It is one thing to drink wine at home, to open bottles at a dinner party, to remark on how delicious something is. It is one thing to read the long, hard-to-pronounce words on a label as you sip, and find a picture of that place online or in a book. It is another thing entirely to stand on that hard-to-pronounce hill and feel the wind pulling at your hair, feel the loose red rocks slipping under your sneakers.
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In Pomerol, Fronsac, Saint-Emilion, the wines are almost exclusively merlot-based blends, which grow well in the clay soil that dominates the region. Plateaus of limestone and patches of sand scattered throughout the vineyards allow for modest growth of other grapes which lend structure and personality to the merlot with which they are blended. Unlike Left Bank wines, which are dominated by tannic cabernet sauvignon that's built to age and meant to sit for years in a cellar, these merlot-based wines are lower in tannins and acid, which gives them incredible versatility.
Can you imagine arriving here and thinking, 'that looks like a good place to plant grapes'? It's so steep that it's hard to keep your footing, the red slate rocks sliding out from under your shoes.
When I say Argentina, you probably think Malbec, and there's definitely a reason for Argentinian Malbec's popularity. On my recent visit to Mendoza, I did see Malbec everywhere I looked, and I tasted some delicious examples. But there is much more to Argentina than Malbec. What should drink if you're interested in exploring the rest of Argentinian wine? Here are a few other grapes to look out for, and some bottles to seek out, plus some snapshots of the vineyards and many, many varieties of empanadas.
The wine industry in Chile is far from new—Spanish explorers brought grapevines to the country as early as 1523, and wine has been made there for centuries. Here are my snapshots of harvest season in Chile, from 135-year old cellars to new coastal plantings.
The grape harvest has begun in the Finger Lakes! Thanks to Upstate Wine Company, which distributes many Finger Lakes wines to restaurants and wine shops in the NYC area, I had the chance to visit a handful of vineyards this week (and taste more than a handful of wines.) Highlights of the trip included sampling grapes on the vine, learning about harvest-time decision making from local winemakers, and discovering quite a few excellent bottles from this often underestimated region.
Spain is one of the biggest wine-producing countries, third to France and Italy. There are all sorts of native grape varieties but 80 percent of the wines produced here come from the same 20 grapes, many of which you've probably had in your glass before: Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, and the cava grapes, Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo. Here are some snapshots from my trip: the wines, the grapes, the hillsides, the oak barrels, and the chorizo bites in between sips.