Best Cabernet Franc Wine

Best Cabernet Franc Wine

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French wine grape variety grown in most wine-producing nations. The variety is most famously known as one of the main wines of Bordeaux and can be found in many of the world’s top Bordeaux Blend wines. It most commonly appears in blended red wines, where it adds accents of tobacco and dark spice.

Cabernet Franc Grape
Cabernet Franc Grape

Best Cabernet Franc wine shares many of the same phenolic and or aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon but with differences. Cabernet Franc tends to be more lightly pigmented and produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, blackcurrants, violets, and graphite. It is often characterized by a green influence that can range from leaves to green bell peppers. It has slightly fewer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouth. New World examples of Cabernet Franc tend to emphasize the fruit more than the green notes.

Cabernet Franc Origin

The Best Cabernet Franc wine is thought to have originated as Libournais in Bordeaux sometime in the 17th century when Cardinal Richelieu transported cuttings of the vine to the Loire Valley. They were planted at the Abbey of Bourgueil under the care of an abbot named Breton. Within this sub-region are the prestigious villages of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, which is where some of the most highly regarded Cabernet Franc wines originate. Examples include Cheval Blanc typically around two-thirds Cabernet Franc and Ausone which is an even split of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Fine Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is commonly compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, which is not without justification. Along with Sauvignon Blanc, the former is a parent of the latter. Recent DNA profiling has also shown that Cabernet Franc is also one of Merlot’s parents.

Cabernet Franc is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but buds and ripens at least a week earlier. This trait allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the Loire Valley. The vine is vigorous and upright, with dark-green, 5-lobed leaves. The winged bunches are elongated and small-medium in size. The berries are quite small and blue-black, with fairly thin skins. The Cabernet Franc grapevine is more prone to mutation than Cabernet Sauvignon, less so than Pinot noir.

The variety prefers cool, inland climates such as the Loire Valley. The appellations of Chinon in Touraine along with Saumur and Saumur-Champigny in Anjou are important bastions of varietal Cabernet Franc wines. The wines are prized for their aromas of ripe berry and sweet spices. Top examples can also be found in the Anjou Villages appellation, and in Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil en Touraine.

Throughout the world, Cabernet Franc is one of the twenty most widely planted grape varieties. Plantings are found throughout Europe, in the New World, China, and Kazakhstan.

Cabernet Franc

France

In France, Cabernet Franc is found predominantly in the Loire Valley and in the Libournais region of Bordeaux. As of 2000, it was the sixth most widely planted red grape variety in the country. By the early 20th century, there were nearly equal plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux with around 25,000 acres by the late 1960s. Towards the end of the 20th century, even though plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon had rapidly increased in Bordeaux to a 2 to 1 ratio in proportion to Cabernet Franc, plantings there were over 35,360 acres of the latter, nearly half of the country’s total 88,900 acres.

Italy

By the year 2000, there were over 17,300 acres of Cabernet Franc in Italy. It is mostly planted in the far northeast of Italy, particularly in Friuli, but it is also found in the vineyards of the Veneto and is found as part of some Chianti blends, even as far south as Apulia. Plantings of Cabernet Franc in Tuscany have been increasing in recent years, particularly in the Bolgheri and Maremma region where the grape is prized for the balance and elegance that it brings to blends.

Hungary

Cabernet Franc in Hungary had gained attention by the end of the 1990s when in some wine-producing regions climate and growing conditions proved to be not optimal for Cabernet Sauvignon to reach its full ripeness. Successful varietal examples from Villány and Szekszárd show great potential. Hungarian varietal Cabernet Franc is a typically full-bodied, moderately, or highly tannic wine with rich aromas of spices, blue flowers, and red/blackberry fruits with a reasonably good aging potential of about 10 years. These wines typically undergo 12 to 18 months of aging in new Hungarian oak barrels.

Cabernet Franc is also present in Eger, and in South Balaton and Sopron vineyards, to a lesser extent. Cabernet Franc often complements Bordeaux-style blends from these regions and occasionally plays a role in rosé production.

Outside France and Italy, sizable plantings of Cabernet Franc are found in Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Croatia.

Canada

Cabernet Franc is becoming more popular in Canada, being planted in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, the north shore of Lake Erie, Pelee Island, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. While it is most often used in blends, it is gaining some popularity as a single varietal and as ice wine. Cabernet Franc Ripen about two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and fares better in Canada’s cooler climate than other red wine grape varieties. Ontario Cabernet Francs often add a characteristic raspberry-like flavor to wine with moderate acidity.

USA

Cabernet Franc became popular in California with those who wanted to develop a Bordeaux in this country. This interest in Cabernet Franc led to an increase in plantings that helped push the total acreage of Cabernet Franc in California to 3,400 acres, most of which is in Napa and Sonoma counties. In 1986, Casa Nuestra Winery in Napa Valley initiated the first Cabernet Franc program in the United States, winning a Double Gold and Best of Class Medal in the Los Angeles Times Wine Competition for their first vintage.

