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Loudonville Wine & Spirits

@Kimberly Square

475 Albany-Shaker-Road

Loudonville, NY 12211

(Next To PriceChopper)

518-435-8035

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Grape Varietals

There are about 10,000 documented grape varieties and approximately only 180 are used to make wine. Grapes are classified to the subspecies vitis vinifera and are commonly known as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. A varietal is simply the name of the grape from which the wine is made, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. In order to list the varietal on the label, the wine must contain at least 75% of that grape. Many varietals are blended with others (such as Merlot with Cabernet) to round out either the aromatic or flavor profile of the wine. This is a winemaking decision based on the style that the winery is trying to achieve. Below are some of the most common varietals.

WHITE VARIETALS

Bordeaux White Blends. Among the dry white wines of Bordeaux, particularly Graves, a blend (varying in percentages) of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon is typical, with some 100% Sauvignon Blanc wines produced. Among sweet white wines, namely Sauternes, a typical recipe is 80% Semillon to 20% Sauvignon Blanc.

Cabernet Franc. This grape is related to Cabernet Sauvignon, with more fruit-basket style fruit and less tannin. Less long-lived than its cousin, Cabernet Franc brings an herbal note ranging from slightly tobacco-flavored to pungently leafy. Used in Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol, but important in the Médoc as a blender. 100% Cabernet Franc wines are offered elsewhere in the world, notably in the Loire Valley where Chinon is the pinnacle.

Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the most famed and long-lived of grapes, it is found nearly everywhere in the world, but most famously grown in Bordeaux. In that region, Cabernet Sauvignon is usually blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In Australia, it is often found with Shiraz as the blender. Notes of cherry, cedar and tobacco predominate and the grape's tannins sometimes make the wine tough to drink in its youth.

Chardonnay Lemon, lime, grapefruit, nectarine, pear, apple, pineapple, guava, melon, banana, smoke, steel, cream, vanilla, butter, butterscotch, toast, chalk, yeast, mint, coconut, mineral. Chardonnay is one of the most popular wines in the U.S. The flavors of this popular white wine can range from clean and crisp examples to rich and complex examples with pronounced oak flavor. Chardonnay is typically classified as a dry white wine, but it can sometimes taste semi-sweet or even sour. If you like the tropical citrus flavors, the slight char of buttered toast, you’ll get along well with Chardonnay. Any oak you’ll taste comes from fermenting in oak barrels. In Burgundy, it is more complex and long-lived, with less tropical and more mineral and apple flavors reflecting the cooler climate.

Chenin Blanc Red apple, peach, pineapple, guava, chalk, lemon, vanilla, cream, apple blossom, chamomile, melon. The wines are powerful, pungent, great whether sweet or dry, and amazingly long-lived. Twenty years or more is the norm for good vintages.

Corvina. One of the principle varietals that gives life to Valpolicella, Amorane and other interesting Veronese reds. Corvina is an intense ruby red with good tannins and rich fruit.

Gewürztraminer Apple, pear, cloves, cinnamon, honeysuckle, geranium, pepper, apple, orange, earth, anise, smoke, sauerkraut, pine, nutmeg, mace. One look at the name Gewürztraminer and one can guess that the nationality of this white grape is German. Gewürztraminer produces a distinctive wine rich in spicy aromas and full flavors, ranging from dry to sweet. Its qualities are very similar to Riesling. If you like nutty flavors or floral herbal teas (think rose hips) as well as pepper, you should find Gewürztraminer enjoyable to drink. A grape of the Muscat family with rich, pungent character and a nose like roses.  It is good in Germany, New Zealand and Italy; great in Alsace where even when dry, it is so pungent it seems best with dessert.

Muscat Apricot, lychee, almond, earth, tangerine, golden raisin, pepper, toffee, lemon, orange, grape, spice. Brown Muscat is very rich and full in Australia's Liquer Muscats. Muscat d'Alexandria offers its best work as dessert on the northern Sicialian islands of Pantelleria, in southern France (Muscat de Lunel, Rivesaltes) and with Moscatel de Setubal in Portugal. Muscat Ottonel is a lighter, less-interesting subvariety. Black Muscat also exists as a very dark variety.

