Η Γαλλία είχε φέτος έναν από τους μικρότερους τρύγους εδώ και τρεις δεκαετίες, λόγω κακών καιρικών συνθηκών σε πολλά μέρη της χώρας, με το Μπορντό να αποτελεί τη μόνη εξαίρεση, όπως δήλωσαν οι αξιωματούχοι του υπουργείου Γεωργίας την προηγούμενη εβδομάδα.Παγετός, χαλάζι, σήψη και μερικές πυρκαγιές ήταν οι αιτίες που έκαναν τον φετινό τρύγο να μείνει αξέχαστος στους Γάλλους οινοποιούς. Συνολικά από τη φετινή συγκομιδή αναμένεται να παραχθούν 43.2m εκατόλιτρα οίνου – δηλαδή περίπου 5.760 εκατομμύρια μπουκάλια κρασιού. Είναι κατά 10% χαμηλότερα από το 2015 και 6% χαμηλότερα από το μέσο όρο των τελευταίων πέντε ετών στη Γαλλία.Μερικοί έχουν εγείρει φρέσκους φόβους για επικείμενη παγκόσμια έλλειψη κρασιού καθώς οι κακές καιρικές συνθήκες επηρέσαν συγκομιδές σε αρ
The Caucasus region encompasses the countries of Armenia; Azerbaijan; Georgia; and parts of Iran, Russia, and Turkey. This region is considered to be the birthplace of wine. We know this because archaeologists have discovered the oldest winemaking facility in Armenia, grape residue in clay jars in Georgia, and signs of grape domestication in eastern Turkey–all dating back to between 8000 B.C. to 4100 B.C.
Today, the Caucasus is at it again. They’re making wines with rare and fascinating grapes, sometimes coupled with ancient techniques–and they’re good!
The Caucasus wine regions span the area between the Greater Caucasus Mountains to the north and the Minor Caucasus Mountains (and plateau) to the south in the countries of Armenia; Azerbaijan; Georgia; and parts of Iran, Russia, and Turkey.
Of course, Caucasus is a not your typical wine region. You have to remember that these countries may be next to one another, but they aren’t exactly best friends. The brutal war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 1990s is still causing political turmoil between the neighboring countries. Then, there’s Georgia’s mysterious moving border (there are now two contested border areas along the Russian-Georgian border).
To make wine in Caucasus is either insane or visionary…we think the latter.
To help us understand the wines of this area, we’ve invited the authors of Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia, who’ve traveled the region extensively, to highlight the best ones to know.
10 Varieties to Look for from the Caucasus
This red grape hails from a town of the same name in south Armenia. Because of geographical isolation and the harsh climate it grows in, it was never affected by phylloxera. Its thick skin protects it from the summer sun and the harsh, high-elevation, continental climate. It makes red wine with light hue, high clarity, fresh acidity, and soft tannins. Wines made from this grape can have sour cherry, herb, spice, and grassy flavors–which, at times, remind us of a cross between Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. The grape gained some international fame when Zorah Karasi, a varietal wine made from Areni, was featured in the list of Bloomberg’s Top Ten Wines of 2012.
The name Khndoghni is derived from the Armenian word “khind”, which means laughter. This is a native red wine variety from the controversial Nagorno-Karabakh area, which–depending on the source–is considered a region of Armenia, a separate nation, or a part of Azerbaijan. This grape has high tannins and offers interesting characteristics of black and blue fruits, cotton candy, and earth. Wines made from this grape have grippy tannins, precise structure, and exhibit aging potential. It is usually aged in Caucasian oak barrels that are sourced from the same area.
If Areni is the signature red grape of Armenia, then Voskehat is the poster child of Armenian white wine. Voskehat translates to “golden seed”. It is a hardy and thick-skinned grape that gets along well with the hot summer and bitter cold winter of the high Armenian Plateau. Almost all the winemakers in Armenia who make a white wine use this grape, either in varietal wine form or in a blend. It makes smooth- and medium- bodied white wine with floral, savory, tropical fruit, and stone fruit notes.
This is a different variety from Mtsvane, which grows in almost every region in Georgia. Goruli Mtsvane means “green from Gori”, and Gori is a city in south-central Georgia. A late-ripening grape that oxidizes easily, only a few winemakers make wine from this rare variety. When made in the qvevri, it delivers one of the most interesting experiences in wine. Its high-toned aromas range from peach, to lime, apricot, wild flower, pine, and nut. On the palate, the weighty body is reminiscent of a light red wine. Hunting down a Goruli Mtsvane wine can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding.