In Washington State, the first plantings of Cabernet Franc were cultivated in experimental blocks by Washington State University in the Columbia Valley during the 1970s. In 1985, Cabernet Franc was planted in the Red Willow Vineyard for use in Bordeaux style blends. The first varietal Cabernet Franc in Washington was released in 1991 by Columbia Winery followed by Chateau Ste Michelle in 1992 with grapes planted from their Cold Creek Vineyard.

Argentina

Cabernet Franc plantings in Argentina have been producing top quality wines in recent years, and the varietal has been claimed as having the most potential in the country after Malbec.

Cabernet Franc and Exciting Food Pairing

Meat

  • Roasted Pork
  • Beef Burgers
  • Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
  • Chicken Tomato Curry
  • Turkey with Cranberry
  • Wild Game Hens
  • Lamb Gyros

Cheese

  • Goat Cheese
  • Ravioli
  • Camembert
  • Feta
  • Fontina
  • Cheese and Spinach Quiche

Herb/Spice

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Chervil
  • Jalapeño Pepper
  • Coriander
  • Aleppo Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Black Pepper

Vegetable

  • Black Lentil
  • Red Bean
  • Pinto Bean
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Mushroom
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Leeks
  • Spinach
  • Sunchokes
  • Arugula

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Red Newt Cellars Cabernet Franc Finger Lakes 2016

Jarvis Estate Cabernet Franc Napa Valley 2013

Onabay Cot Fermented Cabernet Franc 2016

Laroque Cabernet Franc Cite de Carcassonne 2017

Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches 2016

Garzon Cabernet Franc Uruguay Reserve 2015

Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Franc Stellenbosch 2015

Lang and Reed Cabernet Franc North Coast 2014

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc Alexander Valley

BEST GEWURZTRAMINER WINE

BEST GEWURZTRAMINER WINE

Gewurztraminer A German wine is used in white wines and grows and thrives best in cooler climates. Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin color, which makes it a “white wine grape”. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit, and floral notes. It is not uncommon to notice some spritz or fine bubbles on the inside of the glass.

The German name Gewürztraminer literally means “Spice Traminer” or “Perfumed Traminer”, and originally comes from the Alsace region in France. This grape variety is a mutation of the Savagnin blanc, also named Traminer in South Tyrol (northern Italy).

Gewürztraminer is particular about soil and climate. The vine is vigorous, but it hates chalky soils and is very susceptible to disease. It buds early, so is very susceptible to frost, needs dry and warm summers, and ripens erratically and late. Its natural sweetness means that in hot climates it becomes blowsy, with not enough acidity to balance the huge amounts of sugar. On the other hand, picking early to retain the acidity, means that the varietal aromas do not develop, and these aromas may be further diluted by overcropping in an attempt to overcome the low yields.

The history of Gewürztraminer starts with the ancient Traminer variety, a green-skinned grape that takes its name from the village of Tramin, located in South Tyrol, the German-speaking province in northern Italy. It was thought that Traminer was identical to the green-skinned Savagnin blanc. More recently it has been suggested that Savagnin blanc acquired slight differences in its leaf shape as it traveled to the other end of the Alps. The Viognier of the Rhone Valley may be a more distant relative of Savagnin blanc.

Gewürztraminer fine white wine

At some point, either Traminer or Savagnin Blanc mutated into a form with pink-skinned berries, called Red Traminer or Savagnin Rose. A mutation in the Red Traminer/Savagnin rose then led to the extra-aromatic Gewürztraminer, although in Germany these names are all regarded as synonymous.

Traminer is recorded in Tramin from ca. 1000 until the 16th century. It was spread down the Rhine to Alsace, by way of the Palatinate, where Gewürz (spice) was added to its name – presumably, this was when one of the mutations happened. The longer name was first used in Alsace in 1870 – without the umlaut.

Gewürztraminer is like a version of Moscato. While Gewürztraminer wine has many similarities to Moscato it also has higher alcohol, more striking aromatics and lower acidity. All of these characteristics make Gewürztraminer a glass of wine to savory.

The first aroma you’ll come across in a glass of Gewürztraminer is its tell-tale lychee aroma or ‘sweet rose.’ The lychee aroma is usually so intense, it’s one of Gewürztraminer’s ‘tells’ in a blind tasting. If you’re drinking high quality Gewürztraminer you’ll find a great many complex aromatics including Ruby Red grapefruit, rose petal, ginger and a smoky aroma similar to burnt incense.

Gewürztraminer is an aromatic grape-like Moscato, Riesling, and Torrontés and it will have an inherently sweet flavor simply due to the smell. Generally, Gewürztraminer has a gram or two of residual sugar (RS). But because of the heightened aromatics, higher alcohol, and lower acidity, many Gewürz taste sweeter than they actually are.

Gewürztraminer Wine Regions

Australia

Australian Gewürztraminer is more notable from the country’s coolest regions. These include Gewürztraminers from the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, the island of Tasmania, Clare Valley, Yarra Valley and the vineyards scattered in the Australian Alps. The Macedon Ranges, just North of Melbourne has a cold climate and volcanic soils, much suited to the production of Gewürztraminer. (Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association.)

