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A. Sundials

B. Wild boars

C. Alpine horns

D. Wind chimes

A.

The vineyards of the Mosel are the steepest in Germany and among the steepest in the world. Indeed, the expanse of vineyards from the village of Zelting to the village of Bernkastel along the Mosel River, is considered the longest stretch of near-vertical vineyards anywhere on the globe. Many of the top Mosel producers, including the three renowned Sonnenuhr—Sundial—vineyards are clustered in the middle section known as the Mittelmosel (middle Mosel). They are the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr.

The Mosel vineyards are also among the most northern vineyards in Germany, meaning that the sun is in contact with the vines for limited, precious hours each day. The total number of sunlight hours during the growing season is also modest (the Mosel gets, in a good year, about a third of the sunlight hours that Provence does). If fine wine is to be made, vineyards must be nothing short of perfectly sited, so that each ray of light and warmth is maximized. As a result, the Mosel’s vineyards hug only south-facing slopes. In addition, the best vineyards are quite close to the river itself, for even the reflection of light off the water becomes one more increment in the quest for ripeness.

The huge sundials that give the Sonnenuhr vineyards their names were built as far back as the early 1600s in the sunniest part of three excellent slopes, so that vineyard workers would know when to stop for lunch or for the day. Because the vines in the vicinity of the sundial also got the most sun (and made the richest wine), the areas around the sundials soon came to be considered separate vineyards. Today the Sonnenuhr vineyards are among the best along the Mosel.

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A. Robots

B. Falcons

C. Guard dogs

D. Drones

B.

As part of their sustainable farming practices, many California vintners recruit trained raptors and their handlers (falconers) to scare away the thousands of birds that descend each harvest to eat ripe wine grapes right from the vines. Many bird species enjoy the vineyard smorgasbord. Some will cleanly remove the berries (wild turkeys can consume the equivalent of a full bottle of wine in a single day), but others simply peck at the grapes to get at the pulp and seeds, leaving a damaged cluster that can harbor bacteria and fungal pathogens that can lead to off-flavors and textures.

For centuries, viticulturalists have relied on a cornucopia of creative methods to keep their vineyards from becoming an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Over time, however, birds acclimate to static scare tactics such as loud booming air cannons and balloons painted with giant eyes. Chemical repellants aren’t a good option either since they fail to meet growers’ sustainability standards. And bird netting is expensive and labor-intensive to install each year.

Falconry, on the other hand, minimizes crop losses, while treading lightly on the environment. Falcons are ferocious hunters that can see up to eight times better than a human, spot prey from more than 100 feet in the air, and dive at more than 200 miles an hour. The mere sight of a predator falcon or its shadow triggers smaller birds to flee or find cover. And no bird is complacent when a falcon is flying near them. Raptors leave behind no toxic chemicals, and they cost half as much as netting.

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A. A protracted embargo by Spanish monarchs on Mexican wines

B. A prohibition by Spanish monarchs against planting vines in Mexico

C. The predominance of an ancient fermented agave beverage called pulque

D. A generally infertile landscape unfit for growing grapes without any availability of water for irrigation

B.

Christopher Columbus, as early as his second voyage, brought seeds, cuttings, and animal breeding stock on every voyage to the West Indies and the American continent. The climate of the West Indies proved inhospitable, but vines and olive trees thrived in Mexico’s dry sunny interior. Mexico’s early wine industry started with the grape listán prieto, a red that was native to the Spanish province of Castilla-La Mancha, the political stronghold and home of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (Columbus’ financiers). But subsequent Spanish monarchs were wary of a New World outpost that might threaten or compete with the motherland. Soon, planting both vines and olive trees in Mexico was forbidden. The only wineries that survived the injunction were in the remote northern part of the country where, unmonitored, they continued to prosper. Two of those are still in existence: Bodegas del Marqués de Aguayo founded in 1593, and Casa Madero (originally named San Lorenzo) founded in 1597. The latter is located in the charmingly named Mexican town of Santa Maria de las Parras (“Holy Mary of the Grapevines”), so named for the abundance of wild native grapevines the Spanish found growing there. Beginning in the 1990s and building on the success of already established wineries like Monte Xanic, Santo Tomás, and L.A. Cetto, a group of creative young winemakers quietly began making small lots of delicious wines. Today, Mexico has a growing fine wine industry, and the very top wines are surprising in quality.

