Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Rioja: Land of Great Reds!

Rioja is to Spain what Napa is to the US, it's by far the most important wine appellation, and though many great wines are produced in other D.Os, for centuries great quality Spanish wines came from only two places: Rioja and Jerez/Sherry

Rioja is located to the north east of Madrid, and south of the Basque country. This wine appellation or as we say in Spanish” Denominación de Origen Calificada”, covers three provinces, part of Navarra in the South, part of the Basque Country (Alava) in the north and the province of Rioja itself. All the vineyards are located along both sides of the Ebro River, plus you also have the influence of the Cantabrian Mountains (Sierras) in the north creating special conditions ideal to grow vines.

Rioja is divided into 3 subzones, Rioja Alavesa and Alta to the north and Rioja Baja or Oriental to the south. Soils are different in each subzone, they are mostly clay, and limestone in the north and clay and alluvial in the south. The climate varies too, being much cooler in the north where the influence of the Atlantic Ocean is felt, while in the south (Rioja Baja) is warmer, almost Mediterranean and with less rain. Altitude plays a very important role here, with most of the vineyards planted between 300-600 m or up to almost 2,000 feet. I strongly believe that this special combination of limestone soils, altitude and the Atlantic influence is what gives Rioja wines their unbelievable elegance.

Something very particular of Rioja is that it was inspired and founded by the Bordelais that flew from France after oidium and phylloxera devastated the French vineyards. The Bordeaux influence is easy to see, since most Rioja wines are blends like in Bordeaux. In the case of reds, these are mostly made from Tempranillo (the most important grape of Spain) with small percentages of Mazuelo, Graciano, Maturana and Garnacha (Grenache). Some wineries are also allowed the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to their blends, resulting in more structured reds, such as the Marqués de Riscal Baron de Chirel.
The whites are mostly blends of Viura with Malvasía, but other white varieties are also allowed: Tempranillo Blanco, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Garnacha Blanca, Chardonnay and Torrontes. Rioja also produces very affordable and juicy Rosados (rosés), which are made mostly of Garnacha or Tempranillo.

Yet, the core of Rioja is their great quality reds. The other important Bordelais influence is the aging that each wine undergoes by law. Riojas have been traditionally aged, since the very beginning, when Manuel Quintano in 1780 began maturing all wines in oak. On those days, the aging happened in large oak casks but later producers switched to small bordelais barriques (225L). The difference is that in Rioja, wines are usually aged for longer periods of time, as we may see below, while in Bordeaux most wines are aged for an average of 2-3 years before release.

According to their aging, wines can be divided as follows:
Joven (without any oak aging), most of these are consumed domestically (in Spain) not much is imported to the U.S. These are juicy reds made with carbonic maceration.
Crianza: for reds the minimum aging is 2 years, 1 of which is spent in oak and 1 year in the bottle, while whites are aged for a year, with 6 months minimum in oak.
Reserva: the reds are aged for 3 years, 1 of which must be in oak. Whites are aged for 2 years, with 6 months in oak.
and Gran Reserva: the reds are aged for 2 years in oak and 3 years in a bottle, while whites are aged for a total of 4 years, with a minimum of 6 months in oak.  

These periods of aging are just the minimum by law, in fact most wineries age their wines for much longer, making Rioja wines, the longest aged wines before release produced in the world. I strongly recommend you to try old Gran Reservas and to compare the same wine with recent releases, to see the difference. You will see how the wine evolves, the longer it stays on the bottle, developing earthy, savory notes of dry tobacco, leather, ink and forest floor.
Once upon a time, Rioja producers' favorite oak was American, the typical coconut notes of this oak matched beautifully with the red fruits provided by Tempranillo and was a given clue when tasting these wines blind, but in the last 20 years or so more and more Rioja is aged in Slovakian and French oak. It's not unusual to see cooperies in the wineries, since many Rioja producers buy their own oak but make and toast the barrels themselves, another great example of their dedication and craft.

