If You Like This,Try That
This has happened to me more than once: A wine pal will tell me they love Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot. So far, so good. When I ask if they like Bordeaux, they either have never had one or, if they did, had no idea the predominant grapes in Bordeaux wines are … Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
In France there are several “proprietal” varieties, as the French were smart enough years ago to make it illegal to call a wine under one of their territory names when it’s made somewhere else.
For example, Champagne, France, produces Champagne in the champenoise method. We can use the same method and the same grapes (predominately Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), but we can only call it sparkling wine.
Burgundy, France, produces world-famous wines from Pinot Noir grapes. Many Francophile vinophiles will much prefer a Burgundy from France (occasionally myself included) to some domestic Pinot Noirs. The only difference is that France has a bit more experience – thousands of years – perfecting their wines.
Bordeaux, France, is known for planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as I stated above, but can also grow Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and other varietals in a lesser degree in the region. If you like these varietals, then you should definitely try a Chilean Carmenere, the Chilean Bordeaux grape, or an Argentinian Malbec.
A town in the region of Burgundy – Chablis, France – makes its wine from the Chardonnay grape. Americans tend to use a bit more oak in the aging process, but even that difference in style has changed over the years.
Sancerre, located in the Loire Valley of France, makes their wine from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. And so it goes.
So what’s the big difference between a wine made stateside and a wine made elsewhere? Some would argue that a Cab from Bordeaux is a caliber above what we produce here, while others argue our own palates are used to what we have here and our wines are the best. Both opinions are right. There are just several factors to take into account when tasting the same variety.
I summed it up on my own blog in this article (evewine101.com/2014/09/05/eves-wine-101-terroir/) on “terroir” – a word that also has many meanings – but for our purposes terroir refers to a wine that is the result of many things working together: age of the vines, weather, soil, location, the winemaker and more.
My advice? Try some wines from other countries that correspond with what you’ve enjoyed stateside, and then try some more!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email [email protected] to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via [email protected].