Wine Searcher

  • Wine-growing conditions from South Africa

       South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere within the latitudes that are most favoured for cultivating vines and making wine. The South African climate can be likened to that of the Mediterranean.

     The best wine-growing areas are at the foot of the mountains and in the valleys. The grapes have no shortage of sunshine here. The temperature in winter drops to no lower than 0- 10°C (32- 500 P). Cooling sea breezes bring the necessary moisture to the vineyards. Most rain falls between May to August.

    African wineThe geology underfoot varies from granite in the foothills of the mountains to sandstone at Table Mountain, soft slate at Malmesbury, and slate and loess along the rivers. There are great differences from one vineyard to another. This makes the estate wines from the smaller domains additionally interesting. The production of wine is mainly in the hands of cooperative wineries (85% of the total) of which the most important is the KWV.

    South Africa is at present the eighth largest wine-producing country with 3 % of the world production compared with France at 22%, Italy with 20 %, and Spain with almost 14%.

    All wine that is exported is provided with a quality seal. Samples are taken of these wines and the wine must meet organoleptic standards, or put in other words must fulfil certain

       criteria in terms of our senses: colour, scent, taste, character, etc., but also in terms of the veracity of the declared place of origin, grape varieties, and year of the vintage. The wine also undergoes extensive chemical analysis.

    {jcomments on}

  • Wine-growing regions Canada

    Quebec

    Quebec is the French-speaking province of Canada. The weather circumstances are everything but ideal for cultivating vines and making wine.

     Temperatures can drop to minus 40°F/C or even lower in winter which is fatal for vines. A handful of enthusiasts tried a surprising way to protect the vines against the cold of winter. The vines are kept pruned low and before the first frosts they are covered with a layer of earth which is then removed in spring. Apart from this interesting cultivation technique and the hard working nature of the local growers, there is little else positive to say about this wine region. The wines that we tasted were extremely dubious and their prices far too high.

     

    Ontario

    Ontario is the wine region in Canada with the longest continuous activity. The vineyards are in three districts: the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Pelee Island. These three districts are all close to the Great Lakes. The epicentre of the wine industry is the town of Niagara-on-Lake, where the present-day generation of wine growers and makers have their origins in Germany, France, Italy, and even The Netherlands. Although Ontario shares the same latitude as the Cotes du Rhone, its climate is much harsher. The summers are hot and winters extremely cold. Wine-growing is only possible close to the most southerly of the five Great Lakes, Lake Erie. The soil here consists of a mixture of clay, gravel, and loam which is rich in minerals and trace elements. The underlying geology consists of hard rock which gives additional complexity to the wines.

    Various hybrid grape varieties are grown here such as Seyval Blanc and Vidal for white wines and Maréchal Foch and Baco Noir for reds. Although Seyval, Vidal, and Baco Noir deliver good to excellent results the Ontario growers are increasingly choosing to plant more vinifera varieties such as Pinot Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Gewiirztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling on the one hand and Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot on the other.

     

    British Columbia

    Although wine has been made here for some considerable time which left much to be desired, the past decade has seen this region striving for the best quality. The old hybrid or even worse native America Vilis labrusca vines have increasingly been replaced with Vitis vinifera varieties. Wine is made in two districts: the western Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, and the eastern Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

    The first two areas and the Similkameen Valley are recent additions that are busily in the process of development. The historical heart of British Columbia lies in the Okanagan Valley where the weather conditions are more suited to growing grapes and making wines. The summers are hot and dry, with little rainfall.

    The soil consists of rock, fine sand, clay, and alluvial deposits in the south. The more northerly vineyards that are cooler and more humid are mainly planted with French and German grape varieties of Auxerrois, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Erenfelser, Gewiirztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling, while the more southerly ones have the traditional red varieties of Pinot Noir and Merlot.

    British Columbia has three types of winery.

    The Majors are the large wine industries which get their grapes from far and wide, the Estates use only those grown in British Columbia, of which at least 50% is from their own vineyards.

     They are required to conduct all viticultural and wine-making activities within their own winery. The Farms are mainly smaller in scale and must meet the same requirements as the Estates except that 75% of the grapes must come from their own vineyards.

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from Australia

    CABERNET FRANC

     

    Cabernet Franc grapes are mainly grown in northeast Victoria and blended with grapes such as Merlot. This rather rare red wine is unfortunately somewhat underestimated in Australia. Drinking temperature is 57.2- 60.8°F (14-16°C).

    MERLOT/CABERNET FRANC

    Merlot is also little used on its own and mainly vinified or blended with the Cabernets or even with Shiraz. The combination of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Pranc that is then cask aged for twelve months is quite common in Australia. This produces a fruity wine with fresh acidity and mellow taste.