Stylistically, the Joven and Crianza wines are everyday reds, easy to drink, full of fruit (dark cherry, plum come to mind) and balanced tannins. Reservas are what I call “a happy medium”, made usually with fruit from better plots and with a longer aging, they will have more body than any Crianza, more complexity and a delicious spiciness (vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, etc). Finally you have the Gran Reservas, the bigger and better of all 3, made only in the best vintages, with fruit from the best plots, all the extra aging both in oak and bottle, will add layers of aromas and flavors that come for reductive aging.
In 2018, and following the example of Burgundy, Rioja started to classify their vineyards according to their location. The wines can be now divided into Vino de Zona, (zone wines produced in all Rioja), Vino de Municipio (wines produced in certain villages) and Viñedo Singular (or single vineyards, these wines are also produced from old vines: 35 years + old). In 1991, Rioja was the first appellation in Spain to receive the "calificada" denomination, meaning the quality of their wines are above any other produced in Spain. It is very similar to the Italian DOCG. In Spain, only two regions have received this honor: Rioja and Priorat.

As you may see, it's easy to find something for everyone in Rioja, plus Rioja wines are really affordable, most Riojas Reservas start at $20, Gran Reservas at $35 and up, if you do just Crianza, considered the entry level, you can find something at $14 and up. The quality of the wines is something out of this world! Mostly because Tempranillo is such a versatile grape, it can give lighter to medium body reds that are easy to drink and refreshing, but also beefy reds that will blow your mind. Plus, these wines can age and most of this aging happens at the winery, so when you buy a bottle, the wine is ready to be enjoyed, there’s no need for you to wait/ cellar your wine, like you do with Barolo or any Napa Cab. All this extra aging develops aromas and flavors that are so enticing! Magic indeed happens inside the bottles. So, are you ready to taste some Riojas?

My Recommended Wines: Thankfully, Riojas are very easy to find at your wine store, here are some samples that I received lately, many thanks to importers and wineries for these beauties!

Calma Crianza 2014, $20
La Antigua Clásico Crianza 2012, $21
Marqués de Cáceres Reserva 2015, $29.99
Beronia Reserva 2016, $19.99
La Rioja Alta  Viña Alberdi Reserva 2016, $22
La Rioja Alta Reserva Viña Ardanza 2012, $37
Torre de Oña Reserva Finca Martelo 2014, $35
Baron de Ley Reserva 2015, $19.99
Baron de Ley Gran Reserva 2013, $32.99
La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Gran Reserva 2013,$32.99
La Antigua Gran Reserva 2010, $55 
Macán Clásico 2016, $60



Cheers! Salud! Silvina.

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#thoughtsoflawina #Rioja #Tempranillo #Spanishwine #Spanishred

Maps, courtesy of DOCa Rioja.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Hola! Let's Learn About Wines From Spain

Today we are going to visit a very familiar and dear country to me: Spain. Those that know me, know that I worked for many years at the Spanish Embassy and 5 of which, I spent at Wines from Spain. 

Spain is truly like a second home to me, it's true that in my home country: Argentina, I was exposed to Malbec by my father from an early age, but Spain was the country where I really had the opportunity to learn about wine and from there, off went La Wina to expand her horizons and to continue learning about the competition, basically the rest of the wine producing countries in the world.

So, what is so special about Spain? The first thing that comes to mind, is that Spain has more hectares dedicated to vine growing than any other country in the world, to be exact 967,000 and this translates into a huge variety of wines. Spain is a source of great quality wines, at every price, with an impressive selection at the value level. Spain is also extremely diverse, it produces all styles of wines: reds, whites, sparkling or Cava , fortified or Sherry you name it! click on the links on the words highlighted in blue on this post, so you can re-read older posts that I wrote about different Spanish regions and grapes.

