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Friday, August 23, 2013

First Cape Wines-Discovery series light wines.

First Cape wines of South Africa have introduced a series of wines that are being marketing under the Discovery Series brand. Each wine is produced from specially imported varietal wine, which is then blended and bottled at the winery in South Africa. There is nothing new in this process, but what is innovative and appealing is the fact that these wines are branded with the "Light" connotation as they are all low in alcohol content at 5.5% alcohol by volume.

These wines are suitable for lunchtime, with cheese platters, and light fish and seafood dishes, and especially when, one has to still work in the afternoon. Ideal as a social drink, easy drinking and for general celebrations. These wines would certainly appeal as a ladies wine, elegant and quite good on the palate.


First Cape  Light - Discovery Series - New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - a sure young persons and ladies favourite, as a social drink or with light food. Typical Sauvignon Blanc crispy notes of lime and citrus. Light in the mouth with just 5.5% alcohol. Blended from 43% Savignon Blanc and other South African whites.

First Cape Light - Discovery Series - Sparkling New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Same blend as for the still sauvignon blanc but produced under strict sparkling wine processes. Excellent pre-dinner drink, social events, and as an easy drinker. 5.5% alcohol by volume, light and crispy citrus notes.

First Cape Light -Discovery Series - Rose'-  Californian White Zinfandel 53% blended with other South African rose' wines. A delicate, low alcohol rose; wine with hints of cherries and strawberries. A social drinking wine suitable or parties, with light food, and fish. 5.5% alcohol by volume.

First Cape Light- Discovery Series - White Italian Pinot Grigio 45% blend, lovely, fresh and crisp in the mouth with peach flavours and citrus notes. Easy drinking on its own or with food such as chicken breast, and white fish.

These wines are not to be compared with more full bodied wines from this producer or other producers, as these are designed as light, social drinking wines, as well as being suitable for when light alcohol might be more suitable, such as business or working lunches. Enjoyable also as a relaxing after work drink with some nice bites of cheese, hors d'ouvres etc. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Syrah du Monde 2013 - Top ten Syrahs/Shiraz wines in the world.

Top Ten Best Syrah du Monde® 2013*
Fleva Syrah 2011
Domaine Skouras SA
South Africa
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2009
Kleine Zalze
Pays d'Oc IGP Jean Claude Mas Syrah "Les Garrigues" 2012
Les Domaines Paul Mas
Costières de Nîmes - La Réserve du Marquis - Château Lamargue 2009
Côtes de Provence Château des Launes Cuvée Signature 2011
SAS Château des Launes
Côtes du Rhône Villages GT-S 2011
SARL Leplan - Vermeersch
Cornas - Arènes Sauvages 2010
Cave de Tain l’Hermitage
St Joseph Cuvée "Anaïs" 2010
Domaine du Chêne
Alentejano - Cem Reis Syrah Reserva 2011
Michael Brian Mollet
Valais AOC Syrah La Madeleine 2011
Cave la Madeleine
The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz
Galvanized Wine Group
* Some wines are rigorously equal thus the TOP 10 2013 includes 11 wines.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Further Italian wine selections for Summer.

Recently I had the opportunity to sample and taste a selection of white wines imported from Italy, which I consider to be excellent for Summer, easy drinking or to pair with fish and seafood.

These wines are the:

TerredaVino-La Villa Roero
Arneis 2011 and Cortese
Alto Monferrato 2011.
Rocca Bernarda
Sauvignon 2012
Rocca Bernarda Friulano

Rocca Bernarda
Sauvingon 2012.
TerreDaVino - La Villa
Roero |Arneis 2012

Mediterranean Fresh Red
King Prawns to pair with any
of these wines.

These wines are to be served chilled
at 10 to 12 deg C.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Terre Da Vino Selected Wine Tastings February 2013.

Typical Terrain Landscape
of the Terre Da Vino Estates.
Terre Da Vino is a top Italian winery which is located in the heart of the Langhe territory in the region o Barolo. Their philosophy is to produce wines exclusively from grapes grown, cultivated and harvested in Piedmont and then again from the DOC and DOCG regions to ensure the highest level of wine quality. Terre Da Vino is an agricultural that encompasses over 5000 hectares of vineyards that are cultivated by over  2500 growers. This gives the company an immense proportion to produce a vast range of wines, spanning from those names that are known and recognised throughout the world down to locally known, niche, but top quality products.

