Chardonnay grape variety is a classic white wine grape grown all around the world. The original fame of Chardonnay comes from it's success in the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France. White Burgundy must be made from the Chardonnay grape unless the label indicates it was made from a much less well-known grape, Aligoté.
Chardonnay takes oak well, and many higher priced Chardonnays are typically fermented and/or aged in oak barrels. When Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels, it may pick up vanilla overtones in its aromas and flavor. Chardonnay Grapes
Chardonnay also ages well in the bottle, though it will not age as long as many red wines. It likes slightly cooler climates (warm days/cool nights) and develops less acidity than Sauvignon Blanc. Some producers put their Chardonnay (or some of it) through malolactic fermentation which reduces crispness and brings out a rich, buttery taste. This usually shortens the life of the wine as far as aging is concerned.
Wines made from the Chardonnay grape are usually served chilled. Chardonnay matches very well with chicken and with dishes that are served with a lot of butter or a cream sauce. Most Chardonnays lack the acid to match as well with seafood as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.
Clarksburg, the source of our Chenin Grapes
Chenin Blanc is a white grape that is commonly grown in the Loire Valley of France (Vouvray), South Africa and California. It makes white wines that are fragrant, high in acid. Chenin Blanc can make wines that range in style from dry to very sweet depending on decisions made by the winemaker. Because of the high acidity in wines made from Chenin Blanc, they tend to age very well. In Saumur, Chenin Blanc is used to make sparkling wines of notable quality.
Chenin Blanc is known elsewhere as Pineau de la Loire. It is the most planted grape in South Africa where its local name is Steen. Chenin Blanc is a high volume producer so the wines it produces tend to be fairly inexpensive.
Sauvignon Blanc grape produces wines of distinction in most of the areas where it is grown. It can tolerate greater heat than many varieties. Sauvignon Blancs
are higher in acid and often exhibit 'melon'
in the nose and tastes.
If grown in too cool a climate, it can develop an herbal ('grassy') character in
its aromas. Sauvignon Blanc produces large crops and is a low cost variety. It
performs well in the Loire River and Bordeaux regions of France. Because it can
get overpowered by the oak flavors, it is not often aged in wood. It can gain
additional complexity and richness with that treatment. In the U.S. it is often
known as Fume Blanc. New Zealand is having notable success with this variety and
produces wines that have very high levels of acidity.
Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with small amounts of Semillion in order to 'round-out' the taste of the wine. Sauvignon Blanc is especially good when served with seafood.
Our estate Sauvignon Blanc vineyard DCV3,
planted in 1972
The Merlot grape is a close cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon in many respects. It is lower in tannins and makes wines that mature faster and are softer in texture. Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in order to soften the blend. At its best, Merlot makes a wine that is dry, rich in flavor and smooth as it finishes in your throat. At its worst, Merlot makes wine that is dry but thin in taste and texture, and not very pleasant to consume. Most of what you will come across are likely to be of pretty good quality.
Merlot is able to mature in regions that are cooler than those required for Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is more susceptible to fungus and mold diseases and therefore a bit harder to grow.
Merlot varies widely in quality around the world depending on location and producer. This variety was first known for its success in the Saint Emilion and Pomerol areas of Bordeaux. Chateau Petrus is the stellar example of fine Merlot.
Merlot usually has ripe berry components in the bouquet. Its wines tend to be soft, fruity and smooth in texture. Select Merlots can have long aging potential but most are ready to consume in 4 to 8 years. Merlot is usually bottled in a Bordeaux (high shouldered) bottle.
Merlot is enjoying a surge in popularity and additional acreage is being planted in many major-producing regions. It came to California in the mid-1860s and has become one of the most popular wines since its surge in popularity in the 1990s.
Merlot should be served slightly below room temperature. When alcohol reaches 74 degrees F., it is likely to cause an unpleasant sharpness in the taste. Cooling the bottle for 15 or 20 minutes (but not much longer) in a refrigerator can be a good way to reach the desired serving temperature.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the premier red wine grape in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape in the Bordeaux region of France and has spread to every other major growing region. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape produces distinctive wines that are tannic and can have long aging potential. Average aging potential for Cabernet is 5 to 10 years in order to achieve peak flavor. It is usually blended with other varieties to make wines with increased complexity.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a small dark thick-skinned grape that gives average yields. It needs slightly warmer growing conditions than many other varieties in order to achieve maturity. DNA testing shows that it is descended from Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Sauvignon Taste characteristics: dark cherry, cedar, tobacco, black
currant, cool climate growth can give green pepper or olive. Up to 18 months of
aging in small oak barrels before bottling Cabernet is common in order to
achieve more complexity
When you think of the finest red wines in the world, you often are thinking of wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is known in some parts of the world by other names including: Petit Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure.
Zinfandel is a grape variety that has been important almost exclusively in California. The Zinfandel grape can make solid red wines with good fruit and structure.
It was a popular variety with home winemakers during the American prohibition era because its thick skins allowed the grapes to ship without damage. It later (late 1970's and early 1980's) became popular for the wines produced from it with forward fruit flavors and spicy overtones. Zinfandel declined in popularity in the mid 1980's and became unprofitable to grow until "White Zinfandel" was introduced.
White Zinfandel is a Zinfandel rose that is left slightly sweet with an acid balance. Recent DNA tests indicate that Zinfandel is actually the same as the Primitivo grape found in Italy.