Spain has in my opinion, a few problems though, for example brand names that are very difficult to pronounce by English speakers, yet their true challenge for those that are not familiar with Spain, is that most of their wines are made from native varieties, and that requires, all of you, to study, research and learn the different styles and familiarize yourself, not only with new regions but also new grapes. But hey! You did it with Italy, you did it with Portugal, why not Spain? I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Following European law, Spain has a similar set of regulations regarding viticulture, vinification and geographical origin like those found in other European countries, such as France, Italy or Portugal. This means, it will be kind of difficult to find the name of the grape on the label (with a few exceptions), instead producers list the name of the appellations/regions. In an effort to make things easier for you, I created a chart (see below) that matches grapes with regions and wine styles, hoping it will provide a bit of clarity. 

Regarding quality, the top tier and best wines are the D.O.C., that means Denominación de Origen Calificada, this is similar to the Italian DOCG, followed by the D.O. wines, or in other words the Denominación de Origen, which is similar to the French AOC. Then we have the V.T. or Vinos de Tierra, which equals to the French Vin de Pays and lastly the Vinos de Mesa or table wines (which are at the very bottom of quality and not really imported to the US). Above all these categories, we have the Pagos Calificados appellations, Pagos Calificados mean single vineyards in Spanish, or Grand Cru in French, these are just a handful of appellations granted to what is considered the very best vineyards in Spain.

There are about 70 D.Os in Spain. Below, I will give you a brief intro to the most important appellations and grapes. Don't be afraid to give them a try! as I say to my students we should always make an effort to drink other things besides Napa or Bordeaux.

The most important Spanish red variety is Tempranillo (also known as Tinta de País, Tinta del Toro, Cencibel, Ul de Llebre and Tinta Roriz as it is known in Portugal) followed by Garnacha. Other important red native varieties are Monastrell (known elsewhere as Mourvèdre), Bobal and Mencía. There are also many plantings of international varieties and some producers make very good wines from those too, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir. For the whites, my two favorites are Verdejo and Albariño, but we can find also Viura, Godello, Moscatel and Airén, which by the way is the most planted variety in Spain. It's normally used to make brandy and light neutral table whites.  Spain makes great whites from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and other French varieties. Most of the French varieties are planted in appellations such as the Penedès, Somontano and Navarra.

Except for the area of Galicia and el País Vasco (Basque Country) in the north,  where it is cool and wet; most of Spain enjoys plenty of sun and warm temperatures, so ripeness and alcohol levels are not difficult to obtain. However, the contrast, the style differences happen due to factors such as the proximity to the sea (Atlantic or Mediterranean) the proximity to rivers such as the Ebro, Guadalquivir and the Duero, but most of all, to the altitude of the vineyards. Spain is, after all, a big "meseta" or elevated plateau, with vineyards located at different altitudes some of which can reach above 3,000 feet. There are many mountain systems in Spain spread all over the country, such as the Iberic, Cantabrian, Sierra Morena and Central, which will provide different expositions, soils, and most importantly a marked diurnal temperature variation that will aid slow ripening. The south of Spain is very hot as well as the Mediterranean coast, which creates ideal spots for Syrah, Grenache or GarnachaMonastrell and Cariñena, all of these thrive in a hot climate, and some of them are usually blended with French varieties.

Regarding Tempranillo, it is Spain's flagship red, it is a super versatile grape that can produce light everyday reds like most Rioja Joven or Crianzas to big bodied reds like the powerful reds from ToroRioja produces in my opinion the most elegant Tempranillos of all. While, Ribera del Duero produces Tempranillo “on vitamins”, meaning they usually have bigger bodies than any Rioja and are so worthwhile. If you like Southern Rhone wines, then try a Priorat or Montsant, both regions produce big reds (Powerbombs) made of Garnacha and Syrah, which are the very best from Spain. 

