Posts Tagged ‘cabernet franc’

Fake it like a pro ...

Fake it like a pro …

 

You’re sophisticated enough to know that a proper bottle of vino is the calling card du jour, but a bit of a novice when it comes to picking out something worthy. And should you actually choose something notable, will you be up to the challenge of carrying on an intelligent conversation about it?

We asked Michael Fagan, wine ‘Matchmaker’ with one of the world’s largest wine purchasers, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), for a few tips to help us fake it like a pro.

How to choose a good wine

“We’re easily influenced as consumers by media, fashion, and friends, so when it comes to wine many of us are insecure and don’t know if we can trust our own taste. We don’t know that we know enough about wine to be right. So many consumers will buy a label, what their friends buy, or what they read in an advertisement.

The best way to learn about wine is to taste it. When you’re tasting the wines, don’t worry too much about where it comes from, think about its characteristics and whether you like it or not. The more you familiarize yourself with different wines, the easier it is to understand where your preferences lie.”

Wines are made of fermented grape juice, and each variety of grapes has unique characteristics determined by geographical region, grower, growing conditions and time of picking. Icewine, for example, is extremely sweet because it is picked very late in the season when the grapes are frozen on the vines. The water in the grapes has frozen solid, which allows the grower to squeeze the sweetest, most concentrated liquid from the frozen grapes. Common red wine varieties are Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. White wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Price versus Quality

The price of a wine is determined by the origin of the grapes. Generally speaking, wines labelled as Table wines can be made from grapes grown from anywhere within a large region such as France, whereas the grapes for a more expensive wine, come from a smaller sub region or village, or even one single vineyard. Luxury wines can be upwards of hundreds to thousands of dollars. One of the most expensive wines in the world is the 1787 Chateau Lafitte, valued at $160,000 and comes from the cellar of former US President Thomas Jefferson.

The country of origin can also influence price, Fagan explains.

 

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The gateway to fine wines in South Africa's, Western Cape.

The gateway to fine wines in South Africa’s, Western Cape.

 

As European winemakers brave freezing temperatures to finish their winter pruning, more than 12,000 kilometers away South African vineyard workers are battling the heat as they prepare for this year’s harvest.

With temperatures rising to as high as 35 degrees Celsius, the first grapes to ripen are the Sauvignon Blanc, then Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, followed by Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Merlot. The next sweep through the vineyards includes Syrah, Cabernet Franc and finally, as we move into March, Cabernet Sauvignon.

This trio of bold red grape varieties may be last into the cellar, but any aficionado who appreciates brooding, dark oak-aged red wine will tell you, these are definitely worth the wait. Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah may make up only 22% of South Africa’s vineyard plantings but together could represent an entree into the higher echelons of the world’s fine-wine market.

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Sassicaia

 

The table wine that put Tuscan cabernet sauvignon on the map is now one of the most sought-after Italian reds in the world. Kerin O’Keefe reports.

Sassicaia is the Italian wine world’s rock star, and not just because of the unusual rocky soils where the wine’s grapes are cultivated. A rebel when it was first released in 1971, Sassicaia – like the defiant rock musicians of the same period – shook up the status quo and spawned generations of imitators.

It can also claim the title of Original Super Tuscan as it was the first of Tuscany’s renegade wines to break with the antiquated rules that governed Italian winemaking in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although no longer a revolutionary, Sassicaia is one of Italy’s most iconic and seductive wines.

Sassicaia was the brainchild of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted cabernet sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri in 1944, back when this strip of Tuscan coast – known as the Maremma – was a mosquito-infested backwater with no tradition of quality winemaking.

According to Mario’s son Nicolò, who has run the property since his father died in 1983, “my father loved fine Bordeaux and decided to try his hand at making red wine. He chose the first and subsequent vineyards not only for the right sun exposure and altitude, but above all for their rocky soils – unique in Bolgheri and Italy but similar to the gravel found in Graves.”

Sassicaia, a derivative of “sassi” – Italian for rocks or stones – owes its catchy name to this uncommon soil. Nicolò also points out that the original cabernet sauvignon his father planted in the 1940’s was not imported from Château Lafite, as legend often states. Rather, it hailed from 50-year-old vine cuttings cultivated on a friend’s estate near Pisa, which have long since been pulled up.
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