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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations Part 6: SOUTH AFRICA.

National Flag of South Africa..


South African Wine Regions.
South Africa's wine country just North East of Cape Town is the seventh largest wine-producer in the world. South African wine producers work mainly with white grapes often Chenin Blanc.

The regions vineyards are noted for producing their own varieties of grapes by crossing different established strains, for example the rustic South African Pinotage which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsant grapes.
Sauvignon Blanc is also grown successfully in the cooler regions of the coast.

South African wine terrain.

STELLENBOSCH is the home of South Africa's most visited wine routes and in the heart of the Cape Winelands region. Surrounding the culturally rich center of the town of Stellenbosch there are more than 100 cellars to visit.

Anyone visiting Cape Town can, within a few hours' drive around the city, acquaint themselves with some of the vineyards that are now becoming so familiar with the wine-buying public all over the world.

Pinotage Grape Cluster.

There are thirteen wine regions to explore in South Africa, all have their own history and attractions as well as some of the regions' major wine brands.
These regions are namely:

a. Constantia famous for its Sauvignon Blancs;
b. Durbanville for its ideal wine producing climate;
c. Franschhoek for its complete range of wines, gourmet dining, top quality accomodation set in a picturesque vineyard valley.
d. Klein Karoo for its heady and passionate wines;
e. Olifants River;
f. Orange River for their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir;
g. Paarl for its noble grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines;
h. Robertson Valley;
i. Stellenbosch;
j. Swartland;
k. Tulbagh;
l. Worcester;
all famous for Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, their Cape cuisine and scenic beauty.

South African Game Cuisine.
Pinotage Wine.
Ethnic Chicken-curry pie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations Part 5: AUSTRALIA.

A true Australian.


Australia has become one of the New-World's major wine producers, although it does not have one single indegenous grape. All grapes grown in Australia have originated from imported rootstock and their insistense to call Syrah, Shiraz, is only an effort to distinguish their Syrah wine from the rest of the world.

Neverthless, Australia's wine producing regions are vast and numerous as befits this large and beautiful country which is a continent in its own right.
Some of the most important regions that one would want to visit whilst on holiday in Australia might be one or two of the following:

A typical premium
Australian red wine.
1.New South Wales.

Hunter Valley:
This region is only about a two hour drive from Sydney and is Australia's best-known wine region. The region is well known for its Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties and excellent wines produced from them.

Mudgee also in New South Wales but further away from Sydney. famous for its small individual boutique wineries and cooler climate Chardonnay.

2. South Australia.
 Rich in wine regions and exclusive vineyards:
Barossa Valley - an hour's drive from Adelaide. Famous for its Shiraz, Grenache and Semillon vineyards. Other grape varieties grown here are Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Clare Valley; The Adelaide Hills; Mclaren Vale and Coonawarra are also well known grape growing regions and fine wine prucing regions.

3. Victoria.
The Yarra Valley a cool climate, low yielding wine region which is an hour's drive from Melbourne.

Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne and The Macedon Ranges north-west of Melbourne.

All famous for their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Sauvignon sparkling wines.

4. Tasmania.
The Pipers River and the Tamar Valley region.

5. Western Australia.

Margaret River, three hours from Perth - there are about 40 wineries focusing on prime Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Pemberton - consisting of about 20 vineyards famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Great Southern Region - for Riesling; Chardonnay; Pinot Noir; Cabernet Sauvignon; and Shiraz wines.

Australian Lamb Tenderloin.
Cuisine in Australia is very varied, due to the massive immigration policies of the 1950's which consequently brought with it new ideas in food preparation, albeit from existing ingredients that were originally found in Australia. Up to the 1950's Australian cuisine was tied to that of the United Kingdom -King, Queen and country, but that has changed drastically to the better and Australia can boast some very good restaurants in most cities. There are no Michelin starred restaurants in Australia, as there is no Michelin guide for this country, but the top restaurants are awarded with Chefs' Hats. Australia has some of the very best beef and lamb in the world, which pair and complement to perfection the vast selection of wines found here.

