Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marc Soucy's Blog continues...

Marc Soucy's Ongoing Wine Mini Series will Continue Soon!

"Ordering Wine in A Restaurant"

"European Wine Regulations"

"Learn Wine Tasting"

"Serious Wine for Beginners"

"Wine Grape Varieties"

new excerpts from Marc's "Stress Free Wine" 

and ongoing wine reviews with tasting notes

as well as individual posts about wine related topics

As always, stay tuned!

I'll be writing again soon.......

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, February 19, 2015

European Wine Regulations : Are They As Rigid As American's Imagine?

European Wine Regulations -- Part 1   

Some American wine drinkers seem to imagine that wine production in Europe is highly controlled in a way that would be unimaginable here. There are certainly more regulations in Europe, but the reality is not very close to what people imagine it is. I have to laugh a little inside when I hear comments along these lines, because to allow one's limited understanding of political realities cloud our opinions about something so enjoyable as wine is to limit our own potential. Life is too short. Shedding a little light on how and why Europeans regulate wine production is in order. I'll try to cover a few topics in this new mini-series. (I promise I won't forget my other miniseries that are already in progress. ;)

The Italian Version of the Two Main Tiers of Wine Characterization:
Note that the old word "Controllata" Has been replaced with "Protetta"
Protected rather than Controlled. Seems more benign, yes?

Let's take a single example to illustrate:  red Bordeaux -- France's #1 wine region by volume

What defines a wine being called "Bordeaux" is a combination of the grapes' zone of production--that is the location of the vines themselves--and the grapes that can be picked from to make the wine. Bordeaux wines are overwhelmingly blends of different grapes. The weather in Bordeaux has led winemakers there to become some of the world's greatest blenders, choosing the grapes according to ripeness and "phenolic maturity" (a fancy term for flavor intensity). These factors are very much affected by the weather throughout the growing season. One season's underripe Cabernet Sauvignon for example, might be compensated for with some exceptionally ripe Merlot that grew nearby. The grapes vary a lot in how they evolve on the vine, and good wine makers know how to make adjustments. The rules they play by?

The Epitome of French Château-ness

For Red Wines:  

Merlot  It's safe to say all Bordeaux reds have Merlot in them. Merlot is far and away the most widely grown grape in Bordeaux. (Keep in mind that Merlot grown in France does not produce the same types of wines as it does in say, California.)

Cabernet Sauvignon  Considered by Americans to be the "important" grape because of its reputation, it is often more of a very effective blending grape for the more dominant Merlot in a great many Bordeaux wines.

Cabernet Franc  This #3 grape plays a big role mainly on the right bank where it enhances their Merlot with unique characteristics. 

Petit Verdot   Fairly often used to add another dimension, though usually in very small percentages.

Malbec   Known today as an Argentinean varietal wine, its origins in Bordeaux have become obscured by history. Nearby Cahors still grows a lot, and it is still tolerated in tiny amounts in the Bordeaux blend, though rarely ever mentioned. 

The Bordeaux regulations?  You can use any amount of any of these five grapes. The grapes must be grown in the wine region that appears on the label. Any picture of a structure used on the label must be a real image of the actual house, castle, or shack that you make your wine in. The word "Chateau" is defined as a place where grapes that you use are grown in adjoining vineyards, the wine is made on the premises, and people actually live there. 

That's pretty much it. 

Regulations regarding Grand Cru status have their own rules, but most are simply based on an existing list of properties that earned this status a long time ago. If your wine is simply labeled "Bordeaux" there is an amazing amount of freedom involved in its production. It's only when you start calling your wine by another more elite name--which would command a better price--that the restrictions become more, well restrictive. And those restrictions are largely matters of where the grapes are grown, and very little else. Yields and alcohol levels are mentioned but are easily met. The entire thing is really about consumer protection and "brand" identification. 

If you see a Pauillac, you should be able to surmise approximately what kind of wine will be in that bottle. Otherwise, why would you spend the extra money on a Pauillac?

The complexity of wine regulation in France is mainly based on the fact that all of the many separate wine regions in France evolved on their own over centuries. So, each region today has its own set of regulations that often bear little resemblance to the other wine regions in France. Learning about all this involves a bewildering amount of memorization, so at first glance the whole system seems incredibly complex. If you think of each wine region as though it was a separate country, you would likely find that the wine regulations are fairly simple and straightforward. 

I hope this discussion has provided a different perspective on this topic than you usually encounter. That is always my goal. Stay tuned for more on this later. 