Riesling Apricot, peach, nectarine, green apple, honeysuckle, geranium, rose, licorice, petrol, asphalt, smoke, cream, earth, flint, slate. Like its close relation, Gewürztraminer, Riesling is a white wine known for its distinctive floral qualities. Rieslings can also range from crisp and dry to full-bodied and spicy to luscious and sweet. Most examples are primarily dry with a touch of sweetness. Since sugar helps cut the heat, Rieslings are a good choice for spicy foods. If you enjoy the sweetness of honey and melon, the tartness of grapefruit and the floral quality of some herbal teas, Riesling should be on your table.

Pinot Grigio Pinot Grigio is also known by its nickname, Pinot Gris. Pinot Grigio is a white grape whose low acidity produces a rich wine with a light perfume-like quality to it. When you take a sip, Pinot Grigio feels dry and light on your tongue. You may also detect a tinge of minerals. After you swallow, you might taste a lemony flavor. If you like the flavor of peaches, grapefruit and melon you should become good friends with Pinot Grigio.

Sauvignon Blanc Grapefruit, lemon, lime, melon, apple, grass, hay, straw, alfalfa, bell pepper, asparagus, green olive, artichoke, stemmy, honey, smoke, apricot, mint, menthol, wet wool, catty, mineral, flint, gooseberry. While some examples of Sauvignon Blanc tend toward the sweet, it is primarily a dry, crisp light white wine like Chardonnay. In fact some wineries have started aging it in oak barrels like Chardonnay. If you like citrus fruits and green tea, you should chill a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and try a glass.

Sémillon Peach, pear, melon, fig, cream, honey, cinnamon, lanolin, vanilla, apricot (in sweeter styles), floral, beeswax. Blended with Sauvignon Blanc for most dry white Bordeaux and used in larger proportions for the dessert Bordeaux, Sauternes and Cerons.

White Zinfandel is one of the newer wines on the shelf. It’s produced in the same fashion as other blush wines or Rosés. The juice from red Zinfandel grapes is allowed to linger with the grape skins for a very short time to produce a coral-pink wine that is mildly sweet. It’s been a gateway wine for many newcomers to the wine world, yet it remains popular because of its clean refreshing flavor. If you are new to wine or just enjoy flavors like orange, vanilla, strawberry, raspberry and cherry, pair a chilled glass of White Zinfandel with a warm summer day and prepare to be pleased.

RED VARIETALS

Barbera. Italy's most common red grape is also used in California in blends to bolster acidity. The better versions are deep purple, bone-dry, and mouthfilling, with red and black fruit (blackberry, currant, prune) flavors and aromas of nutmeg, black pepper and smoke. Great, more concentrated Barberas may be aged, but most are medium-bodied with moderate tannins and are drunk fairly young. Barbera makes an ideal partner to pasta and other dishes featuring tomato sauce.

Bordeaux Red Blends. Red Bordeaux, sometimes called Claret, is a wine made from a blend of different grape varieties. Although it varies from Château to Château, a typical red Bordeaux recipe might be 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, while a likely St. Émilion or Pomerol blend might be 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon Blackberry, black raspberry, black currant (cassis), bell pepper, eucalyptus, mint, black olive, green olive, earth, mushroom, chocolate, cocoa, molasses, smoke, plum, cedar, tobacco, licorice, graphite (pencil box). With its hearty flavors and deep dark color, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Cabernet, is the top dog of the red wine category. Naturally occurring high levels of tannins give Cabernet its well-developed, full-bodied flavor for which it is so prized. It’s also desirable because of its ability to age well. Those new to drinking wine are often intimidated by a Cabernet and think of it as a “strong” wine. Somewhere along the line they only got part of the story on this full-bodied, intense wine. Truth be told, Cabernets can be mellow and mild or hearty and rich. If you like the bite of black currant berries or choke cherries and the rich flavor of blackberries, you’ll like Cabernet. Because Cabernet is traditionally aged in oak barrels, you might also taste oak and vanilla flavors that come from the barrels.

Gamay Raspberry, strawberry, cinnamon, cloves, rose petal, jasmine, violets, cranberry, mineral (in Cru Beaujolais). Outside of the confines of Beaujolais, France, where in the top crus (Brouilly, Fleurie, et al) it can be rich, succulent and capable of aging ten years or more, Gamay makes a pleasant, simple and fruity wine.

Grenache Grape, jam, berry, cinnamon, prune, tea, soy, pepper, violets, rose petal. This grape has many homes and faces. In Rioja, Spain, it is the grape second in importance to Tempranillo, and can show excellent character just north of Navarro. In southern France and the southern Rhône Valley, it reaches from excellent rosé, to pleasant, fruity drinker to imperial heights in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and, sometimes, Gigondas. Found in North Africa, particularly in Morocco and Algeria.