Regarding whites, Albariños, are not only delicious, but also very affordable, and Ruedas (Verdejos) are some of the most flavorful whites from Spain, feel free to revise my posts about these two styles of whites written last year. The sparkling wines in Spain are known as Cava with most important producers based in the Penedès region, following the example of Champagne, these are wines made with a second fermentation in the bottle and aged on their lees (dead yeasts). They are made with their Spanish native varieties: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, though some may add Chardonnay or Pinot Noir to the blend. Spain is also a great source of wonderful rosados (rosé wines) usually made from Tempranillo or Garnacha, DO Navarra is very well known for this specialty, though DOC Rioja also produces some of these too. Prices are also very affordable, starting at $15 and up.

See below your cheat sheet table to the top regions in Spain:

D.O. or D.O.C.
Grapes
Type of Wines
DOC RiojaTempranilloMedium to big reds
DO Ribera del Duero Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo)Medium to big reds
DO  Toro Tinta del Toro (Tempranillo)Big reds
DOC Priorat & DO Montsant Garnacha and SyrahBig reds
DO PenedèsCabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, etc.Medium to big reds according to the blend or grape
DO Jumilla & DO YeclaMonastrell, Bobal, SyrahMostly big reds
DO Rías BaixasAlbariñoLight to medium white
DO RuedaVerdejo, Sauvignon BlancLight white
DO CavaMacabeo, Parrellada and Xarel-loSparkling


Map courtesy of ICEX and Wines From Spain.

These are 4 great examples of Spanish wines! so do give them a try.


Lagar de Cervera Albariño 2020, $18.99

Marques de Caceres Crianza 2017, $14.99

Protos Crianza 2016, $24.99

El Cortijo Blanco 2017,$14.99

So, there you have it! a concise tour through Spain, stay tuned for future posts, where I plan to explore the wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero coming soon to your inboxes. Until then, Cheers! or as they say in Spain: Salud! Silvina. 

#thoughtsoflawina #Spanishgrapes #Spanishwines #WineWednesday

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Top Italian Appellations: Chianti Classico DOCG

Though wine is produced all over the Italian peninsula, the first wine that comes to mind when talking about classy Italian reds is Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico is made from Sangiovese, the most planted red variety in Italy, with the addition of native Canaiolo, Mammolo or Colorino and/or French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. 

Historically, the blend wasn’t always like this, past versions had a different formula that included white grapes such as Malvasia and Trebbiano. Unfortunately the abuse of adding so much white juice to the blend, ended up diluting the wines; which affected quality and decreased sales.  Luckily, starting in the 1970's a new movement led by star wine producer Marchesi Piero Antinori took the necessary steps to elevate and restore the reputation of the region. One of these measures was to include French varieties in the blend, something that was not actually allowed by law and a fact that helped create the Super Tuscans category. The second measure was to remove the white grapes from the formula for good. All of these practices became law officially in 2006.  At the same time, there was a wide spread modernization in the vineyards and wineries, which improved the overall quality of Chianti Classico and transformed it into the elegant and delicious wine that it is today.  

 

Chianti Classico is located in the heart of Tuscany in central Italy, expanding for 71,800 hectares and comprising the area between the cities of Florence in the north and Sienna in the south. It covers 4 important communes: Greve, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina.

It’s important that you don’t confuse Chianti Classico with generic Chianti or with any of the six Chiantis subzones (Rufina, Montespertoli, Montelbano, Colli Aretini, Colline Pisani or Colli Senesi), which are outside of the Chianti Classico region. These are a good source of inexpensive Sangiovese, though never reaching the high quality of Classico.


When in doubt about what Chianti you are about to purchase, always make sure that the bottle has the black rooster image (see left), which is the official symbol/logo of the Chianti Classico appellation. 


The most important geographic influence in Chianti Classico are the Apennines mountains that start in the NW, by Liguria and continue south across the peninsula ending in Calabria, located to the SW. The proximity to the mountains as well as the proximity to the Tyrrhenian sea will provide coolness to the vineyards that usually enjoy a very warm, Mediterranean climate during the day. The topography of Chianti Classico is indeed very hilly with most vineyards planted on undulating terrains or small mountains that face South or SW. There are two types of soils here, the most important is the Galestro which is a rocky, schistous and clayey soil and the second one is the Albarese, which is a rich limestone and marl soil. Both of these soils will help tame the vigor of Sangiovese that needs to be kept in check to produce high quality wines.


