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  • RHONE wine and region

    Rhone Winecellar FranceThe vineyards of the Rhone extend from just below Lyon as far south as Avignon straddling both sides of the river but not continuously. In the north, the vineyard belt is rarely more than a few hundred yards wide, while in the south the vineyards stretch out into the widening valleys.

    The northern vineyards are hot and rocky and all the famous red wines are produced from the Syrah grape, while in the south where many of the wines are blended there have been enormous improvements in the past few years.

  • Right side

  •  The Rio Douro (golden river) lends its name to the north-eastern part of Portugal. This wine-growing territory has been known for its wines for more than 2,000 years, especially for the very

    special vinho do Porto, which is better known as port or port wine.Whilst port has been made here for centuries it seems as if far more table wines are now also being made in the Douro valley. In recent years indeed there has been more unfortified wine produced than port. The vineyards of the Upper Douro start about 62 miles (100 km inland of the harbour town of Porto. The majority of them are sited on hills of basalt and granite. The climate is fairly dry of the semi-continental type with fairly big temperature ranges between the hot summers and cold winters.

    Good quality red and white wines are produced here, varying in style depending on the variety of grapes used and the wishes of the wine-maker. The choice for white wines is made from Malvasia Pina, Rabigato, Viosinho, Donzelinho, Verdelho, and many others. The red wine grapes are Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Prancisca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto cao. Although the different types of Douro wine vary widely there has been an enormous leap forward in their quality in recent decades. Douro Branco is a fresh lively and sometimes very aromatic wine with a delicate and refined taste. It is certainly not a heavy wine. This wine must be at least 11 % alcohol and it is required to have aged for at least nine months in the bottle before being sold. Drinking temperature is 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C) .

    Douro Tinto exists in many styles. Some of them are young, fruity, almost playful, while others are intentionally more robust and powerful. This depends on the grapes used, method of vinification, and length of cask maturing that has been undergone. All Douro reds must be at least eighteen months old before they may be sold and contain at least 11 % alcohol. Whichever Douro you may choose, they are always surprisingly good value for money.

    The modern style wines are very colourful and fruity.They are velvet smooth, juicy, and very tasty. The traditional style wines are fairly dark, very aromatic, often somewhat rustic with hints of terroir including granite. Drinking temperature is 53.6-57.2°F (12- 14°C ) for the modern-style wines and 57.2- 62.6°F (14-17°C) for the traditional ones.

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  • Romanian Wine in Moldova

    Romania Wine GrapesThis area with is renowned vineyards of Cotnari, Odobesti, Panciu, Nicoresti, Husi, and Dealurile Moldovei, borders the Ukraine (Russian Federation). The soil chiefly consists of a mixture of humus and chalk.

    Many Romanian wines here are made from the native grapes of Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Negra, and Galbena, possibly supplemented with or even supplanted by imported grapes such as Rhine Riesling, Welsch Riesling, Pinot Gris, Traminer, or Sauvignon Blanc.

  •    Rosé wines are made from black grapes, which are crushed and fermented with the skins until there is a little colour extraction.

    Rosé wines The wine is drawn off the skins and complets its fermentation at a low temperature. An alternative technique is the Saignee method which is used on de-stalked grapes. These are not crushed but vatted for 12-14 hours, after which the juice is ros off and fermented without skin contact.

     There are some exciting styles of rosé on the market, including traditional wines such as Tavel and Sancerre Rosé, which contrast with the vibrant and fruity examples from the southern hemisphere, such as the Grenache/Shiraz blends from Australia, and Malbec Rosé from Argentina.


     Rosé should be drunk as a young, juicy, fresh wine. The best examples exhibit flavours of ripe red fruits, but with crisp acidity. They are often good choices to accompany Indian food, salmon fillet and cold meats. Rosé offers a freshness that makes it an ideal drink on a hot day.

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    Chateau Cheval Blanc Saint-EmilionKnown as much for its architecture as for the excellence of its wines, Saint-Émilion dates from the Middle Ages. An interesting and unusual town, it has been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, it is a jewel-box of old stone, built on a picturesque half-circle of hills facing the Dordogne valley. Its steep and narrow streets, its Roman and Gothic churches, its convents and cloisters all point to its prestigious past.

    The main monuments still visible are the grotto of the hermit, Saint-Émilion, which faces the remains of his disciples’ monastery; the catacombs; and, next to these, the monolithic church, one of France’s largest underground churches.