Canada

Canadian wine regions where it is grown include Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, the Niagara Peninsula, and the north shore of Lake Erie and Prince Edward County wine regions of Ontario.

France

Gewürztraminer reaches its finest examples in Alsace, where it is the second most planted grape variety and the one most characteristic of the region. It grows better in the south of the region. Styles of Gewurztraminer d’Alsace range from the very dry Trimbach house style to the very sweet. The variety’s high natural sugar means that it is popular for making a dessert wine, both vendange tardive and the noble rot-affected Sélection de Grains Nobles.

As mentioned above, around Heiligenstein there is a grape known as Klevener de Heiligenstein, which is a Red Traminer (Savagnin Rose) and not a true Gewürz; the Heiligenstein wines are certainly more restrained than other Gewurztraminer d’Alsace.

Germany

Germany has about 10 square kilometers of the variety, but it is very different from that of its neighbors across the Rhine. The Germans go for a relatively dry style, that tries to subdue the natural flamboyance of the grape.

Italy

The Traminer is native to the cool Alpine slopes of the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in northeastern Italy. Whether the Gewürz- mutant is certainly grown there today. What is certain is that the name “Traminer” derives from the town of Tramin. Confusingly, both pink and green grapes may be called simply Traminer.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg has also been prominent in the production of wines with Gewürtztraminer grapes.

United States

In the United States, Gewürtztraminer grapes are concentrated in Monterey, Mendocino, and Sonoma in California, the Columbia Valley of Washington and Oregon, and the Snake River Region of Idaho. It is also grown in Michigan, Rhode Island, Caddo County, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, Hawaii, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Grand Valley, Colorado and the Finger Lakes and Long Island Regions of New York.

GEWURZTRAMINER FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, both utilizing nuts and dried fruits with roasted meats

Meat Pairings:

Beef Pork, Chicken, Duck, Shrimp, and Crab

Spices and Herbs:

Highly spiced and aromatic herbs including Cayenne Pepper, Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, Allspice, Turmeric, Madras Curry, Sichuan Pepper, Shallots, Soy Sauce, Sesame, Almond, Rose Water, Lime Leaf, Bay Leaf, Coriander, Cumin

Vegetables & Vegetarian Fare:

Roasted vegetables and veggies: Coconut, Red Onion, Bell Pepper, Eggplant, Tempeh, Squash and Carrot.

Spicy Dishes: Chinese Sichuanese, Korean, Indian Food,

Strong Cheeses: Munster, Epoisses, Maroilles and Stinking Bishop:

Desserts:

apple-based desserts such as apple crumble or streusel cakes with cinnamon

mango-based desserts with ginger.

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Please review some fine Gewürztraminer wines below or go to our main site for a complete selection of fine wine and spirits

Robertson Late Harvest Gewürztraminer South Africa- Full bodied wine with honeysuckle and rose petals in bouquet.

Claiborne & Churchill Gewürztraminer Central Coast, CA- Not only is this aromatic and floral “spicy” varietal, it is also a remarkably dry dinner wine.

Anne de K Gewurztraminer Vogelgarten Vieilles Vignes Alsace, France- A complex nose composed of fruits and flowers with a spicy touch that suggest a powerful wine.

Elfenhof Gewurztraminer Spatlese Austria- Gorgeously sweet Gewurztraminer with moderately low alcohol and typically alluring diversity of aromas, including rose petals, pear, nutmeg, and white lilies.

Courtney Benham Gewurztraminer California – Made in a slightly sweeter style, a crisp refreshing wine that is gorgeous. Loaded with spicy aromas and lush, exotic fruit flavors.

Albrecht Gewurztraminer Tradition Alsace, France- Bursting with aromas of rose petal, tropical fruits and exotic litchi, yet dry and lush on the palate.

Arthur Metz Gewurztraminer Alsace, France- Spicy notes of cinnamon and Asian five-spice linger in the nose of this delicious dry white.

Cottesbrook Gewurztraminer Canterbury, New Zealand- This medium-bodied Gewurtztraminer presents an intense aroma of crushed rose petals with exotic spices.

Geil Gewurztraminer Kabinett Rheinhessen, Germany- The Gewurztraminer grape variety ripens especially well in the Rheinhessen region of Germany. The resulting dry style wine is aromatic and perfumed with a fruity, spicy flavor.

B Lovely Gewurztraminer Washington- Fragrant aromas of lychee, pear, and spice. This wine is fresh and focused with bright lychee, tropical fruit, and honeysuckle flavors.

Fetzer Gewurztraminer California- Passion fruits along with tangerine, mango and aromas of honey and orange spice join with pineapple, baked pears and hints of cinnamon.

Best Grenache Wine

Best Grenache Wine

Grenache or Garnacha is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, where the grape most likely originated. Grenache is the French (and most internationally recognized) name for the grape, but it has a number of synonyms. In Spain, where it is one of the country’s primary varieties, it is known as Garnacha, and on the island of Sardinia, it has been known for centuries as Cannonau. Some believe that the grape originated in Sardinia, and was taken back to Spain by the Aragonese, who occupied the island in the 14th Century.

