Posts tagged with "merlot"

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More information and order form here

 

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer

California’s northern Central Coast, extending from the San Francisco Bay to Monterey County, is the focus this month as part of Wine Institute’s Wine Country Back Roads series. California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled. These welcoming regions feature stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. There’s still plenty of time this summer to discover off-the-beaten path wine roads and regions, and the Central Coast is a great place to do it.

The entire Central Coast wine region and Santa Cruz Mountains stretches roughly 250 miles along the California coastline, extending from San Francisco County to Santa Barbara County. Grapes there are among the oldest in the state, planted by Franciscan monks in the late 18th century as they made their way north on El Camino Real (known today as Highway 101). Now hosting thousands of acres of vineyards and hundreds of wineries, California’s Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains are home to 14 percent of the state’s winegrapes.

TASTE: Not far from San Francisco, with its famously steep hills and Victorian architecture, you’ll find several hospitable wineries near the East Bay cities of Moraga, Oakland, Berkeley as well as Treasure Island to help you kick off your Central Coast adventure.

Nearby Livermore Valley, 35 miles east of San Francisco, is the one of the state’s oldest wine regions and the genetic source of 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay vines. Along with its iconic Chardonnay, Livermore is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Italian, Rhone and Spanish varieties. Discover the region’s rolling hills and scenic canyons along the Burgundy Wine Trail, or enjoy mountain vistas on the Red Trail.

The Santa Clara Valley, also known today as Silicon Valley, includes more than 30 wineries, many clustered near Gilroy and San Martin. The Santa Cruz Mountains, west of Santa Clara Valley, was among the first American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) to be defined by its steep mountain topography. The area played a pivotal role in California’s winemaking history with viticultural roots going back more than a century. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot predominate on the warmer eastern inland side of the AVA, while Pinot Noir thrives on the coastal side and ridge tops. The region boasts more than 60 wineries. For a scenic overview, try the Silicon Valley Wine Trail in the hillsides above Silicon Valley, or the coastal Corralitos Wine Trail, at the sunny, southern portion of the AVA.

San Benito County, set in an idyllic valley about 75 miles southeast of Santa Cruz, has been growing winegrapes since the mid-1800s, planted by French and German immigrants. The region grows a wide variety of grapes but is best known for Pinot Noir and Syrah. Find wineries near the towns of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

Heading back to the coast, Monterey County is known or having one of California’s longest growing seasons, thanks to cool marine air that blows in from Monterey Bay. Franciscan friars introduced winegrapes to the area more than 200 years ago, and over 40 varieties are planted there today—including more Chardonnay than in any other county in America. Monterey is also well known for its cool-climate Pinot Noir. With eight distinctive AVAs within its borders and 82 wineries, Monterey offers an array of tasting opportunities. The River Road Wine Trail, set among the canyons and slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, highlights Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with northern Rhône varieties such as Syrah. Beautiful Carmel Valley is renowned for producing rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

TOUR: The Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport event on July 20 includes special tastings at more than 40 participating wineries. (As a bonus, passport experiences can be redeemed for a full year after the event.) The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park is nearby with its multiple attractions. Livermore Valley hosts Taste Our Terroir July 25-28, a four-day food and wine affair offering wine tasting adventures, garden tours, food pairing events, seminars, falcon demonstrations and more. Music in the vineyards is a Santa Clara specialty, with performances scheduled at individual wineries throughout the summer. While visiting San Benito County, take a hike among towering rock spires and observe falcons and golden eagles in flight at Pinnacles National Monument, formed by ancient volcanos. On Monterey’s Cannery Row, sample local wines at A Taste of Monterey and visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium or John Steinbeck Museum.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see San Francisco Travel, Livermore Valley Wine Country, Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Discover San Benito County and Monterey Wine Country.
For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

Napa Valley’s First Wine History Museum and Tasting Salon

Jean-Charles Boisset Introduces Napa Valley’s First Wine History Museum and Tasting Salon: 1881 Napa  

1881 Napa Showcases Napa Valley Wines and History in Historic Victorian Home Adjacent to the Oakville Grocery

Napa Valley’s first wine history museum and tasting salon, is now open. Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of Boisset Collection, has created an homage to Napa Valley, with a tasting room that showcases wines from Napa Valley’s distinct sub-appellations, a museum where guests can explore Napa’s rich wine history, an extensive collection of historic wine relics from Europe and the United States and original artifacts from the Early California Wine Trade Archive. 1881 Napa is located in a historic Victorian home built in 1874 next to Oakville Grocery (founded in 1881) in Oakville, California, both of which were purchased by Boisset Collection at the beginning of the year.

“Napa Valley has a powerful place in American wine history and 1881 Napa puts the region in perspective on the world stage,” said Boisset, who grew up in Burgundy, France imbued with a passion for wine and learning as the son of vintners and the grandson of educators. “An extraordinary amount has been accomplished in this enclave in a short amount of time and we want to create a destination that celebrates Napa’s long history and its pioneering founders while exploring Napa’s incredibly diverseterroir in one destination.”

