Monday, November 30, 2009


Adega: Winery
Branco: White
Casta: Grape variety
Colheita: Vintage year
Espumante: Sparkling wine
Garrafeira: A reserva red wine aged at least two years in a barrel and one year in a bottle; a white wine aged at least six months in a barrel and six months in a bottle.
Maduro: mature (in opposition to verde). Mature wines are Portuguese wines produced in all regions except the ones produced in Vinho Verde region, due to that, the term "maduro" rarely appears on bottles.
Reserva: Superior quality wine of a single vintage
Seco: Dry
Tinto: Red
Verde: green (in opposition to maduro). Wines produced in Vinho Verde region with a distinctive method.
Vinho: Wine


Vinho Verde is produced from grapes which do not reach great doses of sugar. Therefore, Vinho Verde does not require an aging process. Vinho Verde wines are now largely exported, and are the most exported Portuguese wines after the Port Wine. The most popular variety in Portugal and abroad are the white wines, but there are also red and more rarely rosé wines. A notable variety of Vinho Verde is Vinho Alvarinho which is a special variety of white Vinho Verde, the production of Alvarinho is restricted by EU law to a small sub-region of Monção, in the northern part of the Minho region in Portugal. It has more alcohol (11.5 to 13%) than the other varieties (8 to 11.5%).
Douro wine (Vinho do Douro) originates from the same region as port wines. In the past they were considered to be a bitter tasting wine. In order to prevent spoilage during the voyage from Portugal to England, the English decided to add a Portuguese wine brandy known as aguardente. The first documented commercial transactions appearing in registries of export date as far back as 1679. Today's Douro table wines are enjoying growing favor in the world, maintaining many traits that are reminiscent of a port wine.
Dão wine is from the Região Demarcada do Dão, a region demarcated in 1908, but already in 1390 there were taken some measures to protect this wine. The Dão Wine is produced in a mountainous region with temperate climate, in the area of the Mondego and Dão Rivers in the north region of central Portugal. These mountains protect the castas from maritime and continental influences
Dão wine is from the Região Demarcada do Dão, a region demarcated in 1908, but already in 1390 there were taken some measures to protect this wine. The Dão Wine is produced in a mountainous region with temperate climate, in the area of the Mondego and Dão Rivers in the north region of central Portugal. These mountains protect the castas from maritime and continental influences
Bairrada wine, is produced in the Região Demarcada da Bairrada. The name "Bairrada" is from "barros" (clay) and due to the clayey soils of the region. Although the region was classified in 1979, it is an ancient vineyard region. The vines grow exposed to the sun, favouring the further maturity of the grapes. The Baga casta is intensely used in the wines of the region. The Bairrada region produces table, white and red wines. Yet, it is notable for its sparkling natural wine: the "Conde de Cantanhede" and "Marquês de Marialva" are the official brands for this wine.
Alentejo wine is produced from grapes planted in vast vineyards extending over rolling plains under the sun which shines on the grapes and ripens them for the production.
Colares wine is type of wine produced in sandy soils outside Lisbon between the foothills of Sintra and Roca Cape. Because of Lisbon's urban sprawl, the lands available for vineyards became so small, that the demands has always been higher than the production, making it one of the most expensive Portuguese wines

Vineyards in Vinho Verde Demarcated Region in Minho, Portugal


The appellation system of the Douro region was created nearly two hundred years before that of France, in order to protect its superior wines from inferior ones. The quality and great variety of wines in Portugal are due to noble castas, microclimates, soils and proper technology.
Official designations:

vQuality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) or VQPRD - Vinho de Qualidade Produzido em Região Demarcada
v These are the most protected wine and indicates a specific vineyard, such as Port Wine, Vinhos Verdes, and Alentejo Wines. These wines are labeled D.O.C. (Denominação de Origem Controlada) which secures a superior quality.
v Wines that have more regulations placed upon them but are not in a DOC region fall under the category of Indicação de Proveniência Regulamentada (IPR, Indication of Regulated Provenance)
v Regional Wine - Vinho Regional Carries with it a specific region within Portugal.
 Table Wines - Vinho de Mesa carries with it only the producer and the designation that it's from Portugal. 

The traditional rebelo boat, used to transport Port Wine from the Douro Valley to the cellars near the city of Porto.