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A. Zurich, Switzerland

B. Shiojiri, Japan

C. Mendoza, Argentina

D. Principality of Monaco

B.

Shiojiri, a modest city in central Japan, is famous as the hub of the Kikyogahara Wine Valley in Nagano Prefecture, one of the country’s oldest wine regions. Domestic wine production in Japan, using locally produced grapes, only really began with the adoption of Western culture during the Meiji restoration in the second half of the 19th century. The Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard was originally planted in 1988 as a way to promote the area’s wine culture and specialty grapes. “Trained” into high trellises overhead the third and fourth platforms of the station, the vineyard benefits from reflective floor tiles and exposure to the sky that provide the grapes plenty of sunlight. The merlot and niagara grapevines are tended by local winegrowers, and community members volunteer to help cultivate and prune the vines. The Kikyogahara Wine Valley is home to 10 wineries, with a reputation made on merlot and chardonnay.

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A. Refusing to serve wine to women before 5 pm

B. Putting sprigs of herbs in wines to add a sense of freshness to the flavor

C. Serving wine through “windows” to customers standing outside

D. Using a gallo della fortuna pitcher to pour wine directly into patrons’ mouths from 6 feet above

C.

Known as buchette del vino, the windows were first used in the 17th century, during the plague, as a way for merchants to sell surplus wine without touching the infected. After customers left their payment on a metal pallet, the vendor would disinfect the coins with vinegar. The Associazione Buchette del Vino provides a map of the estimated 150 windows that still exist in Florence (with another 100 or so scattered throughout Tuscany). While the windows were traditionally used to serve wine, modern tastes call for cocktails, espressos, and gelato to be added to the menu. Fascinatingly enough, the gallo della fortuna (rooster of good fortune) wine pitcher is believed to have been commissioned in the 1500s by Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici (1479-1516), a member of one of the most powerful landowning families in Florence during the Renaissance, to celebrate his narrow escape from an assassination attempt. As the mercenaries approached de’ Medici while he lay sleeping, the providential crowing of local roosters roused the nobleman and his guards. In Tuscany since then, the rooster has been a symbol of blessings, prosperity, and well-being, as well as one of the symbols of Chianti Classico.

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A. Fermentation in open-topped tanks

B. Use of native yeasts—all grapes now treated with sulfur before entering winery

C. Hand-sorting grapes prior to crushing

D. Foot-treading grapes prior to fermentation

D.

Treading grapes by foot was standard in the Douro Valley of Portugal for centuries until electricity came to the region (in the 1970s!). After that, standard grape crusher/destemmers were used. However, some grapes in the region are still trodden by human feet—especially grapes intended for vintage Ports. (I have fond memories—and pictures I’ll never reveal—of stomping grapes at Quinta do Vesuvio until 2:00 a.m.) But this treasured tradition requires crews to stand arm-in-arm down the length of lagares (la-GAR-ays), shallow stone or cement troughs (about 2 feet/0.6 meters high), as they march through the slippery mass of newly harvested grapes. As the method is clearly incompatible with social distancing, this year all Port producers must rely on modern equipment instead. Symington Family Estates, owner of Quinta do Vesuvio, has suspended foot-treading at the property for the 2020 harvest – believed to be the first time Vesuvio has done so since the winery opened in 1827. “We very much hope that we will return to foot-treading at Vesuvio as soon as it is safe and responsible,” says Rob Symington. Why cling to a costlier and more labor-intensive method? As it happens, the human foot is ideally suited to crushing grapes. Treading breaks the grapes, crushes the skins, and then mixes the skins with the juice for good flavor and color extraction—all without smashing the seeds, which contain tannin that is especially bitter-tasting. In the shallow lagares, the surface area of skins to juice is high, allowing color and flavor to be extracted extremely quickly. This is desirable because in Portugal, temperatures usually climb over 35°C (95°F) during harvest, precluding the languorous 6 to 12 days of maceration that wines in cooler climates enjoy. Also, since Port is a sweet wine, winemakers must arrest fermentation early in the process before all sugar is converted into alcohol—up to a week before a dry wine will conclude on its own. That leaves Port producers with about 48 hours in which to extract the maximum color and flavor from their grapes, not a week or two.

