Grapes and Blends

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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?
  3. Is there more Merlot planted in Bordeaux than in any other wine region?
  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?
  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?
  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?
  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?
  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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Grapes and Blends
2013-12-01 16:08:44
FWS Bordeaux

FWS Master Level
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