Wine Searcher

  • South Australia

    Clare Valley

    This is one of Australia's oldest wine-producing areas which has existed since the second half of the nineteenth century.

    High quality wines, and in particular very aromatic reds and superb floral Rieslings come from the Clare Valley. The climate is predominantly a moderate continental one with big differences between day and night temperatures, especially in summer. There is enough rainfall, mainly in the spring, to make irrigation unnecessary. The soil is mainly open calciferous red or brown clay.


    Adelaide Hills

    The vineyards in this area are sited at heights of 1,312- 1,640 feet (400-500 metres) and are becoming better known thanks to the production of very acceptable sparkling and quality wines. The altitude of the vineyards somewhat mitigates the heat and leads to increased rainfall. Since most of the rain falls in winter though irrigation is still necessary. The soil around Adelaide consists of a fairly infertile mixture of loam and sand.


    McLaren Vale

    McLaren Vale is one of Australia's best wineproducing areas and certainly the best in terms of the varied grapes and types of wine. The area is best known for the powerful dark and very aromatic reds and mighty whites. Despite the cooling effect of the ocean too little rain falls here and irrigation is necessary. McLaren Vale has many different soil types which explains the diversity of the wine. It is mainly sand and loam on underlying clay and chalk, or sand, or red or black weathered loam.


    Barossa Valley

    The Barossa Valley is probably the best-known wine area of Australia, both because of its wines and its rich history. The valley was the first territory of the early German settlers who started the wine industry here. German is still spoken here. The climate is hot, sunny, and with little moisture. Despite this there is little irrigation. The vines are trained low, almost like creepers, and the yield is intentionally kept low. This produces excellent wine which is very concentrated, full of colour and structure. The soil chiefly consists of brown sandy soil or clay to dark sand.



    This is a lesser known wine region on fairly level terrain that largely consists of loam or terra rossa with good underlying drainage. The shortage of rainfall here makes irrigation during summer necessary. The area mainly produces commercial wine but is switching over to quality wines such as those of Hardy.



    This is an extremely well-known area within South Australia where wine-growing started way back in the late nineteenth century. The finest Australian Cabernet Sauvignons originate from here these days. The area is situated immediately behind the coastal strip and is favourably influenced by the ocean. The climate here is a moderate maritime one with fairly cool summers (by Australian standards) .

     The loose red terra rossa soil has become a by-word throughout the world. If there is anywhere in Australia where it is possible to speak of the character of the terroir then it is Coonawarra.

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  • Spain and Portugal

        In recent years there has been major investment in Spanish vineyards and wineries, and the country’s best wines are now world class. Its reputation has been carved by red wines, perticularly those from Rioja.

     Several growers have identified and recognised the importance of old vines, and today these are partly responsible for the super-concentrated and very expresive premium reds.

     Spain has more land under vine than any other country. The most important Spanish variety is Tempranillo, closely followed by Garnacha. For white wines, Viura and the ‘workhorse’ Airén are grown widely, whith the fashionable Albariño taking centre stage in Rias Baixas. Not surprisingly, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are planted in the majority of Spanish wine regions, except Rioja. The best Spanish wines are quality graded at Denominacionde Origen, the equivalent of the French ACm and DOCa, a higher-quality grade introduced in 1991, initialy for the wines of Rioja. Although DOCa applies onli to Rioja, regions such as Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Penedes and Priorato are also producing some excellent wines.


     In Rioja the wines are made in three districts sub-regions: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta in the highlands and the hot and dry Rijoa Baja. Rioja styles include Joven, Crianza, Reseva and Gran Reserva which is produced in the very best years. Ribera fel Duero, situated at high altitude, is purely a red wine area. It is home to some of Spain’s most sought-after and expresive wines made from the Tempranillo grape, locally known as Tinta Fino.

     Navarra, a neighbouring region to Rioja, is home to experimentation with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot often blended with indigenous grapes such as Garnacha and Tempranillo. Spanish and international grapes are planted in the Mediterranean climate of Penedes, Many of the best Cava vineyards are found in this region.

     Mostly red wines from Garnacha and Cariñena are grown in the mountainous setting of Priorato. These high-quality, structured wines can be truly exciting.



     Portugal is a country concentrating on its amazing range of indigenous grape varieties, especially Toutiga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Trincadeira and Periquta, The regions of the Douro, Ribatejo, Alentjo, and Bairrada set the pace. For the wine consumer willing to try something different, Portugal can hold many a pleasant discovery.

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  • Sparkling wines

    South Africa makes a number of very good sparkling wines. The best are made by the methode traditionnelle which is known here as methode cap classique.