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A. “Pure Land & Super-High Altitude Vineyard” in Lhasa, Tibet

B. Moya Vineyard in Jujuy, Argentina

C. Mount Sutherland Vineyards in the Western Cape, South Africa

D. Zorah Estate Vineyards on Mount Ararat in Rind, Armenia

A.

At 11,690 feet above sea level (3,563 meters or over 2.2 miles high), the “Pure Land & Super-High Altitude Vineyard” in Cai Na Xiang, Lhasa, Tibet, has been designated by Guinness World Records, as the “world’s highest vineyard.” The roughly 160-acre vineyard, planted in 2012 on the Tibetan Plateau, includes 11 different grape varieties from the well-known muscat, to bei bing hong, an indigenous variety used to make local ice wine. Though no facilities currently exist, owner Rong Shun Biotechnology Development Ltd. hopes to expand the size of the vineyard as well as build a winery and tasting room. Meanwhile, half a world away, winemaker Claudio Zuccino, owner of Ayni winery, farms his vineyard Finca Moya at 10,922 feet (3,329 meters) above sea level, making it the highest vineyard in South America (2nd highest in the world). Ayni’s facility, Cava Mina Moya is, however, the highest altitude wine cellar in the world. Chewing coca leaves to cope with the oxygen shortage is the norm for Zucchino, who had to construct a single-carriage track four miles up the mountain before he even considered planting vines. The vineyards of Armenian winery Zorah, in the foothills of Biblical Mount Ararat, grow at 5250 feet (1600 meters) above sea level, a stone’s throw from the world’s oldest known winemaking facility (the 6100-year old Areni 1 cave). Mount Sutherland Vineyards in South Africa sits at a mere 4,921 feet (1500 meters) above sea level in the Sneeuberg Mountain Range.

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A. The floral aromas winemakers hope to capture in young Sherries known as Manzanillas

B. The bottom layer of barrels (“on the floor”) that holds the oldest wines in the solera aging system

C. Sherries that are sweetened by blending dry styles of Sherry with sweet wines or grape syrup

D. The film of native yeast cells that forms on the surface of an aging Sherry in barrel

D.

While flor does mean “flower” in Spanish, with regard to Sherry, it refers to the thin layer of native yeast cells that are allowed to “bloom” on top of manzanilla and fino Sherries as they age in casks. Flor acts to prevent oxidation and also contributes a unique tanginess to the wine. In the production of most wines around the world, as the contents of barrels slowly evaporate throughout the aging process, barrels are kept topped up with wine in order to minimize the contact the wine has with air and avoid spoilage organisms. Two traditional practices are necessary to support the development of flor. Firstly, barrels are only filled to four-fifths of their capacity. Secondly, the solera principle of blending various ages of wines is essential, as the regular addition of new wine supplements the transfer of nutrients and keeps the flor thriving. In case the flor dies off (either naturally or intentionally), the sherry will have air contact and is then classified as an Amontillado, will undergo an additional fortification, and continue aging in an oxidative way.

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A. Pythagorean Wine Cup

B. Pascal’s Wine Cup

C. Newtonian Wine Cup

D. Archimedean Wine Cup

A.

The idea of this ancient prank is deceptively simple: if you pour a moderate amount of wine in the cup, you can drink without incident. But if you pour above a certain point, the wine will all drain out through the stem before you’ve even had a sip. While it’s difficult to know for sure who the creator of this devious drinking vessel was, most scholars agree it was Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived between 570 and 495 BCE. According to one legend, Pythagoras created the cup to punish his peers who greedily over-filled their cups of wine. Other theories suggest that he wished to remind people to drink in moderation. The design of the Pythagorean Cup features a small column in the middle of the cup’s bowl, directly over the hollow stem of the cup. The column conceals a U-shaped chamber leading from a hole at its base in the cup bowl, to the bottom of the stem. As the cup is being filled, the level of wine in both the bowl and the column rise equally. When the cup is filled beyond the height of the column, a siphon is created, pushing the wine from the cup into the column and out through the hole in the stem, draining the entire cup. Whew!