I have recently had the opportunity to carry out a tasting and analyses session of a selection of winemaker's wines which are marketed under the trademark of TerreDaVino Agricole. The wines tasted during this session were two chosen from those that are categorized as aged in wood, being therefore two red wines and two from the white wines selections.

The selected TerreDaVino Wines
used in the tasting session.
The selected wines were:

The Red Wines:

TerreDavIno La Luna E I Falo' Barbera D'Asti Superiore 2010 DOCG.
TerreDaVinoPaesi Tuoi Barolo 2008 DOCG.

The White Wines:

TerraDaVino Masseria Dei Carmelitani Gavi di Gavi 2012 DOCG
TerraDaVino Ca' Da Bosio Gavi di Gavi 2011 DOCG.

Individual tastings:

La Luna E I Falo'
Barbera D'Asti.
TerraDaVino La Luna E I Falo' Barbera D'Asti 2010 DOCG:

This wine is produced from 100% Barbera grapes cultivated and harvested from the from the classic Barbera district of Nizza Monferrato and Agliano Terme in the province of Asti. After natural frementation which is followed b Malolactic fermentation the wine is then aged for 12 months in small oak barrels.

It has a deep ruby red colour with aromas of rich flowers and liquorice with vanilla notes from the wood aging. In the mouth it is dry with lingering medium tannins and hints of blueberries and raspberries. It has a distinctly long finish which is enjoyable on the palate.

Alcohol content is a rich 14%.
Wine strength: Medium-Full Bodied.
Serving Temperature: 18 to 20 Deg.C
Lamb on the bone.
Excellent paring for this wine.
Food Pairing: Excellent with red meats, roast beef, grilled steaks, roast lamb. Barbecued meats; game; pasta with rich cream and meat sauces. Pizza, stews, braised meats, rabbit-fried, baked, stewed or braised.

Avoid at all costs pairing with fish, seafood and shellfish.
The wine is ready to be drunk now, but can be bottle aged for a further five years in a good temperature controlled environment.

In my opinion this is a Barbera of rich expressions which deserves a rating of RS88.

TerreDaVino Paesi Tuoi Barolo 2008 DOCG.

Paessi Tuoi
This is one of various Barolos that are produced by this winemaker. It is produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes skilfully blended from vineyards  situated in two distinct areas. Vineyards such as those of Castilgione Falletto, Serralunga and Montefrorte, and those from La Morra and Verduno, give this cuvee its character, structure, elegance and fragrance honed over years of blending experimentation. This cuvee is produced under the strict Barolo producing regulations, and leaves the winery only after four years from the grape harvest year. Like most Barolos, this wine can be drunk when released, but it is recommended that further bottle aging by the consumer is given to it, even up to  a further 10 years before it reaches its peak . 

When tasted at this time, the wine had a very rich ruby-red colour going on garnet mainly due to its still young age. One year after release, that is five years after the vintage date for this particular wine is still quite young. once opened, the wine has to be either decanted and left for at least 30 to 60 minutes to breath or to be opened at least two hours before it is served. 
Aroma:  Strong aroma of violets and spices and herbs. On the palate it is dry with strong tannins, currants and chocolate. The finish is long and lingering, balanced and elegant, which might taste light to the taste but is strong and potent, that is what makes Barolo special.

Alcohol content:  13.5%
Strength:  Full Bodied.
Pan-seared fillet of beef.
Excellent paring with th Barolo.
Serving temperature: 18 to 20 Deg.C

Food pairing: Rich red meats, roasts, grilled, braised and stewed meats and beef dishes. Roast lamb; boar; game, poultry, venison.
Our Rating: RS91.

TerreDaVino Masseria Dei Carmelitani Gavi di Gavi 2012 DOCG.

The Masseria Dei Carmelitani
Gavi di Gav
This Gavi di Gavi is a typical and classic 100% Cortese poduced wine in the best tradition of Gavi di Gavi.  The grapes for this wine are grown on the hillsides in the commune of Gavi, and this particular estate the Masseria is just a snall 25 hectare farming estate located in the hills on the left bank bank of th Lemme river. It takes its name Dei Carmelitani as in the 14th century the eatate belonge to the Carmelite monks, who at that time cultivated the vineyards around the monastery to poduce a highly respected white wine, which evolved in the Gavi dei Gavi Masseria dei Carmelitani of today.