The gateway to Napa Valley, 1881 Napa is must-stop for wine enthusiasts, providing guests the opportunity to discover Napa Valley’s AVAs for the first time, or to explore some of their favorite appellations more deeply. Napa Valley was the first AVA designated in California in 1981 and within the region are 16 sub-AVAs that contain more geological diversity than any other wine region, leading to dramatically different wines within Napa Valley.

Located in a building more than 140 years old that was reimagined by renowned architect Howard Backen, 1881 Napa is next door to Oakville Grocery, the oldest continually operating grocery store in California. The two centerpieces of the space — a 48-light Baccarat crystal Zenith chandelier and a reproduction of an 1895 map of Napa County on canvas hanging from the ceiling — provide a dramatic environment to explore the varied wines of the valley, while displays highlighting the unique stories and soils of each appellation surround the tasting room.

The wine museum in 1881 Napa is open to the public with complimentary visitation. A self-guided tour up to and along the museum’s second-floor mezzanine tells the history of Napa Valley, introduces the founders and influential early pioneers  of the region and presents a robust collection of wine ephemera, including historic winemaking, vineyard, nursery and cooperage as well as displays curated and organized by the Early California Wine Trade Museum featuring local historic wine artifacts from the collections of Dean Walters and John O’Neill. From the mezzanine, guests have an open view to the tasting room below.

Alcoves hold soil samples from the various regions, along with 1881 Napa wines and descriptions of the appellations written by best-selling and award-winning author of The Wine Bible and wine expert Karen MacNeil. MacNeil also helped develop the various tasting options, which include comparative flights such as “Majestic Mountains Versus Plush Valley” and “Is it Cool to be Hot or Hot to be Cool?” as well as an option to “Embark on a Journey Throughout the Valley” by tasting Cabernet Sauvignons from 12 different sub-AVAs. In addition to the site-specific Cabs, guests can enjoy wines from a blend of Napa Valley grapes, including a sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, Chardonnay, red blend, Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon — all wines crafted exclusively for 1881 Napa by Winemaker Thane Knutson to reflect the diversity of Napa Valley. After sampling the broad range of Napa Valley styles, guests can discover which AVAs they like the most and purchase wines from 1881 Napa as well Oakville Grocery.

1881 Napa is located at 7856 St. Helena Highway in Oakville and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made here.

About Boisset Collection
Boisset is a family-owned collection of historic and unique wineries and lifestyle destinations led by Jean-Charles Boisset and bound together by a common vision: authentic, terroir-driven wines in harmony with their history, their future and the land and people essential to their existence. With more than 25 historical and prestigious still and sparkling wineries in the world’s preeminent terroirs, including Burgundy, Beaujolais, Jura, the Rhône Valley, the south of France and California’s Russian River Valley and the Napa Valley. Its California wineries include DeLoach Vineyards, Raymond Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset; its French properties feature Domaine de la Vougeraie, Jean-Claude Boisset, Bouchard Aîné et Fils, J. Moreau et Fils, Louis Bouillot, Domaines Henri Maire, Fortant and Bonpas. Each house retains its unique history, identity and style, and all are united in the pursuit of fine wines expressive of their terroir. Wine is at the center of Boisset’s mission, and is complemented by spirits, beer, cider, gourmet foods and luxury goods, both of its own design and from partnerships with historic companies such as Baccarat, Lalique, St. Louis, Riedel, Christofle, and Bernardaud. To learn more about the Boisset Collection, please visit www.boissetcollection.com.

Featured image credit: Alexander Rubin

Bordeaux 101 – Bitesize Guide


By Ilona Thompson

Bordeaux, France’s most high-profile wine region, is located in southwestern France, just the north of the Aquitaine region. The city is built on a bend of the river Garonne, and is divided into two parts: the right bank to the east and left bank in the west. At the center of it all is the historic city of Bordeaux, an epicenter of winegrowing, world-class cuisine, art and culture. 


  

With 280,000 acres under vine, farmed by over 6,460 producers, it is the largest wine growing area in the country. Over 707 million bottles are produced, including the famed “First Growths.” 

  

The region has sixty-five appellations, with main regions being Graves, Fronsac, Medoc, Pomerol, Saint Emilion and Côtes de Bordeaux. Interestingly, approximately 8% of the total production of the AOC wines from Bordeaux are made up of dry white wines.   

RIGHT VS. LEFT BANK 

  

The geology and climate of Bordeaux is ideally suited to viticulture. Gravel and limestone soil, well-drained and heavy in minerals and calcium deposits, tied with maritime influences from the Atlantic makes for an excellent blend of environments. Geographically, the region is delineated by rivers. There is an old saying that grand Bordeaux estates enjoy “the river views.” Everything on the left side of the Garonne river, west and south of the region, is referred to as “left bank” Bordeaux. Left bank is home to Graves and Medoc. Everything to the right side of another river, Dordogne, in the northern side, is considered the “right bank.” The area within both is the center of the region. 