  • Saint-Estéphe (A.O.C.) BORDEAUX WINE

    Saint Estephe Bordeaux WineThe Saint-Estéphe commune is one of the most northerly of the Haut-Medoc. It enjoys an exceptional location along the Gironde, which is visible from most of the hilltops that make up this region.

    The commune’s first known activity dates from the Middle Bronze Age, and its first vines were planted during the Roman occupation. As with other privileged wine-growing communes of the Medoc, Bordeaux wine merchants have played a key role in establishing the region’s reputation by storing and promoting the sale of its wines. The main estates were created in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, small and medium-sized estates are again being grouped to create larger properties.

    This hilly region’s gravelly out-crops, consisting of quartz and stone mixed with light and sandy soil, have excellent natural drainage. This is reinforced in the south by the Saint-Vincent channel, which takes the water of the Lafite marsh to the estuary, and in the north by the Mappon canal, which carries the water of the Vertheuil marsh.

  • Saint-Julien (A.O.C.) Bordeaux Wine

    Saint Julien Bordeaux Wine RegionThe Saint-Julien parish has existed since the seventh century according to some historians, the eighth according to others. In its early days the parish was in the archdiocese of Moulis. Known as Saint-Julien-de-Reignac, the commune changed its name to Saint-Julien-Beychevelle in the first half of the twentieth century, adding the name of the small port and hamlet whose activity contributed to the wine’s fame. During the seventeenth century a few aristocrats and well- informed owners discovered the terroirsexceptional wine-growing potential.

    This commune, practically in the center of the Haut-Médoc, is separated from Cussac in the south by marshland created by two streams originating in the Saint-Laurent region. Rising up from the Beychevelle marsh is the attractive gravelly crest of Beychevelle, and on the north-east is the Saint-Julien hilltop, separated from Pauillac by the Juillac stream.

  •   The south west of the United States is not really suited to wine-growing with the exception of certain parts of Texas. But American derermination can overcome much and the odd place has been found here and there to grown vines after a long search.KN85T8SFFEJC

     The South and Middle-East region is enormous and the vineyards are spread widely. They lie between Denver in the centr of the United States, Columbia on the eastern seaboard, south to a line formed by Austin, New Orleans, and Orlando, and finally Florida.


    The first pioneers, but more particularly the first monks, planted the first vineyards in New Mexico. The territory now known as New Mexico and Texas was then part of the Spanish Empire. German immigrants introduced wine-growing to Missouri, Georgia, and Carolina in the nineteenth century. Other immigrants did the same in Arkansas. These vineyards, which combined European Vitis vinferawith many native and hybrid varieties, have never become well-known and their wines were all intended for local consumption.


    When wine-growing and making started to catch on in America in the 1960s and 1970s, the growers of South Carolina saw their opportunity. The area of vines in cultivation in Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida has also been substantially extended and the cultivation and varieties improved during the past twenty years.

    The climate is not really favourable, for the summers are extremly hot and the winters severe. It is too dry in the north of the region but irrigation can work wonders. In the south on th other hand it is too wet but here growers seek out places that are sighted at higher levels, where it is more windy and drier. The extensive area has a number of official palces of origin or AVAs. These include Texas Hill Contry, Bell Mountain, Frederichsburg, and Escondido in Texas; New Mexico, Missouri, and Virginia. Although there are still many native and hybrid varieties grown in these area the houses that are really serios about wine are increasingly switching to Vitis vineferavarieties.


    There is on native grape thougt that springs a surprise: the Scuppernong, which makes a pleasing and very aromatic Muscat-like sweet wine in some of the southern states. All the other native and hybrid varieties are really only intended for local cosumption.

     The most widly used varieties of grape now are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Trebbiano, Chenin Blanc, and Colombard for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Zinfandel for wine reds. Although you will rarelly encounter these wines in Europe, the wines from Texas are worht discovering.

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  • Tarragona Spanish wine

    Tarragona wine and region

    The vineyards of Tarragona were already in existence in Roman times. In those times loads of full-bodied, strong, and sweet fortified Tarragona wines were shipped to Rome. The trade was later taken over by the French at which point Tarragona flourished in the sale of wine in bulk volume. This heavy wine was very suitable for ‘cutting’ various so-called French wines, and trade flourished, especially after Algeria, which was the former main supplier, gained its independence. A small amount of Tarragona Classico is still produced today but in common with the rest of Penedés the emphasis has now increasingly been placed on quality wines. Much has changed since the 1960s but to a less spectacular extent than in Penedés.