    Only a few of these wines, such as the Pongnicz, could compete with top quality Champagnes The other sparkling wines that are not made by the traditional method are also known as sparkling wine, and they can also be very tasty. Drinking temperature is 42.5-46.4°F (6-8°C).

    Fortified wines

    The sweet South African wines such as Muscadel and Hanenpoot (Muscat of Alexandria) can be readily recommended.

    The heavy and sultry wines that used to be have become somewhat fresher and more interesting.

     The port and sherry type wines of South Africa can withstand judgement alongside the top European originals. They miss some of the finer freshness of the true ports and sherries but compensate for this with their sunny character.

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  • The label wine


    French wine

     In general

    Appellation contrôlée (AC) – in theory the best-quality category of French wine, with regulations defining vineyard, soil, grape varieties, yields, and alcohol levels. 

    Clos – an enclosed vineyard.

    Cru – literally ‘growth’, indicating a distinguished vineyard site in Burgundy or property in Bordeaux.

    Vieilles Vignes – old vines. Although unregulated, there can be a disctinct bearing of quality. A Chablis Vieillies Vignes for exemple, may have added concentration of flavour.


    Blanc de blancs – made from white grapes (Chardonnay only).

    Blanc de noirs – made from red grapes, vinified without skin contact.

    Brut – dry or dryish in style.

    Demi-sec – sweet.

    Doux – very sweet.

    Vintage – a blend froa a single year, solg after at leat there years ageing.


    Grand cru – classified vineyard site.

    Sélection de grains nobles – wine.

    Vendange Tardive – ‘late harvest’/specially grown ripe grapes.


    Cru Bourgeois – classification of chateaux in the Médoc and some of the best value-for-money wines.

    Cru-classé/grand cru-classé/premier grand cru-classé – ‘classified growth’, divided into five ‘tables’ in the Médoc, or from the classification system of the Graves, Sauternes, or St Emilion.

    In Bordeaux, the name of the chateau, or property, is all improtant.


    Domaine – estate or vineyard hoding, belonging to a grower or négociant.

    Grand cru – top or finest vineyard sites.

    Premier cru – second highest category of vineyard site.

    In Burgundym the name of the grower of negociant is extremly important.


    Sec – dry.

    Demi-sec – medium to dry.

    Molelleux – medium sweet to sweet.

    Sur Lie – generally associated with Muscadet, sur lie indicates that the wine has been bottled directly from its lees, without being rached of filtered.

    The Loire has a relatively cool climate, so take note of the vitange,


    The best wines are often from a specified region, appellation or cru, i.e. Côte Rôtie. Côte du Rhône Villages carries a higher reputation than the general appellation.



    Trochken – dry.

    Halbtroken –semi-dry. In Germany, the grower and grape variety is worth nothing.

    Verband Deutcher Pradikatsweinguter e. V (VDP) – group of estates whose members have agreed to a set of regulations.



    Amarone – dry Passito wine from Valpolicella.

    Classico – heartland of a DOC zone, generally producing better wines.

    Passito – wine made from dried of semi-dried grapes.


    Recioto – sweet passito wine.

    Riserva – should be the best wines, from the better vintages, which are held back or aged for longer than normal.

    Superior – wine whit higher alcohol than usual.

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  • The Rhône

       The Rhône Vally is one of the oldest wine-producing regions of France. There is evidence of wine production taking place here as long ago as 600 BC.

     The wine region of the Rhône Vally starts just south of Vienne, the gateway to the northern Rhône, where the only permitted black grape variety in Syah. The southern Rhône, where the Grenache grape variety takes centre stage, lies south of Montelimar and extends to Avignon. More often than not, the Grenache will be blended with other grapes, such as Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvédre.

    Hand harvesting takes place in many of the terraced vineyards in the narrow northern Rhône Vally. Vines are often trained on ingeniuos supports, so that they can withstand the powerful Mistral wind which blows down the valley. Planted on mostly granite and sandstone slils, Syrah produces full-bodied wines, ehich have high tannin content when young and therefore age very well. Côte Rôtie, one of the great wines of France, can mix power and elegance and os often a blend of Syrah and the white grape Viognier.



    Hermitage is not only the most rexognised name associated with Syrah, but also an appellation making wines of great depth, concentration and structure which are capable of ageing over decades in bottle. Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph are generally lighter, while the very best vineyards from Cronas, with their attractive ‘rustic’ edge, make wines which at best rival those from Hermitage.

    The white wines of the northern Rhône are predominantly made from Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. In Condrieu, Viognier is used to make distinctive peach and apricot-flavoured wines, with high alcohol and ample body. Marsanne and Roussanne are often blended together to make the dramatic white wine of Hermitage and other neighbouring appellations.

