Posts Tagged ‘Sauvignon’

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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Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

 

Few words in the UK wine market provoke a reaction as polarising as “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc”.

For a host of consumers those heady aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry and the entire spectrum of fruit salad ingredients in between act like catnip. Among others, however, including many in the trade itself, it is possible to detect a degree of fatigue with New Zealand’s hugely successful flagship style.

This latter camp saw its numbers swell when the bumper 2008 vintage saw shelves flooded with discounted stock. On top of oversupply came the observation from several corners that quality was slipping as fast as the prices. Just as this golden goose was starting to look decidedly wobbly on its feet, New Zealand’s producers regrouped, rallied and within just a few years have taken major strides towards revitalising the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc landscape.

At a mainstream level, the classic style is clearly going stronger than ever – just visit a UK supermarket and compare the shelf space dedicated to this single combination of variety and region with the area allocated to other entire countries. Against this backdrop of stability, however, many Marlborough producers have now identified an opportunity – a need even – to shake up the stereotype and show what else they can do.
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From its first vintage 15 years ago, Durbanville Hills Wines, which is located on the Tygerberg Hills and overlooks Table Mountain and Table Bay, has produced some of the best received super premium wines in the country.

Cellar master Martin Moore, who was appointed in 1998 when the cellar was still in the early stages of construction, reminisces fondly of the first vintage and the memorable wines produced in 1999.

“When the first grapes were delivered to the presses, work had not even started on that part of the building which today houses the maturation cellar, restaurant and wine-tasting area.

“But regardless of the challenges both the Luipaardsberg Merlot and the Biesjes Craal Sauvignon blanc from our first vintage received double gold at Veritas while the Durbanville Hills Chardonnay was awarded gold. During that first vintage just over 3 000 tons of grapes were pressed. Within a few short years production moved up to reach the cellar’s full capacity of 8 000 tons,” says Moore.

“Over the years we have extended our product range to showcase the diverse terroir of the area. During the 15 years we have created a number of what I believe are quite remarkable wines; wines which in my view truly capture the unique flavour spectrum found on our valley slopes.”

Durbanville Hills has over the years become particularly known for its top-quality Sauvignon blanc, due also to the cool-climate location of its production units which all enjoy ideal conditions for growing this cultivar.

“During the summer months and then mostly in the late afternoon, the southeaster , blows off False Bay over the Cape Flats, bringing with it cool, moist air. The wind is surprisingly cold as it comes sweeping over the contours of the hills, cooling down the vineyards even on the hottest day. And when the southeaster is not blowing, a westerly wind coming off the cold Atlantic produces the same results,” says Moore.

Sauvignon blanc is represented across the cellar’s three wine ranges. All of them regularly receive awards at national and international competitions. Although the wines can be enjoyed immediately, the winery’s Sauvignon blancs are known for their longevity, with the Biesjes Craal in particular lasting for up to ten years.

The wines are available from the cellar and leading liquor outlets and retail for about R52 in the case of the 2012 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc and R85 for the 2012 Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc while you should expect to pay about R115 for the 2012 Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc.

 

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After 6 weeks of working 15 hour days, the wine harvest in the Durbanville area is in final hour!

Here is a view photographs snapped on my iphone 5:

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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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New research “empowers” sauvignon blanc producers.

It’s hard to believe that New Zealand sauvignon blanc didn’t exist before 1973. Local winemakers were more interested in turning out bulk-produced Müller-Thurgau. How times change.

Today, sauvignon blanc is one of the country’s major exports, along with lamb, Flight of the Conchords and “The Lord of the Rings.” The aromatic varietal represents four out of every five bottles of wine that leave New Zealand shores. With such a reliance on this cat’s-pee-in-a-gooseberry-bush grape, the industry launched extensive research to explore its key aroma and flavor compounds, and how they relate to viticulture and winemaking.

“In our research program, we wanted to understand the unique characters of New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” explains Dr Simon Hooker, general manager for research at N.Z. Winegrowers. “What are its sensory attributes? Can they be linked back to viticultural management? Are they generated in the vineyard, through winemaking processes, or by the yeasts?”

The findings of six years of research are revealed in a new book, “The Science of Sauvignon Blanc,” authored by U.K. wine writer – and plant biologist – Dr. Jamie Goode.

Hooker says the book presents a “very user-friendly” overview of the questions that prompted the research, and provides the wine industry with “new tools for driving flavor.”

So what did the study program reveal?

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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?

 

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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