Grenache is spicy, berry-flavored with relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best Grenache wine. Characteristic flavor profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavors (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. As Grenache ages, the wines tend to take on more leather and tar flavors. Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, and it is often blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo, and Cinsaut. Grenache (Garnacha) is grown extensively in France, Spain, Australia, and the United States.

In Spain, Garnacha is the second most-planted red-wine grape variety, surpassed only by its modern blending partner Tempranillo. It is grown in almost every area of Spain, but most notably in the north and east – it is the key constituent in the prestigious wines of Priorat. The arrival of the grapevine pest phylloxera to the Iberian Peninsula in the 19th Century brought unexpected benefits to Garnacha; as the native vines were devastated it was robust Garnacha that replenished the vineyards and helped to re-energize the wine industry.

Grenache fine wine

In France, Grenache is most widely planted in the southern Rhone Valley and throughout both Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. It is most commonly found alongside Syrah and Mourvedre in the classic Southern Rhone Blend (notably in Cotes du Rhone wines), and is the main grape variety in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Grenache’s status was reduced, but it survived efforts to eradicate it, returning to international favor in the 21st Century. Emerging wine-producing nations such as China, Mexico and Israel are now cultivating this ubiquitous grape variety.

Grenache is a vigorous and hardy vine with a strong wooden frame, often grown as free-standing bush vines. It is resistant to wind and drought, making it suitable for use in arid climates in California and South Australia. Because it is often grown in hot environments, the alcohol levels of Grenache-based wines can be very high, often surpassing 15 percent ABV. Some Australian winemakers use Grenache as the base for fortified, Port-style wines, but its most common use in the country is in the GSM blend – the classic combo of Grenache – Shiraz – Mourvedre.

Grenache berries have thin skin and ripen late in the growing season. Acid and tannins can be variable depending on growing conditions and cropping levels but tend towards the low-medium end of the spectrum. However, old-vine Grenache grown in schist or stone can produce significantly concentrated wines capable of aging over many decades.

Grenache (Garnacha)

The Grenache Grape

Grenache vines are popular among both growers and drinkers for many reasons, including their hardiness and ability to grow grapes that are fruity and low in tannin. Grenache grapes are:

Natural sweetness: Wines made with grenache burst demonstrate ripe fruit flavors like raspberry, red and black cherry, and strawberry jam.

Blend well: Grenache is aromatic and full of fruit flavor, so it is an easy choice to blend with meatier, more tannic grapes like mourvedre or syrah.

A Versatile Wine: Most grenache varietal wines are approachable and can be enjoyed young, but with careful wine making practices from the fruit of old vines, grenache can become a complex, powerful wine that can be aged well.

Variations of the Grenache Grape

There have been many mutations to this ancient grape variety producing different appearances

Grenache noir: This is the original and most common grenache, whose thin skins result in a medium-ruby colored wine. It is made into red wines as well as rosé styles.

Grenache Blanc: A white mutation of Grenache, that is grown in northeast Spain as well as France’s Rhône Valley. White Priorat wines made from grenache blanc and other white grapes are gaining popularity. Grenache blanc has long been an important blending grape in rich southern Rhône whites.

Grenache Gris:, A mutation named after the grayish-pink color of its skin. It is mostly planted in France’s Roussillon, where it is blended with Grenaches noir and blanc in the dessert wines of Banyuls, Rivesaults, and Maury.

Grenache Wine Style

The grenache grape is made into many different wine styles, from dry to sweet, and from white to red.

Spain:

  • Priorat: The wines from Priorat are usually made with cariñena in powerful, spicy blends that are sometimes aged in new oak. These wines can age well
  • Rioja and Navarra: Grenache is used to soften or add aroma to the tempranillo grape. On their own, grenache wines from these regions are light in color with fleshy, red fruit.

France:

  • Côtes du Rhône AOC is the label found on most Grenache-based wines made in France’s Southern Rhône region. The Grenache is usually blended with a little syrah, carignan, or mourvedre. Côtes du Rhône wine can also be 100% grenache. These are good value wines with moderate tannins and a herbal, tobacco overtone to the red fruit aromas.
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an appellation in the Southern Rhône where 13 grapes, including all of the Grenaches, are allowed in the wines. These wines are smokey and intense, with savory licorice notes.
  • Provence rosé: Some of the most popular rosés from Provence are often Grenache-based, which gives them strawberry and orange zest flavors.
  • Languedoc, a region in southern France, is responsible for juicy, inexpensive grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre (GSM) blends. The warm climate means that these wines are full-bodied and higher in alcohol. Languedoc whites are usually unoaked, easy-drinking blends made with grenache blanc and other local white grapes.
  • Roussillon, the region southwest of Languedoc, is known for fortified dessert wine called vin doux naturels, made from grenache blanc, grenache gris, and grenache noir. VDNs labeled rancio are made in an oxidative style, similar to Madeira.

