Know your reds

March 30, 2017

Basic characteristics and flavors of some red wines

 

Cabernet Franc

Predominant Flavors: Violets, blueberry, earth, black olive, coffee

 Cabernet Franc is a tannic, earthy cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon. In warmer producing areas, its most distinctive attributes  are its violets and blueberry hints, and the ripe tannins might be associated with roasted coffee.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Predominant Flavors: Bell pepper, green olive, herb, cassis, black cherry

Cabernet Sauvignon  is the primary component of a great Bordeaux and the defining grape of the Napa Valley. It is grown all over the world, however its wine is not as exquisite as in its original habitat. This great wine’s astringent tannins is usually soften by blending it by producers in the Bordeaux and Tuscany regions. The Napa style is usually dense, purple-black, jammy with tastes of currants and black cherries.

 

Grenache/Garnacha

Predominant Flavors: Spice, cherry

Old vine Grenache makes some of the greatest red wines of both Spain and Australia, and is an important component of Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Côtes du Rhône in France. An early-ripening grape, it tends toward high alcohol and low acidity. At its best it creates very fruity, spicy, bold-flavored wines somewhat reminiscent of a softer, less-intense version of Syrah.

 

Malbec

Predominant Flavors: Sour cherry, spice

One of the lesser blending grapes of Bordeaux however it has found Argentina to be a suitable host. There it makes spicy, tart red wines that age well in new oak barrels.

 

Merlot

Predominant Flavors: Watermelon, strawberry, cherry, plum

This Bordeaux Merlot is a versatile wine and widely recognizable, but without any particular character of its own. The great exception is Chateau Pétrus, where it comprises 95 percent of the blend.

 

Nebbiolo

Predominant Flavors: Plum, pie cherry, tar

Nebiolo which means fog which is associated with the time of the year (October) when the harvest takes place. The principal grape of Barolo, Barbaresco, and Gattinara all in the Piedmont region of Italy. Nebbiolo deserves to be in with the great red wines of the world, but has proven almost impossible to grow anywhere else, making this a truly Italian great!

 

Pinot Noir

Predominant Flavors: Tomato leaf, beet root, pale cherry, blackberry, cola, plum

When at its best, Pinot very delicate yet can age for decades; it is most memorably described as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.”

 Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. It is a principal component of many Champagnes and other sparkling wines, but can also be ripened to produce dense wines in California, New Zealand, and warm sites in Oregon.

 

Sangiovese

Predominant Flavors: Pie cherry, anise, tobacco leaf

It is one of the key grapes of Tuscany, and is the primary component of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.  Sangiovese is relatively light in color and quite acidic. In Italy it shows distinctive flavors of pie cherry, anise, and tobacco; elsewhere it can be rather plain and undistinguished.

 

Syrah/Shiraz

Predominant Flavors: Blackberry, boysenberry, plum, pepper, clove

This is one of the most debatable wine variety specially when it comes to its origin. There some evidence that this wine was widely cultivated in the Iran city Shiraz for over 4000 years. Australian Shiraz is made in every conceivable style, from light and fruity to dense and tarry; it can also be deep red, tannic sparkling wine, or a fortified “Port”.

Californian and Washington Shiraz, are usually spicy and peppery. In the northern Rhône, the most extraordinary expressions of the grape are produced, especially in Hermitage and Côte Rôtie. There the Shiraz wine presents peppery, dense, spicy fruit characteristics layered into complex wines streaked with mineral, smoked meat, tar, wild herb, and leather.

 

Zinfandel

Predominant Flavors: Raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, raisin, prune

For decades Zinfandel was California’s grape, though now it is grown all over the west coast of the United States, in Australia, Italy, and elsewhere, and its ancestry has been traced to Croatia.

 

 

 

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