  • In addition to the previously mentioned generic wines, Alto Adige also produces wines from strictly defined areas or 'crus'. The quality of these wines is often higher than the ordinary Alto Adige. All the wines named have their own DOC denomination.


    This wine area near Bolzano makes red wine at least 90% Schiava grapes, supplemented as needed with Pinot Nero or Lagrein. The colour is ruby red, with intensity and shade depending on vinification and proportion of grapes. Both nose and taste are mellow and fruity. A delicious but unpretentious wine. Drink at 53.6- 57.2°F (12- 14°C).

     *** the best italian WINE ***


    This wine is made in the hills that jut out above the small town of Merano. The red is chiefly made with Schiava grapes is ruby colour, mellow and fruity scented and juicy and pleasant in taste. This is an unpretentious wine that is suitable for all occasions. Drinking temperature is 53.6- 57.2°F (12- 14°C).



    The vineyards of this wonderful wine can be found in the hills around Bolzano. The vines are the Schiava grape, although these may be supplemented with no more than 10% Pinot Nero and/or Lagrein, which contribute their own character. The colour is ruby to intense granite red, the nose subtle and seductive with a hint of wild violets and the taste is mellow and smooth, rounded, juicy, with light bitter almond aftertaste. This gorgeous wine keeps well. Drinking temperature is 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).

     *** the best italian WINE ***


    The Terlano vineyards run parallel to the Adige river in the province of Bolzano. This white wine is made with Pinot Bianco (WeiEburgunder), Chardonnay, Riesling Halico (Welsch Riesling), Riesling Renano (Rheinriesling), Sylvaner (Silvaner), Riesling x Sylvaner (Mliller-Thurgau), or Sauvignon Blanc.

    These grapes can be used to make single grape wines comprising no less than 90% of them, or ordinary bianco with different proportions, which must be indicated. All of these wines are green-yellow when young, becoming more yellow with age. They have fresh acidity and are very aromatic in both nose and taste. Drink at (46.4-50°F (8- 10°C) except the Chardonnay varietals which are better at 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C).

    There are also dry (extra brut) or less dry (brut) Spumante versions that are fresh, fruity, aromatic, and elegant. These make an excellent aperitif. Drink at (42.8-46.4°F (6- 8°C). Those wines that originate from the heart of the Terlano area are permitted to add Classico to their name.



    The vineyards of this denominated wine are sited relatively high, some of them above 2,000 feet (600 metres), which demands additional input from the growers. The area is situated close to Bolzano in the Isarco valley. Mainly white wines are produced here using grapes such as Pinot Grigio (Rulander), Sylvaner (Silvaner), Veltliner, Riesling x Sylvaner (Miiller-Thurgau), Kerner, and Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer), and a small amount of red wine from Schiava, Lausner, and Leitacher grapes. The white wine has a green tinge and is fresh, subtle, fruity, and juicy.

    Pinot Grigio and Traminer Aromatico generally make wines with a bigger taste than the other wines.

    Drinking temperature is 46.4-50°F (8-10°C) for Sylvaner, Veltliner, and Kerner and 50-53.6°F (10-12°C) for the others. The Klausner Leitacher is ruby red in colour, has a mild nose with freshly acidic and fulsome flavour. Drink it with red meat at 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).

     *** the best italian WINE ***


    This is a very traditional wine area that mainly produces whites using Chardonnay, Kerner, Riesling x Sylvaner (Miiller-Thurgau), Pinot Bianco (WeiEburgunder), Pinot Grigio (Rulander), Riesling, and Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer). A small amount of red is made from Schiava (Vernatsch) and Pinot Nero (Blauburgunder). The whites have a green tinge, fresh nose and taste, and are fruity and aromatic. Drink at 46.4-50°F (8-10°C) for Pinot Bianco and Kerner, 50-53.6°F (10-12°C) for Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Traminer Aromatico, and Miiller-Thurgau. The Schiava reds are ruby coloured, taste and smell delicious and fruity, and are suitable for serving throughout a meal. Drinking temperature is 53.6- 57.2°F (12- 14°C).

    Pinot Nero reds are also ruby hued with a trace of orange and their characteristic nose has both vegetal and animal notes. The taste is filled with flavour but is mellow and well-balanced. There is a discernible bitterness in the aftertaste. Drink at 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).