Portugal possesses a large array of native varietals, producing an abundant variety of different wines. The wide array of Portuguese grape varietals contributes as significantly as the soil and climate to wine differentiation, producing distinctive wines from the Northern regions to Madeira Islands, and from Algarve to the Azores. In Portugal only some grape varietals or castas are authorized or endorsed in the Demarcated regions, such as:

Vinhos Verdes - White castas AlvarinhoArinto (Pedern),AvessoAzalBatocaLoureiroTrajadura; red castas Amaral,BorraçalAlvarelhãoEspadeiroPadeiroPedralRabo de AnhoVinhão.
Porto/Douro - Red castas Touriga NacionalTinta AmarelaAragonezBastardoCastelãoCornifestoDonzelinho Tinto,Malvasia PretaMarufoRufeteTinta BarrocaTinta Francisca Tinto CãoTouriga Franca; white castas ArintoCercial,Donzelinho BrancoFolgazãoGouveioMalvasia FinaMoscatel Galego BrancoRabigatoSamarrinhoSemillonSercial,RoupeiroVerdelhoViosinhoVital.
Dão - Red castas Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, Jaen e Rufete; White castas EncruzadoBicalCercial, Malvasia Fina, Verdelho.
Bairrada - Red casts Baga, Alfrocheiro, Camarate, Castelão, Jaen, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez; white castas Maria Gomes, Arinto, Bical, Cercial, Rabo de Ovelha, Verdelho.
Bucelas - White castas Arinto, Sercial e Rabo de Ovelha.
Colares - Red casta Ramisco; White casta Malvasia
Carcavelos - Red castas Castelão and Preto Martinho; White castas Galego DouradoRatinho, Arinto.
Setúbal - Red casta Moscatel Roxo; white casta Moscatel de Setúbal.
Alentejo - Red castas Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, Periquita1, Tinta Caiada, Trincadeira, Alicante BouschetMoreto; White castas Antão Vaz, Arinto , Fernão Pires, Rabo de Ovelha,Roupeiro
Algarve - Red castas Negra Mole, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez , Periquita; White castas Arinto, Roupeiro, ManteúdoMoscatel GraúdoPerrum, Rabo de Ovelha.
Madeira - Red castas Bastardo, Tinta, Malvasia Cândida Roxa, Verdelho Tinto e Tinta Negra; white castas Sercial, Malvasia Fina (Boal), Malvasia Cândida, Folgasão (Terrantez), Verdelho 


Portuguese wine is the result of traditions introduced to the region by ancient civilizations, such as the Phoenicians,CarthaginiansGreeks, and mostly the Romans. Portugal started to export its wines to Rome during the Roman Empire. Modern exports developed with trade to England after the Methuen Treaty in 1703. From this commerce a wide variety of wines started to be grown in Portugal. And, in 1758, the first wine-producing region of the world, the Região Demarcada do Douro was created under the orientation of Marquis of Pombal, in the Douro Valley. Portugal has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO asWorld Heritage: the Douro Valley Wine Region (Douro Vinhateiro) and Pico Island Wine Region (Ilha do Pico Vinhateira). Portugal has a large variety of native breeds, producing a very wide variety of different wines with distinctive personality.

Thursday, November 26, 2009







Grampians: The Grampians is an Australian wine region located in the state of Victoria, west of Melbourne. It is located near the Grampians National Park and the Pyrenees hills. The area is dominated by red wine production, particularly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Henty is a town in south western VictoriaAustralia. The town is located in the Shire of Glenelg Local Government Area, 373 kilometres (232 mi) west of the state capital, Melbourne.
It is also an Australian wine region. It has one of the cooler climates of any Australian wine region and is known for its white wine production of ChardonnayRieslingSemillon and Sauvignon blanc as well as a small red wine production of Pinot noir. 


Eden Valley: is a small South Australian town in the Barossa Ranges. It was named by the surveyors of the area after they found the word "Eden" carved into a tree. Eden Valley has an elevation of 460 metres and an average annual rainfall of 716.2mm.Eden Valley gives its name to a wine growing  region that shares its western boundary with the Barossa Valley. The region is of similar size to the Barossa Valley, and is well known for producing high quality riesling and shiraz wines. Englishman Joseph Gilbert planted the first Eden Valley vineyard, Pewsey Vale, in 1847. Within the Eden Valley region there is a sub-region called High Eden which is located higher in the Barossa Ranges, giving cooler temperatures.
Pyrenees: The Pyrenees ranges are located in VictoriaAustralia near the town of Avoca. It is a wine growing region. The altitude of the ranges is 220-375 m (722-1230 ft). Wines were first planted in the region in 1848. In recent years it is recognized as a significant producer of full-bodied red wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grape varieties.


Clare Valley: The Clare Valley is a cooler growing area located in South Australia, north of Adelaide. This is an area of four interconnecting valleys, the Clare, Polish River, Watervale and Skillogallee. The main wines from the Clare Valley are the whites such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Semillon.
Coonawarra: Coonawarra lies to the south east of Adelaide and is more noted for it's reds such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The area has a cooler climate and is also noted for is reddish coloured terra rossa soil. Penfolds grows some its grapes here for some of its Cabernets. One of the more popular wines from this region includes the Wynns Coonawarra Estate.
Yarra Valley: The Yarra Valley is located in Victoria, north east of Melbourne. It has a temperate climate and is noted for making the cooler climate varietals. The Pinot Noir is popular here and one of the better wines that we have tried from this area is Coldsteam Hills.