Straw yellow in colour with typical hints of green. Bouquet of fresh green apples and citrus fruits. On the palate it is lemony, crisp  dry and with an acidic bite, structured and supple.  An excellent Gavi di Gavi, a step or two above most.

Alcohol content: 12.5%
Serving Temperature:  10deg.C. (Chilled).

Bouillabaisse. A good pairing
for this wine.
Food pairing: Fish, shellfish and seafood, prawns, lobster, crab; Pasta or risotto marinara; rich bouillabaisse, vegetable ratatoullle, pizza frutti di mare.
Not suitable with red meat dishes.

Recommended to be drunk young up to three years from the vintage date.

Rating: A lively white wine that can be drunk as a social drink or with food.  An everyday drinking wine which brings with it satisfaction and enjoyment. Rating RS89.

TerraDaVino Ca' Da Bosio Gavi di Gavi 2011 DOCG.

Ca' Da Bosio.
Ca' Da Bosio
tasting sample.
This Gavi is produced from 100% Cortese grapes grown on the hillsides in the commune of Gavi. Vieyrads cover some 30 hectares in the Ca' Da Bosio  area . After a short cold maceration on the skins and fermentation the wine is held for a brief period on the lees until a partial malolactic fermentation is completed.

The wine is typically straw yellow in colour, with flowery and  ripe fruit aromas;  on the palate it is soft textured, light  with a distinct citrus-flowery structure. Smooth acidity.
A sample from the opened bottle was tasted 24 hours later, chilled to 8/10 deg.C and the feel on the palate was superb, more distinct when it was just opened. 

Alcohol content: 12%.
Serving Temperature: 10deg.C

Sea Bass for the
Ca'da Bosio Gavi di Gavi.
Food Pairing: Similar to the Masseria Dei Carmelitani Gavi di Gavi.
The wine is reday to be drunk now.
Rating: Easy drinking wine RS88. Can be drunk as a social drink, a relaxing glass of wine, or with food.

These wines all of which are of well above average quality products, are mainly found in good restaurants.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wine Professional's Notes - It is easy to become one with a bit of study.

Selection of my Italian wine collection.
It's not just Red or White.
It is not the first time, that I happen to be entertaing guests at a restaurant, or giving advice to someone about wine selections for a private occasion, and even sometimes when one happens to strike a conversation with a restaurateur, that as far as they know wine falls just under two categories. It's either Red or White (or in more incongruous and daft situations, someone might also add another category - Rose D'Anjou - yes that's correct not just Rose', but you read well, Rose D'Anjou!). One has to sympathise with such a mentality or lack of knowledge, because the subject of wine is a vast and intricate one, but also one that has its rewards in the enjoyment of this exquisite beverage, especially if one knows what he is on about, what he is selecting and what pairs well with certain foods, the important varietals, and of course what quality one will be paying for.

The appreciation of wine is an acquired taste. It takes no special skill to drink a wine and know that you like it, even if you are not always able to tell why. Liking or not liking a particular wine or a particular varietal, is subjective, as not everyone has the same palate.
To understand wine, one should read and study about it, think about it and above all -  drink it.

A selection of some excellent
Maltese wines.
One of the best ways of acquiring an undestanding of wine is to taste it blind, without knowing what is in the glass. Tasting wine blind forces discipline and concentration of our senses, that we otherwise take for granted. Not knowing what is in the glass causes us to become more sensitive to what it might be.

In judging or evaluating wines, there are three main, distinct, but also inter-related evaluation keys that allow us to distinguish one wine from another. These are: Colour; Smell (often referred to as bouquet or aroma) and the most important Taste.

So how would one distinguish between one wine and another?

More from the Maltese
wines cellar.
Well let's take White Wine to start with. White wine can be produced from numerous grape varieties, the most notable of which are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, which although these grape varieties originated in France, Burgundy and the Upper Loire Valley respectively to be exact, these two varieties are grown, cultivated and harvested in numerous "New World" wine producing countries from American rootstock and selected varietal clones.

Chardonnay Champagne
Chardonnay is the grape used to produce the famous Blanc de Blanc Champagne; the exquisite Chablis and Pouilly-Fuisse; whereas Sauvignon Blanc is the grape variety of the fabulous Sancerre and the Pouilly-Fume' of France as well as the Fume Blanc of California. Of note is the fact that the very best Sauvignon Blanc varietal wines come form New Zealand.

