Grapes and Blends

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Author:
mikedutch
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247197
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Grapes and Blends
Updated:
2013-12-01 11:08:44
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FWS Bordeaux
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FWS Master Level
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  1. Name the 3 primary black grape varieties of Bordeaux
    • Merlot: 60% of black plantings
    • Cabernet Sauvignon: 26%
    • Cabernet Franc (aka Bouchet, Grosse-Vidure, Carmenet, Breton): 12%
  2. Was more Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon planted in Bordeaux until the 1960s?
    Yes
  3. Is there more Merlot planted in Bordeaux than in any other wine region?
    Yes
  4. Name the 3 secondary black grape varieties of Bordeaux
    • Malbec (aka Auxerrois, Noir de Pressac, Malbeck, Cot)
    • Petit Verdot
    • Carmenere
    • Together, these varieties comprise 2% of black plantings
  5. Name 3 "accessory" black grape varieties of Bordeaux
    • Cahors (aka Negrette?)
    • Bouchales (aka Prolongeau)
    • Bequignol Noir
  6. Name the 3 primary white grape varieties of Bordeaux?
    • Sauvignon (Blanc and Gris)
    • Semillon
    • Muscadelle
  7. What is the predominant variety in Bordeaux white wine?
    • Dry: Sauvignon with Semillon
    • Sweet: Semillon with Sauvignon
  8. Name 5 secondary white grape varieties permitted in AOC Bordeaux
    • Colombard
    • Mauzac Blanc
    • Merlot Blanc (Merlot X Folle Blanche)
    • Ondenc
    • Ugni Blanc
  9. Are the secondary white grape varieties encouraged in Bordeaux?
    • Tolerated but no new plantings allowed.
    • Must be less than 30% of the blend
  10. Name 2 "accessory" white grape varieties in wines from Bordeaux
    • Chenin (aka Pineau de la Loire, Pineau d'Anjou): not authorized in regional Bordeaux AOCs; permitted in Cotes de Blaye until 2025
    • Folle Blanche: not authorized in regional Bordeaux AOCs since 2004; permitted in Cotes de Blaye
    • The above varieties can be vin de table
  11. Name 3 synonyms for Ugni Blanc
    • Trebbiano: in Italy, where it originated
    • St.-Emilion des Charentes: in Gironde and Cognac
    • Muscadet Aigre ("sour Muscadet"): in Girone
  12. When were hybrids forbidden in Bordeaux?
    1961
  13. Name the Bordeaux principal grape varieties in order of picking
    • Chasselas: epoch 1 (reference grape)
    • Sauvignon: epoch 2 early
    • Semillon: epoch 2 late
    • Muscaelle: epoch 2 end
    • Merlot: epoch 2
    • Cabernet Franc: epoch 2
    • Cabernet Sauvingon: epoch 3
    • Petit Verdot: epoch 3 end
  14. What AOC has Colombard as a principal variety?
    Cotes de Blaye Blanc must be 60%-90% Colombard
  15. Is the reputation of a vintage dependent on white, red, or both wines?
    Red
  16. Describe the characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Thick-skinned (Intense color, Tannic, Resistant to rot)
    • Late-ripening
    • Black fruit aromas (If ripe, blackcurrant, wild strawberries; if very ripe, mint, licorice, cedar)
    • Only in Bordeaux: "Cold Chimney" (ashy) and floral (roses) aromas
  17. Why might Cabernet Sauvignon not ripen?
    • If Unripe, herbaceous, green pepper (this is a fault)
    • Picked too early
    • Vines too vigorous
    • Low-density planting
    • Planted on "heavy" soils
    • Weak vintages
  18. What does it take to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon?
    * MILD WATER STRESS (produces fruit and floral aromas
  19. Describe the characteristics of Merlot
    • Thinner-skinned than CS so lighter in color and softer tannins
    • Early maturing (first to come out of winter dormancy)
    • High sugar levels (= alcohol)
    • Red fruit aromas (if ripe, cherry, plum and with age, humus, truffle; if over-ripe, fig, stewed prune)
  20. What do "Merlot" years or "Cabernet" years mean?
    Refers to how successfully the grapes ripened in a given year.
  21. What does "tight pollination" mean?
    • Pollination requires clear skys, light breezes, moderate temperatures.
    • The flowers will be pollinated in 5-8 days.
  22. What is Coulure?
    • A condition resulting from cold, rainy, windy weather may prevent pollen from fully setting in the flower's pistil
    • Called "shot berry" (because grapes only achieve size of BB shot) or "shatter" in England.
  23. What grapes are susceptible to Coulure?
    Merlot, Malbec, Grenache, Muscat Ottonel.
