Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet’

Chateau Hansen's vineyards near the Gobi desert.

Chateau Hansen’s vineyards near the Gobi desert.

Chinese winery Chateau Hansen, based on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is set to sell a new icon wine for €500 a bottle in its home market.

 

Hansen, based in Wuhai, Inner Mongolia, is poised to release the new wine, a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon called Red Camel, this summer.

Up to 10,000 bottles of Red Camel will be produced, sourced from a single parcel of vines in organic vineyards in the neighbouring region of Ningxia.

The grapes are harvested in two waves: the first batch, making up about two-thirds of the blend, when the grapes reach about 12% alcohol; and the second very late, when the vines are bare and the grapes are beginning to shrivel.

 
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Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga.

 

Pop sensation Lady Gaga’s favourite wines have been revealed during a court case with her former personal assistant Jennifer O’Neill.

 

Details of the Italian-American singer’s tour rider came out in court this week, revealing that wine features among the backstage demands Gaga makes of each venue she visits.

In addition to bizarre requests like a life-sized mannequin, Gaga asks for “two bottles of good white wine”, preferably Chardonnay, and “one bottle of quality red wine.”

Perhaps in order of preference, the singer specifies her favourite red varieties on the rider as Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The case also unveiled Gaga as something of a turophile, with the singer requesting brie, sharp cheddar, goat’s cheese and Dutch gouda at every show.

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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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A distinctive eucalypt smell makes Australian reds easy to spot in a blind tasting. But how does it get into the wines?

 

mint-info0

 

Would you like some mint in your cabernet? Or perhaps a dash of eucalypt in your shiraz? If so, you’ll need a vineyard near eucalyptus trees and Australia has plenty of those on offer, endowing the country’s red wines with a distinctly minty character.

The aromatic compound that causes this character is called 1,8-cineole. First identified by a German scientist in 1884, it is the main component found in the oil from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. But to this day, nobody has quite fathomed out its journey from tree to bottle.

There have been conflicting theories. A French study suggested that the compound originated in eucalyptus trees surrounding vineyards and was airborne, while an Italian group proposed that aromatic compounds in grapes, known as terpenes, were the creators of 1,8-cineole.

In an attempt to get to the heart of the issue, the Australian Wine and Research Institute (AWRI) in Adelaide set out to confirm just why so many of the country’s cabernet sauvignon and shiraz-based wines are affected. In a study of 190 wines, it found that the existence of eucalyptus trees near grapevines can influence the concentration of the compound. The closer the trees, the higher the concentration of the minty smell.

Digging deeper, the AWRI then discovered that the machine harvesting of rows close to eucalyptus trees was likely to result in leaves from the trees being mixed in with the bins of grapes. Among their key findings, the scientists reported that even hand harvesting could “result in a surprising number of eucalyptus leaves in the picking bins.” From their experiments, they concluded that the “presence of eucalyptus leaves and, to a lesser extent, grape-vine leaves and stems in the harvested grapes” were the “main contributor to 1,8-cineole concentrations in the wine.”

But that didn’t explain how even meticulous producers, who remove the eucalyptus leaves from their grapes before processing the fruit, still end up with a minty smell in their cabernets. The answer, it appears, can be found in the… read on