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A. Names of shades in the new “Colors of the Vineyard” line of lipsticks from French cosmetics giant L’Oréal

B. The original names, in old French, for merlot, cabernet franc and pinot noir respectively

C. The names of apples historically used in Calvados

D. The historic names French barrel makers used for the shades of reddish mahogany color that signaled that the inside of a barrel had been toasted correctly

C.

Unlike its French cousins Cognac and Armagnac, both of which are distilled from grapes, Calvados (CAL-va-dose) is distilled from apples (and sometimes pears). But not just any apples. Approximately 800 or so heirloom varieties of apples grow in Normandy, the French region most famous for this drink. Of these, most producers would grow 20 to 25 different varieties, among them, Douce Moen, Kermerrien, Douce Coet Ligne, Bedan, Binet Rouge, Frequin Rouge, Marie Menard, and Petit Jaune. The apples fall into four flavor categories: sweet, bittersweet, bitter, and acidic. By distilling different kinds of apples in different proportions, the Calvados maker crafts a subtle, complex apple spirit. About 17 pounds of apples are needed to make one bottle of Calvados.

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A. Amarone

B. Ruby Port

C. Madeira

D. Sherry

A.

Big, rich, and grand maybe—but Amarone is not fortified. Amarone or as it’s officially named, Amarone della Valpolicella, is the highly concentrated, powerful, dry red wine of the Veneto region of Italy, made using the regional grape varieties corvina, corvinone, and rondinella (and sometimes others). The grapes are dried before they are fermented according to a traditional and painstaking method known as appassimento. During this process, the grapes are spread on mats in cool lofts where they will lose 40% of their moisture. The grapes dry for up to 120 days. This process raisinates and concentrates them before they are slowly pressed and then ferment for a languorous 35-50 days. Amarones can age 40 years or more, and because they are intense wines, many wine drinkers hold them for about 10 years before drinking.

You can read Karen’s past review of the ALLEGRINI Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2009 here. And watch her #TasteWithKaren virtual tasting with CEO Marilisa Allegrini here.

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A. Madeira

B. Virginia “Claret”

C. Champagne

D. Bordeaux

A.

Drunk by the founding fathers during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Madeira was also what Francis Scott Key sipped as he composed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” George Washington (who reportedly drank a pint every night with dinner), Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all adored it, as did John Adams (who wrote to his wife, Abigail, about the copious amounts they consumed during the Continental Congress). By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly a fourth of all the Madeira produced was being exported to the American colonies. The unbridled American passion for Madeira was certainly a testament to its compelling flavor. But Madeira’s popularity was equally based on something far more mundane: taxes. As of 1665, British governing authorities in the colonies had banned the importation of European goods, unless they were shipped on British ships that had sailed from British ports (and paid British taxes). Merchandise shipped from Madeira was exempted. Merchants in Madeira took full advantage of the loophole, establishing close trading relationships with merchants in Baltimore, Boston, New York, Savannah, Charleston, and Philadelphia.

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A. Is made from a blend of wines from chardonnay, pinot noir, and meunier, unlike vintage Champagne wines which are made from just one of those grapes in an especially good vintage year

B. Is primarily made from chardonnay in good but not great vintages

C. Is a blend of dozens of different wines from the same year but from potentially dozens of different villages (crus)

D. Is a blend of wines from several years and from several different vineyards and villages (crus)

D.