Wine tours in Australia are organized by specialized wine tour operators from every major city in Australia, and would include: private transfers, private or small group tours; wine tasting in selected wineries and also wineries of choice; scheduled transport services; meals; first class and deluxe hotels; B&B or country accomodation; as well as customized tours for groups in any region. It is best to make arrangements for specialsied wine tours whilst in Australia, so that specific requirements can be discussed with the tour operator in accordance with one's budget.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations: Part 4 - GERMANY

Wine Regions of Germany


Germany is divided into 13 wine regions that are classified according to the quality category that the wine falls into.
These regions are: Baden; Franconia; Hessische Bergstrasse; Mitteilrhein; Mosel; Nahe; Palatinate; Rheingau; Rheinhessen;Saale-Unstrut; Saxony and Wurtemberg. There are also the Tafelwein and the Landwein regions.

Baden Sausages and Sauerkraut.
Premium Riesling
Germany's best white wine.
Baden is the southern most region and is in the famous Black Forest area. It is Germany's third largest region and due to its various soil types (from clay to volcanic stone), is the most diverse region. 23 per cent of the vineyards are planted with Spatburgunder grapes, producing full-bodied, velvety reds. The fresh fragrant whites are made from the flowery Muller-Thurgau; Pinot Gris; the spicy Gewurztraminer; the mild Gutedel and of course the world famous Riesling.

Riesling Grape Cluster.
Spatburgunder Grape Cluster.
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer is home to some of Germany's most famous vineyards. The Mosel wines are normally pale, fruity and light. This region is mainly famous for its Riesling wines.

Bavarian Sausages and potatoes.
Platz is the largest region by wine production and is bordered by France and the Rheinhessen. The best vineyards are in the north, with Forst, Wachenheim, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg renowned for their Riesling once again. The following grape varieties Muller-Thurgau, Krenner, Sivaner and Morio-Muskat are also successfully grown in Platz.

Premium Spatburgunder Red
Wine from Germany.
The other regions although extremely picturesque in their own right as far as grape varieties and wine production is concerned are similar to the main regions. A wine tour holiday in Germany would normally cover one good region coupled with a normal holiday tour. Once the wines of Baden are tasted then most of the others would taste the same.

The Black Forest.
Black Forest Ham and bread.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations Part 3: CALIFORNIA, U.S.A.



California Wine Regions.
California is a vast state in the USA covering approxemately 163,707 square miles of land mass. With its fertile valleys and counties and mild climate, California is the most prominent wine producer as a region in The USA. It came to the forefront and to the world's attention as a major, premium wine producing region in May, 1976, when Californian Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons won that famous wine, blind tasting competion known as the Paris Tasting of 1976, against the best French wines of the same variety, and judged as the best by a panel of French judges.

Napa Valley sign.
Napa Valley has long been synonymous with superb wine and striking scenery, both of which draw millions of wine lovers to the region each year. Napa valley is home to some 400 unique wineries. The valley has a Mediterranean climate that is ideal for growing a variety of grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon for the red wines to premium Chardonnay for the white wines.

The Sonoma Valley in Sonoma County, nicknamed the "Valley of the Moon", features amazing vineyards, producing remarkable whites from varieties such as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, as well as beautiful scenery and charming towns.

California Cabernet Sauvignon
grape cluster.
California, incidentally like Australia, South Africa and Chile, does not have its own indegenous grape varieties, although some wild grapes do exist in some regions, but international grape varieties planted from prime root stock over a long period of years, together with its superb climatic conditions for grape growing and cultivation, rewarded vineyard owners with world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zindfandel (Primitivo in Italy), as well as Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla and Semillon to name the most popular.

Of course there are several other famous wine regions in California, and these would include: Lake County; Santa Barbara; Monterey County; San Diego; Central Valley; Mendocino County; San Luis Obispo; Marin County; Paso Robles; and the Siene Foothills. These all offer magnificent scenery, very good hotels, exceptional food choice and exquisite wine in the traditional American way and style.

California Zinfandel.
Wine tours in California are offered by a maltitude of operators in each region, and the best deal for overseas visitors would be simply to travel to the States on a normal holiday, and then book your wine tours and holidays directly whilst you are there. If one shops around, one could get a magnificent holiday at half the price that would otherwise have to be paid for, if it is booked from country of origin. All in all an exclusive wine holiday in California can be coupled with a myriard of other tours outside the sphere of the wine world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations Part 2: ITALY.

Italy's Wine Regions.


