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Louies Wine Dive

 Louie's Wine Education

At Louie's Wine Dive, we do more than serve great wine, we learn about great wines every day. We do this through conversation – with winemakers, with each other, and most importantly, with our guests. We hope that the articles here will continue the discussion and help demystify the world of wine.

 

Grapes & Regions

Learn about wine grape varieties and the regions around the world where they grow best. 

Wine Terminology

The history of winemaking is also the history of trying to find the words to describe the amazing variety of flavors, aromas, and sensations in every wine glass.

Pairings & Recipes

Wine and food are the perfect combination – they both elevate the other and open up new possibilities for enjoying a good time with friends and family.


 

Kristene King Thrall
 
March 5, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Side by Side: Another Italian blend from Antinori

The Antinori estate in DOC Bolgheri is on the coastline in Tuscany about an hour south of Florence. The sea helps keep the climate mild by mitigating the summer heat and alleviating any harshness of winter. The bright sunny days and tranquil weather paired with alluvial soil are a perfect environment for noble grapes. The Guado al Tasso estate is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Vermentino. The land is diversified with lovely olive trees and sunflowers.

This wine is a sommelier favorite the world over. Il Bruciato is crafted by the same family that created the world famous - and first - Super Tuscan Sassicia, but without the giant price tag. Wine drinkers who enjoy bold Napa Cabs or intense Southern Rhône blends will adore this wine. Enjoy this wine with hearty red meat and game dishes or bold cheeses.

This wine features aromas of ripe red berry fruit and sweet spices, leading to a juicy, creamy and chocolate character. The palate is well-structured, persistent, and very pleasurable in its fruity finish and aftertaste.

Time Posted: Mar 5, 2019 at 3:30 PM
Kristene King Thrall
 
March 4, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Side by Side: Italian blends

The Antinori family has been producing wine for six centuries, since Giovanni di Piero Antinori became a member of the “Arte Fiorentina dei Vinattieri,” the Florentine Winemakers’ Guild in 1385. For twenty-six generations the family-run business has held true to tradition while boldly advancing ideas and process in Italian wine. The Antinoris created some of the world’s first Super Tuscan wine leading to the Goria laws, creating the IGT system in 1992. Today they have expanded from Italy to California and Chile; always looking for new ways to create beautiful wine.

This Villa Antinori Toscana Rosso has been produced since 1928. The first incarnation was a long aging Chianti Classico using mainly the Sangiovese grape. The Antinori family’s dedication to research and forward thinking led to the addition of noble grapes to create a modern, approachable Super Tuscan IGT. This vintage includes Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot blended with the traditional Sangiovese grape, giving this wine structure and texture while still retaining the brightness of Sangiovese.

This intense ruby-red wine has a nose of cherries and plums, well-balanced with spice and vanilla from the oak barrels. Finishes with smooth tannins and lingering fruit.

Time Posted: Mar 4, 2019 at 1:45 PM
Kristene King Thrall
 
March 2, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Side by Side: Malbec in its home

Malbec is known as Black Wine in Cahors, France. This little town on the Lot river is the ancestral home of this famous grape, and in fact, touts the “Capitale du Malbec” title. The wine produced there is traditionally very dark red and sometimes referred to as Cot. Modern producers, such as our selection for the club this month, produce a lighter and less rigid version. These are a welcome contradiction to the old styles and the rich and juicy versions from Argentina. The Marcel, blended with Merlot, will still hold up to a hearty cassoulet, while exhibiting lovely floral notes.

At Château du Cèdre, the Verhaeghe family has radically overhauled their production and estate. They passed the torch to the younger, more conservation-savvy generations and became a biodynamic winery. Their investment in the precious land and updated equipment has resulted in a modern, sunny wine.

With red berry fruit and fine acidity, the 2017 Marcel Malbec is a fresh and tangy wine. Enjoy this wine by itself, or pair with cheese, pizzas, grilled meat, and pasta.

Time Posted: Mar 2, 2019 at 2:30 PM
Kristene King Thrall
 
March 1, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Side by Side: Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina is a large region (roughly the size of Illinois) that grows over 70% of the wine grapes produced from the country. It is arid, thus turning out inky concentrated wine. Clos de los Siete (Vineyard of Seven) is a collaboration of seven investors and winemakers from both Mendoza and Bordeaux. They came together in the “new world” to create wines free from strict European restrictions.

This 2014 Clos de los Siete Malbec blend is both a take on a Bordeaux blend and a modern expression of Malbec from Mendoza. You’ll find the chocolate and spice you have come to love from Mendoza, but a more balanced approach to acid and body. This wine features berries and chocoate notes with good tannin. It finishes peppery, toasty and full-bodied. It’s perfect with the grilled beef Argentina is so well-known for.