  24. Recent vintages:
    • Merlot years: 98, 99, 01, 04, 06
    • Cabernet years: 96, 02 03 06, 08
  25. What were the percent of red grapes grown in Bordeaux in 2009?
    • Merlot: 64%
    • Cabernet Sauvignon: 24%
    • Cabernet Franc: 11%
    • Petit Verdot/Malbec/Carmenere: 1%
  26. Describe the characteristics of Cabernet Franc
    • Tannic but more rustic ("cashmere" tannins) than Merlot or CS
    • Contributes a "savory" character
    • If unripe, grassy, "ice tea"; If ripe, mineral, metholated, raspberries, black pepper and with age flowery, leathery, tobacco
  27. Describe challenges with Cabernet Franc
    • If overcropped, becomes "pissy"; color and character diluted
    • Veraison can be tricky -- irregular yields
    • Starts with an herbaceous character
    • Disappointing right after harvest; gains depth after several months
  28. Describe the advantages of Cabernet Franc
    • Affinity for barrel aging
    • Gives freshness to Merlot
    • Grows well in sandy soil (at the base of the Saint-Emilion hill) and clay but prefers limestone
  29. Why are most red Bordeaux wines blended?
    • CS is too tannic; requires Merlot for suppleness, balance
    • Merlot too flabby by itself; needs tannin from CS or CF
    • Left bank (Medoc, Graves) has gravel needed by CS
    • Right bank/Entre-deux Mers has clay for Merlot
  30. Is climate change expected to render Merlot less dependable?
    Yes
  31. Name 3 wines that use a large proportion of Cabernet Franc planted
    • Le Dome: 80%
    • Chateau Cheval Blanc: 65%
    • Chateaux Angelus: 55% (for web site for info about CF)
    • Chateau Trotte Vieille and Chateau Belle Assise: 100%
  32. Describe the characteristics of Petit Verdot
    • High Quality Grape; if grown successfully and more widely it would be equal of CS or Merlot
    • Think if it as a "Super CS"... can make a good wine into a great wine
    • Difficult to ripen so planted in gravel soils (Medoc)
    • Needs lots of attention
    • Ripens 2 out of 10 years (so planted in very small quantities)
  33. Why are Petit Verdot planings increasing?
    • * Warmer in Bordeux recently ("climate change")
    • * On Left Bank, CS obviates need for CF so PV replacing CF
  34. Why is Malbec a disappearing variety?
    • Susceptible to coulure (lower yield due to poor fruit set)
    • Falls apart after 20 years (but can make very good wine in Cahors, Argentina)
    • Favored in the Bourg (in particular) and Blaye regions
  35. Name a Chateaux that still uses Carmenere
    Chateau Clerc Milon (fifth growth)
  36. Describe the characteristics of Carmenere
    • Practically extinct (even smaller planting that PV or Malbec) -- a "folklore" grape
    • Similar to PV but even more disease-prone
  37. What type of soil is best for growing white grapes?
    Limestone
  38. Describe the characteristics of Sauvignon
    • The main variety in dry whites (~ 70%)
    • High sugar levels (= alcohol)
    • High acidity
    • Aromas include if Ripe, boxwood (evergreen) and "broom" (shrubby weed); if Very Ripe, lemon, grapefruit
    • Flavors include tropical fruit (mango, passion fruit)
  39. Describe challenges with Sauvignon
    • Unripe grape aromas include Herbaceous, vegetal aromas
    • Too-high yields
    • Heavy and cold soils
  40. Compare Sauvignon Gris (aka Sauvignon Rose) with Sauvignon Blanc
    • Lower yields
    • More alcohol
    • Less susceptible to rot and eutypiose (attacks vine's wood)
    • Aromas more fine
  41. Describe the characteristics of Semillon
    • The main variety in sweet whites
    • Round, fleshy character that Sauvignon lacks
    • Less expressive than Sauvignon
    • Aromas (if Ripe, white peach, fresh apricot, lemon, orange and with age grilled, toasty, smokey)
  42. Describe the characteristics of Muscadelle
    • Minority partner of the blend; contributes little to a wine's structure
    • For best quality it must be picked very ripd and at moderate yields
    • Muscat aromas (but not a member of the Muscat family)
    • Extraordinarily problematic (susceptable to rot, bee attacks, delicate berries must be hand harvested)
    • But... produces a full crop after a frost
  43. What were the percent of white grapes grown in Bordeaux in 2009?
    • Semillon: 52%
    • Sauvignon: 39% (was dominant before Phyloxera)
    • Muscadelle: 6%
    • Other: 3%
  44. What is the percent of red vs white grapes planted in Bordeaux?
    • Red: 89%
    • White: 11%

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