Featured Post – Exploring the World’s Greatest Wine Regions

Oct 24, 13 Featured Post – Exploring the World’s Greatest Wine Regions

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Exploring the world’s greatest wine regions… France, Italy and Spain are the top three wine countries in the world, producing almost half of the world’s wine – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should only visit wine regions within these countries. Wine is produced all over the world and so it can be very difficult to decide where to go to sample to the best wines on holiday, especially if you’re a beginner whose passion for wine has only just begun. Here Columbus Direct takes a look at some of world’s greatest wine regions and what you can expect from each one… Bordeaux, France It is likely that even the most novice of wine lovers know that Bordeaux is generally considered one of, if not the greatest wine region in the world. Bordeaux boasts around 284,320 acres of vineyards, producing a huge variety of grapes including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. If you’re a lover of red wine in particular, you certainly won’t be disappointed, as around 75 to 80 per cent of the wine produced there is red. Bordeaux is also famous for making some of the most expensive and prized wines – though that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot when you’re over there. Wine tours are pretty inexpensive and there are plenty of wines available at reasonable prices, so don’t think it’s out of your price range. Napa Valley, California Napa Valley is considered to house the greatest collection of wineries in America, despite the fact it only produces around four per cent of California’s wine. Size wise, the region is about an eighth of the size of Bordeaux, yet there are around 220 wine producers here and around 95 per cent of them are family-run businesses. Napa Valley creates a wide variety of premium grapes – including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Merlot, among others. There are certainly enough different types here to keep wine lovers of all kinds happy. Maipo Valley, Chile Maipo Valley is the most established wine region in Chile, it’s most famous grape is Cabernet Sauvignon but Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes are also...

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Sunday lunch and Levendi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’05

When I was in Sonoma, Ca, Levendi Winery and The Wine Spies got together and had a bash for us bloggers after the WBConference. One of our going away gifts was a half bottle of the Levendi Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon to try at home. I brought mine home to see what my English friends would think of it. In England, the opportunity to try good California cab doesn’t really come along often so I had a bunch of willing testers. I went over to my friend Ele’s house for a bit of Sunday lunch and the Levendi cab. Here are my thoughts, as well as the others. A savoury nose, not very fruity but what I could detect were black stewed fruits,prunes, blackcurrant jam, bit of spiciness, words like dark and harsh were thrown about but I think that was because of the alcoholic content. A surprisingly medium bodied wine on the palate with more of the black fruits, particularly blackcurrant and very ripe plums, soft tannins which was again a surprise. I think everyone was expecting a monster of a wine when in reality, it was more like a pussycat. Having said that though, it did have a nice acidic balance which meant the wine went really well with the mature English cheddar Ele had on hand. The cheese made the fruit a bit brighter on the palate, a nice foil. Rachel said she thought it was light, not heavy, black grapey, she liked it, ok with cheeses, food didn’t really make a difference for her, it was still good. She’d drink it again, it had an inviting quality. Juliene thought it tasted much better then it smelled, a surprisingly soft wine, quite medium bodied, plenty of fruity goodness, an easy going wine, nothing too complex. She also thought it went well with food.   Sophie was the naysayer of the bunch, she couldn’t really get a handle on the aromas and she thought it was too acidic, very intersting. She did however, think that it greatly improved when adding food into the mix....

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Clos du Val Merlot 05, Cab. 05 – Napa Valley

