Taken in its broadest sense, the notion of “soils for wine-growing”, often referred to as terroir, brings together several different factors: biological (choice of variety), geographical, climatic, geological and pedological (types of soil). Added to these are the human, historical and commercial aspects: for example, the existence of the port at Bordeaux and its commerce with Scandinavian countries encouraged the wine-growers of the 18th century to improve the quality of their wines.
In the northern hemisphere the vine is cultivated between the latitudes of 35° and 50°; it therefore has to adapt to very different climates. However, the most northerly vineyards usually cultivate only white varieties,
The region of Abruzzi (Abruzzi is the plural of Abruzzo) is bounded in the north by The Marche, to the west by Lazio, and to the south by Molise. The eastern boundary is formed by the Adriatic. Except for a small strip of land along the coast, the rest of Abruzzi consists of hills, mountains, and valleys. The climate varies from Mediterranean on the coast to continental in the mountains. The best place for cultivating vines has to be chosen with the utmost care. These lie to the north and south of the only true town of Abruzzi, which is Pescara, situated in the valley of the river Pescara. The vineyards sit at the foot of the imposing mountains known as Gran Sasso and Montagna della Maiella. Only two DOC wines originate from this region.
The Montepulciano grapevines were introduced to of Abruzzi almost 200 years ago. They produce a smooth dry red Italian wine that is slightly tannic, juicy, and amenable. Depending on its maker a Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo can vary from a superb everyday wine to a more serious one. The minimum two years old Riservas are always recommended. Drink this Italian wine at 12-14°C (53.6-57.2°F) for young wines and 14-16°C (57.2-60.8°F) for older Italian wine and Riservas.
Founded on April 17, 1948 by a group of key personalities among the merchants and growers, the Académie du Vin de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Wine Academy) is uniquely qualified to preserve and promote the spirit, history, and culture of Bordeaux wine in France and abroad. The cultivation of the vine in Bordeaux has not only produced wines which are universally recognized, but has also profoundly shaped the lifestyle of the Gironde. The result is a particular form of humanism, a spirit, an ethic, and a striving for perfection that can be felt the world over.
Like the prestigious Académie Française in Paris, the Bordeaux Academy—the most prestigious representative of Bordeaux wines has forty members. Among these are the owners of the most celebrated crus in Bordeaux, but there are also two members of the Académie Française, writers, artists, scholars, and university professors.
Eastern Aegean Islands and Greek Wines
The Aegean is spread out to the east of mainland of Greece and the coast of Turkey and is filled with countless islands. Vines have been cultivated on these islands and wine made for at least 6,000 years and the sweet, luxuriant wines of Limnos, Lesbos, Chios, and Samos are legendary. Each island has its own microclimate and soil structure which ensure wines of an individual character undulating hills rising to 450 metres (1,476 feet) and valleys in which the wine-growing and agriculture is concentrated. This white Limnos wine is yellow- green in colour with a very fruity nose of fresh Muscat grapes. The taste is fulsome and rounded. Drinking temperature for this Greek wine is 10-12°C (50-53.6°F). Several acceptable red wines are also made on the island of Limnio grapes.
South Africa has undergone drastic political, social, and ethnological changes in the past ten to twenty years. Present day South Africa, in which the development ofthe economy is problematical could be given a big impulse by its wine industry. Ten years ago the wine was boycotted throughout most of the world but now South African wine seems set to conquer Europe, having made good starts in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands because ofthe historical links of both these countries with South Africa.
Proud wine-growers will tell you that South Africa is the oldest of the 'New World' wine countries. The reality is that vines were not introduced into South Africa until 1655 while the first vines were planted in
Mexico and Japan in 1530 and in Argentina and Peru around 1560. South Africa certainly started cultivating vines before California (1697) and New Zealand (1813).
South African Wine
Alella is a relatively small Spanish wine-growing area surrounding the town of the same name, slightly north of Barcelona. The area was threatened for many years by expansion of the Catalan capital city. It was only in 1989 that government called a halt to this threat. This Spanish wines of Alella had been granted DO status in 1956 but the area’s history as a wine-growing area date back to the time of the Roman occupation and even earlier. The original wine-growing area surrounded Alella at a height of about 295 feet (90 metres). The soil of these ancient vineyards is mainly sand on underlying granite. The vineyards of Vallès has been officially part of Alella since 1989.
The Algerian wine-making tradition is more than 2,000 years old and wine was exported to Rome for the courts of the Caesars. Moslem domination ended Algerian wine production but grapes were still grown as fresh fruit and for raisins.
Modern Algerian wine production started about 130 years ago with the first French settlers and the first vineyards were planted in 1865. As French vineyards were decimated by phylloxera, many growers moved to Algeria to start again, bringing with them their own regional varieties.