The second most important, wine country in the world,  is without a doubt Italy. Within this European country, one finds no less than twenty vast wine regions, all of which can boast their own indigenious grape varieties and unique wine making traditions. The specific terroirs of the Italian wine regions, and actual macro and micro climatic conditions, make Italian wine varietals exclusive to these regions as no other country in the world can produce Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Brunello di Montalcino or premium Riserva Chianti.  Italy as a country is one of the most beautiful and historic countries of Europe, and not only does it boast some of the very best, authentic and unique wines, but the various provinces and regions offer some of the most appetizing and sought after cuisine in the world. 

Tuscany Wine map.
Tuscany is famous for its Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and its transcendent selection of "Super Tuscan" superlative wines.
As a destination the Tuscan region of Italy is a delight for the senses. Tuscany is celebrated not only for its vineyards and cuisine, its sheer national and historic beauty make it one of the world's most sought after destinations and a magical place to taste the local produce in food and wine. Famous cuisine in Tuscany include the renowned Bistecca a la Fiorentina; Braised wild boar; ribolita soup; and various variations of pasta and sauces.

Pasta with Wild Boar Sauce
Braised Wild boar

Tartufo D'Alba.
Piedmont (sometimes written as Piemonte), is the region where the Nebbiolo grape grows. This grape variety is difficult to grow anywhere else not only in Italy but more so around the world. Piedmont is where wine afficionados can indulge in the best Barolos, Barbarescos, Barberas from Asto or Alba, the mild Dolcettos, Moscato and the well known Gavi as this region is also home to the Cortese grape variety which is what Gavi, or Gavi di Gavi wine is produed from. Famous cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Bra come from this region and polenta is more popular than pasta. Meats are more likely to be found in stews rather than grilled. Of course one can also go hunting for Alba's white truffles which could make one very rich if found.

Other excellent wine destinations and regions in Italy are Lazio outside Rome with its Cesanese del Piglio; Umbria with its Orvieto; Emilia-Romagna famous for its Lambrusco; the Veneto best known for its Amarone, Ripasso, Bardolino, Valpolicella and Soave; Fruili-Venezia Giulia for its Ramandolo; Lombardy exceptional for its food and Nebiolo;

Bistecca a la Fiorentina
Parma Ham.

Campania and Basilicata for their  Fiano di Avellino,  Greco and Falaghina, and the indegenious Aglianico which gifts this region with the Taurasi DOCG wines.

Apuglia for its Primitivo and Negroamaro, and Montefalco in Umbria for the famous and unique Sagrantino di Montefalco.
Then we have other regions such as the:
Aosta Valley;
The Italian Riviera;
Trentino-Alto Adige;
Marche for its Verdicchio;
Abruzzo for Trebiano;

Spaghetti with tomato sauce.
Pizza Funghi Sicily.
Pizza Margherita.

And in the south we have:

Sicily famous for its Nero D'Avola, Zibibbo. Primitivo and for its Marsala;

and of course Sardinia famous for its Vermentino, and which is a destination on its own.

Slow cooked Osso Buco
Suckling Pig-Sardinia.

If one should require more information of the wines of Italy and also about the Italian grape varieties I recommend reading previous features in this website that deal specifically with these subjects.

Italy is only a short flight away from Malta, and can be reached internationally from all over the world. Various wine tours are available for the professional as well as for enthusiastic wine tourists. Our advice is to always organize speciality and dedicated wine oriented holidays through a specialist operator.

Until next week then for our third region, enjoy yourselves and salute'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The World's Top Ten Most Famous Wine Regions and Wine Holiday Destinations Part 1: France.

Tuesday, 22nd November, 2011.
This week I am going to start a new series of features through which I shall be introducing to you the World's most famous, ten, wine regions and wine holiday destinations for both the professional and enthusiastic wine tourist.
In addition to producing the finest wines in the world and to the world, these destinations offer visitors outstanding hotels, top gourmet restaurants offering exquisite local cuisine, and exclusive wine tours, which are a must for every wine lover.

French Wine Regions.
 The first of these ten world regions without a shadow of doubt is:


France is possibly and without doubt, one of the most famous wine countries in the world. It has been a stand-out wine producer for centuries and its wines are not only world famous but also known to connoisseurs through various, exclusive, Chateaux names, brand names and fine wine styles through France’s appellation system.