Maturation is determined by law and it can happen in botti (large casks made from Slovakian oak) or in small French barriques. The entry level (Chianti Classico) must spend a minimum of 12 months of aging, then a step up in quality are the Riserva wines which are aged for 24 months minimum, 3 which should happen in the bottle. The last and most important category are the Gran Selezione, these are superb wines that are aged for 30 months minimum and are made from fruit from single vineyard locations.

It’s important to note that though the law allows French varieties in the blend to up to 20%, most producers opt to make 100% Sangiovese wines, keeping the participation of the French varieties to a minimum (less than 5%), which allows Sangiovese’s elegant personality to shine through.


Stylistically, Chianti Classico is a dry, medium to medium plus body red, with high acidity and solid tannins. Chianti Classico displays a lovely character featuring sour cherries, red currants, plums, plus some herbaceous notes such as dry oregano or tomato leaf, an ideal match to all tomato sauce based dishes and classic Italian fair (pasta, pizza, beef bistecca, etc). With age, Chianti Classico displays meat, mushroom, espresso, smoke, exotic spices and leather notes. Bodywise, plain Chianti Classico is usually the lightest style, expect the wine to be bigger when you deal with Riserva and Gran Selezione wines.

Drink or keep samples of Chianti Classico and Riserva for up to 7 years. Best samples of Gran Selezione can last much longer, and up to 20 years.


My Wine Recommendations: 

After 15 months of zero in-person tastings due to Covid 19, my first return to the rodeo was an event coordinated in NY by the Chianti Classico Consorzio. Of course there was too much wine to taste in only two hours, and I couldn’t taste them all... However, I must admit  that the very best wines (for me) were those made from 100% Sangiovese or Sangiovese in combination with Merlot. I feel Cabernet Sauvignon tends to make Chianti beefer, so if this is what you like, be my guest, but I prefer Chianti Classicos that are lighter in body, yet juicy and fresh. Here are some of my favorites from this tasting:


Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, $27

Bibbiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018, $37

Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017, $43

Capraia Effe 55 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016, $33

Castello di Volpaia, Volpaia Chianti Classico 2019, $24

Castello di Volpaia Coltassala Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018, $77

Dievole Vigna di Sessina Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016, $58

Felsina Berardenga 2019, $24

Felsina Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, $58

Istine Levigne Chianti Classico Riserva 2017,$47

Istine Levigne Chianti Classico Riserva  2015, $47

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva 2017, $27

Le Fonti Chianti Classico 2017, $22

Le Fonti Chianti Classico Riserva 2016, $30

Marchesi Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2019, $24

Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, $44

Marchesi Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018 $54

Riecine Chianti Classico 2019, $27

Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, $28

Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016 $68

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 $28

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Strada Al Sasso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2018, $41

 

 

As they say in Italy: Alla salute di tutti! Cheers, Silvina

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#chianticlassico #blackrooster #Italianwines #gallonero

 

Many thanks to the Chianti Classico Consorzio for allowing the use of the map and logo images, and also for the invitation! 

 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Chilean Whites!

To make white wines with elegance and finesse, we need plenty of sun and dry weather but cool to moderate temperatures, so that grapes can develop their fruit flavors slowly, yet keeping their refreshing acidity.

One of the biggest problems in the new world is that sometimes producers plant white grapes in appellations that are too hot for them, so they end up getting overripe fruit and sometimes flabby wine. This is not the case of Chile, which was blessed with a combination of maritime and alpine influences that made it possible for them to produce fantastic whites in several of their appellations. 

Back in February I wrote a post about Chilean reds, so in this second part, I decided to visit Chile’s white wine appellations. 