Malbec. A ripe, lush black grape variety, once popular in Bordeaux as a component, but gaining a modern stronghold in Argentina and Chile.

Merlot Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but "softer", rounder when very ripe, focus on herbal and "green" flavors.). Originally used as a main component in red wine blends, Merlot’s smooth, balanced and less harsh qualities made it a popular alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. Because it has fewer tannins, Merlot is best enjoyed right away, rather than aged. Those who enjoy flavors like honey, mint, plum, black cherry and orange will find Merlot a very satisfying wine. Often considered the "blending" grape of Bordeaux, this grape does offer softness on the Médoc. But it is the heart and soul of many, if not most, Pomerols and St. Émilions. This is a grape that has been nearly as successful in its varied and diverse plantings throughout the world as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pinot Noir Cherry, raspberry, strawberry, prune, plum, pomegranate, coffee, spice, coriander, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, earth, smoke, mushroom, "barnyard", caramel, allspice, violets, lavender, jasmine, cocoa, sausage, citrus. Typical Pinot Noir flavors include vanilla, oak and jams like raspberry, strawberry and plum. Pinot Noir is a bit of a chameleon. It’s a red grape but is often used as a white component in Champagne and fathered two white grapes varietals: Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Pinot Noir is a great example of a delicate red wine possessing the smooth characteristics of a white and the richness of a red. Pinot Noir ranges in color from cherry red to purplish red to brown as it ages. If you’re a gardener who loves the smell of earth or if you like the smell of leather, you’ll be pleased with the aroma of a Pinot Noir.

Sangiovese Cherry, raspberry, red plum, blackberry, cinnamon, dried flowers, vanilla, pepper, truffle, smoke, chamomile, rose petal, tar, coffee, anise. The primary grape of Chianti. Its sweet cherry and leather tones when aged are pure grace at their best and austere and charmless when made poorly.

Syrah/Shiraz Blackberry, black currant (cassis), black raspberry, black plum, white pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, anise, prune, oak, soy, chocolate, smoke, sausage, toast, violets. Syrah is also known as Shiraz, particularly in Australia. Those Aussies have a different word for everything. Syrah is a red grape and is easy for winemakers to work with. It’s very healthy, ripens early, resists mildew and rot and adapts to various winemaking styles. Syrah has a long history in California, with the best examples standing up to the biggest California Cabernets. Like a Cabernet, Syrah has a wealth of tannins and complex flavor combinations. You will enjoy Syrah camp if you like spicy, peppery, smoky flavors as well as blackberries, plums and other flavors. Keep working your tongue and you might detect a touch of licorice or baker’s chocolate. The great grape of northern Rhône where some of the world's greatest wines are straight renditions of the grape. Grown in other countries, Australia has pushed it to similar heights.

Syrah Rosé Let’s deconstruct this one. Syrah is a red wine grape. Rosé, also known as a blush wine, is a light pink wine made from a blend of several red wine grapes. The pink or rose color comes from minimizing the time the juice spends in contact with the grape skins. In contrast to their full-blooded parents, Rosés tend to be light with some sweetness. Dry Rosés are popular in many regions of the world because of their color, pronounced fruit flavor and delicate body. Syrah Rosé is a good choice for those who enjoy raspberry and strawberry flavors, lavender and violet. Even though a Syrah Rosé is not a dark red wine, tannins are present, but light, giving it plenty of crispness and body.

Vignoles Otherwise known as Ravat, this hybrid is offered in dessert styles that are pretty and crisp. Dry Vignoles is gaining importance as a variety in the eastern United States.

Zinfandel Blackberry, raspberry, jam, cherry, port, plum, chocolate, olive, bell pepper, cloves, black pepper, spice. California is famous for sun, surf, celebrity and, of course, Zinfandel. This red grape originated in Italy but, like so many others, found fame and fortune in the Golden State. In the glass, Zinfandel has a deep red color that can almost appear black with the right lighting. In the mouth, Zinfandel is a very hearty wine with flavors that range from fruity to spicy, depending on age. If you like spicy peppery flavors and dark cherries, give Zinfandel a whirl. This grape is found most often in the pink (or "white" as it's referred to) version. Thanks to the popularity of the white version, Zinfandel is California's most planted grape. Grapey, and bursting with bright raspberry fruit, it is food-friendly and ages fairly well.

 

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