Alicante is the most southerly of the Valencian DO areas. The area under cultivation by vines comprises a fairly large tract of land from the Mediterranean to the foot of the central hills of the Meseta. This region is further subdivided into two sub-areas of La Marina, around Cabo de la Nao inland from Benidorm, and Alicante, around and to he north¬west of the town of the same name. The famous beaches such as Benidorm and Villajoyosa are to be found between these two sub-areas. Oddly enough almost everyone in the world has probably heard of Benidorm but few will have heard of Alicante wine.
Here in Alicante like elsewhere the local growers have been engaged for centuries in the production of wine to trade in bulk, such as the doble pasta wine, a heavy double concentration wine for ‘cutting’ with other wines. Alicante was once famous for its rancio Spanish wine, which sold readily.
Alicante Blancos are mainly made from Merseguera, Macabeo, Planta Fina and (much less these days) Moscatel Romano. These can be dry (seco), medium dry (semi-seco) or sweet (dulce). These Spanish wine are light, fresh, and above all cheap. Alicante’s future will probably lie in the white wines currently being developed that are made with Chardonnay but most of all from Riesling. The initial results, in particular those with Riesling, are astonishing. Drink these white Alicante wines as an aperitif. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine is 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C).
Alicante Rosados are made from Monastrell, Bobal, and Tempranillo. Most of them are seco, but you may also encounter the odd semi-seco rosado. Their combination of freshness coupled with fruitiness and roundness makes them ideal with all fish dishes. Drink this rosado Spanish wine at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).
Alsace wine region lies in the eastern corner of France, sandwiched between the Rhine in the east and the foothills of the Vosges in the west, with Switzerland to the south and Germany to the north east. This region runs for 90 miles along the border and has been fought over for centuries. Historical links explain why the wine making techniques are similar to those of the Rhine and why local names often appear Germanic. There are about 30,000 acres of vineyards, which in good years produce about 150 million bottles.
Alsace is unique in France because usually all wines are labeled according to the seven main grape varieties used. Where this is specified the wine is made 100 per cent from that variety.
Although grapes are grown and wine is made in most American states, only in California and the Pacific northwest are grapes grown in significant quantities. Only wnes from these areas have gainde an international reputation for quality.
California’s reputation has been built on bold, ripe, fruit-driven wines, which often carry their fair-share of new oak. The state has had its problems, with almost every deadly wine disease rearing its ugly head at some stage, yet it has without doubt, some of the world’s best growing conditions.
The Pacific Ocean is hugely influential, moderating a hot climate with its cool breezes and fogs. Most of California’s commercial wines come from the warm and fertile Central Valley, but its premium wines tend to be made from fruit grown much closer to the coast. The Napa Valley, sometimes referred to as the Bordeax of California, is situated just north of San Francisco Bay. As an appellation, Napa has a deversity of soil, climate, and topography, which particularly suits Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A food culture has also evolved here, making it a destionation for the rich and famous. The areas of Sonoma and Carneros, separated from the Napa Valley by the Mayacamus Mountains, are much cooler and are therefore able to specialise in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Warmer districts, such as Dry Creek, are found in northern Sonoma, where some superb Zinfandels are produced, Zinfandel is California’s ‘own grape’. At best it priduces blackberry-flavoured, full-bodied reds, often from old wines. At worst it also makes ‘blush’ of White Zin, a pale relation, bottled with a dash of sweetness.
The small, but up-and-coming Sierra Foothills area is a great source of Rhône and Italian varietals while south of San Francisco lies the region of Santa Cruz which is home to some top-class wineries.
Washington State and Oregon, collectively known as the Pacific northwest, like California lie on the western side of the country. Spanning three adjoingh states, this is an area of rolling hills, rivers and valleys. Washington, with approximately 30,000 acres of vineyards, tends to be the warmer of the two regions. Its plantings focus mostly around the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range.
Oregon, has only 12,000 acres of vine-yards, which have developed in the cooler Willamette Valley, Burgundian and Alsatian grape varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Muscat, thrive here. Oregon gained overnight fame in 1979 when David Lett of the Eyrie Vineyard entred the estate’s 1975 Pinot Noir in a blind wine tasting competition, organised by the Burgundian negociant Robert Drouhin. Although Drouhin’s Chambolle-Musigny 1959 came first, the Eyrie vineyard vet meny famous Burgundy wines to come second. Oregon has been linked whit Pinot Noir ever since.
Over the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, the dry and warm climate of the Columbia Valley is proving to be an excellent area to grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
Look out for the rare wines made wholly of Chardonnay that are still in the experimental stages, but are extremely delicious. This Spanish wine Chardonnay bouquet by being kept in barrels of French oak for a short time. This adds the slightest hint of vanilla that is detectable in the background. This is a light and elegant Spanish wine that resembles a good Chardonnay from the French Catalan Limoux. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine 53.6°F (12°C).
