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German Reds: There’s More to German Wine than Riesling

A high quality German Riesling is a wonderful thing but many people leave their sampling of German wine there. If you haven’t explored what Germany has to offer, then you are really missing out and their reds in particular should not be ignored. Choosing to buy German red wine online gives you the chance to look into what’s available properly and gain a better understanding of the grape varietals and popular reds from the country. Here we’re looking at the main red grapes grown in Germany.

Spätburgunder

Spätburgunder or Pinot Noir is a common worldwide red grape but it is very popular in Germany. Germany is known for having one of the best microclimates for this notoriously difficult to grow grape and Germany is in fact the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir wines, such as our Knipser Kalkmergel.

Since German wine has grown in popularity so has the quality of their Spätburgunder has improved. Some of the German Pinot Noirs now compete against the top names on the market and the process of ageing of many of the German wines, using traditional French oak barrels, they have a velvety and smooth texture. What’s more, German Pinots come with a great price tag.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is probably the best-known German red grape varietal, although it had a less than positive reputation for many years. It is only produced on a relatively small scale in Germany and it is a highly adaptable grape which makes it easy to make all kinds of wine from the driest to the sweetest dessert wines. It has a signature floral note in its flavour which immediately tells you you’re drinking Gewürztraminer.

The grape is produced in low yields in Germany so this does mean all the different diverse flavours it can produce are not always all on display. Usually you’ll find Gewürztraminer used in sweeter German wines.

Dornfelder

Dornfelder is one of the less common dark-skinned red grapes grown in Germany. German red wines are known for their pale and light character so the Dornfelder adds a new dimension. It was created at the grape breeding institute in the Württemberg region in 1955. It is easier to grow than other red grapes in Germany, even easier than Pinot Noir and it has a velvety texture that you would expect from a good red grape and fresh berry flavours, as well as a hint of stone fruit.

German wine is much more than the occasional glass of Riesling and once you begin to explore, you will see there are endless possibilities.

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Five Amazing Argentinian Whites You Have to Try

The flavours of a good Argentinian white wine are versatile and when it’s time to buy Argentinian white wine online, it pays to have a choice to browse. You may already have a favourite but looking through some of the other options on the market may be your chance to find a new favourite. Argentinian wine producers are diverse in their winemaking methods as well as their choice of flavours and grapes, so there is plenty of variety to choose from. Below are just five amazing Argentinian whites you should handle.

Tilia Mendoza Chardonnay, 2013

A good Argentinian Chardonnay offers the authenticity you’d expect from a good Chardonnay with a distinctly Argentinian twist. This Tilia Chardonnay is in a classic straw-yellow shade, with glimmers of soft green. It is rich is bold tropical fruits with peach and pear also coming through. Its floral on the nose and the fruity freshness is layered with sweet and aromatic vanilla, as well as oaky spiciness. This beautiful fresh and slightly acidic Chardonnay is named after the Linden Tree which is common across Argentina and it is made at Bodegas Esmerelda.

El Esteco Cuma Organic Torrontes, 2016

Torrontes is a native Argentinian grape and has a bright and refreshing character, as you’d expect from a good white wine. This particular bottle is organic too. El Esteco Cuma Organic Torrontes 2016 begins with perfume-like floral notes of rose petals and heads into exotic jasmine with zesty citrus fruits coming through. The Torrontes grape varietal is known for its orange and orange blossom flavours and this El Esteco offering perfectly captures the flavours of the grape.

Tarquino Sauvignon Blanc

An Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc with an extremely pale colouring and fresh grassy flavours, this Tarquino Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful example of how fine an Argentinian white can be. Crisp and clean on the finish and fresh and fruity on the nose, this Sauvignon offers that freshly cut grass aroma and ripe grapefruit, citrus freshness and sweet succulent peach on the palate. It is highly acidic, vibrant and bright.

Familia Zuccardi Chardonnay, Q 2014

Familia Zuccardi is one of the better known Argentinian wine producers and this Chardonnay is another fine example of how great Argentinian Chardonnay can be. Straw yellow in colour with the occasional green hue, Familia Zuccardi Chardonnay Q 2014 mixes up orchard and citrus fruits. Pears and white peaches mix with a little citrus freshness. The Chardonnay is aged well and as such has a little welcome spiciness, floral character and even the subtlest notes of buttered toast. Chardonnay Q 2014 has a particularly long aftertaste, which anticipatingly lingers.

Argento Pinot Grigio, 2014

Argento is one of the older Argentinian wine growers in the Mendoza Valley. Founded in 1998 their beautiful wines have been enjoyed around the world. This fresh Argento Pinot Grigio is rich in pineapple freshness and peach flavours. A more aromatic nature is lent to the wine with camomile notes and other floral aromas which lead to a wonderfully fresh and gently fruity wine.

