Tag Archives: Tannat

Brazil Wine

A Taste of Wine From Brazil

The most exciting sparkling wine I have tasted recently is from Brazil. It’s the Casa Valduga 130 Limited Edition, and I discovered it an exclusive event promoting Brazilian wine in Atlanta.

The sparkling wine is similar to Champagne as it is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and gets its bubbles via the traditional method. It has lovely creamy and toasty notes with flavors of lemon, dried apricot and almond. Elegant with small and lively bubbles, the Casa Valduga 130 is an excellent introduction to the wines of Brazil.

Casa Valduga was one of five Brazilian wineries showcasing their wines at the event put on by Wines of Brasil in partnership with the Brazilian embassy and consulate. The food at Fogo de Chão provided the perfect pairings. Atlanta was the second city on the tour, which included Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York.

The Wines of Brasil event started appropriately with bubbles. As I found out, Brazilians love sparkling wine and drink a lot of it.

Of course Brazil is better known for its Cachaça, but their wine is gaining momentum outside the country. Brazil is the 6th largest wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere, with 750 wineries and 79,000 hectares of vineyards. Brazil’s six main wine regions are in the south of the country, which is on the same parallel as South Africa.

Though the main grapes are generally French varieties – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tannat, Chardonnay, Muscat and Riesling – the winemaking owes much to Italian tradition. All five of the wineries at the Atlanta event were founded by Italian immigrants or their descendants.

The United States can expect to see more Brazilian wine, as exports have greatly increased in the past year. Here are Brazilian wineries and wines to look for:

Casa Valduga

Founded in 1875, when Luiz Valduga arrived from northern Italy, Casa Valduga is still family-run today. It is a popular spot to visit in Brazil, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors per year. In addition to the winery there are guest houses and a restaurant. Casa Valduga is the official wine of the Brazilian Government.

Besides the 130 Limited Edition sparkling wine, Casa Valduga produces a brut and brut rosé. I also enjoyed the Casa Valduga Cabernet Franc. By the way, the Casa Valduga 130 costs approximately $34.99, which is a great value for its taste and quality.
www.casavalduga.com.br

Vinicola Salton

The third generation of the Salton family runs this winery, which was founded in 1910 by six brothers. Their father, Antonio Domenico Salton, arrived in Brazil from Veneto in northern Italy in 1878.

Salton is the largest producer of sparkling wine in Brazil. The Brut and Intenso Moscato were featured at the tasting event, as were two reds: a Tannat and a Burgundian-style Pinot Noir.
www.salton.com.br

Casa Perini

Casa Perini was founded in 1970, though the Perini family has been growing grapes and producing wines in Brazil since 1929. The first generation of the Perini Family arrived from Italy in 1876.

The wines range from the fun and easy-drinking Macaw line to the sophisticated Quatro, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ancellotta and Tannat.
www.casaperini.com.br

Miolo

The Miolo Wine Group traces its roots of wine production in Brazil to 1897. After decades of growing grapes, the company decided to produce its own wine in 1990. In 2003 they brought on Michel Rolland as consulting winemaker.

With the combination of skilled grape growing and French expertise, Miolo wines are delicious examples of the fine wine being made in Brazil. The Lote 43, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, was one of my favorites at the tasting.
www.miolo.com.br

Mioranza

Mioranza was founded in 1964 by four Italian brothers who were the second generation of the Mioranza family in Brazil. The winery is mainly a negociant; 90% of the grapes come from small producers, and 10% come from their vineyards.

RioBravo is a line of sparkling wines, offering dry, semi-sweet and sweet styles. Under the bright Mioranza label there are whites and reds that also range from dry to sweet.
www.mioranza.com

To learn more about wine from Brazil visit the Wines of Brasil website at winesofbrasil.com.

Salta wines

Colomé and Amalaya: Wines from Salta, Argentina

There is more to Argentina’s wine than just Mendoza. You’re missing out if you don’t venture beyond the country’s best-known region.

Today we’re focusing on Salta. This region is located in the north of Argentina and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. Here you’ll find some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world.

For a taste of Salta, try wines from Colomé and Amalaya. These wineries are located in the Calchaqui Valley, at elevations of more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The vineyards benefit from intense sun during the day and cool nights, ideal growing conditions.

Amalaya wines

The natural place to start is with Torrontes, the signature white wine grape of Argentina. This grape produces aromatic, dry wines with lovely floral notes.

