The only ambition of these articles is to give some general rules or keys for a better understanding and enjoyment of wine. As Leon Adams said: “Anyone who tries to make you believe he knows everything about wine is obviously a fake”; this almighty beverage has been around for thousand of years, it is so rich and complex that there is always something new and many exceptions or antithesis to these general rules. This is a short summary of some key grapes and their most common characteristics.
So back to our grape world with this time some of the red varieties within the Noble Grapes.
- Pinot Noir: Originally from Bourgogne this is one of the lightest red grapes, yet one of the most complex and most praised. Very delicate to grow, some of the finest examples, beside Bourgogne, are found in Oregon, Sonoma County and New Zealand. When young, strawberry and raspberry flavours are usually it’s signature which will develop to mushroom, liquorice and tobacco with ageing. This is one of the best red wine to drink on it’s own or as a start for new drinkers. Called the most romantic of the reds, the Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon also describes it as “sex in a glass”.
- Merlot: Originally from Bordeaux where it thrives on the right bank and usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Also widely found in Chile where it became one of their signature grapes with the Carménère. Medium body wine, soft and juicy with plum and blackberry flavours.
- Syrah: Shiraz in the New World, makes a full body wine, powerful and spicy with medium tannins. Some of the best examples from the Northern Rhône with flavours of black fruits, pepper and tar, and from Australia (Barossa, Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale) where it’ll be fruitier, spicier with chocolate and coffee notes.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Originally from Bordeaux region, it’s a crossing of the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc made by accident in the 17th century. This powerful grape with strong tannins and high acidity is widely planted around the world as it makes top quality wines. Some of the finest from Bordeaux left bank, Napa Valley, Tuscany (Super Toscan) and Coonawarra. Blackcurrant flavour is its characteristic, with bell pepper and mint in the Old World to black cherry, black olives and eucalyptus with sometimes a jammy character from the New World.
- Since we are in Macao each article will have a selection of Portuguese wines, affordable and easy to source. Here are some different examples of single varietal wines within the indigenous grapes of Portugal.
Aragonêz, also called Tinta Roriz in the North of Portugal or Tempranillo in Spain, is usually a grape with a quite neutral character, often blended and takes great influence of oak ageing. This single varietal from Peceguina winery shows great complexity with aromas of black fruits, tobacco, leather, dark chocolate, undergrowth and liquorice. Good acidity on the palate with flavours of blackcurrant jam, cocoa bean and mushroom; very present yet smooth tannins, long finish on spices and tobacco leaf. Could be paired with Indian chilli chicken, suckling pig or Frango no Churrasco, just to name few.
Originally from North Portugal Touriga Nacional is now widely planted all across the country and has started being planted around the world. This is The Portuguese red grape which has few similarities with Cabernet Sauvignon: Blackcurrant and herbal flavours, high acidity and strong tannins but smoother than his French counterpart. This wine from Julia Kemper shows a very deep ruby colour with aromas of blackcurrant leaf, ripe black cherry and liquorice; full body wine with strong tannins, flavours of green plum, wild cherry and cinnamon; high acidity that gives it some lightness; medium finish on burn rubber. Nice to pair for instance with spicy Thai beef with coconut rice, Feijoada Trasmontana or Trinchado. David Rouault*
Wines available at vinoveritas.com.mo and local supermarkets.
David Rouault is a professional classical musician, part time wine consultant and full time wine lover,
holding WSET Advanced Level, CSW and Introductory Sommelier diplomas. www.dionysos.com.mo