TOUR OF EUROPE'S WINE REGIONS
Wine expert Joe Wadsack talks Pinot Noir Epiphanies
and how to pair hors d'oeuvres with your favourite tipple
(reproduced courtesy of Discover the Origin - www.discovertheorigin.co.uk)
abroad is when many people take the opportunity to try new
gourmet food - sampling a gorgeous new drop of red or a new
type of cured ham, so it's no wonder if you haven't taken
a trip this year you may be feeling like you are missing out
on the experience.
Whether you stayed at home or travelled to Europe and have
the post holiday blues, worry not as some of the very best
quality produce is available in the UK and readily at your
In this video, wine expert Joe Wadsack gives you tips on
making the most out of Port (and not just for Christmas),
the wines of the Burgundy region in France and the Douro Valley
in Portugal. He'll also give advice to ensure you're trying
true top-quality European foods that have the PDO official
stamp. Watch Joe's video to find out how to have your own
"Pinot Noir Epiphany" and the best way to serve
and eat hors d'oeuvres like Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano
burgundy, think terroir.
The terroir in Burgundy, is the basis of the Appellation
In Burgundy, terroir is a broad concept which includes both
natural and human factors. It was wine growers, who discovered,
identified and then developed the terroirs. Centuries of hard
work was necessary for this concept, whose origin goes back
to the early Middle Ages, to be passed down to us, and to
be officially recognised and described in the middle of the
last century with the creation of the I.N.A.O. (Institut National
des Appellations d'Origine) and Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
There is not one word in English that is equivalent to "terroir".
However it can be best translated as comprising of soil and
local topography and with the macroclimate can have a great
effect on the mesoclimate and vine microclimate. The terroir
is above all the sub-soil and soil from which the vine draws
its nutrients and which create a secret alchemy of colours,
aromas and flavours.
If the nature of the soil is the key element of the terroir,
many other natural factors have an influence on the quality,
typicity and expression of a wine: the exposure to the sun
of the plot of land, its altitude, the depth and drainage
of the soil, the climatic conditions of the year and the microclimate.
The main grape varieities in Burgundy:
Over 90% of the red wines in the Burgundy region are made
using the Pinot Noir grape, which requires a particular
climate - not too warm and not too cold. Pinot Noir is one
of the world's greatest grape varieties and produces wines
that are pale in colour, with softer tannins.
Pinot Noir is a fragile grape and likes neither extremes
of heat or cold. The unique conditions in Burgundy produce
Pinot Noirs relatively low in alcohol, certainly by new
world standards (13 degrees rather than 14.5 is ideal here).
The best growers are looking for purity of flavour, complexity
and length rather than rich, up front mouthfuls of fruit.
The Pinot Noir loves well-drained marl and limestone soils
on which, depending on the proportion of limestone and the
situation of the plot, it will produce a light, elegant
red or a powerful, vigorous wine.
Chardonnay originated in the region and most of the delicious
white wines from Burgundy are made using this grape variety.
The diversity of the "terroirs" in Burgundy is
expressed through the grapes and the wines vary from light
and crisp to rich and full-bodied so there is a white Burgundy
wine for every occasion and to suit all tastes.
The Chardonnay prefers marly-limestone soils that are quite
clayey, where it develops all its elegance and smooth flavours.
It is the proportion of clay in the soil which determines
the more or less aromatic, full style of the great dry white
wines of Burgundy.
The Gamay grape is quite a heavy-cropping plant. The grape
bunches more or less tightly packed according to variety.
The variety which concerns us here is the white-juiced
black Gamay which, when planted in the Mâconnais on
'Burgundy style' soils, produces attractive and aromatic
red wines under such a label as Mâcon Rouge.
A small amount of Gamay can be found the in the Côte
d'Or. The wines produced here, on the clay-limestone soils,
differ from the Mâconnais and are less refined.
The red wines of the Mâconnais and Beaujolais owe
their reputation to this grape variety.
The Aligoté is a medium-fine plant, which has a long
history in Burgundy and can be found almost anywhere in
soils, which though good for vines, suit neither the Pinot
Noir nor the Chardonnay. The wine made from it goes under
the official name Bourgogne Aligoté. It can also
provide one of the ingredients for sparkling Crémant
Yields are limited depending on the classification i.e.
permitted yields of Grand Cru are lower than Premier Cru.
Generally lower yields produce more concentrated wines.
This is also the case for Pinot Noir.
Grand Cru wines make up 2% of the production at 35 hectolitres/hectare
while Premier Cru wines consist of 12% of the productions
at 45 hectolitres/hectare. Village wines equate to 50 hectolitres/hectare
at 36% of the yield and AOC Bourgogne makes up the rest
at 55 hectolitres/hectare.
In Burgundy, the density of plantings is high, up to 12,000
vines per hectare. Most vines are trained low along wires
to the Guyot system.
Harvesting is mostly done by hand. This is especially important
for the delicate Pinot Noir grape.
Treatment of grapes - The best Domaines will only use the
grapes that they feel are in perfect condition. Bunches
will be left in the vineyards and then sorted again on a
sorting table at the cuverie. In a difficult year a Domaine
can easily discard 25% of their crop in this way to ensure
they produce the best wine possible. Once in the cuverie
the wines are allowed to soak on their skins at cold temperatures
(maceration) allowing the gentle extraction of colour and
aroma. During fermentation, the skins and juice are also
pumped down (it's called the 'pigeage') or pumped over (juice
from the bottom of the cuve is pumped back over the skins
that have risen to the top of the cuve). This maximises
the contact between the juice and skins.