    Drinking temperature is 57.2- 60.8°F (14-16°C).

    PINOT NOIR

    This Burgundian grape will be encountered here less widely than in the Bordeaux or Rhone types. Despite this, Australian Pinot N oir is proof of the skill of the successful Australian wine-makers. Anybody can make wine from the idiosyncratic Pinot Noir but to make good wine requires considerable know-how and plenty of passion. Various styles of Pinot Noir are to be found in Australia, from light, fruity and generous, to full-bodied, sultry, with animal undertones and sometimes a little on the heavy side.

    The best of them are somewhere in between these two extremes and simultaneously elegant and fullbodied with a seductive nose containing plum and cherry with a rich, almost caressing taste.

    Drinking temperature is 57.2- 60.8°F (14-16°C).

    SHIRAZ

    The Australians use the original name for this grape and not its bastardisation into French as Syrah. The Shiraz grape originally came from the Shiraz valley in Iran and was brought to Europe by the Crusaders. Australian Shiraz is a sensual tour-de-force with plenty of colour, tannin, and acidity but also a wonderful bouquet containing overripe dark fruit such as plum, and spices (e.g. white pepper). Mature Shiraz develops animal undertones with a nose of leather and Russian fur, plus sometimes the smell of freshly-roasted Mocca coffee.

    Drinking temperature is 60.8- 62.6°F (16- 17°C).

    SHIRAZ/CABERNET

    This is very common blend that produces a wine of intense colour with plenty of fruit and a mellow and rounded but fulsome taste. The bouquet mainly evokes thoughts of cherry and blackcurrant with a hint of pepper.

    Drinking temperature is 60.8- 62.6°F (16- 17°C).

    TARRANGO

    This is an interesting hybrid resulting from crossing the Portuguese Touriga and extremely productive Sultana, which is better known in its dried form. This fairly recent Australian development is causing a major revolution. People who are not accustomed to drinking wine fall for the fruity charm of the Tarrango, which can be served at almost any time if chilled.

     Tarrango wines have been deliberately inserted into international blind wine-tastings to cause confusion because it so closely resembles a French Beaujolais.

    Drinking temperature is 53.6- 57.2°F (12- 14°C).

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from California

    Wine areas

     

    California is a very large wine region in which the following guaranteed places of origin are the best known: Mendocino Country, Lake Country, Sonoma Country (includes the famous Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley),

     Napa Valley, Los Carneros, Central Valley, Sierra Foothills, Livermore Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Country, San Joaquin Valley, San Luis Obispo Valley, and Santa Barbara Country.

    Irrigation is permitted throughout California but not necessary everywhere. The most popular grape varieties are Chardonnay, Colonbard, Chenin Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Viognier for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Grenache for red wine. The classic Californian grape variety of Zinfandel is starting to play an incresingly important role.

     

    Wines

    You mai encounter thousands of different types of Californian wine because of the great differences in climate, soil, wine-making method, yield, and target group for marketing.

    Californian Champagne

    The powerful house of Champagne forbid everyone from using their name outside the designated area of Champagne in France yet you will find the term ‘Champagne’ used in the USA on other wines. To avoid long drawn out and costly law siuts in the American courts, the Champagne houses have had to accept that names such as ‘Californian Champagne’ are legally permitted here.

    They are however restricted to the domestic markets so that the so-called Californian Champagne must be sold in Europe merely as ‘sparkling wine’. American sparkling wines are made in both pink (rosé) and white and from quite dry to sweet. The driest is the Brut, followed by Extra Dry, Dry/Sec, and Demi-Sec, which is the sweetest.

    Only the highest quality sparkling are made in the United States by the traditional method with second fermentation in the bottle. Most are produced by the charmat or bulk method. This shows to be made down to a price. A thrid method is the transfer method which combines aspects of both the other methods. The results are of better quality than with the ordinary bulk method but remain cheaper than the traditional way.

    Whether white or rosé, some of these wines are well worth discovering. Two of the leading Champagne nouses make good ‘Champagne’ style wines in America. Those of Mumm are good while the Taittinger product is excellent.

     The Mumm wines from the Napa Valley are livelier and more unrully tha those of Taittinger, which come from Carneros, and are more grown-up and full-bodied. Drinking temperature is 42.8 – 46.4°F (6-8°C).

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from California

    Chardonnay

    Chardonnay is regarded as the best variety of white wine grape in the world and the best Chardonnay some declare comes from the Sonoma Valley.

     Certainly there are remarkably good Chardonnays made in California, especially in Sonoma Country. Californian Chardonnay is full-bodied, broad, rich, and very aromatic with hints of fig, pineapple, ripe apple, melon, citrus fruit, and honey.