Typical wine region landscape in France.
Burgundy with its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Bordeaux with its Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are the most famous wine destinations in France, and both have long been renowned for their vineyards that produce everything from delicious table wines to the most expensive bottles in the world. In both Burgundy and Bordeaux, the French passion for food and wine unite for a sensational wine-tasting experience.

Champagne-Ardenne, is the province most famous for the beloved sparkling white wine that bears its name. Its neatly tended vineyards situated amongst a picturesque, natural landscape, rich history, and unique culture makes this region as vibrant as its effervescent wine.

Then we have the Loire Valley which is a massive wine producing region that stretches from the coast near Nantes right through to Saumur, Anjou and Vouvray. In this region one can enjoy the best Muscadet, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc and the exclusive Gamay reds.

Alsace with its famous Riesling and Pinot Gris, and then there is the Rhone Valley - the famous Cotes du Rhone, and the Languedoc region and Roussillon, with their numerous towns like Chablis and Beaujolais, and their famous Syrah and Viogner, and the well known Chablis whites and Beaujolais reds which carry the names of their town of origin. There is also Provence and Corsica on the Mediterranean side of France.

Writing about France and its wine is a never ending story. It is definitely a must for any prospective wine tourist to visit. One has to bear in mind that a wine tasting holiday is vastly differrent from a visit to Paris and its city culture. The wine regions offer a rustic experience of exquisite countryside and terroirs, exclusive wines, and sublime food.

Good planning is a must and preferably should be done through a renowned operator and organizer from within the region that one is planning to visit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Barolo or Barbaresco?

Piedmont - Italy.
The Langhe region of Piedmont in Italy, is the home of both Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
To clear a misconception , as such,  Barolo is a beautiful small hamlet in the heart of Piedmont, and Barbarseco is a comune (municipality) in the province of Cuneo in the Langhe region of Piedmont.
The Barbarseco zone lies to the northeast of the city of Alba, whereas the Barolo zone lies a bit further away from Alba to the southwest.

Barbarescco and Barolo wines are two classic wines of the highest quality, both of which are classified DOCG and are produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes under very strict rules.
Nebbiolo grape cluster.

Although grown in various regions in Italy outside these zones, as well as in various parts of the world, Nebbiolo produce wines that rarely if ever attain the special attributes and intensity of Barolo or Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is a difficult grape variety to grow successfully for the production of wine, outside its established terroir of the Langhe. It flowers early and ripens late, which mean that climatic conditions must be perfect for it. Cool weather throughout the growing season, such as that experienced in 2004, which has been one of the very best vintage years in recent years for these two wines,  allow for excellent ripening and ideal conditions to preserve the grapes natural acidity. Frost in Spring, or cold and wet weather at harvest time creates major problems for this grape variety as well as does hot weather conditions and excessive temperatures over 25 deg. C. in Summer.

The attributes of these two wines include spectacular flavour and aroma nuances, a very long and persisting palate, great longevity as the wines are best consumed between 10 and 30 years of age in good vintages, and an affinity for good food -primarily braised beef; roast beef and lamb; game and game birds; white truffles; porcini mushrooms and strong cheese such as Fontina, Boschetto al Tartufo, Grana Padano, Parmigiano-Regiano and Pecorino-Romano.

Both Barolo and Barbaresco wines, although they might be released for sale between three and five years from the vintage year, are not ready to be drunk for at least ten years (always from the vintage year) due to their strong tannins, complexity and body. Both these wines need extensive airing and breathing prior to serving, in order to mellow and evolve their best attributes. Decanting is also recommended as well as the correct wine glasses.

Barbaresco was essentially created as a "place-of-origin" wine name in the later part of the 19th century, when producers of Barolo refused to extend their name to include the grapes from what is now known as the Barbaresco zone. So far as production is concerned there are about one-third Barbaresco as much as Barolo, as the vineyard culitivation area of the Barolo zone is much larger than that of Barbaresco. The main towns of Barolo through which the Nebbiolo is cultivated and the wine made are: Bardo, Castiglione, Falletto, Diano, d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d'Alba. Novello, Roddi and Serralunga d'Alba.
Serralunga d'Alba produce the most fuller and concentrated Barolos that are less approachable in youth, whereas on the other hand the wines of La Morra are the more delicate and supple. The others fall somewhere in between but they are all superlative.  In Barbarseco the famous towns are Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso. The soils are more like those of la Morra than those of Serralunga, but nevertheless some top producers have produced Barbarescos that are at par with those of Barolo in power and longevity. The producer is therefore an important factor to considfer when chosing a Barolo as against a Barbaresco.

