2nd BT Ticket Simple Hedonisms Contest by Beth
2nd Barrel Tasting Ticket Give-Away….Simple Hedonisms contest
It’s been fun having people write in with various wine related questions. Love the opportunity to do something a bit different from my normal work day…fun to some share my ideas and do a little research. As an extra bonus, it gives us a chance to give away a few more Barrel Tasting tickets!
Cathy Piggott - Question: I want to show off Sonoma County wines to my out-of-town friends. What is the best varietal to serve with a cheese tray?
Had to answer this question for sure…working for the Wine Road I attend multiple press tours a year and often visit local wineries that offer amazing wine and food pairings. They ALL seem to offer a variety of cheeses with their wines. So here is what I’ve observed and tasted along the way;
Semi soft cheeses or mild brie are perfectly paired with bubbles or chardonnay. If you’re a fan of goat cheese or herbed cheeses, try sauvignon blanc. For red wine fans; cabernet sauvignon or merlot, try pairing with Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, Gruyere or a Mild Parmesan. At my house, we’re fans of syrah and zinfandel so we match them up with stinky cheeses…just have to make sure everyone has some! This is a general starting point – but experimenting is part of the fun. Locally find a Whole Foods, or a small upscale deli and they’ll be more than happy to give you some ideas and share the new cheeses they are trying. Most cheese vendors love to get your feedback when you try their “new discoveries”.
Patti Kruse - If pinot noir is a thin skinned grape, what varietal is known as a thick skinned grape? And, are many of the thick skinned grapes grown in Sonoma County?
Well Patti, checking all of my reference books for grapes with thick skins, these are the five that seem to always appear; Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, Nebbiolo. Tempranillo, and Malbec. All of which are grown in Sonoma County to varying degrees. Because vineyards are a bit of a moving target, with some always being replanted, I have no firm number on the total acres, but here is a ballpark estimate:
Sonoma County Acreage: Cabernet Sauvignon an estimated 12,600 acres.
Sonoma County Acreage: Syrah accounts for 1,820 acres in Sonoma County.
Sorry to say I couldn’t find any numbers for Nebbiolo, Tempranillo or Malbec.
I do know that about a dozen of our member wineries grow these varietals.
For the most part having a thick skin makes them a bit more resilient to various growing conditions but they all perform best in slightly dry and warm climates with soils that allow for good drainage and requires the grape to struggle a bit to become concentrated. The thick skin results in higher tannin concentration.
Here are the bacis grape descriptions for each from taken from:
It has small, blue-black berries which have thick skins, providing necessary tannin, colour and flavour.
This thick-skinned grape may produce potentially tannic and long-lived wines. It is also late-ripening, explaining why it has gravitated towards warm regions such as the Rhône and Australia, although it is also producing good wines in South Africa, Chile and California.
It would seem ideally suited to planting in warmer climes, as this thick-skinned variety is late ripening. Indeed, the name Nebbiolo may be derived from nebbia, a fog which hangs over the vineyards during the Autumn harvest.
By far Spain’s most noble indigenous grape it has similar characteristics to the Pinot – strawberries when young, earthy vegetal when mature – and it ages very well. It ripens early (‘temprana’ is the Spanish for ‘early’) is thick-skinned and gives good colour and extract but low alcohol and acidity. It is grown throughout Spain but very much as a grape for blending as opposed to a straight varietal. Outside Spain the grape is quite prolific in Argentina and to a lesser extent in California.
A small, dark, thick-skinned grape, it gives intense colour, big tannins and lots of structure to the wines and is generally blended with a little Merlot for subtlety. Has become very popular in Argentina where it adapts well to the hot climate.