    This is another well-known quality wine from the Alto Adige. As indicated in the name, the vineyards are close to Lake Caldaro. Superb reds are produced here using various types of Schiava grape, sometimes supplemented with Pinot Nero or Lagrein.

    *** the best italian WINE ***

     The colour varies between bright ruby and dark red while bouquet and taste are mellow, fruity, and elegant. A hint of bitter almond can be detected in the aftertaste.There are also Classico, and Classico Superiore from the heart of the area. The superior wine has 1 % more alcohol than the ordinary Caldaro and Caldaro Classico. Drink at 53.6- 57.2°F (12-14°C).

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  • The Beaujolais 'satellites'

    Although they do not officially fall under the Beaujolais classification, the following three wine regions produce wines that closely resemble Beaujolais in both character and taste. All three of the red wines are made With the Gamay grape.

    burgundy WINE *** french WINE


    This ancient vineyard is a victim of the expansion of Lyon. It is a friendly, light, but generous wine with pronounced f ruity nose. Drink this French wine chilled to about 53.6°F (12°C). Chardonnay   and Aligote whites are also produced here.


    This is a very clear, ruby red coloured wine that is strong on fruit and has a light, pleasing taste. Chill this French wine to about 53.6°F (12°C).

    burgundy WINE *** french WINE



    These are light, friendly wines that are very fruity. The rose is ideal to serve with informal lunches and picnics. The red wine is ideal for warm summer evenings, for instance with a cold buffet. Serve borth French wines at about 53.6°F (12°C).{jcomments on}

  •  Italy is a long and narrow peninsula in the form of a thigh-high wading boot. The island of Sicily that is shaped like a bunch of grapes lies off the toe of the boot with the larger island of Sardinia above it.

     Italian wine-growing has clearly defined areas in the same way as France and Spain. Wine-growing takes place throughout the peninsula except in the highest mountains. In the north of the country the Alps run from west to east. while the Apennines run down the country from the centre to the south from north to south. The mountains, which form the back bone of the country, do account though for about 40% of the area cultivated by vines. Vineyards can be found in every sheltered valley. Between the two areas of mountains is the fertile Po valley. Although there are countless micro climates throughout Italian vineyards, in general terms the north has a continental climate while the south enjoys a Mediterranean climate. The vineyards are never far from the sea so that extremes of temperature are moderated. In broad terms, the geology of the north is chalk bearing while the south and Sicily is of volcanic origin.

    Grape varieties and types of wine Italy is a veritable labyrinth of vineyards from which the enthusiastic wine connoisseur can discover more than 2,000 different types of grape. Most of these grapes have been growing in the peninsula for almost 3,000 years. There are ancient native grapes but also vines that were introduced by the Greeks and then more modern varieties, which mainly originate from France. Italy has a total of about 14 DOCG wine denominations, 270 DOC denominations, and 115 IGT wines. When you consider that most production areas make white, rose, and red wines and that some denominated areas may use 20 different varieties of grapes it becomes obvious that it is impossible to give a complete survey of all Italian wines. This book will concentrate on the most popular wines and where possible mention the others.

    Virtually every type of wine that exists is to be found in Italy from superb dry sparkling wines (spumante), made in the same traditional way as in Champagne, or by the charmatlcuve-close (sealed tank) method; or seductive sweet sparkling Moscato wine; dry white wine that is fresh, light and fruity or fullbodied white wine that is cask aged in small French barriques;

     semi-sweet (abbocato) or sweet (dolce) white wine and rose; light and fruity or full-bodied and powerful red wines; and finally a number of different late harvested grape wines (passito), such as the sweet Recioto and Vin Santo or the dry Recioto Amarone. Whatever you want, Italy has it.

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  •    In comparison of the rest of France, the Loire has a cool climate. The area is capable of producing a wide range of wines, from light, dry, and crisp whites, to rosé, mediun-bodied reds, and luscious dessert wines.

      It is also a region where extremely good sparking wines are made. It was not until the mid 1940s that the Loire’s wines began to gain a reputation outside their local markets but since then, the region’s white wines, in particular, have featured on many restaurant wine lists. The Loire is the longest river in France and provides an entry to four main wine areas which lie between the Atlantic and the cebtre of France. Around Nantes, the influence of the sea is evident, while inland, the so-called central vineyards, including Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, have a continental climate. Anjou-Saumur and Touraine lie between these two extremes. The vast size of the region means theat there are many different soil types, but chalk and clay are the most prominent for a good white wine.

