Monthly Archives: January 2013

Grape of the Week: Malbec


We’re almost finished with Bordeaux varieties! We’ll move on in a couple of weeks.

I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Malbec from Argentina?” You’d certainly think so, these days, because Argentina grows more Malbec than anywhere else in the world. But, it probably came over from southwestern France in the mid 19th century. We don’t know how far back it goes in France, but it’s been known in southwestern France, including Bordeaux, since at least the 18th century.

We call it a Bordeaux variety because it’s been a traditional part of their red blends for a few hundred years. As it explodes in Argentina, it’s gradually disappearing in Bordeaux, mainly because of it’s tendency to “shatter” – not pollinate well – there. Here in Napa Valley, it’s still considered a player in putting together a Meritage or Bordeaux-style blend.

The real French home for Malbec, today, is Cahors, in the southwest. This is a very ancient winegrowing region but they’ve never been very good at PR. They’re working hard to turn that around and it won’t be long before you hear more and more about “The Black Wine of Cahors.”

TRIVIA! In Cahors this grape has multiple names: Auxerrois, Cot and – Malbec.

What to expect
It’s so popular, you tell me! You sure get a good bang for you buck, don’t you? It’s a very flavorful grape. The “black” reference is appropriate because it’s thick-skinned, with tons of pigment and a healthy dose of tannin too.

When I think of Malbec I think big aromatics and bigger flavors. And, it’s black and not only in terms of color. The aroma and flavor make me think of black berries, black currant, black plums… Of course, it depends upon where it’s grown. Maybe some licorice or tobacco tossed in there.  Most Argentinian Malbec is made in a “new-world style,” which means generously oaked so you can add vanilla, spice and toasty character to the description. Continue reading


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How Many Calories in a Glass of Wine?

So, of course we’re all suffering through the usual barrage of fitness ads and diet program come-ons that arrive with the new year. We know in our hearts that this is the year we’re going to get serious about exercising, watch what we eat (and drink!) and lose those extra pounds. Yeah, right…

So, how much damage is that luscious glass of wine actually doing? Here goes:

You know, over the last several years, little by little, I’ve put on a few pounds that I can’t seem to shake. My eating habits haven’t changed and, if anything, I get more exercise now than ever. Mom says I’m probably just getting old (Thanks, Mom!).

Anyway, like everyone else, I wouldn’t mind dropping a few pounds. I see 3 very simple options:

#1: Drink less wine (hmphh!)
#2: According to , all I have to do to offset the calories in glass of wine is to take a brisk walk for 15 minutes. Now THAT’S do-able!
#3: Believe my husband when he says he likes the extra curves.

I think I’ll go with door #3. How about you? Happy New Year!!!

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Grape of the Week: Cabernet Franc


Continuing on with Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Franc isn’t the most common grape you’ll find on the shelves, but it’s out there. Perhaps its greatest role is as a fragrant voice in a choir of Bordeaux varieties. 

What to expect
Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon have so many similarities that, before the days of DNA fingerprinting, it was suspected that they must be related. Which turns out to be true.

TRIVIA! Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the proud parents of the king of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon. Isn’t that odd?

However, Cabernet Franc is often described as the feminine version of Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of massive weight, muscle and tannin you’ll find a kinder, gentler expression of black fruit with a lovely, kinda flirty fragrance – a bright bouquet of black currants, violets and fresh herbs.

When the winemaker chooses to include Cab Franc in a Bordeaux-style blend it’s usually to heighten fragrance – “bring up the nose” – and to round out the assertive tannins of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Continue reading

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