Non-vintage Champagne (designated NV on the wine’s label) is a blend of wines from different years’ harvests and from different vineyards and villages (crus) within the Champagne region. Non-vintage Champagne wines represent the vast majority of Champagne wines produced. (By contrast, vintage Champagne represents a little less than 6% of exports). Non-vintage Champagne wines are valued for their consistency year to year. By blending multiple vintages, each Champagne maker can maintain a “house style” that consumers can depend on. Amazingly, in some cases, the range of vintages in a non-vintage Champagne can span up to 20 years. By law, non-vintage Champagne wines need to age on the yeast lees for at least 15 months, although most are aged longer. The minimum aging for a vintage cuvée is three years on the lees.

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A. 15%

B. 4%

C. 35%

D. 1%

B.

The most renowned winegrowing region in the U.S. is also one of the smallest: Only 4% of California’s wine grape harvest comes from Napa Valley, which in turn accounts for a mere 0.4% of the world’s wine production. (If California were a separate country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine producer.) While the total size of the wine region is 500,000 acres (202,350 hectares), only 46,000 acres (18,600 hectares) are planted with grapevines. Despite its small scale, Napa is home to half of the world’s 12 recognized soil types, producing great diversity among the 35 different grape varieties represented.

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A. Were all in existence in France before the French Revolution

B. Have leaves that end in ten “teeth” along the outer edge of the leaf

C. Are trained to climb up trees so that they rise 30 or more feet in the air

D. Are red grape varieties with red skins and red flesh

D.

Teinturier (TON-ter-ee-AYE), French for “dyed or stained,” varieties are the result of rare natural mutations that produce grapes with red flesh (pulp) as well as red skins. Most red grape varieties have red skins, but white flesh. Among the leading teinturier varieties are alicante bouschet, saperavi, and chambourcin. Alicante bouschet (ah-lee-CAHNT boo-SHAY) is the most well-known, long used to add deeper color to inexpensive wines made from prolific varieties that were paler in shade. Saperavi, the leading variety in the Republic of Georgia, on the other hand, makes mostly single-varietal wines with age-worthy potential. Chambourcin (SHAM-boor-sin), a French-American hybrid popular in Canada, appeared in the early 1960s, bred for its disease and cold-resistant properties. During the 1920s and 1930s, as much as a third of California’s entire wine grape production was teinturiers. During Prohibition, a provision in The Volstead Act, allowed households to make up to 200 gallons of wine a year for personal consumption. Virtually overnight, demand among average Americans for wine grapes exploded, sending California growers scrambling to plant grape varieties hardy enough for the cross-country railroad journeys. It was the red pulped varieties that were known to possess the antioxidant qualities that kept spoilage to a minimum. Following Prohibition’s repeal, the market for these grapes dried up and their vineyards were replanted with European noble varieties.

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A. Louis Pasteur’s assistant and the man who, historians now believe, was the actual discoverer of the role of yeasts in fermentation (not Pasteur)

B. The French official who established that country’s national Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée laws

C. Louis XIV’s most famous sommelier and a man who was legendary for having a palate memory of every wine he’d ever drunk

D. A Medieval crusader whose shelter became the name of a famous wine

D.

Ok, this quiz was a little obscure, but if you love Rhône wines, you probably got it right. Gaspard de Stérimberg was a medieval crusader who, after being wounded in the Albigensian crusade of 1209 against heretics in southern France, was granted, by Queen Blanche de Castille, the right to establish a sanctuary on top of the hill of Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley. A small, ancient stone chapel still marks the spot. It is for this chapel that La Chapelle, the impressive top Hermitage wine of Paul Jaboulet Aîné, is named.

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A. Heitz Cellars “Martha's Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

B. Robert Mondavi Winery “To Kalon Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

C. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Fay Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

D. Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” Cabernet Sauvignon

A.