     Loire Valley WineThe most important grape varieties are Muscadet, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for the best white wines, and Cabernet Franc for red wines, with a little Pinot Noir grown in and aroud Sancerre. Muscadet, is a dry, fresh and crisp white wine, and a seafood wine ‘par excellence’. The term ‘sur lie’, usually assocuated with better-qualty Muscadet, indicates that the wine has spent time maturig on the lees and is bottled directly, to give added concentration and a faint pickle of carbon dioxide. In Anjou-Saumur, mostly dry or medium sweet white wines are produced form the Chenin Blanc grape. As well as having a bearing of the wines, the local chalk soil is evident in the extraordinary buildings typical of the area, where the white stone has a striking effect.

     Many of the sweet wines come from the sheltered area around the river Layon, a tributary of the Loire and are affected by noble rot. They are some of the hidden gems of the wine world and, like many of the white wines made from the Chenin Blanc, can age amazingly well. The best red wines of the Loire are made from the Cabernet Franc grape, in the subdistrict of Touraine. Generally medium-bodied, these delicious and elegant wines are made to drink young, but can also surprise with mid-term cellaring. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint Nicholas de Bourgueil and Saumur Champigny are four appellations to look out for. Frustratingly, there’s some variation with the quality of wines from Vouvray and Montlouis but the best white wines are magnificent expression of the Chenin Blanc grape.

    Wine Loire Valley Sancerre wine takes its name from the hilltop town of the area. The district’s wines are arguably the word’s most famous appellation connected to the tangy, piquant wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Across the river Loire and just a few miles away, is Pouilly Sur Loire, home to Pouilly-Fume, where the white wines are produced from Sauvignon. Tending to be a little sterner, they are very good with food. Due to its proximity to the central vineyards are made from the Pinot Noir grape. Look out too, for the wines of Quincy, Reyilly, and Menetou Salon.

      Many of the white wines of the Loire Valley age remarkably well, changing in character from the mineral, flintlike flavours of youth to an almost honey-and-apricot textured complexity. Even 50-60-year-old wines can be in perfect shape.    Read more about Valley of the Loire here...

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  • Top wine

  • Valdepeñas wine and region

    Valdepenas Spanish wineA quick glance at a wine map of Spain will reveal that Valdepeñas is actually an enclave in the southern part of La Mancha. The traditional trading centre of Valdepeñas lies at the heart of the wine-growing area that bears its name. Valdepeñas is situated somewhat lower than the rest of the Meseta in a broad valley encircled by small hills on the boundary between the Meseta en Andalucía.

    The Spanish wine from Valdepeñas, in common with much of the Meseta, was thick, sticky, and very alcoholic. It was as if time had stood still with the same type of wine being produced at the start of the nineteenth century that had been made in Roman times. The wine was stored in huge earthenware jugs or tinajas, often covered by nothing more than a couple of straw mats. When the railway reached Valdepeñas in 1861 it was decided to improve the quality of the Spanish wines. Less wine was made but of better quality and it was sold to wealthy consumers in Madrid, on the coast, and even as far afield as the Americas and the Philippines.


      The picturesque valley of Aosta is in the north of Piedmont, at the foot of the mighty Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. The Aosta valley owes more in terms of culture to the Francophone Swiss and the French from Savoie than to the rest of Italy. 

     This can be seen in both the local place names and the names of the wines such as Donnaz, Enfer d'Arvier, Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. You are unlikely though to encounter the wines from the Valle d'Aosta elsewhere for production is quite limited and the local inhabitants and passing tourists can happily consume it all.



    This is an exceptionally delicious gentle dry white wine that is delicate with a distinctive bouquet of mountain herbs and grass and a fresh taste due to the presence of carbonic acid. This wine is often drunk with the local cheese fondue of Toma and Fontina. Drinking temperature 46.4-50°F (8- 10°C).


  •   The wine territory of the Vinhos Verdes is situated in the north west of Portugal, just below Spanish Galicia and north of the town of Porto. The area extends between the de Minho river which forms a natural border with Spain and the Douro river in the south, between the coast and the foot

      of the eastern mountains. The area has the appearance of a natural amphitheatre in which the vines and wine­ growers play the leading roles in a mythological play.