    The wine is further imprived by cask maturing in oak with notes of toast, nuts, vanilla, butter, toffee, and butterscoth etc. These Chardonnays are not cheap but if you choose a good one you will find it is sumptuos. Drinking temperature is 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

    Fumé Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc)

    Sauvignon Blanc in generally known as Fumé Blanc here, which is a trend started by Robert Mondavi in the 1960s.

    Californian Sauvignon Blanc often possesses light smoky aromas and is notably vegetal too with hints of green olives, freshly-mown grass, dill, and fennel, but generally is also very fruity with fresh fig, melon, and cutrus fruit etc. to be discovered. The wine is fresh but not firm like a white Bordeaux. Although most Sauvignon Blancs are dry, you may also encounter some sweeter examples. Drinking temperature is 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    Chenin Blanc

    This grape is highly popular in California, especially in the Central Valley, where it is used to make fresh, fruity, and inexpresive wines. A more delicious, light, and fruty version that is ideal for a ‘happy hour’ in made in Sonoma. Drinking temperature is 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    Hohannisberg Riesling/White Riesling

    Do not expect elegance and refinement here but a firm white wine. This noble grape delivers fresh and melon fruity wine for everyday drinking, say with fish or poultry, here in California.

     Only a handful of wine-makers succeed in creating very elegant Riesling, which have a passing resenblance ar great distance with thewines of Alsace and Germany. There are also several very good Late Harvest Rieslings. Drinking temperature is 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from California

    Gewürztraminer

    Although the Americans have great difficulty with the name this wine is certainly no joke. Most of the local Gewurztramier is made as sweet wine with floral notes, suggestions of Muscat, a hint of spice, and sultry, but Gewurtraminer Dry is becoming increasingly popular.

    Many Americans drink the sweet of slightly sweet ‘off-dry’ Gewurztraminer as an apertif. The dry Gewürztraminer is excellent with chichen and Oriental dishes. Drinking temperature is 50-53.6°F (10-12°C) for dry, 46.4-50°F (8-10°C) for off-dry, and 42.8-46.4°F (6-8°C) for sweet.

    White Zinfandel/Blush wines/white grenache

    Zinfandel and Grenache are famous blue grapes but there are also white wines made with them. The wine is of course not truly white but a light pink. These are quite recent creations which are mainly aimed at the younger market.

    Most wines are not wholly dry and some of them are even slightly sweet. They have a nos in which vanilla ice cream with strawberries can be found in the White Zin or res fruit in the White Grenache. Drinkling temperature is 50-53°F (10-12°C).

    Muscat

    There are sultry, sweet wines that in addition to the recongnisable Muscat grape nose hane apricot, peach, and ripe pear in their bouquet. The wine is often served with goose liver in California but it is better suited to serve with a fruit dessert. Drinking temperature is 42.8-46.4°F (6-8°C).

    Cabernet Sauvignon

    The name is often unceremoniously shorted to ‘Cab’. This classic is one of the better wines of California. It is dark coloured and very aromatic with grassy and vegetal hints here, plus suggestions of green tea and leaves.

     
     The wine is quite full-bodied. The wine can be undrinkable when young through an over-exposure to new oak. After a few years it develops its full beauty with a nose in which cherry, berries, herbs, currant, cedarwood, tobacco, vanilla, mint, pepper, and chocolate can be discerned. It is very much a wine to serve wiht haute cuisine. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (16-17°C).

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from California III

    Gewürztraminer

    Although the Americans have great difficulty with the name this wine is certainly no joke. Most of the local Gewurztramier is made as sweet wine with floral notes, suggestions of Muscat, a hint of spice, and sultry, but Gewurtraminer Dry is becoming increasingly popular.

    White Zinfandel/Blush wines/white grenache

    Zinfandel and Grenache are famous blue grapes but there are also white wines made with them. The wine is of course not truly white but a light pink. These are quite recent creations which are mainly aimed at the younger market.

    Most wines are not wholly dry and some of them are even slightly sweet. They have a nos in which vanilla ice cream with strawberries can be found in the White Zin or res fruit in the White Grenache. Drinkling temperature is 50-53°F (10-12°C).

    READ MORE...

  • Wines from California IV

    Merlot

    Somewhat similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon but much softer and more rounded. The Merlot is approachable much sooner than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

    It is real seducer with nose of black cherry, plum, toffee, chocolate, orange, mint, cedarwood, green tea, and violets. The structure is full-bodied and rich while the taste is velvet smooth. Drinking temperature is 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C).

    Pinot Noir

    The Pinot Noir is able to combine complexity and elegance like no other grape. It requires some courage to plant Pinot Noir in California bur perhaps not in Los Carneros.

    The desired results will not be achieved every year but when the weather permits, the results are overwhelming. Californian Pinot Noir are quick seducer that are fresh and fruity with a hint of herbs and mushrooms, but also a sensual nose containing coffee and cedarwood. The texture is full-bodied, elegant, complex, and velvet smooth. Drinking temperature is 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C).