 

Time Posted: Mar 1, 2019 at 1:30 PM
Louie's Wine Club
 
October 1, 2018 | Louie's Wine Club

Superstar Varietals - Reds

Some grapes are famous, some are underappreciated but play a big part in the blends you may know and love. Regardless, these red wine grapes are stars.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the red wine of the Burgundy growing region and the Burgundian style has influenced winemakers around the world. It has found a second home in Oregon, particularly the Willamette Valley, and good Pinots can be found from the up-and-coming Washington vineyards and cooler regions of California.  

Origin: Burgundy, France
Notable growing regions: Burgundy, Loire Valley, Champagne, Oregon, California, Italy (Pinot Nero), New Zealand
Preferred Growing Conditions: temperate to cool climates
Body: light to medium
Acidity: medium to light
Pigmentation: Thin
Tannins: low
Style: dry red table wine
 

Characteristics: berries (cherry, cranberry, raspberry), roses, currant, wet earth, tobacco, leather, smoke, barnyard

Basic Food Pairings: Mushrooms, Most meat with the exception of wild game (poultry, oily fish, roasted beef, pork) cheddar, Port Salut, Mexican & Italian food. 

Fun fact - Pinot Noir is a major component of the best Champagnes and makes lovely Rosé wines as well.

 

Merlot

Merlot is a grape that can trick the eye - its deep color hides a smooth, soft wine. Merlot brings texture and fruit flavors to traditional French blends, often partnered with our next grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.  On its own, Merlot is fruit-forward, with grape, berry, and jam coming through and medium tannins.

Origin: Bordeaux, France
Common Growing regions: California, Washington, Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon, Italy, Chile, Australia
Preferred Growing Conditions: widely grown worldwide, but does best in temperate to warm climate
Body: medium to full
Acidity: Low
Pigmentation: Thick
Tannins: moderate to high
Style: Dry red table wines
 

Characteristics: Blueberries, grapes, plums, berry jam, chocolate, cedar, vanilla

Basic Food pairings: lamb, shellfish, salmon, camembert, Mushrooms

Fun fact - Merlot is the one red wine varietal that really can taste like grapes.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape in Bordeaux wines and it's found a second home in Napa Valley. Cabernet boasts some of the highest tannins of any grape, which means it has huge potential for aging. Where Merlot has thinner skins and more juice, Cabernet has small berries with thick skin. It's among the most complex wine grapes.

Origin: Bordeaux, France
Common Growing regions: Bordeaux, Napa, Sonoma, Tuscany ("Super Tuscans"), Chile, Australia
Preferred Growing Conditions: grown widely but best grown in temperate to warm climates
Body: Full
Acidity: low to medium
Pigmentation: thick
Tannins: high
Style: dry red table wine
 

Characteristics: Black currant, plums, mint, bell pepper, cedar, wet dog, vanilla

Basic Food Pairings: roasted meats, butter sauces, cream sauces, wild game, bleu cheese, aged cheddar

Fun fact - Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the wines that helped put California onto the world stage at The Judgment of Paris in 1976.

 

Barbera: Italian red variety that produces wine of medium body with good acidity & tannins.  Very food friendly.  Best examples are from the Piedmont region especially Barbera d’Alba & Barbera d’Asti.

Cabernet Franc: First used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, this grape produces dry red wine with herbaceous green bell pepper flavors.  It is still primarily a blending grape with some of the best examples coming from Chinon & Saumur in the Loire Valley of France.

Carmenere: “The lost grape of Bordeaux” is one of the most important grapes in Chile. Once mistaken for Merlot, this grape produces structured, dry red wine with medium body & very earthy characteristics.

Gamay: The most important grape in Beaujolais produces light, fruit red wines that pair well with charcuterie.  It is also grown in the Loire Valley & used as a minor blending grape in Burgundy.

Grenache or Garnacha: This grape favors the warmer climates of Spain & southern France. It produces wine with higher alcohol content & has jammy strawberry notes. It is the lead player in such famous blends as Châteauneuf-du- Pape & Côtes-du-Rhône, but can make wonderful single varietal wines especially if sourced from old vines.  It is also known for producing world-renowned rosé wines especially from Tavel. 

Malbec: Hailing from Mendoza and Cahors in its own right and appearing in classic blends from Bordeaux and Meritage in the US. This is an inky colored grape exhibits dark, juicy fruit with plush tannins in New World renditions while the Old World styles are a bit more herbal with a firmer tannin structure. A great wine varietal to introduce friends to red wine.