There are certain distinctions between the two wines, but in a blind tasting it is difficult to tell due to the different subzones and terroir of the Langhe regions which diminsihes these distinctions at the vineyard. Barolos are normally released after three years from vintage and Barbarescos a minimum of 2 years. For a Riserva Barolo, the aging time is 5 years from vintage, and for a Riserva Barbaresco the requirement is 4 years. Both will not have matured fully before at least 10 years from the vintage date. As one can see these are highly complex wines, but once mature they are exceptional. Barolo has been dubbed as the "King of Wines"many years ago and this title has stuck even to this day, thus giving this wine a worldwide regal identity among premium and prestigious wines. But then again, if Barbaresco is not the king, it is certainly the crown prince. In general  a Barbaresco is more approachable than Barolo in youth, as the tannins of the former are lighter, and can reach their peak within ten years, whereas Barolos need more.

Good recent, vintage years for Barolo and Barbaresco are 2006, 2004,  2001, 1998 and 1996.

Top producers are:
For both Barolo and Barbaresco: BRUNO GIACOSA .

Barolo: Domenico Clerico; Giacomo Borgogno; Luciano Sandrone; Paolo Scavino.

Barbaresco: Ceretto; Pio Cesare; Angelo Gaja; Fontanabianca, and others.

Both Barolo and Barbaresco offer a thrilling experience in premium wine like no other. They are unique not only as wines but also as they come from the only region on earth where Nebbiolo can be cultivated and grown successfully and to perfection.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So, which grape variety are you exactly drinking?

How many grape varieties can you
name in these wines?
Wines shown here come from my private
collection which have all been taste-tested.
Yes, that is the question. How many wine consumers actually know, what grape variety or varieties, are contained in a wine that they have purchased from a wine shop, or ordered in a restaurant when only the appellation of the wine is printed on the label? A survey which has been conducted among friends and acquaintances as well as among various headwaiters and even restaurant owners, have indicated clearly that very few are familiar with this very important aspect of wine knowledge.

Wine corks.
When one orders a wine produced in most of the New World wine producing countries, one, in all probability will know from the label what grape variety or varieties have been utilised to produce that particular wine from.

Grape variety indicated.
For example when grape varieties such as: Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Syrah/Shiraz; Grenache; Malbec; Carmenere; Sangiovese; Aglianico; Nero D'Avola; Pinotage; Pinot Noir or Pinot Nero; etc are mentioned on the label, then the wine would be a red wine which was produced from that grape variety or at least contains not less than 85% of that grape variety.

Similarly if it states on the label grape names such as Chardonnay; Semillon; Sauvignon Blanc; Fiano di Avellino; Greco di Tufo; Falanghina; Chenin Blanc; Riesling;  Gewurztraminer; Viogner; etc, then the wine would be a varietal produced from these grapes.

What is the wine varietal?
Or grape variety?
But, and here is where the question arises, what if the wine is listed on the wine list, or the label shows only the appellation, such as Chateauneuf du Pape; Cote Rotie; Hermitage; Meritage; Barolo; Barbaresco; Chianti; Gavi di Gavi; Amarone; Valpolicella; Sancerre'; Chablis; Pouilly-Fuisse; a Bordeax appellation such as Appellation Margaux Controllee; or a Burgandy appellation such as Domaine Prieur Brunet; Taurasi; Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Monetpulciano? There are many others of course, as one is never sure with a Vin de Pays (now IGT-Indication Geographique Protegee'), from France unless one knows the winemaker and with 230,000 French winemakers, in various regions, this is an insurmountable task. For example, there are about 10,000 winemakers or chateaux in Bordeaux obtaining grapes from some 13,000 growers.  So let's stick and concentrate on the known appellations, for which I'll try to give you some concise information with respect to the grape varieties that are permitted, or used, to make such wines:

Bordeaux appellation.
What is a Bordeaux wine? A Bordeaux Blend? A Premiere Cru or a Grand Cru? A lot of information has already been given in the feature on French appellations earlier, so we will not delve much further, except for the grape varietals.

