, and Summerland. The climates here are fairly continental, with a hot dry south and cooler north. Its soils having a very wide range, from sandy in some regions and volcanic in others.

Some of the lesser-known regions are the Frasier valley and the Similkameen valley. The Frasier valley has a more humid climate that produces small local but hearty red wines, like Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not overly familiar with the Similkameen valley but its relative lack of lakes would make for cheaper and more arid climate.

In the end our wine history is really just a little blip on the entire history of wine and grape growing. But its still relatively neat to see where we started from and all the little steps we have taken to get to where we are now.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review - 2010 Sirens Call Pinot Noir

Review – 2010 Sirens Call Pinot Noir

So tonight, after the worlds longest shift at work, I got to take home a bottle of this Okanagan wine. Based out of Summerland in British Columbia this little French clone delight is exactly what I needed.

On the Nose this wine does start off rather European, rustic, deep and earthy, with strong dark cherries and raspberries. It turns to the new world with rich with vanilla, and almost a caramel, and kind of spicy, similar to the Caramel Apple Spice drink at Starbucks - if you could have raspberry juice instead of apple juice. Overall I found it sort of Napoleonic in nature. To me it says,  “hey! I may only be 5 and a half feet tall but I am a force to be reckoned with!”

On the Pallet it shows dark wild berries, black cherries and a fine but sound tannins. I half expected it to be on the watery side, maybe from the marketing on the mermaid in the ocean on the labeling… and some recent previous experiences with French styled new world pinots… but it really held up, and with style too.

I was lucky enough to have this bottle dropped off with some tasting notes from John Schreiner, one of Canada’s most prolific authors of books on wine. He quoted the wine maker, Mark Simpson, as saying, “I started buying fruit and the next thing you know, I tasted in the vineyards and kept saying, ‘Oh my God, I will take it.’ That kept happening. I ended up with 14 tons and $100,000 invested and [made] a whole line of wines.” What a way to start a winery! One of everything! Mr. Schreiner goes on to talk about siren’s Call and the rest of Mark Simpsons labels, I really do encourage you all to read his blog. He goes on to quote Mr. Simpson explaining to label as  “It is from Greek mythology. It refers to the sirens that are these creatures that are half women, half bird. The idea is that these creatures are seductive and alluring. So the wine will be seductive and appealing.” What a way to describe a wine label? Smooth, seductive and inviting. Even the parent company, Artemis, had the tag line of “ Wine is the Blood of Life”. Oh. My. God. What a magnificent line and ideology to have attached to a wine and its company. Not only is that a brilliant marketing idea, albeit not overly original, its still the icon of what the 20 something wine consumer falls in love with. Sex sells, even if its just a ideology.

Over all I think this is a top-notch wine, and for under 30$ in most liquor stores I would highly recommend it. Myself, I had it alone but as for food pairings anything that came with a fine herbaceous or tomatoes based sauce (“hello pesto!”)  would do magnificently. Just be careful that the protein that went with it doesn’t over power the tannic structure. A chicken or turkey breast pesto penne would be perfect.


...but srsly go see

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lady in Red - day 3 of wine training

So on the third day of wine training with WSET we covered a fair bit of information. We talked about wine and health, services and storage and the main red grape varieties. The most interesting of all these being the last one. Obviously.

Okay so how do we get the "red" into a wine and why does it vary between wines? Great question! Basically when the grapes are crushed, they are left to sit on “the must”. The must is the pulp, the skin and sometimes even the stems of the grapes.
The wine then goes into a process called maturation; this is where the juice and the must are kind of stirred together to help extract the tannins and flavors out of the must. Some other methods are racking and pressing, but maturation is the most effect and time efficient.

Now, our biggest red wine varietals are Pinot Noir (my personal obsession), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah/Shiraz. Now each varietal is going to be different because of their terrior, any blending, aging, what they are barreled in, and countless other things that wine makers do to make a wine their own. However each grape is going to have its own set of boundaries that it exists in so lets take a look at some of those.

Pinot Noir – aka The Heart Break Grape
This wine is typically very light in it colour, this is because the grape skins them selves are very thin. This wine is also considered This wine is light to medium body, medium acidity and dry, with soft tannins, often described as elegant, complex, with finesse and this sort of elusive power. I don’t know about you but the last one might be a bit much but it is a very sexy kind of wine when done well. Coming from a variety of places it is known best from Burgundy (mid region of Burgundy is known for an earthy barn quality in their wine), Oregon (because this is considered a newer region they are prone to a lot of vintage variation, but we are seeing some really great stuff starting to come out), New Zealand (pinot noir is the second most grape produced there and for good reason. They produce some of the world’s finest light and fruity pinot noirs) and Champagne (pinot noir is one of the 3 grapes they use in the bubbly).  As for flavors in most pinot noirs you get a range from cherries, strawberries, vegetal, spice, red fruits and even to that French barnyard I was talking about earlier.

Merlot – “if any body orders merlot, I’m leaving!”
Merlot, despite its Hollywood bad rap is actually quite the little grape. Remarkably resilient, incredibly versatile and has the ability to stand up to almost anything. Even bad PR. Often deep in colour, dry and medium to full body but softer and more approachable then a Cabernet Sauvignon, ages incredibly well in top tier wines. We see a lot of well-done Merlots coming from places like Bordeaux (St.Emilion and Pomerol), California (Sonoma and Napa) and Chile. With right bank French Merlots we have vines that are grown in clay and moist soils, where they absolutely thrive!
In my honest opinion I believe that merlots, or any wines for that matter, are always going to be better when done in small 10 to 30 thousand lots rather then being mass-produced.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Rawr
This wine is usually deep in colour, dry, medium to full body, firm and grippy tannins, often blended, it matures well and has huge aging potential. Some of its key regions are Bordeaux (left bank specifically because its gravel and these vines don’t like to get their feet wet), California (single varietal wines that often have a benchmark flavor of dill), Australian, specifically Barossa Valley and Chile – Colchagua Province (where we see a lot of mint and cassis, and over all is excellent value on cabernets).  Some of the main flavors we find are black currant, cedar, bell pepper in cooler site, but this is often seen as a fault. Over all we get complex earthy notes and tobacco. It’s typically ages in some sort of oak barrels where we can get another huge range of flavors.

Syrah/Shiraz – What’s in a name?
Theses two wines are actually the same grape, deep colour, full bodied and rich. Medium to high tannins, and yet another very versatile grape. Some of its most common regions are Northern Rhones, France, where it can age 10- 20 years, Hermitage, where it can age 30 – 40 years, and Côte-Rôtie. Out of Barossa Australia we see wines that are developing towards hedonistic flavors with. With this grape we taste a lot of spice! White pepper to baking spice, black and blue berries, raisins, leather, black current, and smoked meat. This wine is often oaked to soften tannins.

There are thousand of types of grapes that are produced through out the world, these just happen to be the most main stream ones that I know of. If you want a complete list you can click here, but as this blog goes on I’ll go into discussing them as we meet them.