Colome Torrontes & MalbecThe 2015 Colomé Torrontes is made entirely from Torrontes. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright, fresh characteristics. This is a wonderfully fragrant wine, like taking a sniff from a bouquet of flowers. Gardenia, orange blossom and jasmine mix with slightly sweet citrus, with good acidity adding balance. $15, 13.5% alcohol

I first enjoyed Amalaya wines when I was in Buenos Aires and I’m so glad they’re available in the United States. The 2015 Amalaya Blanco is a blend of 85% Torrontes and 15% Riesling, two grapes that nicely complement each other. Just as with the Colomé Torrontes, the aim is to showcase the true nature of the grapes — controlled, cool temperatures during winemaking and stainless steel aging make the finished wine fresh and fruity.

The floral nose of the Amalaya Blanco introduces a palate of white flowers, jasmine, white grapefruit and lemon peel with a layer of minerality. Gentle acidity gives crispness, and the finish is clean with a touch of orange blossom honey. $12, 13% alcohol

Colome wines

Moving on to the reds, the 2013 Colomé Estate Malbec comes from four estate vineyards at varying elevations: La Brava Vineyard at 5,740 feet; Colomé Vineyard at 7,545 feet; El Arenal Vineyard at 8,530 feet; and Altura Maxima at the almost unbelievable elevation of 10,207 feet above sea level. The blend of Malbec grapes produces a wine that is bold yet elegant, with red and black fruit notes and firm tannins. Juicy dark red cherry and blackberry flavors are supported by an earthy backbone and a touch of black pepper and cedar. $25, 14.5% alcohol

Amalaya Blanco & MalbecThe 2015 Amalaya Malbec is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah. The three were fermented and aged separately, and blended just before bottling. One quarter of the wine was aged in one year-old French oak barrels for 10 months.

The fruit flavors in the Amalaya Malbec come through first – raspberry, ripe red cherry, plum and a touch of blueberry. Then come the spice and earth notes, with black pepper, cigar box and violet. Though the wine has a lot going on it’s not one that you need to overthink. The Amalaya Malbec is the kind of wine you can enjoy any night of the week, no fancy meal required. $16, 13.9% alcohol

Colomé and Amalaya are part of the Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio. For more information  www.hess-family.com.

Chateau de Cayx

Guide to Cahors Wineries

Here is your go-to guide on Cahors Malbec.

For a taste that will make you fall in love with Cahors Malbec try wines from these domaines and châteaux.

The wines from each estate are generally listed beginning with entry level (easy to drink, less oak and aging, lower price point) to top of the line (excellent quality, complex, cellar-worthy, higher price point). Vine age is the average age.

Click here to learn about why the location of the vineyards — on the terraces or plateau — is so important to Cahors Malbec.

Scroll down to the bottom for a map of the wineries.

Château du Cèdre

Owned by brothers Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe who took over the vineyard from their father in 1987, Château du Cèdre produces exceptional Malbec in Vire-sur-Lot. For that “aha! moment” – when you take a sip and understand what makes Cahors Malbec so special and delicious – try the 2011 Le Cedre. In 2003 the Verhaeghe brothers transitioned to organic farming and were awarded official certification in 2009.

Chateau du Cedre wines

Location and soil: Third terrace; clay and limestone soils.

Website: www.chateauducedre.com

Wines to try:
Cèdre Heritage 2011
100% Malbec from 30 year-old vines, 18 months on the lees in tanks.

Château du Cèdre 2011
90% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 5% Tanat from 30 year-old vines. 22 months in oak barrels: 1/3 new, 1/3 one year-old, 1/3 two years old.

Le Cèdre 2011
100% Malbec from 40 year-old vines. Hand harvested. 24 months in barrel, 80% new.

GC 2011
100% Malbec from 55 year-old vines. Hand harvested. Fermentation and 27 months aging in new oak barrels.

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Wine Trends for 2013

Want to discover new wines and stay ahead of the latest trends? Here’s what the Amateur Gastronomer predicts will be big in 2013:

Wines from the Languedoc

The wine region to watch in 2013 is the Languedoc. This region in southern France is producing exceptional wine at great values.

The Languedoc is located along the Mediterranean sea, between the Spanish border and Provence. South of Bordeaux and west of the Rhône, the Languedoc offers wines made with grapes found in both regions (including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). The Languedoc’s aromatic white wines are food-friendly and crowd pleasing, and include Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Picpoul. Ideal growing conditions and less name recognition contribute to make Languedoc wines wallet-friendly.

Vegan Wines

With grapes as the main ingredient, you would think wine would be vegan, right? Not necessarily. The culprits: egg whites and gelatin. These are used in fining, a technique to clarify wine. The fining agents attract and bind with unwanted solids; once they are removed the wine is clear, bright and without sediment.