While in the Army and stationed near Fresno during WW II, Joe Heitz got a part-time job at Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, Sonoma County. After getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of California at Davis after the War, Joe worked under the legendary André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyard. In 1961, he left to start Heitz Cellars. Five years later, in 1966, he made the first famous vineyard-designated Napa Valley wine—Heitz “Martha’s Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville’s “Martha’s Vineyard,” owned by Tom and Martha May. When it was released, the 1966 Heitz Cellars “Martha’s Vineyard” was $7 a bottle—an astronomical price since Heitz’s regular cabernet sauvignon, released just three years earlier, was only $1.99 a bottle.  Tucked against the Mayacamas mountains on the west side of Oakville, Martha’s Vineyard is surrounded by giant eucalyptus trees, often credited as the source of the wine’s distinctive minty aroma and flavor. And the plant material is a unique proprietary selection that produces tiny, thick-skinned berries of great concentration and deep color. For over half a century, Heitz has had the exclusive use of the grapes from Martha’s Vineyard. As for the other options, while Ridge Vineyards released their first “Monte Bello” designated cabernet sauvignon in 1962, beating Heitz by four years, the vineyard is not in Napa Valley, but in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although the To Kalon Vineyard was established in Oakville in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, Crabb did not vineyard-designate his wines (which included Burgundy, Sauterne, Claret, Riesling, Zinfandel and others). Crabb’s original name for the winery was Hermosa Vineyards which he later changed to the To Kalon Wine Company. The winery burned down in 1939. Planted in 1961 by Nathan Fay with cabernet sauvignon, the Fay Vineyard was the first significant planting of cabernet in Napa Valley south of Oakville. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars purchased the vineyard from Nathan Fay in 1986 and began putting the name of the vineyard on the label in 1990.

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A. Savennières, France; it was one of the earliest estates to practice biodynamics

B. Vosne-Romanée, France; it is the smallest vineyard in all of France

C. Priorat, Spain; it was the first Spanish wine to be modeled on the Burgundian concept of an enclosed vineyard (a clos)

D. Maipo Valley, Chile; it was the first grand wine estate and vineyard founded in Chile by immigrants from Bordeaux

A.

Ok, this was a hard one, but every avid wine lover should know about Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, in Savennières, in the Loire Valley of France. Considered one of the greatest white wines in the world, Coulée de Serrant is made on the single estate also called Coulée de Serrant. The prized vineyard (first planted in the year 1130 by Cistercian monks—whose small monastery still stands) is owned by the Joly family, and today consists of vines aged from 35 to 80 years old.  Current winemaker, Nicolas Joly, was among the earliest and remains one of the most ardent practitioners of biodynamics in the world. The vineyard is cultivated partly by hand and partly by horse because of the steep slopes overlooking the Loire, and because the hooves of horses loosen the soil perfectly without compacting it. Though it is just 17 acres (7 hectares) in size, Coulée de Serrant has its own appellation. Only a handful of other appellations in France are made up of a single property, including Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, and Clos de Tart, all in Burgundy, and Château-Grillet in the Rhône.

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A. clone

B. scion

C. hybrid

D. shoot

A.

The noun “clone” refers to plants of the same species that have identical physical characteristics. The DNA of a grapevine is not stagnant, so in Nature, clones emerge and evolve as the result of natural genetic mutations taking place over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A grape variety may have many clones (like pinot noir), or relatively few (like sauvignon blanc). Two different clones of the same grape variety may taste remarkably different. Clone is also a verb. In viticulture, “to clone” means to propagate a group of vines from a “mother” vine that has desirable characteristics. These characteristics may include qualities such as resistance to certain diseases, berry size, and/or flavor attributes.

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A. Nighttime visits from migrating peacocks. The word means mistress.

B. Thick fog. The word means mist.

C. An intense wind. The word means masterful.

D. Heavy rain. The word means cascade.

C.

Each year, the vineyards of both the northern and southern Rhône are subject to a howling, icy northern wind known as Le Mistral. In the Occitan dialect of southern France, the word means “masterful.” Strongest between winter and spring, the wind often reaches speeds of over 40 mph (65 km/h) and has been known to get as high as 115 mph (180.1 km/h). The wind, which can pick up a grown woman a foot off the ground (this is based on personal research), can be destructive, but it can also be beneficial in its ability to quickly cool the vines during periods of intense heat. The winds of Le Mistral have long had an influence on the architecture of the region. Houses traditionally face southeast, with their backs to the wind, and many churches have open iron grill bell towers, which allow Le Mistral to pass through.