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Argentina’s Pride: A History of Argentinian Red Wine

Argentina is known for many things from the tango to Lionel Messi, but it is also very well known for its Malbec. Argentinian Malbec isn’t the only red wine the country is known for but it is definitely the most famous. Argentina is the world’s fifth largest producer or wine and if you’re looking to buy Argentinian red wine online, there is plenty to choose from. Before choosing that perfect bottle though, let’s take a look at the history of red wine in Argentina.

 

Malbec arrived in Argentina in the 1800s. The governor Mendoza at the time, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento hired the French agronomist Miguel Pouget. Pouget was tasked with the job of bringing grapevine cuttings from France to Argentina. Within these vines was the first ever Malbec vine to be planted in Argentina. Once planted it became hugely popular with wine growers because it adapted brilliantly to the terroir of Mendoza.

 

From around 1885 to around 1920 Malbec spread around the wine growing regions of Argentina and it because the most planed red grape in the whole of the country. Unfortunately, progress slowed when lower quality high yielding wines took over during the 1960s.

 

Many old and potentially fruitful Malbec vines were uprooted and destroyed and it soon fell out of popularity and so few wine producers were growing it. Strangely though, it was a downfall in Argentinian wine in general that saw Malbec reemerge. Wine had always been the drink of choice in Argentina, due to its cheap price and it was drunk at both lunch and dinner almost every day. Wine consumption began to decrease rapidly though, when beer and soft drinks rose in popularity.

 

To keep the Argentinian wine industry alive growers began to realise they’d need to produce wines that could be enjoyed overseas and this meant changing their approach to production. The Malbec varietal began to be improved on and enhanced. The Malbec grown and produced in Argentina slowly but surely improved in quality and it was easily marketed as the grape of Argentina.

 

One of the leading wine pioneers in Argentina is Nicolas Catena Zapata and he paid particular notice to Malbec and its renewed popularity. His independent studies of Malbec and the terroir of the Mendoza Valley allows for high altitude grape growing up in the Uco Valley, and even higher Malbec yields.

 

You only have to look back twenty years or so to see an Argentina which had fallen completely out of love with its most popular grape varietal. Today though, it is back in pole position as the most planed grape and one of the world’s favourite red wines. If you are looking to buy Argentinian red wine online and are not sure where to start, it makes sense to go with Malbec to begin with. There are other reds worth considering too, such as an Argentinian Bonarda or Cabernet Sauvignon.

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How to Choose the Perfect Sake

In Japan, Sake is considered a drink for traditionalists and elder people but across the Western World it is becoming more and more popular. You can pick up a bottle of sake in most supermarkets these days but anybody who is genuinely interested in the flavours and different types of Japan’s national drink will look to buy sake online.

Sake is made from what is known as brewer’s rice, which is different to the rice that it traditionally eaten. It is considered a rice wine and the rice is fermented like in traditional wine making. More than 80% of any bottle of sake bought in any country around the world is water and many of the Sake breweries are intentionally based near quality water supplies, natural spring water streams and other areas where there is a good supply of fresh mineral water. If you are looking to buy Sake for the first time keep the following tips in mind:

1. Check the Grain Polishing Percentage

This sounds a bit strange out of context but the percentage of grain polishing in any bottle of Sake relates to its quality. It relates to how much of the outer layer of the grains of rice have been polished away. The more of the layers that have been polished away, the more expensive the sake and the better the quality too. You will see percentages from the 90s to 40s for grain polishing and the lower the better is always recommended.

2. Understand the Different Varieties of Sake

There are a huge range of different sake varieties but most fall into one of the five following categories:

  • Junmai: pure rice sake. No distilled alcohol is added and it is a rich and full bodied wine which is traditionally served hot or at room temperature
  • Daiginjo: A fragrant and full-bodied sake which is often seen juxtaposed and blended with Junmai as in our Hakurakusei Junmai Daiginjo from the Niizawa Sake Brewing Co.
  • Ginjo: Described as the most fragrant of sakes available, Ginjo sakes have a lighter, fruitier flavour than the alternatives on the market and is popularly served chilled.
  • Honjozo: similar in character to Junmai, the only difference in Honjozo sake is that a little distiller alcohol is added. It acts as a smoothing agent and has a light character and flavour, as seen in Akita Shuri Seizoh Co. Takashimizu Honjozo Sake.

3. Look at the Filtering

Sake is available in both clear and cloudy varieties. However, it is legally required that all sake is filtered. Cloudy sake may say ‘unfiltered’ on the bottle but this simply isn’t the case and if it is a little cloudy or creamy, it simply has added sediments to affect its appearance. This kind of sediment-rich sake is usually labelled ‘Nigori’ and needs to be shaken or mixed before serving.

Many people are now seeing the fantastic flavours and subtle differences between the different sakes on the market. Opting to buy sake online allows you to choose from a range of different styles and invest in a wider selection of varieties.