Rkatsiteli, whose name means “red stem”, is a ubiquitous white wine variety that comprises nearly half of Georgia’s vineyard plantings. It is a hardy and easy-to-grow grape as it is resistant to cold and maintains high level of acidity and sugar as it ripens. It can be made into dry, semi-sweet, and fortified wines, and also brandy. This variety is treated in both traditional Georgian qvevri-style with extended skin contact and conventional-style white wine technique. In the conventional style, it becomes a well-balanced, medium-bodied white wine with a touch of spice. When made in qvevri style, it takes on an amber tone, a forceful structure, and beautiful creaminess on the palate. What this grape does for Georgia is akin to Chardonnay for California.
Saperavi means “color/dye”. This is the most widely planted red wine variety in Georgia. Like Alicante Bouschet, it is teinturier with red flesh and red juice. This dark skinned and dark fleshed grape makes deep red, inky, and often opaque wine with heavy body and profound texture. Some wineries in the country label it as black wine instead of red. Due to the grape’s marked acidity and myriad characteristics of black fruit, licorice, chocolate, earth, smoked meat, tobacco, savory spice, and pepper, it is extremely versatile and can be made into rosé, dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and fortified wines. A dry red Saperavi wine resembles a mix between Blaufrankisch and Syrah.
Usakhelouri translates to “a grape with no name”. A native of western Georgia, this is an extremely low-yielding and rare variety that grows on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The total annual harvest is only a few tons. It is grown in a few small, remote villages and can be made into dry red or naturally semi-sweet wine with a high price tag. The wines made from this variety are aromatic and velvety, with vibrant acidity and light tannins. The flavors are red fruit, purple flower, mint, pepper, and forest floor. The semi-sweet wine made from Usakhelouri is a wonderfully complex wine that somehow reminds us of what Pinot Noir might taste like if it was made into a dessert wine.
Georgia has struck a chord with worldwide fans of natural and organic wines. The method of making wine in buried clay vessels known as qvevri (pronounce “kway-vree”) in Georgia is a UNESCO listed Intangible Heritage of Humanity and is Georgia’s claim to fame.
This grape is native to the Diyarbakir area in southeast Turkey. It prefers to grow in hot, dry climate and high altitude. The name Boğazkere translates to “throat burner”–a possible reference to its strong tannins and medium acidity, which reminds us of Tannat. Boğazkere can be used as a blending grape and can also be made into a varietal wine. In varietal wine, it expresses notes of dark berry, pepper, dark chocolate, clove, eucalyptus, tobacco, and licorice.
Native to and grown exclusively in the famous Cappadocia region of Turkey, this grape thrives in high altitude, volcanic soil, and diurnal temperature (hot during the day and cool at night) variation. Its name translates to “lord/ruler” as the wine made from Emir was once a popular choice at the local lords’ tables. It produces a smooth and crisp white wine with yellow-green hue. The flavor profile includes apple, yellow pear, pineapple, blood orange, kiwi, melon, and a touch of pine. Emir is often compared to Albarino and Pinot Grigio.
This grape is native to the Elazig area in east Turkey. It likes hot, dry summer and cold winter, which match up to the extreme continental climate of the Anatolian Plateau. The name means “ox eye”, which hints at its round and fleshy appearance. Öküzgözü has high acidity and floral aromas. On the palate, it leans towards raspberry, plum, pomegranate, brown spice, and earthy flavors. The high acidity is what stands out the most in this grape. It is often blended with Boğazkere for added structure. On its own, it makes some memorable, fruit-forward wines.
Last Word: Go Find Some
Wines from all three countries are becoming more widely available worldwide. The wines to look out for are definitely the ones made with the indigenous grapes. So, keep your eyes open for these names to experience a taste of this fascinating part of the world.
As humans, our sense of smell is not only closely linked to our sense of taste, but it also directly connects to the parts of our brains that manage both emotion and memory. Smells of all kinds have the power to conjure up vivid imagery and can transport us back in time — to, for example, my grandma’s cellar in the Tennessee mountains that is filled with an almost suffocating, musky, balmy odor. That particular familiar fragrance reminds me of being a young child, but all scents have the power to reactivate even our most long-lost memories.
So, for the sake of strong memories (and to blow your mind), I’d like to introduce you to a few remarkable wines with highly unique aromas. These are wines that are excellent for people who want to strengthen their aromatic repertoire. If you haven’t tasted them yet, try one over the winter (each of these wines will last open for around a month) and it will change the way you think about wine… forever.