Time Posted: Oct 1, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Louie's Wine Club
 
October 1, 2018 | Louie's Wine Club

Superstar Varietals - White

Some grapes are famous, some are underappreciated but play a big part in the blends you may know and love. Regardless, these white wine grapes are stars.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is the most widely distributed white wine grape in the world. It's extremely adaptable and shows wide variety of flavors to match the wide range of climates and soils where it grows. While many know Chardonnay for oak and buttery flavors, that is the result of style choices made by winemakers, not characteristics of the grape itself.

Origin: Burgundy, France
Notable growing regions: Chablis, Mersault, Côte de Beaune, Champagne, California, Australia
Preferred growing conditions: grown everywhere but is best in temperate to cool climates
Body: medium to full
Acidity: Low to medium depending on style
Aging: Almost always aged in oak
 

Characteristics: Old World tends toward green apples, citrus, nuts, and minerals, while New World often shows pears, apple pie, pineapple, and butter vanilla spice, but the lines are blurring as winemakers experiment with their grapes and terroir.

Basic Food Pairings: smoked salmon, roasted turkey, provolone, spicy Chinese food

Fun fact - Chardonnay was the other wine varietal that helped put California onto the world stage at The Judgment of Paris in 1976.

 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc may be one of the more versatile white varietals out there. A drier white wine with herbaceous and fruity qualities, it is sometimes known as Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, after the wine-growing regions of France, Fumé Blanc when produced in California in a French style, and features in White Bordeaux blends with Sémillon grapes and in the famed dessert wine, Sauternes.

Origin: disputed Bordeaux or Loire Valley 
Notable growing regions: Loire (Sancerre & Pouilly-Fumé), California, New Zealand, Chile
Preferred growing conditions: temperate to cool climates
Body: light to medium
Acidity: medium to high
Aging: can be aged in oak or stainless steel. Most French winemakers prefer no oak aging.
 
 

Characteristics: grapefruit, gooseberries, freshly cut green grass, herbs, tropical fruits (mango, peach, melon)

Basic Food pairings: asparagus, tomatoes, curries, goat cheese, aged cheeses

Fun fact - Sauvignon Blanc means "wild white" which refers to its ability to thrive like a weed. Sauvignon Blanc was crossed with Cabernet grapes in the 1800s to form, you guessed it, Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Riesling

Riesling originated in the Rhine wine region of Germany near the French border. German nobles as far back as 1435 recognized the potential for aging and stockpiled cases in their cellars. Younger Rieslings will have notes ranging from tart lemon to ripened pineapple, with secondary flavors of honeycomb or flower blossoms. Aged Rieslings are said to have hints of petrol among the flavor profiles, and this trait is one of the most sought after among wine collectors and fans of Riesling.

Origin: Rhine, Germany
Notable growing regions: Germany, Alsace, Australia & New Zealand, South Africa, Washington
Preferred growing conditions: cool & cold climates
Body: ranges from very light when made in a dry style to thick & syrupy when made into super ripe dessert wine
Acidity: very very high
Aging: almost always in stainless & should not bear characteristics of oak
 
 

Characteristics: Very effectively translates terroir. Younger Rieslings tend to be floral while aged Rieslings tend to show petrol & honey. Apricot, pineapple, pear, and lemons & limes.

Basic Food Pairings: spicy ethnic foods, Edam, Swiss, and Gouda cheeses, lightly sweetened fruit desserts

Fun fact - The ancestor of modern Riesling was eventually bred into Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc as well.

 

Albariño: White variety from northwest Spain. (Also called Alvarinho in Portugul) Produces light-bodied, fruit-forward dry wine. (Best examples are from Rias Baixas)

Chenin Blanc: This grape originated in the Loire Valley & produces slightly sweet wine with melon, red apple, & tropical fruit notes. The best examples come from Vouvray and Savennières.  The top producers in the world are in South Africa where the grape is often called “Steen”

Gewürztraminer: A very aromatic grape predominantly grown in Germany & the Alsace region of France that is gaining ground in California & Washington states.  This grape is spicy & perfumed with flavors reminiscent of lychee fruit, white pepper & rose petals.

Grüner Veltliner: This is the most important grape of Austria.  It produces light, dry wine with notes of lime zest & white pepper.

Time Posted: Oct 1, 2018 at 8:50 AM

Why Louie's Wine Club?

Learn more with tasting notes from our team of sommeliers.

But don't just take our word for it! Take notes and follow along with our tasting guide to start picking out details of the wines you love. Or come in to chat with our sommeliers at any Louie's Wine Dive restaurant.

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Pick up at your convenience at the Louie's Wine Dive location of your choice. No shipping means we're putting more of your dollars toward what matters: sourcing and purchasing top quality wine.

Broaden your perspective with wines from around the world.

Unlike most wine clubs, our team is not pigeonholed in having to use wine of a select brand or region, but rather is procuring wine focused on your enjoyment and building knowledge.

 

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