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Wine Guide

Bordeaux Blends

RED WINE Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These five red grapes are the components of a classic Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot usually play the lead role, while Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot act as the supporting cast. These three grapes help to add colour, structure and body in

Cabernet Sauvignon

RED WINE The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a small berry with a thick skin and a high pip to pulp ratio. This in turn creates a wine high in colour, tannin and extract. Typical Cabernet Sauvignon descriptors include blackberry, cassis, cedar and currant. Because the grape adapts to many different soils and climates, its characteristics

Carmenere

RED WINE Carménère is yet another grape that was eventually exiled from the Bordeaux blend. In the late 1800s, Carménère was brought over to Chile from France, and it never turned back. For a while, Chilean growers thought this grape was Merlot and labeled their wines as such. But in the early nineties, thanks to

Chardonnay

WHITE WINE Chardonnay varies greatly with climate, soil and winemaking, but it adapts just about anywhere, which is what makes it so popular. Cooler climates like New Zealand and Chablis lead to crisp, acid-prone wines, while warmer climates like southern California and Australia foster riper grapes that create heavier wine leaning towards tropical fruit flavours.

Chenin Blanc

WHITE WINE Soils are often the defining factor of a Chenin style. In the Loire, the heavier, clay-based soils are best for fostering late ripening, sweet Chenin Blanc – the chalky, more limestone-based soils are responsible for many of the lighter, crisper styles of the grape. Sweet Chenin Blanc is sometimes affected by botrytis, the

Malbec

RED WINE Malbec is used in small amounts in Bordeaux blends to add colour and tannin. In Cahors, where it is also known as “cot,” the grape makes wines there that are full-bodied and able to mature – these wines are dark and sometimes gamey, but delicious – they like to call it the “black”

Merlot

RED WINE The grape exudes soft fruit flavours of plum and blackberry, but it’s versatile – the style can change depending on the climate and soil. Merlot from mountain areas are usually more Cabernet like, with stronger structure and tannins; while Merlot from valley floor areas and clay-based soils are opulent, with velvety textures, often

Moscato

WHITE WINE Muscat Blanc is the Moscato used in Italy for Moscato d’Asti and Spumante, both light and fizzy wines. It also creates the Muscat d’Alsace of France, which is often made in the dry style. Muscat Blanc can also be found in the deliciously sweet wines of Beaumes-de-Venise in the south of France. The

Pinot Gris

WHITE WINE Pinot Gris from Alsace creates rich, stone fruit-laden wines. They are perfumed and aromatic, and typically dry. It has round body and medium acidity. Take the grape a bit south to Italy, and it creates a very crisp, high-acid, citrus noted wine. Both are flavourful, but wine named Pinot Gris typically provides more

Pinot Noir

RED WINE Other than Burgundy, Pinot Noir has been successful in areas like Oregon, California and lately, New Zealand – the Central Otago region to be exact. Burgundian Pinot Noir typically offers flavours and aromas of red fruit, summer pudding and baking spices. As the wine matures – and great Burgundies are able to do

Rhone Red Blends

RED WINE Rhône blends are a wonderful combination of rustic and ripe – showing their flavours and delicious character upon release. Some Rhône wines, particularly those with a good amount of Syrah, are able to age for a few years. Australia’s Rhône blends are often called “GSM” or “SGM” – using the initials of the

Rhone White Blends

WHITE WINE The whites blends of the Rhône are usually rich in fruit flavours and aromatics. Three of the primary grapes, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, are intense on aromatics & texture. The fourth primary grape used in the blend is Grenache Blanc, a fairly neutral grape with crisp acid & high sugars. Blending Grenache Blanc

Riesling

WHITE WINE Riesling has an extremely high level of acidity. That acidity is matched by the intensity of the grape’s floral and fruit aromas. A number of descriptors are associated with Riesling due to its tendency to adopt the characteristics of where it is grown. Riesling of the Mosel is distinctive because its flavours reflect

Sangiovese

RED WINE Sangiovese mutates easily, and therefore has many clones – the most notable being Brunello, of Brunello di Montalcino fame. Sangiovese is a slow-growing, late-ripening grape. It has high acidity and a thin skin, which makes it difficult to master. If not cared for correctly, the grape will produce a wine overly acidic with

Sauvignon Blanc

WHITE WINE Sauvignon Blanc’s home is the Loire Valley of France, where it produces the crisp, grassy mineral-tinged wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume (not to be mistaken with Pouilly-Fuisse in Burgundy – that would be Chardonnay). Wine of this region is crisp and grassy, with delicious minerality and an occasional gun flint/smoky character. In

Syrah (Shiraz)

RED WINE Like many world-popular grapes, Syrah (also known as Shiraz) can differ in style depending on the climate, region and winemaking techniques. Typical aromas and flavours from most Syrah-based wines include pepper, blackberry and leather or smoke. Australian Shiraz and central or southern California Syrah tend to be more dense in fruit flavour, some

Tempranillo

RED WINE Tempranillo features flavours of red fruits like sweet strawberries and tart cherries, backed by a rustic edge. Tempranillo takes well to oak, and many Spanish wines from this grape will spend a few years in barrel and bottle before reaching the consumer. Spanish wine laws are very specific about ageing wine, both in

Zinfandel

RED WINE While Zinfandel is grown many places, its most popular and successful region is California. Appellations producing delicious Zinfandel wines include Sonoma, specifically Dry Creek Valley, Napa, the North Coast, the Central Coast, and the Sierra Foothills. Zinfandel stands out with its very berry intensity and exotic spice notes. In some, jammy fruit will