New World:

  • Australia is known for its GSM blends. Shiraz/syrah is still the most well-known of the three grapes, but a few top producers in the Barossa Valley and the Yarra Valley have recently released varietal grenache wines. The sweetness and alcohol in the wines are amplified by Australia’s warm climate, but producers are using winemaking techniques to create a slightly lighter style of wine.
  • California has been growing grenache ever since a wave of Italian immigrants brought the grape with them to the United States in the 1880s. Small producers in the Central Coast are reviving grenache’s reputation as an easy-drinking table wine, but prizing quality over quantity.

GRENACHE FOOD PAIRING

Grenache Whites Garnacha Blanca/Grenache Blanc

Raw Shellfish, Summer Salads, Scallop Risotto

Fried Seafood, Fried Chicken, GlazedHam,

Grenache Reds: Garnacha Tinta/Grenache Noir

Indian Curries, Burquers with Smoked Gouda, Chorizo in Red Wine

BBQ Ribs, Grilled Sausages, Lamb Chops

Grenache Rosé garnacha/grenache wines

Grilled Tuna, Chicken Salad, Charcuterie

soft cheeses like Camembert or Brie, pasta with cheese or cream sauce, scrambled eggs, poached egg, or stuffed hard-boiled eggs.

Desserts: lemon sponge cakes, chocolate and cream cake, crepes with melted chocolate or fruit tarts.

Fortified Sweet Wine: Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)

Deep dark chocolates, caramels, Desserts, and Fruits

Sparkling Grenache Wine

Desserts Sushi lemon sponge cakes, chocolate, cream cake, crepes with melted chocolate or fruit tarts.

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PLEASE CHECK OUT THE SAMPLES BELOW FOR A FINE GRENACHE WINE OR PLEASE GO TO OUR MAINTAIN SITE TO CHOOSE ANOTHER FINE SELECTION

Domaines Lupier El Terroir 2012

Viñas Del Vero La Miranda De Secastilla Garnacha 2012

Hancock & Hancock Grenache Rosé 2016

A.D. Beckham Amphora Grenache MMXV

Ess & See Grenache No 2 2012

Zalze Shiraz Grenache Viognier 2015

Comando G Las Rozas 1er Cru 2015

Côtes-Du-Rhône Rouges Ceps Centenaires La Mémé 2014

Waitrose Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2015

Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2015

Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2014

BEST CHIANTI WINE

BEST CHIANTI WINE

Chianti is currently the most popular Italian red wine in America and is known for being a great dry red wine that goes very well with food. Like most other wines made in the Old World, Chianti derives its name from the region where it is made. The Chianti region is located in Tuscany and the Chianti wines are made primarily from the Sangiovese grape. This area of central Italy is known for its sweeping landscapes, warm sun and artistic and food history.

For the wine to be defined as Chianti, it must be produced in the Chianti region and be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. While most Chiantis are 100% Sangiovese, some winemakers in the region like to blend Sangiovese with a little Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah to soften the finished wine.

A Chianti wine is any wine produced in the Chianti region of central Tuscany. It was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco or flask. However, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine as most Chianti is now bottled in more standard shaped wine bottles. The recipe created in the middle of the 19th century consisted of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca

The earliest documentation of a “Chianti wine” dates back to the 13th century when viticulture was known to flourish in the “Chianti Mountains” around Florence. The merchants in the nearby townships of Castellina, Gaiole and Radda formed the Lega del Chianti (League of Chianti) to produce and promote the local wine. In 1398, records note that the earliest incarnation of Chianti was as a white wine. In 1716 Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany issued an edict legislating that the three villages of the Lega del Chianti (Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Radda in Chianti as well as the village of Greve as the only officially recognized producers of Chianti. This delineation existed until July 1932, when the Italian government expanded the Chianti zone to include the outlying areas of Barberino Val d’Elsa, Chiocchio, Robbiano, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Strada. Subsequent expansions in 1967 would eventually bring the Chianti zone to cover a very large area all over central Tuscany.

The first definition of a wine-area called Chianti was made in 1716. It described the area near the villages of Gaiole, Castellina and Radda; the so-called Lega del Chianti and later Provincia del Chianti (Chianti province). In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn and divided in seven sub-areas: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. Most of the villages that in 1932 were suddenly included in the new Chianti Classico area added in Chianti to their name-such as Greve in Chianti which amended its name in 1972. Wines labeled “Chianti Classico” come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that includes the original Chianti heartland. Only Chianti from this sub-zone may boast the black rooster seal (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium, the local association of producers.

Since 1996 the blend for Chianti and Chianti Classico has been 75–100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. Since 2006, the use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano have been prohibited in Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 12% with a minimum of 7 months aging in oak, while Chianti Classicos labeled riserva must be aged at least 24 months at the winery, with a minimum alcohol level of at least 12.5%. The harvest yields for Chianti Classico are restricted to no more than 3 tonnes per acre. For basic Chianti, the minimum alcohol level is 11.5% with yields restricted to 4 tonnes per acre.

