While studying Italy, I discovered a white wine from the Veneto region that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Veneto region is known for whites, reds and Prosecco. The 2016 Anselmi San Vincenzo, IGT is composed of 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon blanc. Garganega is the main white grape of the Veneto region. The wine comes from the Monteforte d’Alpone area which is between Verona and Vincenza.
The color was a pale gold and the nose was beautifully scented with notes of lychee, gooseberry, honeysuckle and lemon. In addition, this dry, refreshing wine, had lovely flavors of almond, earthy minerals and hazelnut on the palate. The wine is moderately complex with 12.5% alcohol, a medium body, and medium acidity. The finish was quite nice at around 30 seconds. I paired it with grilled salmon and salad and it complemented both. At around $15, I’d definitely recommend it.
I recently had a guest on my wine tour that had just returned from Europe. She enjoyed the trip immensely but was confused at the way Europeans name their wines. What exactly goes into a Chianti or a Bordeaux blend? In New World wines such as the United States, the label will frequently tell you what variety that bottle holds. Is the wine Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay... just read the labels to find out. However, in Old World wine classification, the label tells you WHERE the wine is from and it is expected that the consumer knows what varieties are grown in that region. It can be very complicated, but to simplify and clear up some of the confusion of Old World wines, here are a few examples of what some of your favorites may contain:
Brunello di Montalcino-100% Sangiovese. Brunello is the local name for Sangiovese.
Chablis - Made from 100% Chardonnay
Champagne – Is normally made from a single variety or blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Pinot Meunier.
Chianti – Mostly Sangiovese with some small amounts added of indigenous grapes and some Internationals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot or some white grapes. It can also be 100% Sangiovese.
Rioja – Red Rioja is mostly a Tempranillo blend with added amounts of Garnacha, Carignan and Graciano.
Bordeaux- Red Bordeaux is primarily a blend of 2-3 grapes from the area. The main grapes are, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, however Malbec, Carmenere and Petit Verdot are also allowed.
Burgundy – Red Burgundy is mostly 100% Pinot Noir with some southern areas being Gamay driven.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape – This can be a blend of anywhere between 13-18 varieties including some white wine. Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, Counoise, Cinsault and Roussanne are among the most famous.
Vouvray – Chenin Blanc based which is known as Pineau de la Loire in this area.
I hope this helps to take some of the mystery out of European wine labeling. Cheers!
This week I have been revisiting Spain in my studies. Instead of trying a classic Rioja this time, I found a Spanish, Rhone style blend with 50% Garnacha and 50% Syrah and no Mouvedre which is called Monastrell in Spain. In Arizona, we have many GSM’s (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre blends) which is a classic Rhone style.
The Agoston 2015 is from the DOP of Carinena, near the Iberico Mountain range, and the DO dates back to 1932. It’s close to the city of Zaragoza in Aragon in the Northeast corner of Spain. The Wild Boar on the label references the animals coming into the vineyards from the forest nearby and nibbling on the fruit. Again, it reminds me of our local Arizona Javelina, though a total different animal.
This dry red wine was a beautiful color of purple/ruby and had a medium body. The nose had aromas of cherry and vanilla and the palate was fruity with notes of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and pepper. This is definitely fruit forward, more New World in style, but not as jammy as a California blend and to me more food friendly. It had 13.5 % alcohol, medium acidity and finished at around 25 seconds.
What was surprising was that even after 2 days, the wine was still quite drinkable. At under $12, this is a great, easy drinking choice.
Arizona is renowned for having some of the best mead in the world! What is Mead? It’s a fermented beverage made from honey and one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world. In areas of Northern Europe, were it was too cold to grow grapes, mead was made instead. Superstition Meadery, located in Prescott Arizona has won numerous Gold and other medals at the Mazer Cup, since their founding in 2012. Some of my favorite of their Meads include the Tahitian Honeymoon. (the word Honeymoon, originated in England where the newlyweds would get a full supply of mead to last for a moon cycle) Marion, Date Night, and PBJ; yes, Peanut Butter and Jelly! Meads like wines, can be fermented from dry to sweet.
In addition to offering custom wine and beer tours, I frequently include mead tasting. On Wednesday, I took guests to the State Bar in Cottonwood and they were thrilled with their Mead tasting. In Sedona, I take guests to the Art of wine which has a fabulous Mead flight also.
Yesterday, while touring the Southwest Wine Center, at Yavapai College, I was surprised to see that they are also making a mead. Theirs will be fermented dry. This is their first attempt at this new endeavor and I look forward to sampling it.
So, when you are taking our private, customized wine and or beer tour, we’re thrilled to also have you experience the best mead in the world.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.