Then we have other famous grape varieties such as Riesling; Chenin Blanc; Gewurztraminer; Muscat; Semilon; Viogner;  Marsanne and Rousanne both of which are blended to produce the unique Hermitage. Muscadet; Pinot Blanc; Pinot Gris; Pinot Grigio; Cortese for Gavi di Gavi; Malvasia and Trebiano for Frascati; and Trebiano alone for the Orvieto; Garganega and again Trebiano for the Soave; Vedicchio; Vermentino; Fiano di Avellino; Greco di Tufo; Vernacchia; Falanghina; and maybe the lesser known Grillo and Catarretto from Sicily. Airen and Macabeo varietals from Spain.

Ripe Chenin Blanc grape
So as wine consumers, do we really have to remember the varietal characteristics of all these varieties in way of colour, smell and taste, before we can decide what each of us like in as far as white wine is concerned? No, I would not venture to say yes. One has to keep in mind that a varietal wine from one country can vary immensely from the same varietal wine produced from grapes harvested in another country. Even wine from the same country, but from different regions, show recognisable differences as well as from one maker to the next, even from the same geographical locations would show differences.  The winemaking method have a tendency to change some of the varietal characteristic, as well as the yeast used in fermentation, fermentation in oak; fermentation in stainless steel vats; aging in oak; etc, etc.

Smell and Taste of white wine:

Let's take Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines as the classic examples.

White wine of Malta.
To be served well chilled.
Chardonnay's bouquet can have aromas, smells of:  citrus; hazelnuts; apples; green apples; lemons; tropical fruit and vanilla. The smell can be oaky, buttery and toasty. Whereas the palate, that is the taste in the mouth, may be: rich; dry; medium or light bodied; with citric hints of lemon and grapefruit; green apples; with a good, refreshing acidity, sometimes spicy with a crisp aftertaste.

Sauvignon Blanc
Served at 10 to 12 Deg. C
An excellent pairing with
fish dishes.
Sauvignon Blanc aromas range from having hints of: asparagus; gun-flint; herbs; cut-grass; lemon; thyme; melon and even figs. On the palate, Sauvignon Blanc wine may have a taste and flavours of: spice; it might feel medium or light-bodied; with hints of liquorice and vanilla. It could be harbaceous with a crisp and tangy, dry aftertaste of lemons. Very refreshing acidity when served at the correct temperature.

Samples of two very different Chenin Blanc
wines, different origin and age. The lighter
sample is a young 2007 vintage wine from
South Africa,
 whereas the amber coloured sample is made
from late harvested grapes 2001 vintage
from the Loire Valley in France and
is more aged.
Colour of white wine vary from pale gold, straw yellow colour, golden yellow, greenish tinged, pale (whitish), even sometimes to light amber (which would indicate some age). For normal white wine, I would suggest that such wines are to be drunk young up to a maximum of three years from the vintage date for a good wine, two years for most others. Of course there are exceptions, if we are considering expensive, specially produced white wines of an excellent vintage. Easy drinking, everyday, quafing white wines should be consumed within the first year from the vintage (harvest) date.

Most other white wine varietals fall somewhere in between these two main varietals in both taste and smell, but then again, the "taster's" own imagination, expertise, and taste buds come into play and which can make the final results very subjective and individualistic.

Bonterra 2005 Chardonnay
Montana 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.
Marlborough, New Zealand.

The Red Wine Varieties:

Maltese Red wine.
The red wine varieties fall under a vastly different category in all aspects of smell, taste and of course colour, body, texture and complexity. The production of red wine (that is, the way red wine is made), is also very different from that of white wine.

The international red grape varieties can be categorsied mainly as those originating from France, namely: Cabernet Sauvgnon; Merlot; Syrah/Shiraz; Pinot Noir; Cabernet Franc; Petit Verdot which are grown also in nearly all of the "New World" wine producing countries.

Italian Premium wine.
Then we have the Italian red grape vareties which seem to grow best in their own indegenious region in Italy viz: Nebbiolo of Piedmont; Sangiovese of Tuscany; Corvina of Veneto/Verona; Rondinella, Molinara and Corvina which three varieties form the blend basis of the famous Amarone and Valpolicella; Aglianico from Campania; Primitivo of Apuglia; Nero D'Avola and Insolia of Sicily. There is also the unique Sagrantino di Montefalco and the Monica grape varietal from Sardegna. Bardolino, Dolcetto, Barbera, etc.

Tempranillo grape clusters.
From Spain we have the Tempranillo from the Rioja region; and from South Africa we have the Pinotage; Malbec of Argentina and Carmenere from Chile.