On the French side of the border between France and Spain lies Banyuls in Roussillon, an intriguing, mountainous wine-growing zone where head-trained Grenache vines grow on rugged schist soils that look out towards the Mediterranean Sea. The Grenache is used for both dry (Couillère AOP) and semi-sweet fortified wines (Banyuls AOP), of which the latter is a centuries-long tradition in the region. Grapes are picked ripe and partially fermented (to approximately 6% alcohol by volume) at which point, eau de vie (neutral grape spirit) is added, creating a richly textured, naturally grape sweet, fortified wine with approximately 15% ABV. The French call this winemaking method VDN or Vin Doux Naturel (e.g. “naturally sweet wine”).
How it tastes: Great Banyuls Rouge wines offer lifted floral aromas of strawberry, dried cherry, fig, a touch of coffee, and orange peel, as well as subtle aromas of wet schist stones and minty, sage-like herbs (aka “garrigue”). Even though wines may have 50 or so g/L of residual sugar, they taste balanced due to moderately grippy tannins. To make things even more appealing, Banyuls Rouge might just be the most perfectly suited wines for pairing with chocolate. Mais, oui!
Expect to spend: $20–$30 for a great bottle of Banyuls Rouge
The Sherry craze over the past 5 years has inspired a new segment of wine drinkers who appreciate the delicate, pale, somewhat salty wines of Fino and Manzanilla Fina Sherry. This is not the wine we’re talking about. Oloroso Sherry is an entirely different beast.
During the production of Sherry, newly fermented wines either go through a biological aging process or an oxidative aging process. Fino and Manzanilla Fina develop a film of yeast (called “flor”) on the surface of the wine, which protects the wine from oxidation and creates the wine’s delicate flavor and aroma. Oloroso, on the other hand, is made in a way that does not permit the flor to grow, causing the wines to oxidize over a long period of time and creating a very intensely flavored wine.
How it tastes: Oloroso Sherry has a deep mahogany color that results from long-term barrel aging, as well as a rich aroma of walnuts, woodsy herbs, coconut, almonds, hazelnuts, raw cocoa nibs, and burnt orange peel. The wines range in style from semi-sweet to completely dry, and some of the higher rated wines have an added touch of Pedro Ximénez wine (a very sweet wine) which adds subtle complexity and serious body to Oloroso. The drier styles of Oloroso Sherry are perfect when paired with paprika spiced Marcona almonds and aged cheeses (particularly Gouda with its subtly smoky flavors).
If you drive east from the pristine vineyards in Burgundy, France you’ll find yourself in the rolling hills of Jura around the city of Arbois. It’s here where one of France’s more intriguing wines is produced, even if it’s rarely talked about. Vin Jaune or “yellow wine” is made with a living legend grape called Savagnin (“sav-van-yin” that’s Savagnin, not Sauvignon Blanc) which DNA analyses have shown to be a player in many of the world’s most important wines, from Pinot to Cabernet Sauvignon. This white wine is made to be quite acidic (a pH of 3–3.1!) and is aged in tanks for many months. After a year or so of aging, during which time the wines go through Malolactic Fermentation and the acids become softer and creamier, the liquid is transferred to old barrels with a little bit of air space at the top. This open space lets a film of yeast grow on the top layer of the wine (called voile, which is similar to Sherry’s flor) and this is what gives the wine its distinctive taste.
How it tastes: The aromas are highly intense in vin jaune and might not be recommendable for budding enthusiasts because it’s so arresting. Imagine brazil nuts, dried pear, rose pastille candy, fennel seed, and pear skin with grappa-like intensity. The taste is smooth, nutty, creamy, and slightly acidic, all at the same time. For a wine geek, this wine will have you scratching your head and wanting to take another sip in an attempt to understand it. Vin Jaune matches well with pungent, soft, washed rind cheeses and dried fruits which will balance out the intensity of this wine.
Expect to spend: $25–$45 for a great bottle of vin jaune
Last Word: Acquired taste
Από Εγγλέζος, παιδί θαύμα, Βρεττανική Ορχήστρα Νέων, NYJO, μόνιμος κάτοικος Δανίας και στις επάλξεις της τζαζ πλέον με πολλούς τρόπους, ο Gerard Presencer, με το flugelhorn και τις συνθέσεις του, έχει αυτό το κάτι, την
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