The aging for basic Chianti is much less stringent with most varieties allowed to be released to the market on 1 March following the vintage year. The sub-zones of Colli Fiorentini, Montespertoli and Rufina must be aged for a further three months and not released until 1 June. All Chianti Classicos must be held back until 1 October in the year following the vintage.

Chianti is Sangiovese

The Sangiovese that forms the majority of the Chianti blend is a thin-skinned grape, so it makes translucent wines.

In the glass, Sangiovese displays a ruby red color with flashes of bright burnt orange as a hue commonly associated with aged wines. Besides Sangiovese, Chianti wines may contain wine grapes like Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Merlot. White grapes were once allowed in Chianti Classico but not anymore.

The best examples of Chianti are a visceral tasting experience as in preserved sour Amarena cherries, dried oregano, and notes of balsamic vinegar.

Aging & Classifications of Chianti Wine

There are many different tastes for young or aged Chianti wine

General Aging

  • Chianti: Aged for 6 months. Young and tart Chianti.
  • Superiore: Aged for a year. Slightly bolder wines with smoother acidity.
  • Riserva: Aged for 2 years. Usually the top wines of a Chianti producer.
  • Gran Selezione: Aged for at least 2.5 years. Top wines from Chianti Classico.

Chianti has several sub regions. The original is Chianti Classico. Each subzone has different minimum aging requirements. Some say that this is a sign of quality.

  • Colli Senesi: Aged for 6 months.
  • Colline Pisane: Aged for 6 months.
  • Colli Aretini: Aged for 6 months.
  • Montalbano: Aged for 6 months.
  • Montespertoli: Aged for 9 months (min.)
  • Classico: Aged for a year (min.)
  • Rùfina: Aged for a year (min.)
  • Colli Fiorentini: Aged for a year (min.)

Chianti and Food Pairing

Chianti pairs brilliantly with tomato sauces, pizza and pasta bakes such as lasagna but it’s also a great wine with a simple grill or roast or even (gasp!) a burger. Here are my favorite pairings:

Basic or Youthful Chiantis

Crostini, especially topped with mushrooms or chicken livers

Pasta with a meat or tomato sauce e.g. spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti and meatballs and even meatloaf

Baked pasta dishes such as lasagna

Pizza

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Bean or chickpea soup, flavored with rosemary

Dishes with salsa verde – even fish like this roast cod dish

Salami especially salami with fennel

Pecorino cheese

Tuscan olive oils

Better Quality Aged or ‘riserva’ Chiantis

Roast lamb with rosemary and garlic

Roast or braised veal, especially with mushrooms

Tuscan-style sausages and beans

Game, especially pheasant and wild boar

Bistecca alla Fiorentina, T bone or rib eye steaks

Burgers, hopefully with tomatoes and cheese …

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Please select from our samples shown below for a fine Chianti or go to our main site for a complete selection of wine and spirits

Cecchi Chianti Classico

Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2013

Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico gran Selezione 2013

Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino 2013

Terre Nere Rosso di Montalcino 2013

Frescobaldi Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico 2015

Vèscine Capotondo Chianti Classico 2011Castello di Poppiano Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG Il Cortile 2012

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2012

Castello Sonnino Chianti Montespertoli – Riserva 2011

PINOT BLANC WINES

PINOT BLANC WINES

The main and significant characteristic of wines made from Pinot Blanc (and Auxerrois) is a certain sweetness of flavor because the acidity is relatively low. Made with the Pinot Blanc grape (also known as Weissburgunder in German), Pinot Biancos from northeast Italy are extremely elegant and offer a tantalizing combination of creamy and crisp, dry and mineral-driven.

When compared to Italy’s most popular white, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco generally has more finesse and is more delicately scented, typically offering apple, pear and hints of white flower. Even though Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio from this corner of Italy have lively acidity, Pinot Bianco boasts an alluring, creamy texture almost never found in Pinot Grigio.

In Germany Pinot Blanc is known as Weissburgunder, the vine’s influence in Germany has been increasing. Austria is perhaps the country which values Weissburgunder the highest – particularly around the shallow Neusiedlersee where grapes can ripen to exceptional ripeness and botrytis is almost an annual occurrence. The variety is also grown in Styria where Alois Gross makes an attractively crisp example in Kittenberg and in Lower Austria as well as by some in the vineyards around Vienna. The Austrians also treat their ripest Weissburgunder, often blended with other grape varieties, particularly Chardonnay, to oak aging. Some of Burgenland’s finest Weissburgunders are made around the little town of Gols by the likes of Matthias Beck, Gernot Heinrich and Matthias Leitner. Fine Austrian Weissburgunder can age particularly well.

On export markets the name Pinot Bianco hardly has the cachet of Pinot Grigio but in Collio and Isonzo, Pinot Bianco marketed by the border with Slovenia where it can also produce similarly dazzling wines, it seems particularly at home. Here the grape’s natural body and breadth of flavor combines well with the lively growth that results from the climate and super-clean wine making methods and the wines are much in demand from Italians seeking interesting whites, both oaked and unoaked, from the likes of Mauro Drius, Felluga, Jermann and Schioppetto.