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Marc's Wine Tasting Notes: 2008 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizione

2008 Marchesi di Barolo  Barolo Tradizione

Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy

   Grapes:  100% Nebbiolo     14.0% ABV

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Showing a garnet color with a ruby hue, aromas of hazelnuts, cocoa, vanilla, and licorice fill the nose. A taste brings additional hints of oak, spice, and tar, with the fruit components remaining center and slightly in the background. Big in structure, the oak tannins have mellowed and play an well integrated role in this very satisfying wine.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Boston Wine Expo Is Upon Us ... Weather and All

This Saturday and Sunday, February 14th & 15th
The Boston Wine Expo 
 at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston

Click This Link For Registration & Ticket Info

Immersing yourself in a wine experience is one of life's great pleasures in my opinion. Sensory exploration, cultural discovery, testing your own preconceptions, and a momentary form of contemplation that can be itself relaxing and a needed break from our taxing world... ...these are all facets of the wine tasting experience that can be therapeutic and also purely enjoyable. The more you discover, the more there is to discover. And it never ends. This is what I find so stimulating about a career in wine, and why I dive into these things with such relish. 

In the midst of relentless snowfall, it's easy to have an occasion like the Boston Wine Expo take a back seat. Well, it's just such an event that can offset that increasingly defeated feeling one might get from all the snow removal and the wave of storms we have been hit with. You will totally forget what's going on outside at least for a while. My wife and I are just getting back from a short trip to the Berkshires (more on that later), and were hit with the waves of snowfall only on our approach back to Boston. Contrary to conventional wisdom, things were actually more pleasant out west this time. 

The Boston Wine Expo is one of the largest events of its type in the country. It can be a great learning experience if you approach it in that way. I very much encourage you to do just that. Remember, the price of admission is an investment in your growth as a wine lover. Keep your radar in full operation (i.e. try not to get drunk), and learn as much as you can. 

See you this weekend.

Marc Soucy   FWS CSW
Wine Consultant, Educator, Blogger

Monday, February 9, 2015

Marc's Wine Tasting Notes: 2010 Nino Negri Sassella Sfursat

2010 Nino Negri  Sassella  Sfursat

Nino Negri, Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG, Lombardy, Italy

  Grapes:  100% Nebbiolo    15.5% ABV

Made using the Appassimento method, where grapes are dried into raisin-ated state before crushing.
Alternatively spelled Sfurzat or Sforzato

Marc's Tasting Notes: 

Garnet with brick hues, the aromas are full and detailed, with candied plums, dried fruit, and touches of cinnamon and cloves making an appearance. The aromas continue on the palate, with hazelnuts and licorice appearing on the back palate, leading to a long and pleasant finish. The use of dried grapes in this wine seems to add more focused detail in the flavor profile, and worth the money for an occasional splurge.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Marc's tasting Notes: 2009 Nino Negri Inferno Valtillina Superiore

2009 Nino Negri Inferno  Valtillina Superiore

Nino Negri, Valtellina DOCG, Lombardy, Italy 

Grapes:  100% Nebbiolo    13.0% ABV

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Deep ruby with garnet around the rim, this wine’s perfume includes dried flowers, prune, and spice mélange. A taste brings a rich and complex panorama of berries, savory notes, herbs, mushroom and wood spice. Very satisfying, this wine showed very well against several of the other Nebbiolo based wines we had at this tasting, showing that even at its reasonably higher price range, it is nonetheless a value.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Boston Wine Expo -- A Wine Tradition of Mine

Saturday and Sunday, February 14th & 15th
Are the dates set for the annual Boston Wine Expo
Held at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston

In our dining room above our 5-foot wine rack there is a poster in a silver frame. It commemorates one of the first wine events my wife and I ever attended: The 1993 Boston Wine Expo. We've tried to attend every year since, and I've only missed two: once because we were in London on vacation, and the other when we had both caught a bad cold. The event provides us with a welcome event at the height of winter, and is a real feast for the wine enthusiast. The expansive space in Boston's World Trade Center is pretty much filled with booths that let you taste hundreds of wines, and dozens of specialty food items. The crowds can get intense--though polite--so be prepared. 

If You Happen to Be Agoraphobic, Perhaps This is Not for You.

I have discovered many new wines and gotten more familiar with entire wine regions and new wine producing countries at the Boston Wine Expo. It is not an exaggeration to say that this event is partly responsible for my having made a major career move like I did. My wife and I will be attending again this year, looking for that new wine experience. We've never been disappointed. 

I'll write a few more thoughts in the coming weeks.

See you there!


Marc Soucy   FWS CSW
Wine Consultant, Educator, Blogger

Monday, January 26, 2015

Marc's Tasting Notes: 2013 Marchesi di Barolo "Maraia" Barbera del Monferrato

A few shorter posts here...Tasting notes only.
2013  Marchesi di Barolo  Barbera del Monferrato

Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo, Monferrato DOC, Piedmont, Italy

   Grapes:  100% Barbera     13.0% ABV

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Dark purple in appearance, the wine gives off scents of blackberries, flowers, earth, and licorice. A taste brings a fruit driven and very pleasantly mouth filling experience, featuring layered cherry fruit, black currants, and notes of vanilla and toasted oak. The char from the toasting of the oak even peaks out on occasion, adding some complexity to what could appear to be a monochromatic wine in some ways. Excellent for the Italian table, especially anything with red sauce, which is of course its reputation. 

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog
google-site-verification: google38f864514b6879d3.html