  

Bordeaux, known for its outstanding viticulture, in addition to ideal climate and soils has yet another strategic advantage: it was a major port city for centuries. That gave the local vignerons an unprecedented access to the world. Unlike other French wine regions that are landlocked, Bordeaux had a direct link to the vessels and visitors that arrived daily. One of the wares the callers left with? Wine. As the word of Bordeaux being an epitome of wine degustation spread overseas, wealthy merchants and traders across Europe became the world’s first wine collectors. Bordeaux wine’s reputation as a refined drink of the upper-class began to take hold. 

BORDEAUX VARIETIES 

  

The classic roster of red Bordeaux varieties consists of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and, occasionally, Carmenere. Merlot deserves a special mention, as it’s by far the most widely-planted variety, comprising ¾ of all red varieties planted.  The whites are dominated by Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon plantings with a smattering of Muscadelle. There are also small amounts of Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc. 

  

The region’s most prestigious vineyards are located on the “Left Bank” of the Garonne river, with its world-famous clay, gravel and sandstone “terroir” (aka, dirt!) It is a winery’s river bank location that determines the proportion of Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend. If the winery is located on the Left Bank, the blend created will have more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot. If the winery is located on the Right Bank instead, the blend will have more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. 

  

The majority of wine produced in the region is known as “Claret”—an English term that refers to a traditional red Bordeaux blend. 

  

There are plenty of great dry white blends, referred to as “White Bordeaux,” followed by a few “Sauternes” or late harvest wines. While both red and white blends are technically Bordeaux, the classic definition of the term is primarily associated with red wine. 

BORDEAUX CLASSIFICATIONS 

  

There are several Bordeaux classifications, spread across different parts of the region. The famed 1855 one, established by Napoleon Bonaparte, is known as Official Classification. It recognized the “First Growths” of the Medoc area. 

  

They are: 

1.     Château Haut Brion 

2.     Château Lafite Rothschild 

3.     Château Latour 

4.     Château Margaux 

  

100 years later, the 1955 classification of another region, St.-Emilion, updated the list with two more:  Château Ausone  and  Château Cheval Blanc 

  

In 1953, the Official Classification of the Graves took place. Then, in 1973, another brand was added to the First Growth rarified club:  Château Mouton Rothschild. 

  

In 2012, two more Chateaux got the prestigious nod:  Chateau Angelus  and  Chateau Pavie . Oddly, there is yet to appear any official recognition for Chateau Petrus and Chateau Le Pin, which bears no reflection on their reputation with oenophiles. Chateau Petrus is often the costliest wine from the region. 

  

There is one late harvest wine, or  Sauterne , that is classified as “First Growth” – the famed Chateau d’Yquem. 

  

Many of these prestigious Chateaux wines are sold  en primeur  or as “futures.” Merchants world-wide make a rigorous effort to secure these wines at pre-release or “futures” prices, as they often go up in value after the official release. Many consumers, just as the collectors did all those centuries ago, stock up on precious juice. Despite large production levels, the wines are continuously in high demand. Newer markets, such as Asian countries, are full of consumers who are eager to acquire the prestigious, age-worthy wines.  

BORDEAUX BOOM 

  

One of the Europe’s largest cities, Bordeaux, is a vibrant, dynamic city. Although predominantly known for its wine prowess, Bordeaux is about much more than grapes. A city of over a million inhabitants, it’s a sprawling metropolis that is a study in integration of traditional architecture and modern lifestyle. 

Occasionally referred to as “Little Paris” as a nod to its cobblestone streets and charming disposition, Bordeaux’s recent economic boom has placed it among the liveliest world cities. 

 An astonishing number of restaurants, cafés, parks, and museums sprung up in the last decade. An energetic university community, 60,000-strong, establishes Bordeaux authority in educational circles. 

 Generally, the city has a laid-back vibe, yet enjoys a highly animated cultural, artistic, and music scene. 

 Bordeaux is a flat city, built on river banks, so bicycling is the preferred mode of transportation. With 370 miles of bike trails among a beautiful backdrop, you are highly advised to skip the car and hop on a bike to explore the area’s glory. 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN BORDEAUX 

  

Touring the vineyards and wine tasting is an obvious choice; one of the best you can make when visiting the region. The second largest wine-growing area in the world makes some of the most well-known wines on the planet. Make sure that you plan your trip thoughtfully. The more care you put in the process, the better the end experiences will be. Most wineries require plenty of advance notices for visiting, so pick your optimal route and see how close you can get to your dream scenario! 

  

Where there is great wine, there will be great food. Gastronomical pleasures are integral to the Bordeaux identity. The city, which is packed of restaurants and eateries of all sorts, is a mecca of cosmopolitan cuisine. Asian, African, Italian, Middle Eastern restaurants supplement an extensive array of classic French restaurants. Rue de Saint Remi is a renown culinary street with a myriad of dining options. Michelin adorned restaurants abound, courtesy of culinary stars such as Joel Robuchon, Bernard Magrez and Gordon Ramsay.