    Portugal wine mapWine-growing in the Vinhos Verde can be traced back to Roman times but it is probable that the Celts made wine here long before that as they did in neighbouring Galicia. The wine-growing strength of this region lies in the combination of an ideally suitable microclimate, the suitable soil (granite overlaid with sand and humus) , the gentle contours of the landscape, and the excellent traditional and ancient grape varieties.

    The vineyards of the Vinhos Verde comprise about 10% of the total area of vines in cultivation on the Portuguese mainland. The biggest producing areas are Viana de Castelo, Porto, and Braga. The manner in which the vines are cultivated in the Vinhos Verdes is very striking for instead of pruning to keep them low, the vines are trained upwards to more than 6 feet high (2 metres). This is done to prevent the grape from rotting in the humid climate that rules in these parts.

    The vines are trained along trellis, pergolas, or even cruciform concrete structures and they are usually harvest from below by standing on a trailer drawn behind a tractor.

    The Vinhos Verdes (literally 'green wines') get their name from the attractive green countryside and not as some suggest because of the acidity of the wines. It is also quite wrong to believe that Vinhos Verdes are only white wines, since more red wine is actually produced but this is consumed locally by the inhabitants and many tourists. The relatively low alcoholic content of these wines (8.5% or more) makes them especially popular for it is possible to enjoy drinking   them in greater volume. These Vinhos Verdes should ideally be consumed within one year and not more than two of their harvest. The only exception to this is wine from the sub­region of Monc;ao, made entirely from Alvarinho grapes. These Vinhos Verdes Alvarinho are undoubtedly the best of their type and can also be kept longer.

    Vinho Verdes Portugal WineThe grape varieties used for the ordinary Vinhos Verde   include   Alvarinho,   Avesso,   Loureiro, Pedermi, and Trajadura for whites and Azal Tinto, Borrac;al, Brancelho, Padeiro de Basto, and Pedral for red wines.

    The Vinhos Verdes Brancos are ideal aperitifs with their slight carbonic acid sparkle. The fine bubbles are formed naturally by quickly bottling the wine following a second fermentation (malolactic fermentation). Carbonic acid gas is given off during this second fermentation and by quick bottling at this stage the tiny bubbles are captured in the bottle.

    The bubbles give the wine additional freshness in its taste. This wine is about 10% alcohol, making them tasty thirst-quenchers. Drinking temperature is 46.4- 50°F (8- 10°C).

     The Vinhos Verdes Alvarinho are better quality and are slightly more alcoholic. Drinking temperature is 50-53.6°F (1O- 12°C).Vinhos Verdes Tinto are just as light and refreshing as the white wines but have perhaps slightly more body. Drink this wine with lunch. Drinking temperature is 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C).

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  • Storing wine

    Store WineIf you are buying wine to lay down, the problem is where to keep it. Having made the investment it is essential to store the wine properly until it is ready for drinking. The ideal store is the old-fashioned cellar, where the air temperature is constant, the humidity is not too high and there is a reasonable flow of air. Modem architecture, however, means few of us have this luxury.

    The main requirement in choosing storage space is finding a place where the temperature does not fluctuate. Wine can withstand cold but it cannot cope with constantly changing temperatures. There is a lot of nonsense talked about correct temperatures, but obviously a storage spot next to the hot water boiler is not suitable, nor is a space in the attic, where the sun’s heat can raise the temperature by many degrees each day, before it plunges back down during the night.

  •   California’s climate is quite varied, which is not surprising given the large area of the state. In rough terms the climate on the coast is similar to the Mediterranean with warm summers and mild winters. Summer in the Central Valley is exceptionally hot and dry, while summer in the area immediately behind the coast is much moister and can be misty.

     The highest temperatures are in the Central Valley and the mildest are on the coast. The North Coast vineyards get the most rainfall. The soil is also varied as a result of the many earthquakes that hane occured throughout the area. The soil varies from alluvial and sedimentary deposits to strata of volcanic origin.

    The notion of terroir that is so strong in Europe is not given much credence in California. The variety of grape is far more likely to be chosen as suitable for the climate than the soil.

    In the past when grapes were just regarded as yet anothe crop, the vines were planted in the most fertile soil, where the highest yield could be expected. This, when combined with the high wine yield from the grapes, expains why the wines used to be so ponderous and characterless. Fortunately the best growers have put an end to that policy.

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