Cheers from Vintage Connections Thanks to Brad and Christy at Pinnacle Ridge Winery for hosting our wine seminars at the winery on May 12, 13, 26 and 27. For more information on these seminars, go to our other blog at Vintage Connections Wine Info.
Go to last week's Grapevine posting for information about the wine tasting process. These simple steps will help you enjoy and appreciation wine even more than you already might. Over the past two weeks, we also discussed the variable characteristics and tasting of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, the three most popular white wines in the world.
Back to the Basics
This week and next, we'll discuss several of the most popular red wines in the world: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir. Join us at our wine tasting seminars at Pinnacle Ridge to taste and talk about these three reds and the three white wines we discussed over the past two weeks.
Cabernet Sauvignon is, arguably, the premier red wine grape in the world. It is the basis of the most expensive Bordeaux, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and another extremely popular red, Merlot. In Bordeaux and other Bordeaux-type blends, like Meritage and the Veritas blend from Pinnacle Ridge, Cabernet provides the "structure" or "bite" while Merlot provides the roundness or softness and much of the fruitiness in the blend.
Often, you'll find wines that are labeled as a single variety, either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. In reality, these "Cabernets" contain a small amount of Merlot, and vice versa. In most countries and most states in the USA, wines can be labeled as a single variety even when they contain up to 25% of another variety. These small amounts of complementary wines add complexity to the final blend, with Merlot softening an otherwise too tannic or structured Cabernet, and Cabernet adding some structure or bite to an otherwise flat or flabby Merlot. We love to taste 100% Cabernet's and Merlot's, then blend them and taste the difference adding a little of one to the other can make. We also include Cabernet Franc, the third major ingredient of Red Bordeaux, but that's a story for another day.
Cabernet Sauvignon, by the way, is a genetic creation with Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc parentage.
The third "top" red wine in the world, arguably, is Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is usually labeled with its varietal name (Pinot Noir). But, it is also the true Red Burgundy from the Burgundy area of France. (Cheap "Red Burgundy" jug wines from California and elsewhere is NOT Red Burgundy, nor is it Pinot Noir!)
Pinot Noir is a lighter red wine than Cabernet and Merlot, is much more difficult to grow and takes much more care than most other reds to produce a good wine. It's aroma and flavor resembles strawberry or light red cherry, compared to the darker red aromas and flavors of blackberry and dark red cherry (and many other nuances) found in Cabernet and Merlot.
Red Burgundy (from France) is 100% Pinot Noir, as are most other wines labeled as Pinot Noir. However, we have found some wines labeled as Pinot Noir that have small percentages (less than 25%) of Syrah and other reds blended in to provide a little more structure, a little more boldness, than many, affordable, Pinot Noirs. However, most wine lovers want their Pinot Noir 100% pure and cherish the lighter, more delicate flavors of pure Pinot Noir.
The noticeable tannins, the "bite" and structure so evident in Cabernet Sauvignon, are absent in Pinot Noir, making it a great red alternative for those who don't like the boldness, etc. in Cabernet. Because it is lighter red, Pinot pairs well with heartier fish like salmon and lighter meats such as pork. We also enjoy it with chicken, especially the dark meat.
Obviously, there are many more wonderful red wines available and affordable today, such as Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, Zinfandel, and on the US East coast, Chambourcin. Enjoy them all!
In addition to our classes at Pinnacle Ridge, please note the following:
Blair Vinyards is hosting
Happy Hour on Friday, May 6, Mother's Day activities on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8, and Unleashed
on Saturday May 14th
& Sunday May 15th
at their location at 99 Dietrich Valley Road, Kutztown. Unleashed supports the Berks Humane Society, will have vendors on site, the Pet Adoption Vehicle from the Humane Society, food, music and wine. This event is a pet friendly event, but dogs must be leashed (despite the title of the event). Blair's event calendar is full of fun, wine activities.
Winedown Cafe and Wine Bar
is holding a Wine Class on Monday,
May 9. See their website for more information.
Calvaresi Winery 's Spring Wine Festival is Sunday - May 15, 2011,
1:00 - 5:00 pm, Rain or Shine. Enjoy award winning wines, along with the "Fabulous Tom Miller" singing the songs of 'Elvis' and other great oldies!
Meritage is a licensed name for Bordeaux-type blends (red and white) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and sometimes Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere. Many other red blends include these same grapes, but should not be labeled as Bordeaux and cannot be labeled as Meritage. These other wines, like Veritas from Pinnacle Ridge, are still excellent Bordeaux-type blends.