Getting a winery tour or tasting can be difficult with some wineries requiring reservations up to 3 months in advance! Fortunately, many have tasting rooms that don’t need any such thing. Driving down the road, you just look for the little A-board signs sitting by the roadway, inviting you in for a taste. Clos du Val was once such winery. I’ve had their wines before and vaguely remember enjoying them. The hostess was a very friendly sort, although she did ask me for ID to prove I was old enough to drink. Let me tell you, she made my day! Clos du Val was set up 35 years ago by the Frenchman Bernard Portet. His mission was to produce classic estate-style wines and to that end, I think he has succeeded. I tasted and bought the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Merlot. The 2005 Napa Valley Merlot is a Bordeaux blend, as are most of the wines from Clos du Val, primarily merlot with a bit of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon added to give it structure and balance. California merlot can be flabby and jammy but this blend was most definitely not. Pleasing aromas of plum and blackfruits, a rounded, full bodied mouthfeel and juicy blackberry, licorice and sweet spice flavours. Well balanced acidity was another big plus along with a nice long finish. A smoothly elegant merlot to have on it’s own or with a meal. The 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot. It’s big and meaty with plenty of tannins in there to help it age gracefully. Lots of currants, blackberry and cassis with a generous bit of spiciness and cedar to finish it off. One of the perks of dining out in Napa is that all the restaurants allow you to bring in your own wine for a reasonable corkage fee (usually between $15 – $20). I took one of my purchases with me to dinner at...

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A swing by Napa Valley

Since I’m out on the West Coast visiting family, I thought it would be nice to take a short trip over to Napa to do a bit of compare and contrast with European wines. First stop was Darioush Winery. A rather OTT sight greets you as you turn off into the driveway. A forest of Persian columns topped by two headed horses leads the way to the entrance. The interior is all cool marble and glass dominated by a large square tasting area. Darioush is known for their shiraz but I was more impressed by their 2007 Signature Viognier. The grapes were all sourced from the Oak Knoll appellation which has a reputation for cooler temperatures and higher humidity then the rest of Napa Valley which preserves the aromatic components of the grapes. A perfect showcase for the aromatic viognier grape. A swirl of honeysuckle, jasmine, white peach and cantalope leap from the glass and greet your nose first off. I could have sniffed this wine all day long, it was so pleasingly divine. That nose leads off into a mouthful of succulent, juicy white peaches and cantalope with hints of green apple and a citrus finish, nicely balanced acidity leaves you wanting another sip. I bought a bottle of this one to take home with me. Another winery that I really enjoyed was the Artesa Winery in Carneros The winery is situated on a hilltop and has various pieces of sculpture scattered around the grounds. Artesa is a subdivision of Codorniu but since 1999 they have specialized in red wines. They did have a fume blanc but I’m not a big fan of oaked S. Blanc. Artesa is producing a limited release of that Loire classic, Cabernet Franc. The grapes are from the mountainsides of Alexander Valley which has rocky soils and gets plenty of sun. The grapes were hand-harvested and no detail was overlooked in the winemaking process. We sampled the 2005 Cabernet Franc Limited Release. A juicy nose of raspberry and...

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Codorniu Cava

Working for a big wine merchant does have it’s advantages. Tuesday night the company invited the winemakers from Grupo Codorniu to come down and have a chat and informal tasting with us. There were about 25 of us from various London based shops. Grupo Codorniu is a Spanish owned and operated winery group based in northeast Spain, although they do have holdings in Argentina and Napa Valley as well. Codorniu  is one of the big boys in cava production. Cava (Catalan for “cellar”)is produced the same way as champagne but can’t be called champagne because you know how those Champenois are, they’d start howling bloody murder about copyright infringement and the lawsuits would be flying thick and fast. Codorniu have been in the wine biz since the 1500’s but have “only” been making cava since  the 1870’s. They were one of the pioneers in the commercialization of Spanish sparkling wine and have recently brought in a whole new winemaking team to improve their products.  One of the changes they’ve made is an overhaul of their bottle design. Very sexy now. There’s something almost primal about the design of the bottle that compels you to pick it up, the slender neck, the way it flares out at the bottom and the sleek feel beneath your fingers. I’m not the only one who’s had this reaction to the bottle design. I’ve heard quite a few comments in the shop regarding that. Kudos to the bottle designer on that one. Back to what’s INSIDE the bottle. In Spain, the main varieties used are indigenous – xarello, macabo and parellada. Recently, they’ve started using chardonnay and pinot noir although they are again prevented by EU law from putting pinot noir on the label except for pinot rose. The Tasting: Condesa Blanca Cava is their entry level sparkling. Light and fruity, big bubbles that disappeared fairly quickly, lots of green apple and pears with a hint of nuts and toast on the finish. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was,...

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