    The world-famous wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are produced in the southern Rhône, where up to thirteen different grape vatieties are permited in the blend. The wines of Gigondas and Vacqueryas often represent great value and possess similar characteristics to the best Chateauneufs, while Tavel is home to the dry and full-bedied rosé. Most generic Côtes du Rhône, along with Côtes du Rhône Villages, come from the Southern Rhône. The latter, which can include the name of the village, such as Viscan, can be another source of well-priced wines.

     Chateau Grillet is a single estate appellation, making wines from Viognier. Pope John XXII died in 1334, only a year after his new palace was complete.

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  • Trentino DOC

       This is generic area wine. It is difficult to give an overview because each of the growers and winemakers uses their own blends and methods.

      The Trentino Bianco is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. It is pale golden yellow and a pleasant but unobtrusive. Drink at 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    *** the best italian WINE ***

    The better whites are of the single grape variety with their name alongside Trentino DOC on the label. The best are usually the Chardonnay Trentino wines but there are also some excellent wines made with Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Riesling Italico, Riesling Renano, Traminer Aromatico, and Miiller-Thurgau.

    Drink Pinot Grigio, Traminer, Miiller-Thurgau, and Chardonnay at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C) and 46.4-50°F (8-10°C) for the rest. The subtle wine from the native Nosiola is worth considering though do not expect great miracles, rather the discovering of a very different grape. The wine is fine and delicate, pleasingly fruity in bouquet and taste with a slight bitterness in finish. Drink at 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    *** the best italian WINE ***

    Pinally there is an excellent sweet white wine made with Moscato Giallo. There is also a liquorous version of this wine, identified by the name Liquoroso.

    This is a first class after-dinner liqueur if well chilled to around 42.8-46.4°F (6-8°C). Pirst class sparkling wines are made with Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. This Spumante is a remarkably fine aperitif. Drink at 46.4-50°F (8-10°C).

    Trentino Rosso DOC is made from Cabernet and Merlot and is almost always cask aged. Depending on the wine's origins it may be light and approachable or fullbodied and powerful. The full bodied type keeps well. Drink the light and amenable type while it is still fruity at about 53.6°F (12°C) and the fuller version at 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C).

    *** the best italian WINE ***

    The other type of Trentino red is made from one or two types of grape and is very characteristic of its grape and terroir. You will encounter wines made with the Cabernets (Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Pranc) , Merlot, Marzemino, Pinot Nero, and Lagrein.

      These are all excellent but the best are the Riservas, which had at least two year's additional maturing. Drink at 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C).

    There is also a full-bodied Spumante made with Pinot Nero. Drink at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

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  • Wine and country


      A quick glance at the shelves in a supermarket would make anyone think that wine was made all over the world.

     However, this is not the case as grapes require warmth and water in order to thrive. Of course, there are many other factors affecting the final quality fo a wine. Different countries, and indeed different regions, have acquired reputation for certain types of wine. For years, France was regarded as the true home of quality wine but now Australian and Californian wintages are among the best regarded.

    France    Germany    Italy    Spain    United States    Argentina and Uruguay    Chile  Australia   New Zealand    South Africa

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  • Wine areas

       Wine-growing is possible along almost half the length of the Andes (between the 25th and 40th parallels). The vineyards arise like cooling oases in otherwise desert-like terrain.

    It is possible to grow a wide range of varieties of grape here because of the big difference in day and night time temperatures. Argentina has five large wine areas.

     From north to south, these are:

    - SaJta/Cafayate that lies just below latitude 25 degrees south, along the banks of the Rio Sali, between the towns of these names. Wines such as Cafayate and those of the renowned Etchart Bodega come from here.

    - La Rioja/Chilecito which lies just below 30 degrees south. This area is known for its Bodega La Riojana wines.

    - Mendoza is undoubtedly the best-known wine area of Argentina. It lies above the latitude 35 degrees south, on the banks of the Rio Mendoza and Rio Tunuyan, and is known for numerous good bodegas such as Etchart, Nieto y Senetiner, Trapiche, Norton, and Flichman.

    An area within Mendoza is regarded by insiders as the area with the greatest potential for the twentyfirst century. This is Lujan de Cuyo to the south-west of the town of Mendoza, which produces outstanding Malbec wines with its own denomination of Lujan de Cuyo. Given the significant levels of investment by the major wine producers and distillers it is apparent that something important in terms of quality is happening here.

    - San Rafael, lies along a latitude of 35 degrees south, between the Rio Diamante and Rio Atue!. Only the wines of Bodega Goyenechea are known to some extent outside of Argentina.

    - Rio Negro, the most southerly area, lies just north 40 degrees south on the banks of the Rio Negro.

    Wines from this area are hardly known outside Argentina.{jcomments on}

  • Wines from California


    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).

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