The degree to which the 'pigeage' is done depends on the
grower. Too much extraction, however, causes the wine to
become overly dark, tannic and bitter and whilst the finishing
wine might look impressive in the glass it will probably
dry out as it ages and not be representative of Burgundy
red wines, which should be about subtlety and delicacy.
After the grapes are pressed and left to settle, they are
then clarified. Fermentation takes place in either vat or
oak cask. Depending on the style of the wine required, malolactic
fermentation is either encouraged or suppressed. Maturation
in vats or oak casks and the length of time spent depends
on the style required.
The wines are generally aged in oak barrels called "Pièces"
in Burgundy, which are 228 litres in size. Some of these
barrels will be new, some will have been used in the previous
vintage or even in several previous vintages. The percentage
of new oak tends to increase with the quality of juice.
A Grand Cru is richer in fruit than a Village and can therefore
handle more new oak. Some growers favour 100% new oak for
their Grands Crus, others are happier with 40%.
Good Burgundy is known to age well in bottle. Premier Cru
is usually aged for five to ten years in bottle and for
Grand Cru, it is about ten years but most can be kept for
much longer. Wines are usually filtered before bottling.
This contributes to their stability and adds clarity. Bottling
has to be carefully timed. If the wine stays too long in
the vats it becomes tired and "dried out" and
loses its aroma.
Bottling of white wines tends to be between July and December
of the year following the vintage. Bottling of reds wines
tends to be a little later, between 12 and 18 months after
All these factors, plus the work in the vineyards throughout
the year and the care and attention in the cellar, mean that
each vineyard has its own characteristics and each wine within
each vineyard can have its own individual taste and aromas.
Burgundy then offers endless scope for finding the perfect
wine for any occasion - and for anyone, no matter how extensive
their wine knowledge.
DOURO VALLEY WINE
Valley wines, made from the same grapes as Port, have experienced
a renaissance in recent years, with modern equipment and techniques
enhancing the quality.
In 1982 they received their own Denominacão de Origem
Controlada (DOC) - Denomination of Origin - classification,
over 200 years after Port. The combination of these factors
has lead to dynamism in wine production and Douro Valley wines
are now exported all over the world, often being referred
to as the jewel in Portugal's crown.
Port and DOC Douro Valley wines are made only with native
grape varieties. The main ones are:
Only accounts for a small amount of the region's vine stock
but is growing rapidly. The grape had virtually become extinct
by the 1970s but was thankfully brought back by producers
who worked vigorously on clones of it as well as the grape
variety itself. A difficult grape to manage but it can produce
the darkest and most concentrated of wines: deep, dense
and with cast-iron backbone.
This grape is planted at higher altitudes or on cooler north-facing
slopes in the Cima Corgo. It is the first to ripen but is
susceptible to extreme heat. This grape produces supple,
well-structured wines, which frequently have a distinctive
rustic, earthy character.
This grape is even more challenging to grow than Touriga
Nacional, with small bunches and small yields. It ripens
late but needs to be picked at just the right time to achieve
the delicate balance of alcohol and acidity. This grape
has the capacity to produce long-lasting, complex wines.
The one "international" variety as it's also known
as Tempranillo in Spain. It produces wines that combine
tight, firm fruit with finesse and length.
The most widely planted variety. It flourishes on warmer
south-facing slopes and gives consistent yields. This grape
brings structure, up-front fruit, elegance and floral overtones.
The young reds for immediate drinking have cherry and raspberry
aromas, and the cellar reds start with notes of black fruit
and chocolate, but age to great delicacy and complexity
for 20 years or more.
This variety is the second most widely planted grape in
the Douro Valley. It is difficult to cultivate but the results
can be impressive. Elegant wines with hints of nutmeg and
(Portuguese for cat's tail), matures slowly and is able
to stand up to extreme heat. Its aroma is of medium intensity
and sweet, reminding us of Orange flowers with some vegetable
notes, equilibrium and fresh, with a fruity taste. In the
mouth, it has vivacity and some persistency. It offers White
Port and Douro Valley wines freshness and high levels of
This is a low-yield variety and produces some very high
quality wines. Good intensity, reminding camomile and plums,
fruity and complex. Medium acidity with a pleasant aroma
Food and wine matching
The fresh, fruity white wines with floral aromas are an
excellent aperitif, and can be paired very successfully
with seafood and grilled fresh fish, for which Portugal
is justly famous. The white wines that have been aged in
oak are ideal with roast fish or chicken. Young reds compliment
fowl, mild salted fish such as bacalhau or pasta particularly
well. The more full bodied cellar reds are perfect with
game and other strong flavoured meat dishes.
above information is reproduced courtesy of Discover the
Origin. Discover the Origin is a campaign promoted by the
European Union, Italy, France and Portugal and achieved
by the office representative of five key European products:
Burgundy wines, Port and Douro Valley wines, Parma Ham and
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The aim of all of them is to
enhance knowledge of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)
among consumers, distributors and food professionals and
to educate on the benefits of the provenance indicator schemes,
the relevant checks, controls and traceability systems that
are put in place to ensure ongoing quality, and to differentiate
the products and raise their profiles.
For more information visit www.discovertheorigin.co.uk
27 October 2009
Hub-UK : email@example.com