Perhaps the most ambitious Pinot Blanc in the world of wine is made by the intense Sebastiano Castiglioni of Querciabella in Chianti. This estate’s Batàr is modelled on Bâtard Montrachet, no less, and is made from a blend of Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.

In Slovenia, Croatia and Vojvodina, Pinot Blanc is quite widely grown, as Beli Pinot, and is sometimes treated to barrels, particularly in Slovenia which copies the Friuli habit of blending several grape varieties together in some of its best white wines.

A smattering of Pinot Blanc is grown all over the New World. Some best is grown in British Columbia in western Canada where the naturally high acidity and well-delineated fruit flavors suit this sometimes rather amorphous variety.

The quality bar is higher across the board with Pinot Bianco, which is made in limited quantities compared to Pinot Grigio. Even though producers make several distinct styles of wine, from vibrant and linear to medium-bodied with complexity, Pinot Bianco usually guarantees a decent to high-quality wine. That’s reflected in its generally higher price tag in comparison to cheap, cheerful Pinot Grigio.

The quality bar is higher across the board with Pinot Bianco, which is made in limited quantities compared to Pinot Grigio. Even though producers make several distinct styles of wine, from vibrant and linear to medium-bodied with complexity, Pinot Bianco usually guarantees a decent to high-quality wine. That’s reflected in its generally higher price tag in comparison to cheap, cheerful Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Bianco needs very specific growing conditions to excel, including high hillside vineyards, generally above 450 meters (1,476 feet), where the combination of altitude and fresh breezes generate cool temperatures during the growing season. When compared to Pinot Grigio, for example, Pinot Bianco fares better when it’s exposed to less direct sun and heat. Pinot Bianco also needs complex soils, mainly limestone with some clay. Choosing the best sites has been crucial for improving Pinot Bianco.

Food Pairing and Pinot Blanc

A wine like Pinot Blanc is best suited to foods with more subtle flavoring. It will match up well with light fish, soft cheeses, and salads.

Salads, cold meats and tarte flambée

Pasta in white sauce

Roasted chicken and Turkey

Fried chicken

Fresh fruit salads particularly with tropical fruits

Smoked cheese

Asian stir fries and noodles

Sushi

Shellfish and Fish Caviar

Please sign up for our email list below to get the latest information on our latest product descriptions, upcoming sales and special offers. We have some of the best offers in the business so please keep updated and have all questions answered in our COMMONWEALTH NEWS

Please review some of the fine Pinot Blanc wines below for your next order or go to our main site for a complete selection of all wine and spirits available from around the world.

  Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2016, Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France

Eyrie Pinot Blanc 2016, Pinot Blanc from Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon

  Kettmeir Pinot Bianco 2017, Pinot Blanc from Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

Koehler-Ruprecht Weisser Burgunder Kabinett Trocken 2017, Pinot Blanc from Pfalz, Germany

  Chalone Estate Pinot Blanc 2014, Pinot Blanc from Chalone, Monterey, Central Coast, California

Selbach Oster Pinot Blanc 2016,  Pinot Blanc from Mosel, Germany

Villa Russiz Pinot Bianco 2015, Pinot Blanc from Collio Goriziano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Dopff & Irion Pinot Blanc 2018, Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France

   Wittmann 100 Hills Pinot Blanc 2017,  Pinot Blanc from Rheinhessen, Germany

Nals Margreid Sirmian Pinot Bianco 2017, Pinot Blanc from Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

BEST MERLOT WINES

BEST MERLOT WINES

Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of the French merle which is French for ‘The Little Blackbird’. Merlot is the second most popular red grape in America and known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Merlot s are easy drinking reds that go well both with food as well as on their own. Its softness combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot Wine Grapes
Merlot Wine Grapes

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in essentially most markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. As of 2015, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 660,000 acres globally.

The earliest mention of this grape was in 1787 when a French winemaker in the Bordeaux region formally labeled the grape as an ingredient in his Bordeaux blend. The use of this grape spread across the Bordeaux and become known its ability to add fruitiness and softness to the wine with the combination of the favorite grape Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon combination became the main ingredients for the world-famous Bordeaux blends.

In 1824, the word Merlot itself appeared in an article on Médoc wine where it was described that the grape was named after the local black bird. Other descriptions of the grape from the 19th century called the variety lou seme doù flube meaning “the seedling from the river” with the grape thought to have originated on one of the islands found along the Garonne river. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the “Left Bank” of the Gironde river.

Merlot Vineyard
Merlot Vineyard

Merlot was introduced into Italy in 1855 with the name Bordo. The grape was also introduced to the Swiss in the 1800’s and became popular in the early 20th century. As recently as the 1990’s became very popular in the United States.