Red Bordeaux, which can come under various appellations, AOP- Appellation D'Origine Protegee (formerly AOC), IGP - Indication Geographique Protegee' formerly Vin de Pays, etc.,  is in most cases a blend of various varietals. The permitted grape varieties are: Cabernet Sauvignon 70%; Cabernet Franc 15%; Merlot 15%.  Petit Verdot may be added about 5% whilst reducing the Cabernet Franc and th Merlot. Malbec and Carmenere are also permitted to be used in the blend but are not frequently used in modern blends.

White Bordeaux which is known as Sauternes is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc 20% and Semillon 75% and Muscadelle 5%.. Other grape varieties such as Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Ondence and Mauzac may also be used in small quantities in the blend for white Bordeaux.

St.Emilion and Pomerol: 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sancerre' - comes from the Loire Valley and is produced from Sauvignon Blanc, evolving into one of the finest white wines in the world.

Chablis and Pouilly-Fuisse.

Burgandy: The predominant grapes of Burgandy are Pinot Noir for the red wines and Chardonnay for the white wines.
Chablis and  Pouilly-Fuisse are two of Burgandy's famous white wines which are produced from the Chardonnay grape.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape: This is the mother of all blends as not less than 13 (sometimes 14) different grape varieties are permitted to be used in the blend of the final wine. These red grape varieties are: Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Cinsault which comprise the bulk of the blend, to which may also be added Counoise, Muscardin, Terret Noir and Vaccarese. The white grape varieties which may also be used the blend are: Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Rousanne and Picpoul. In recent vintages, the blend has been comprised from the first four varieties, and nearly no white grape varieties are used for the red wine blend. There is, but, a limited production of white Chateauneuf-du-Pape made from the white varieties.

Hermitage -  is produced in the Northern Rhone region of France and is produced from the Syrah grape variety.  Small quantities of white Hermitage are produced from Rousanne and Marsanne grapes.

Meritage - Californian produced imitation of red Bordeaux and must be produced from two or more of these grape varieties:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenere or Petit Verdot.

Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme - Four of the finest Italian red wines produced in the region of Piedmont. These wines are produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.

Chianti Classico and Riserva.
Chianti- Chianti Classico (Gallo Nero), Chianti Riserva -  is produced in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. These three categories which are all classified DOCG, have different viticulture and production rules, and may be produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes or a blend comprised of  not less than 75% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved grape including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. For the best Chianti choices always go for Chianti Classico (with the black rooster emblem -gallo nero) or a Riserva from renowned producers.

Vino Nobile de Montepulciano.
Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are also products of the Province of Tuscany, produced in the regions as implied in the name, viz Montalcino and Montepulciano respectively. These wines are produced from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Prugnolo Gentile varieties. Vino Nobile de Montepulciano can also be comprised of a blend of a minimum of 70% Prugnolo Gentile grapes, 10 to 20% Canaiolo Nero and small amount of Mammolo.

Amarone, Ripassa, Valpolicella
Classico Superiore.
Amarone della Valpolicella; Ripasso della Valpolicella; Valpolicella Superiore.
These wines are produced in the Veneto region of Italy and are produced from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grape varieties. Rich red wines with class.
Ordinary, cheap Valpolicella found in supermarkets has nothing to do with these superior brands and cannot be compared for quality.

Gavi di Gavi.
Gavi di Gavi or Cortese di Gavi is one of Italy's major white wines which is produced in a restricted area of the Province of Alessandria in Piedmont. If made within the commune of Gavi it can be labeled as Gavi di Gavi. Otherwise it is labeled just Gavi or Cortese di Gavi. The grape variety from which this wine is produced is the Cortese.

Soave Superiore DOCG - white wine, hproduced in the Veneto region mainly around Verona. Grape variety is the Garganega.

Orvieto Classico DOC - produced in Umbria around the Commune of Orvieto from where it gets its name. Grape blend varieties used primarily for the best wines are: Grechetto 30% or more; and Trebiano 50% or more; but blends of Malvasia Drupeggio, Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco together with the first two may be used.

Taurasi Riserva.
Taurasi - This is another DOCG Italian appellation, which is produced in Campania, Italy, from the Aglianico grape variety.

Nero D'Avola Vrucara.

Super-Tuscan; Brunello;
Chianti Classico; Vin Santo.
Appellation label.
Varietal Selection
Grape indicated by name.