Vegan wines follow in the footsteps of organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines, with consumers wanting to know in greater detail where and how their wines are produced. Look for vegan wines to have a bigger presence at wine shops and restaurants in 2013.

Wines from the Other 47

Venture outside California, Oregon and Washington and you’ll find that there are many standout wines produced beyond the West Coast. These whites, reds, sparkling and sweet wines are winning awards and gaining fans across the country. In particular, New York, Virginia, Ohio and Texas are producing noteworthy wines. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to try a wine from another state.

White Wines Low in Alcohol

Bigger is not always better – and such is the case when it comes to more alcohol in wine. Over the past few years white wines have been creeping above 13% alcohol, which can sometimes overwhelm the delicate flavors.

In 2013 look for white wines that are full in flavor, not in alcohol, to be popular. These include Riesling and Portugal’s Vinho Verde, which have alcohol content ranging from 8 to 11 percent. These white wines are especially good as the weather warms up, as they are refreshing and easy to sip on a hot day.

Tannat, Tamed

At the other end of the wine spectrum is Tannat, a red wine grape that produces robust, full-bodied wines with big tannins and high alcohol content. Tannat originated in southwest France and has found a home in Uruguay, where it is considered the national grape. Tannat is grown in a number of US states, and can be used alone or in blends.

Tannat has a wild reputation but in 2013 look for Tannat to be tamed. Winemakers have been adjusting the harvest time as well as fermentation and aging techniques to coax out the softer, more elegant side of Tannat. If you’re a fan of red wine and haven’t yet tasted Tannat, make 2013 the year to do so.

The Big Bold Taste of Tannat

Red wine doesn’t get any bigger than Tannat.  It’s big in flavor, big in tannins and big in alcohol.

Tannat is grown in southwest France though today you’ll often find it from Uruguay, where it’s considered the national grape.  Around the world Tannat is used mainly as a blending grape, rarely as a single varietal wine.

Tannat produces deep inky purple, almost black wines that are bold in taste and structure, with dark berry and earth flavors and firm tannins.  It’s not uncommon to see a Tannat with 15% alcohol.  Tannat wines are great for aging, as time in the bottle will soften the tannins.  If you’re opening up a young bottle, I’d highly recommend decanting it.

So in summary, if Syrah and Zinfandel aren’t for you, you’re probably not going to like Tannat.

At this year’s Miami International Wine Fair there was just one representative of Tannat from Uruguay: H. Stagnari.  This winery is located in the Salto province in northwest Uruguay, on the banks of the Uruguay River.

Tannat PremierH. Stagnari excels at refining Tannat, making it elegant and easier to drink.

I started my tasting of H. Stagnari’s Tannat with the 2008 Tannat Premier ($12).  It’s deep purple in color with dark berry aromas.  On the palate are flavors of blackberries, black cherries and tobacco, with chewy tannins giving the wine a solid structure.  This wine is 14% alcohol.

If you’ve never tried Tannat, the Tannat Premier is a wine that will make you want to explore this varietal more.

Next I tasted the 2008 Tannat Viejo ($28).  This wine is aged for 12 months in 80% new French oak barrels and is 15% alcohol.  Aromas of dark berries introduce flavors of smoky raspberry and black cherry, with hints of chocolate and clove.  The spicy finish lingers in your mouth, with solid tannins giving the wine a structural focus.

DaymanMy final Tannat was the 2007 Dayman Castel La Puebla ($50).  This wine spends more than 12 months in 80% new French oak barrels.  Like the Tannat Viejo, this wine is made in limited production and must measure up to certain standards set by Héctor Stagnari Sr. in order for it to be released.

The Dayman has dense aromas of ripe black fruit.  Flavors of blackberries and black plum are enhanced by dark chocolate and earth.  It’s a velvety and sophisticated wine, thanks to a fruity acidity balancing out the ample tannins and alcohol (15%).  This wine will continue to evolve in the bottle and can be laid down for some time.

Though it wasn’t available to taste at the wine fair, H. Stagnari makes a Tannat Rosé.  It’s raspberry red in color, almost more like a light red wine than a rosé.  The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors, with some floral notes.

A big, bold wine demands a big, bold meal to accompany it.  Serve Tannat with steak or other grilled red meats.

Though Tannat can have the sophistication and aging potential of an expensive Bordeaux, don’t think you need to spend a lot to enjoy this unique varietal.  Most Tannats from Uruguay range between $15 and $25.  See what’s on the shelf at your local wine shop!