Barossa Valley: The Barossa Valley is north east of Adelaide, South Australia, and has a hot climate. Penfolds is one of the more famous wineries in this region. Barossa is renowned for its Rieslings which is indicative of the Valley's German heritage, and for the reds such as Shiraz and Cabernets.
Hunter Valley: The Hunter Valley is another hot area and is located north of Sydney, New South Wales. This area is within easy reach of Sydney for a day trip or you can stay overnight at one of the many bed and breakfasts. Some of the more notable vineyards include Rosemount, and Rothbury. A variety of wines are grown in the Hunter Valley, including Shiraz and Semillon. As well as visiting the larger vineyards, you will want to check out some of the smaller boutique wines.







Major grape varieties are ShirazCabernet SauvignonMerlotChardonnaySauvignon BlancSémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.
Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine "Shiraz".
About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called "alternative varieties" other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit VerdotPinot GrigioSangioveseTempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced. 


The Australian wine industry is the fourth-largest exporter in the world, exporting over 400 million litres a year to a large international export market that includes "old world" wine-producing countries such as FranceItaly and Spain. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming over 400 million litres of wine per year. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Now note your impressions. Is the wine well balanced? Does the flavour linger in your mouth? A long-lasting flavour generally means a better wine.
As well as making notes about the wines they taste, many people like to give each wine a score. A simple numerical score can't really convey the pleasure a wine gives, but it can be a good discipline for forcing yourself to come to an overall assessment.
If you're going to score, you should mark the appearance, the bouquet and the taste. I suggest you allocate 10 per cent of the marks to appearance (this is the least important and - to be honest -if you wanted to allocate this ten per cent to bouquet, I wouldn't object). Set aside 30 per cent for bouquet. Much of the beauty and fascination of old wines in particular is conveyed in the bouquet. And finally, give 60 per cent to taste. This is what it's all about: the total sensation when you taste and, indeed, drink the wine. And this should be awarded the greatest percentage of the marks.
Add all these up and see if the marks tally with the overall impression of quality, and pleasure, that the wine gave you. 


If you have to taste a number of wines in a limited time, spitting is the only way to appreciate the flavours and stay sober. Practise your technique in front of the bathroom mirror. A bucket with sawdust in the bottom makes a practical spittoon. 


Take a decent mouthful, so that your mouth is about one-third full, and hold the wine in your mouth for a few moments, breathing through your nose. Draw a little air through your lips and suck it through the wine to help the aromas on their way to your nasal cavity. Note any toughness, acidity and sweetness that the tongue detects, then enjoy the personality and flavour of the aromas in your nasal cavity. Now gently 'chew' the wine, letting it coat your tongue, teeth, and gums.

Note the first impressions, then the taste that develops after the wine has been in your mouth for a few seconds. You can now swallow the wine or spit it out. 


Swirl the wine around the glass to release the aromas, then stick your nose into the glass and take a steady, gentle sniff. Register the smell in terms that mean something to you: if it reminds you of herbs, spices, strawberries, wet wool or tar, that is what makes the wine memorable. 


Pour the wine into a glass so that it is about one-third full. Tilt the glass against a white background so that you can see the gradations of colour from the rim to the centre. The colour can begin to suggest the taste of the wine, with clues to grape variety, climate and age. A young red wine may have a deep purple tinge, an older one will be lighter, sometimes brick red. A very pale white will be young, fresh or neutral-tasting, a deeper yellow one will be fuller in flavour, sweeter or older (not always a good thing in white wines) 


This tells you a great deal about the wine: its region of origin, age, alcohol level, sometimes its grape variety. The design - traditional or modern - can hint at the intentions of the winemaker. At a blind tasting, you will begin at the next step. 


Tasting wine means understanding what you are drinking - and enjoying it more. The ritual observed by professionals is not just showing off: there is a purpose to every stage, and it can help you to get maximum pleasure from a bottle of wine. Wine can be complex stuff, and if you just knock it back you could be missing out on a wonderful sensory experience. Instead, take a few moments to discover a little about a wine's background, appreciate its colour, and savour its scents and range of flavours. 





North Coast - Includes most of North Coast, California, north of San Francisco Bay. The large North Coast AVA covers most of the region. Notable wine regions include Napa Valley and Sonoma County and the smaller sub AVAs within them. Mendocino and Lake County are also part of this region.
Central Coast - Includes most of the Central Coast of California and the area south and west of San Francisco Bay down to Santa Barbara County. The large Central Coast AVA covers the region. Notable wine regions in this area include Santa Clara Valley AVA,Santa Cruz Mountains AVASan Lucas AVAPaso Robles AVASanta Maria Valley AVASanta Ynez Valley and Livermore Valley AVA.
South Coast - Includes portion of Southern California, namely the coastal regions south of Los Angeles down to the border with Mexico. Notable wine regions in this area include Temecula Valley AVAAntelope Valley/Leona Valley AVASan Pasqual Valley AVA and Ramona Valley AVA.
Central Valley - Includes California's Central Valley and the Sierra Foothills AVA. Notable wine regions in this area include the Lodi AVA. 