Reviewing what I said back in the winter, Chile is a very narrow and long country that extends for 2600 miles and has many coastal regions. These coastal regions are influenced by the cooling Pacific Humboldt current, which provides breezes, fogs and even salty/iodine notes. If you read my post about Napa, you will notice, that this similar phenomenon happens also in California, especially in the appellations closer to San Pablo’s Bay.  Besides the cool Pacific’s influence, Chile has an alpine influence, with temperatures going down as we go further up the mountains. There are two important mountain systems, one is the Entre cordilleras or Coastal range, (this mountain system is located between the Pacific ocean and the Andes) and the other is the Andes themselves, where altitudes may reach up to 13,000 feet.  Finally, white wine production happens also in appellations located in southern Chile, which is naturally cooler.  


Though most Chilean production is basically red wine, 36% of their production is white. The most important white variety in Chile is Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnay, Muscat or Moscatel, and Riesling.  The style of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is very much from the new world: more fruity and less mineral like in the Loire Valley, and closer to New Zealand’s style. These are medium bodied wines with plenty of acidity, fresh citrus (grapefruit, lime) passion fruit and green peppers flavors. Chardonnays are made in the Burgundy style, and like in Burgundy, Chile has plenty of limestone soils, so the styles vary from mineral, citrusy and elegant similar to Chablis to rounder and fat, featuring pear, apricots and pineapple notes with a touch of oak and in some cases aging on its lees, similar to the Côte d’Or burgundies. Chardonnay is also used to produce sparkling wines. 


Following the map (courtesy of wines of Chile), our tour of the appellations should start in the north, where we find the Huasco Costa and Huasco Alta appellations, where fine samples of mineral Chardonnay are produced, as well as elegant Sauvignon Blancs and Pajarete, which is a sweet and aromatic wine made from a blend of moscatel grapes. Continuing south we find the Elqui and Limarí valleys, both regions are influenced by the Pacific breezes. Elqui is known for its distinctive style of Sauvignon Blanc, while Limarí , also known as Chile’s green north, specializes in Chardonnay.  Then, come the important white wine appellations: Casablanca Valley, located about 60 miles west from Santiago, where the Chilean cool climate wine revolution started in the 1980s led by Pablo Morandé, the San Antonio and the Leyda Valleys, located about 70 miles southwest from Santiago. All three produce racy Sauvignon Blancs that showcase minerality, citrus and tropical fruits and Chardonnay from vines that grow on granitic, sand and limestone soils. See some of my recommendations below.


Further south, Sauvignon Blanc has found a home in the Curicó valley, an appellation that attracted investors like famous winemaker Miguel Torres. The Alto Maule is also known for its award winning Sauvignon Blancs, though Maule doesn't have any maritime influence, it is affected by the alpine influence from the Andes.  Finally, In the south, we find regions like the Bío Bío, Malleco and Osorno Valleys, where the protective effects of the coastal range are felt less. These regions are cooler and wetter and produce fabulous Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Rieslings grown in volcanic and sandy soils.


Below my Chilean wine recommendations: many thanks to Wines of Chile and Chilean producers and importers for sending samples. These were just delicious, and are widely available in the US.


Sauvignon Blancs

De Martino Parcela 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Casablanca Valley,$29.99

Calcu Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2020, Colchagua Valley, $12.99

Albamar Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, $12

Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Colchagua Valley, $11.99

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, $11.99

Montes Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Aconcagua Coast, $11.99


Chardonnays

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2018, Aconcagua Valley, $21.99

Miguel Torres Cordillera Chardonnay 2019, Limarí Valley, $20.99

De Martino Legado Chardonnay 2017, Limarí Valley, $19.99

Escudo Rojo Chardonnay 2019, Casablanca Valley, $19.99

Veramonte Chardonnay 2019, Casablanca Valle, $11.99




Cheers! Silvina.

#drinkchile #chileanwhites #whitewines #thoughtsoflawina

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Elements in Wine: Body and Texture

If you were a wine, what would you be? I normally pose this question to my students, when talking about body in wines, and I usually do a comparison between Sarah Jessica Parker (skinny and bony) or Jennifer Lopez (voluptuous with curves) to help them differentiate what they are experiencing on their palates when tasting different wines.