    Zinfandel

    This is the Californian grape. It porbably originated from the Italian Primitivo and certainly not from the Hungarian Zirfandli.

    Zinfande remains recongnisable for the suggestions of vanilla ice cream with strawberries or raspberries in its bouquet, whether made as white, rosé, or red wine. The wine is fairly full-bodied, rich and tannic, with a peppery undertone. The whole of America loves its ‘Zin’ and Europe is also now starting to enjoy it too. Drinking temperature is 57.2 – 60.8°F (14-16°C).

    Petite Syrah/Syrah

    These are two different grape varieties which both originate from the French Rhône. Both produce substantial and firm wines that are deeply coloured and very aromatic with hints of blueberry, raspberry, fruit jam, pepper, and herbs. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (12-14°C).

     

    Gamay/Gamay Beaujolais

    These are very fruity wines that are very fresh and mellow with little acidity or tannin. They are a aperfect introduction for a newcomer to wine drinking, with chicken or turkey for instance. Drinking temperature is 52.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).

    {jcomments on}

  • Wines from France

    The Wine from France

    Wine from FranceThe first cultivated vines were probably planted by the Greeks around Marseille, although it was the Romans who, over the course of 500 years, introduced the wine making tradition throughout the country. Experimentation with vines and wine making techniques took place hundreds of years ago, and people now generally accept which area produce the best grapes, what varieties are most suited to them, how they should be trained and so on.

    Today, France can boast more great wines than any other nation, and the grape varieties used to produce then have been exported around the globe setting the standards for others. Apart from the prestige region of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhone and the Loire, there are scores of other regions where the quality of wine has improved almost beyond recognition in the past two decades, and which have not been hit by the rocketing prices which have put many top-name wines out of the reach of most consumers.

  • Wines from Valais vineyards

    ARVINE SWISS WINE

    Petit Arvine Swiss WineWhile the previous two white Swiss wines need to be drunk within three or at most four years after they are made, the wines of the Arvine and Petite Arvine grapes aged well. These are Swiss wines with a strong personality that are seductive, possessing a fruity bouquet, and are often high in alcohol (13% or more) and sometimes sugar residues. These unusual grapes thrive on very steep rocky ground.

    The yield is quite low but the price of these gems is not untoward. Arvine and Petite Arvine Sèche (dry) has a characteristic salty taste and nose of citrus fruit. Arvine and Petite Arvine Flétri (partially dried grapes) is sweet and superb. Drinking temperature for this Arvine Swiss wine is 8-10°C (46.4-50°F) for the dry wines and 6-9°C (42.8°-8.2°F) for the sweet ones.

  • Wines today

    History of wines

    Today the cultural importance of wine can be seen in everiday life, particulary in countries such as France and Italy where a meal isn't really complete without a glass of wine to accompany it. In the United Kingdom and the United States, consumption and interes in the subject continues to increase.

    Archaeologists have discovered evidence of winemaking taking place some 12,000 years ago. The cultivation of the wine first flourished around the Black Sea, and then the Persians helped to spread the word through Assyria. Evidence of innovation taking place in Egypt and the Mediterranean ..

  • Yecla Spanish Wine

    Yecla wine and region

    Yecla region mapYecla is a relatively small DO surrounding the town of the same name but it is actually an enclave in the much larger area of Jumilla. The smaller bodegas have been busy now for several decades with a policy of change and radical renewal.

    The lack of success is not due to either the soil or the climate for these are comparable with neigh-bouring Valdepeñas: chalk with underlying clay and thick surface layer plus the same continental climate with hot summers and cold winters with large temperature range between night and day. The blue grapes used are Monastrell (80%) and Garnacha. Trials are also being carried out with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

  • Zimbabwe Wine

       Pew people will have heard of wine-growing in Zimbabwe and for those who have it will not be very positive. This fairly young wine industry is concentrated in the north-east of the country between the capital, Harare, and the border town of Mutare,

     in the wine areas of Marodera and Odzi, and the southern wine areas of Gweru and Bulawayo. Zimbabwe produces white, rose, and red wines.

    The white wines are made from grapes such as Clairette, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, and Riesling for dry wines and Muscatel and Hanenpoot for sweet ones. The white wines are certainly not for keeping. The first attempts have delivered reasonably fullbodied wines with fairly harsh acidity. Roses from Pinotage and Cinsault are fairly dry but less fullbodied.

     These too should be drunk young. The reds come from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage, and Cinsault. They are fairly full-bodied, quite dry, but lack backbone. It is not a wine to keep. It is to be seen if Zimbabwe can make pleasing and drinkable wines in the future.

    {jcomments on}