In the late 1990s, researchers at University of California, Davis showed that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a half-sibling of Carménère, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The identity of the second parent of Merlot wouldn’t be discovered until the late 2000s when an obscure and unnamed variety, first sampled in 1996 from vines growing in an abandoned vineyard in Saint-Suliac in Brittany, was shown by DNA analysis to be the actual mother of Merlot.

Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries with color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin and fewer tannins per unit volume. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and tend to have a higher sugar content and lower malic acid.

Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to the viticultural hazard of Botrytis bunch rot.

While Merlot grapes are grown and wine produced throughout the world, there are two basic styles. The “International style” favored by many New World wine regions tends to emphasize late harvesting to gain specific ripeness and produce inky, purple colored wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense, plum and blackberry fruit. The traditional “Bordeaux style” of Merlot involves harvesting Merlot earlier to maintain acidity and producing more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavors of raspberries, and strawberries.

Merlot is one of the world’s most widely planted grape varieties. France is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s total plantings of Merlot. Beyond France, it is also grown in Italy, Algeria,]California, Romania, Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Greece, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Mexico.

Fine Merlot Wine
Fine Merlot Wine

Styles of Merlot and Food Pairing

Light and Medium bodied Merlot s

Pizza and toasted cheese dishes.

Pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces

Grilled chicken with grilled vegetables, such as peppers, zucchini and eggplant

Cold ham

Stronger Styles of Merlot

Italian-style sausages with fennel

Spaghetti and meatballs

Baked pasta dishes such as lasagna and veggie bakes

Macaroni cheese

Meatloaf

Burgers – especially cheeseburgers

Spicy rice dishes such as jambalaya

Bean dishes with smoked ham

Roast turkey

Mild to medium hard cheeses

Seared – even blackened – salmon

Chinese style crispy duck

Braised short ribs

Chicken, pork or rabbit casseroles with a fruity element such as apricots or prunes

Merlot-dominated Blends from Bordeaux

Grilled chops – veal, pork or lamb – especially with herbs such as thyme and rosemary

Steak, especially in a red wine sauce

Beef Wellington

Roast beef or lamb with a simple jus or a mushroom sauce

Roast chicken, turkey and guinea fowl

Simply roast duck – and Chinese crispy duck

Please sign up for our email list below to get the latest information on our latest product descriptions, upcoming sales and special offers. We have some of the best offers in the business so please keep updated and have all questions answered in our COMMONWEALTH NEWS

Please review some selections of our Best Merlot Wines below and place an order or go to our main site for our extensive collections

Château de Langaleire 2017 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux

Spicy and smoky, this wine moves easily between bright berry fruits and a structure made for aging. With a fresh edge of black currants and a firm core of tannins, the wine will age well.

Château Tour des Gendres 2015 Les Gendres Parcelle No. A298 Merlot (Côtes de Bergerac)

One of several single-parcel wines from this producer, this 100% old-vine Merlot is dense and ripe. Red-berry flavors are warm, on the verge of becoming smooth while still having structure.

Georges Vigouroux 2016 Château Leret Monpezat Malbec-Merlot (Cahors)

Dense, concentrated and packed with tannins, this wine comes from one of the estates managed by the Vigouroux family. Ripe, juicy black fruits impress with richness, layers of spice and acidity.

Georges Vigouroux 2016 Château de Mercuès Malbec-Merlot (Cahors)

The spectacular hilltop castle of Mercuès, now a hotel, forms the backdrop to this wine’s vineyards. The wine is powerful and dense, packed with tannins that are slowly melding with the black-plum fruits.

Beringer 2016 Bancroft Ranch Merlot (Howell Mountain)

Sanguine with fruity flavors of currant and cassis, this is a hearty, full-bodied and substantially ripe red, lush on the palate with a succulent texture. It has aspects of forest sage, dusty rock, cocoa powder that highlight mountain tannin structure and bold oak.

Januik Winery 2016 Merlot (Columbia Valley (WA))

The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of dried herb, dark chocolate, cherry and cedar. Well-proportioned, slightly jammy red- and black-fruit flavors follow, supported by a lovely sense of structure andaccented by plentiful barrel spices.

K Cellars 2015 Merlot (Thracian Valley)

This garnet-colored Bulgarian Merlot has aromas of cranberry, dark plum,red raspberry and violet. There is a nice level of acidity in the midpalate with flavors of cherry preserves and ripe black raspberry.

Columbia Winery 2016 Merlot (Columbia Valley (WA))

Toast, freshly brewed coffee, chocolate and spice aromas are at the fore, with barrel notes playing a strong influence. Full-bodied raspberry and cherry flavors follow, shortening on the finish.

Lovingston 2017 Josie’s Knoll Merlot (Monticello)

Nearly black in the glass with a vibrant magenta rim, this has a distinctly funky nose. The palate is mild in flavors of plum and red apple, with vanilla, tilled earth and cocoa powder.

Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot (Columbia Valley (WA))

Dried herb, cherry, dark chocolate, raspberry, plum and anise aromas are out front. Plump, tart fruit flavors follow. There’s a strange mixture of tartness and ripeness.

$25