This is the most northerly DO of Catalonia, situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, bordering directly with France. The Catalans call this Emporda-Costa Brava. The area is delineated to the north and west by the Pyrenees and to the east and south east by the Mediterranean. Emporda-Costa Brava once produced sweet, syrupy and heavily oxidised wine such as Penedes. Because of dwindling demand for such wines a major changeover started about 25 years ago. Today Ampurdan-Costa Brava produces excellent, modern, light, and above all fresh wines, which are eagerly bought by the holiday-makers that visit the beaches of Costa Brava, but are also increasingly finding their way to wine lovers abroad. The area has held DO status since 1975.
The majority of wines from Ampurdan-Costa Brava are still rosados made with Garnatxa, frequently supplemented with Cariñena. In addition, both white and red Spanish wines are made here and some excellent Cavas. The largest local producers, the Perelada Group (Cavas del Ampurdan and Castillo de Perelada) have advanced and established the Ampurdan-Costa Brava DO over the years. It is due to this group that this DO has become an established name throughout the world. If you visit the region then in any event visit Castillo de Perelada in the the Ampurdan region. The castle of Perelada is the historical and commercial heart of Perelada and it contains very impressive wine cellars that are centuries old, together with a superb glass and wine museum, to view by appointment.
Our journey through Spain ends in the extreme south of the Iberian Peninsula and on the Canary Islands which lie off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. As wine territories Andalucía and the Canary Islands have two entirely different stories to tell. While the Canary Islands are mainly known for their white, rosé, and red dessert wines, Andalucía almost exclusively produces fortified wines (Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlcecar de Barrameda, Huelva, Montilla-Moriles, and en Málaga).
Great French wines were made here more than fifteen centuries ago. With its 27 appellations the area around Anjou and Saumur has something for everyone. It is a true journey of discovery from which newcomers to wine drinking and connoisseurs will both experience pleasure. The underlying ground is extremely complex around Anjou. Crudely speaking there are two main types: the 'blue' of Anjou which is blue slate and eroded igneous rocks from the Massif Central, and the 'white' Anjou of Saumur, Vouvray, and Montlouis with underlying beds of chalk and tufa.
The most widely grown variety of grape is Chenin Blanc (Pineau de la Loire) for white French wines and both Cabernets for reds French wine. You will also encounter some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for white wines here and there and some Gamay for red wines.
This wine is particularly fruity, particularly suggesting plum and bilberry with a hint of blackberry. It harmonious taste a mild tannin make this a pleasant charmer. Drinking temperature is 57.2- 59°F (14-15°C) .
This is a very dark-coloured wine with intense aromatic power (spices, pepper, vanilla, toast, and red fruits). It is full-bodied, possesses great strength but is not strongly tannic to the tongue with a rounded and mild aftertaste. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62°F (16- 17°C).
This a classic wine produced from the wonderful Bordeaux grape but it possesses less tannin than its French counterparts. The bouquet is reminiscent of red and blue woodland fruits with hints of wood and nuts. The taste is soft, full, and rounded with a long and pleasing aftertaste. Drinking temperature is 60.8°F (16°C) .
The best Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aged in wood for a long period as in France. These top wines such as Pond de Cave Cabernet Sauvignon of Trapiche possess greater aromatic power than their younger counterparts. They have a bouquet of cedarwood, tobacco, vanilla, chocolate, and lots of ripe fruit (such as blackcurrant). Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (16- 17°C).
Malbec and Torrontes form the flagship of Argentine wine. These grapes from south-western France thrive here, especially in Lujan de Cuyo. The colour is dark red tinged with purple and the bouquet is reminiscent of blackcurrants, raspberries, cherries, and plums. The structure and tannin are both strong but mellow with age to form a superb full-bodied and rounded wine of great complexity. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (16- 17°C).
This is the apotheosis of Argentine wines. Only the very best wines are permitted to carry this fiercely sought denomination of origin and they must contain at least SO percent Malbec, all of which must come from the Luca de Cuyo area. The finest of these is probably the Vifia de Santa Isabel Malbec Lujan de Cuyo DOC from the Casa Vinfcola Nieto y Senetiner. It possesses an intense ruby red colouring with purple tinges and has a very fresh and fruity bouquet of red fruit, honey, and vanilla with suggestions of chocolate and sweet wood.
It is an extremely complex wine that is both refined and powerful, full-bodied and rounded, with great potential for keeping. If this wine is a foretaste of what can be expected from Lujan de Cayo in this new century then let there be more. Drinking temperature is 62.6- 64.4°F(17-18°C).