These grape varieties are produced into wines which may bear the name of the actual grape variety, togther with the winemaker's name and vintage date, or they can be produced under such prestigious product names that are protected by law in the country of origin; for example:

Wine Name..................Grape Variety.

Barolo.........................................  Nebbiolo........Italy.
Barbaresco.................................. Nebbiolo.
Brunello Di Montalcino..............Brunello strain of Sangiovese.
Vino Nobile de Montepulciano...Prugnolio stain of Sangiovese.
Amarone/Valpolicella.................Rondinella, Molinara and Corvina.

Cote Rotie...................................  Syrah............France.
Burgundy.....................................Pinot Noir.
Graves..........................................Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend.
Medoc..........................................Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend.
St. Emilion...................................Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend.

Rioja Riserva................................Tempranillo..........Spain.

A rich Carmenere from Chile.
Serve at 17/18Deg.C
A full-bodied, rich, red
wine. See the stains on the glass.

Premium wines.
Quality red wines can be medium to full-bodied, with smooth, strong or astringent tannins. Colours vary from red to ruby red to purple to very dark ruby to brown for aged wines.

Aromas vary for the top red wines from a combination of black fruits black currants, cassis, strawberries, rasberries, liquorice, with flavours of rich fruits, chocolate, black cherries, marascino cherries, black currants, tropical fruits, etc. Red fruits, rhubarb, cinamon, nutmeg, plum and blackberries. Together or in combinations of.

In a wine cellar for
aged wine.
This list is not exhaustive, as there are hundreds of different wine grape varieties grown all over the world, which are used to produce wines as single varietals on their own or in blends. The subject of wine is vast and requires constant study and reading to keep up-to-date. Vintage quality vary from year to year, region to region and country to country. Vintage quality is greatly affected by terroir, climatic conditions appartaining for any particular year i.e. rainfall, droughts, frost, winds, etc.; by the expertise of the viticulturist responsible for the vineyards;  as well as by the handling and winemaking techniques of every individual oenologist (winemaker). All this happens well before the wine is finally bottled and released for consumption.

So what about a chilled glass of Rose' wine?

Francis Ford Coppola
Winery  California-
Sofia Rose 2011,
Syrah/Grenache blend.
There are various, good quality Rose' wines on the market produced  either by local winemakers as well as imported selections. Rose' wines are perhaps the most  versatile fruit friendly wines around, and most offer good value for money. Rose wines can be produced from any red grape variety, the most popular being: Syrah; Grenache; Gamay; blends of  Mourvedre', Grenache and Counoise; Zinfandel (mainly from California);  I have even tasted a 100% Malbec derived  rose' from Argentina which was delicious.

A top class rose' wine offers an alluring nose with rich, red berries, citrus and even a bit of herbal tang. Dynamic fruit - wild strawberries, sweet cherry and ripe raspberry engage the palate with well balanced acidity could make this very versatile summertime wine a delight. But alas, having said this, there are many cheap rose's on the market so consumers have to be wary of quality rather than just price.

Rose' wine sample.
Must be serve chilled.
Chenin Blanc - excellent with
Summer light food.
Serve at 11 deg.C. Chilled.

A little nearer to home.
A selection from VitiMalta.
Once we have read this feature, I would assume that we would have come a long way from the reasoning made in the first paragraph, in that wine is not just red or white (forget the Rose D'Anjou please), but a vast selection of quality categories, made from vastly different grapes, with vastly different smells, tastes, colours and flavours, created by winemakers for us to enjoy.

The VitiMalta selection on the left shows a marvelous 100% Gozo Syrah rose; a crispy unoaked Chardonnay also produced from 100% Gozo grown grapes; a unique blended red wine; and a 100% Merlot also from Gozo grown grapes. These are wines of a very high standard which offer excellent value for money and a great accopaniment to any type of food.

So now we all know that there are wines beyond just Red or White or a Rose'.

A very refreshing Syrah-Merlot
blend Maltese rose' for Summer.
So how do we go about choosing the correct wine to pair with that exclusive dinner in a good restaurant, or in the enjoyment of a sumptuous lunch or dinner with family and friends at home?

One of the main purposes of this website is information and education about wine related topics, so I have obtained a copy of this very informative food and wine pairing chart which in some ways make our lives much easier to pick that special wine with our cuisine and food choices.

Food and wine pairing chart.

Reno Spiteri,
Certified Wine Professional.