See, when talking about body in wines, most of the wine critics, use different descriptors like angular, linear, for wines that have high acidity or structured for wines that have high tannins and then there’s the opposite: rounder, beefier, for wines that are all about ripe fruit and alcohol and velvety or smooth when dealing with wines with very soft tannins. The typical example of an angular wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon, while Malbec is a great example of a round wine. Of course, most wine educators prefer to compare wine with dairy products, and then they talk about wines that feel like light skim milk (light bodied), wines that feel like regular milk (medium bodied) and wines that feel like heavy cream (full bodied). In the case of Cabernet Sauvignon, angular wines will be sharp, with marked corners, because of its acidity and/or tannins, while round wines like our Malbec will be plush, fleshy, spreading their weight fully on your palate.

Keeping in mind that tasting is very subjective, I tend to like light bodied wines, with some acidity, which I think give wines their elegance and freshness. I like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc for whites, Pinot Noir and Barbera for reds. I also like medium bodied wines with some spice, wines that have smokey flavors, white or black pepper, vanilla, cloves, chocolate, and leather or cedar notes like a good Rioja Reserva, Argentinean Malbec or Chilean Carménère. As a rule, I tend to avoid wines that are too tannic, too alcoholic or too overripe (this happens when the fruit profile tends more towards prunes and raisins, instead of fresh black fruits).
When talking about wine bodies, we must also talk about textures in wines, and of course the finish. When you taste these wines, what is their mouthfeel? are they silky, like a Pinot Noir? or coarse like some young Barolos?  Or perhaps, savory and meaty like Chilean Carménère?, are they simple/ one dimensional or complex: showing different dimensions, and layers of flavors and nuances that open up with every sip?  After you taste them, do they stay on your palate for a while or disappear quickly? and how long is the finish? Usually the longer the finish, the better the wine. 

To give you an idea of what you can expect in wines according to body, here are a few tips:

Light bodied wines usually come from these grapes/regions: Riesling, Grüner  Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Muscadet, Gamay (Beaujolais), Pinot Noir (Burgundy/ Oregon), Sangiovese (Basic Chianti)  Barbera, Dolcetto, etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from cool to moderate climates. I know you need to know some geography!

Medium bodied wines come from these other grapes/regions: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, Chile, Loire), Albariño (Spain), Verdejo (Spain), Gewurztraminer (Alsace, Germany), Chenin Blanc, (Loire Valley, South Africa) Tempranillo (Rioja Crianza and Reserva), inexpensive Merlot and Cabernet, most Rosé, etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from moderate and/or maritime climates.

And Full bodied wines come from these grapes/regions:  Viognier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc or red, Chardonnay from California or Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon from California or high end Bordeaux, Zinfandel, Syrah, Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), Tannat (Uruguay), Douro, Malbec etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from warm to hot climates.

Following what I just said above, I dare you to buy a bottle of each tonight! and taste them together in a flight, so that you can experience the different bodies and textures, this will surely help you identify the best style of your choice and to clearly see the difference.

My recommendations for this week are three excellent full bodied reds that are super round and smooth, they come from Luke Winery, located at Wahluke Slope AVA, Columbia Valley, WA. 
Luke Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 showcases blackberry and cassis notes, with a touch of mint and smoky flavors, beautiful and supple tannins make this less angular than your typical Cab. Delish! $25
Luke Merlot 2018 is my favorite of all three, it features plum and blackberry fruits with a touch of vanilla and cedar notes from oak. Merlot is the typical example of a plush wine for me, and always a crowd pleaser, even for those that don’t usually drink red. $25
And finally Luke Red Blend 2018 is an explosive combination of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 20% Merlot, showing blueberry and cherry with chocolate and spicy black pepper notes. Opulent! $20. All three are distributed nationwide by Folio wines.


Until the next one, Cheers! Silvina.
#winebody #thoughtsoflawina #lightbodiedwines #mediumbodiedwines #fullbodiedwines #winetexture.

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