The white Clairette grape is one of the oldest varieties and Clairette de Languedoc is one of the oldest and smallest appellations of Languedoc. The vineyards are situated on the hills of the Herault valley, south of Lodeve, approx. 30 km (19 miles) from the sea.
Drinking temperature this French wine: 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
This is a vin doux naturel from Mireval, between Montpellier and Sete. The vineyards are on the southern slopes of the Gardiole mountain which dominates the Vic lake. The ground is chalky with alluvium here and there and also rocks. This French wine is also made using the Muscat Petit Grains. It is a comforting, fruity wine that is almost like a liqueur.
The charm of Muscat de Mireval is in its refined floral and fruity aromas of jasmine, lime blossom, citrus fruit, and raisins. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 6°C (42.8°F).
The Prontignan vineyards are slightly more southerly than those of Mireval, immediately north of Sete. This Muscat wine is stronger than the previous two and is even more like a liqueur. The bouquet is somewhat less aromatic than the other Muscat wines and generally somewhat coarser, though there are exceptions. The nose does contain recognisable notes of citrus fruit, overripe Muscat grapes or even of raisins. The best Muscat de Prontignan wines develop a superb nose of exotic fruit such as passion fruit, and peach, and are very elegant. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 6°C (42.8°F)
The vineyards of Paugeres are slightly to the north of Beziers, situated on a gently rolling ridge of hills of shale. The area is off-the-beaten track, hilly, but both inviting and intimate. A lithe and silken red wine is produced in the small villages that both smells and taste of ripe fruit and liquorice. After several years of maturing the wine tends towards spicier aromas and notes of leather. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 14- 16°C (57 .2-60.8°F) .
Paugeres also produces a little rose which combines the velvet smooth and fruity character of the red wine with a mellow freshness. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 12°C (53.6°F).
Red and rose St Chin ian wines are produced at the foot of the Montagne Noire, north-east of Beziers. There are two different types of St Chinian: a light, playful wine that is lithe and comforting, with much fruitiness and a heavier, more powerful wine with nose of ripe fruit, bay laurel, and flint. The first type is drunk when young, preferable chilled(12-14°C/53.6-57.2°F) while the latter is better left a few years before drinking at 14-16°C (53.6-57.2°F) for a good taste and a good French wine. Drink the St Chinian rose at 12°C (53.6°F).
The vineyards of St-Jean de Minervois lie amid the maquis and wild Provençal herbs at a height of 200 metres (656 feet) . The soil is a mixture of chalk and shale on a base of red clay. Here too the grape used is exclusively Muscat Petit Grains. A superb, very aromatic French wine is produced in this very small area of 159 hectares. Intense aromas of citrus fruit, fresh Muscat grapes, exotic fruit, and menthol are characteristic of Muscat de St-Jean de Minervois. In spite of its liqueur-like properties, this Muscat is still exceptionally fresh-tasting. Drinking temperature for this French wine 6°C (42.8°F).
The vineyards of Minervois, which are largely arranged on terraces, are situated in a triangle formed by Carcassonne, Narbonne and Beziers. The production is mainly of red French wine but if you search you will also find rose or even the rarer white Minervois. The red wine is fruity, refined, elegant, and well-balanced. There are as many different types of Minervois as there are different terroirs. In the Minervois the wine gives you a free lesson in geology with gneiss, chalk, shale, lignite, and alluvial deposits mixed together in the soil to give the Minervois its own character. Drink this rose French wine (12°C/53.6°F) and the red French wine at 14-16°C (57.2- 60.8°F).
Excellent rose and red French wines are produced from 331 hectares to the north of the fine Medieval town of Carcassonne. Drinking temperature for French wine: 14- 16°C (57.2- 60.8°F) .
This is the most westerly wine-growing area of the Languedoc, located in the triangle formed by Carcassonne, Limoux, and Castelnaudary. Malepere is in the process of achieving Appellation Controlee status. The rose and red French wines from here are fairly light and fruity. Drinking temperature for this French wine: rose 12°C (53 .6°F) , red 14- 16°C (57 .2- 60.8°F) .
The lighter red French wine is a lot like the related Bourgueil. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).
Cabernet Franc here produces a full-bodied wine with aromas of red fruit (redcurrant, wild strawberry, and raspberry), freshly-sliced green pepper (paprika), and violets. Chinon must either be drunk very young (within a year) or after three to five years. In the interim period of two or three years the wine often has less taste and does not release its bouquet. Drink this Cabernet French wine temperature: 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C) . Chinon rose is very fresh and fruity and delicious with meat, pate, terrine, and especially pork and veal. Drinking temperature: 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).
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