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cava, champagne, england, sekt, sparkling wine -

Unfortunately, sparkling wine no matter where it’s from is often referred to as “Champagne.” This of course is inaccurate: champagne must come from the Champagne region in north-east France. But what about sparkling wine that isn’t from Champagne? Although they don't always have the defined identity of champagne, these wines can represent great value if you know where to look. the other French stuff Crémant is an overall term for several appellations for French sparkling wine not from Champagne. The standardized term, formally introduced in 1985, was supposed to create a category recognizable to the consumer. However, there are two...

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champagne, meunier -

Champagne has had many grape varieties planted in the region over its long history. Although obscure, some of them are still authorised: check out Aubry's Premier Cru which includes Arbane, Petit Meslier, and Fromonteau (Pinot Gris) in the blend. But after phylloxera and the First World War, plantings in Champagne were consolidated to focus on three varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier. Even so, a lot has changed since the 1920s. Chardonnay has been far more widely planted since the 60s, especially as the Blanc de Blancs style has become more popular. Champagne is generally much drier, with the Extra...

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alsace, cortese, emilia-romagna, sylvaner -

There are so many times a customer has guiltily confessed to me that they buy wine because of the label rather than because of their knowledge and appreciation of the wine itself. To which I reply, me too, and all the time.  There’s plenty of bad wine that’s well-packaged and good wine that’s badly packaged, so don’t read too much into the quality of a label. At the same time, it’s so important for a producer to come up with packaging that stands out on the shelf from hundreds of competitors.  The Australians underlined the importance of a label in the...

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I just can’t help constantly thinking and writing about the Loire Valley. That’s partly because I’ve been tasting so many fantastic wines recently, both classic and esoteric. It’s also because there are so many styles of wine made there: I’ve already posted about Sauvignon Blanc and rosé, but there’s also Chenin Blanc, sweet wine, sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Malbec, not forgetting the high-acid wines of Muscadet. There’s no doubt the Loire would supply a lifetime’s supply of wine for my desert island.  The first time I stayed in the Loire Valley was in 1986, on a family holiday....

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bordeaux blanc, coteaux du giennois, loire valley, quincy, sauvignon blanc -

I have to confess that Sauvignon Blanc is a grape variety I've often been snobbily dismissive of as the aromas can be too obvious and often not that pleasant (after all, cat's pee doesn't sound like a positive adjective...). But recently I've had to rethink, after tasting several dangerously drinkable yet sophisticated wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. So, why the prejudice and why the rethink? prejudice: New Zealand  Sauvignon Blanc most likely originates from the Loire Valley in France, where it's famous in appellations such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé for a lean style noted for gunflint aromas. But it's New...

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