California has over 427,000 acres (1,730 km2) planted under vines mostly located in a stretch of land covering over 700 miles (1,100 km) from Mendocino County to the southwestern tip of Riverside County. There are over 107 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), including the well known NapaRussian River ValleyRutherford and Sonoma Valley AVAs. The Central Valley is California's largest wine region stretching for 300 miles (480 km) from the Sacramento Valley south to the San Joaquin Valley. This one region produces nearly 75% of all California wine grapes and includes many of California's bulk, box and jug wine producers like Gallo, Franzia and Bronco Wine Company.
The wine regions of California are often divided into 4 main regions- 


California sparkling wine traces its roots to Sonoma in the 1880s with the founding of Korbel Champagne Cellars. The Korbel brothers made sparkling wine according to the méthode champenoise from Riesling, ChasselasMuscatel and Traminer. Today most California sparkling wine is largely made from the same grapes used in Champagne-Chardonnay, Pinot noir and some Pinot meunier. Some wineries will also use Pinot blanc, Chenin blanc and French Colombard. The premium quality producers still use the méthode champenoise (or traditional method) while some low cost producers, like Gallo's Andre brand or Constellation Brands' Cook's, will use the Charmat method


While Californian winemakers increasingly craft wines in more "Old World" or European wine styles, most Californian wines (along with Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina) favor simpler, more fruit dominant New World wines. The reliably warm weather allows many wineries to use very ripe fruit which brings up a more fruit forward rather than earthy or mineralic style of wine. It also creates the opportunity for higher alcohol levels with many Californian wines having over 13.5%. The style of Californian Chardonnay differs greatly from wines like Chablis with Californian winemakers frequently using malolactic fermentation and oak aging to make buttery, full bodied wines. Californian Sauvignon blancs are not as herbaceous as wines from the Loire Valley or New Zealand but do have racy acidity and fresh, floral notes. Some Sauvignon blanc are given time in oak which can dramatically change the profile of the wine. Robert Mondavi first pioneered this style as a Fume blanc which other Californian winemakers have adopted. However, that style is not strictly defined to mean an oak wine.

Friday, November 6, 2009



Over a hundred grape varieties are grown in California including FrenchItalian and Spanish wine varietals as well as hybrid grapes and new vitis vinifera varieties developed at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. The seven leading grape varieties are:
v Cabernet Sauvignon
v Chardonnay
v Merlot
v Pinot noir
v Sauvignon blanc
v Syrah
v Zinfandel
Other important red wine grapes include BarberaCabernet franc, Carignane, GrenacheMalbecMouvedrePetite SirahPetit Verdot and Sangiovese. Important white wine varietals include Chenin blancFrench ColombardGewürztraminerMarsanneMuscat CanelliPinot blancPinot grisRieslingRoussaneSémillon,Trousseau gris, and Viognier. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009




ROBERTSON and a few other villages lie along a fertile, if warm, valley where white wines such as chardonnay (from De Wetshof Estate) and sparkling wine (from Graham Beck Winery) used to be the main stars. Today the move is to red varieties, especially shiraz (Zandvliet).

STELLENBOSCH is, in the minds of many, the finest wine area in South Africa, claiming the crown for reds. With a list of more than 80 wineries and producers, it is also the most expensive wine farmland. Nearly all the most famous international names in South African wines are found here in an area reaching from sea-facing slopes to valley-hugging hills. This is the home of Kanonkop, Meerlust, Rustenberg, Thelema and Warwick. The list is endless. This is also where Distell, the country’s largest player in the drinks market, is seated. Designated wards within the district are Jonkershoek Valley, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Bottelary, Devon Valley and Papegaaiberg. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinotage and chenin blanc are the stars here.

SWARTLAND means “black country”, a traditional sunny wheat area north of Cape Town. These days, wineries are making modern, well-appreciated white wines here with top reds on the way. The Darling region especially is on the roll.
WALKER BAY near the coastal town of Hermanus has become another of the Cape’s most fashionable regions. With Elgin to the west and Bot River inland, it falls under the Overberg appellation. It is the home of Cape pinot noir and good chardonnay and home to places like Hamilton-Russell.
WORCESTER and surrounds comprise 20% of all South Africa’s vineyards. Brandy is produced, and wine for wholesalers. Small volumes are bottled under own labels. Value-for-money is a hallmark. 

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