Wine

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Posted by sonny 02/28/2009 @ 05:04

Tags : wine, food and wine, leisure

News headlines
Wine Shipper Halts Orders, Jarring Industry - Wall Street Journal
By DAVID KESMODEL New Vine Logistics, a Napa, Calif., provider of wine-shipping services for major winemakers, has suspended operations amid financial problems, potentially putting some consumers' wine orders in limbo. The eight-year-old company...
Not So Cold ... Doctor's Order - New York Times
But I must call attention to an almost reflex practice among many American wine drinkers that troubles me in the extreme. A blog on the pleasure, culture and business of wine, beer and spirits. It's the habit of chilling white wine far too long and...
Sales of imported rosé wines leap 42 percent - Bizjournals.com
US retail sales of imported rosé wines leapt 42 percent in the 52 week period ending April 4, compared with a less-than-5-percent increases in total sales of table wines during the same period, according to Nielsen Co. data cited by the Provence Wine...
Washington wines comparable at better-than-California prices - Seattle Times
(Youngs-Columbia distributes) A MARKETING-SURVEY company has released some telling statistics about wine drinkers. According to the Pointer Media Network, 7.5 million wine drinkers purchase 80 percent of the wine sold in this country....
Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Invests in New Technology - SYS-CON Media (press release)
By Business Wire The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance announces the launch of its new Web site www.pasowine.com. The upgraded marketing tool provides a virtual experience featuring compelling images enticing users to visit and learn more about Paso...
A presidential Pinot? - San Francisco Chronicle
But even better news came with what reportedly filled their wine glasses. Word comes from Wine Country that at least one of them was served Pinot Noir from Hirsch Vineyards on the remote Sonoma Coast. As I've written, Hirsch is one of the most...
Top 7 Drinking (Beer/Wine/Alcohol) Movies - Scorecard Review
By Jeff Bayer • June 2, 2009 In honor of The Hangover (Due out June 6) many of you will get this weekend, The Scorecard Review presents the Top 7 Drinking (Beer/Wine/Alcohol) Movies. 2. The movie makes you want to reach for a drink....
Water, weather, sun meet at Traverse City to grow wine, cherries - Akron Beacon Journal
Very simply, we relaxed and sampled wines at Chateau Chantal, a place that calls itself an Old World inn along one of Michigan's wine trails. It is a warm and charming place with superior wines that are among the best in Michigan and are comparable to...
On the job: Edward W. Stacy, Wine consultant - Worcester Telegram
Wine consultant Edward Stacy in front of a machine that allows the public to sample wines in 1-ounce doses. (T&G Staff / JIM COLLINS) “I consult with consumers recommending wines for them. I do special orders for wines we don't carry but could get for...
What wine goes with what cheese? - TheReporter.com
The Solano County Library Foundation is sponsoring a wine and cheese pairings and tasting with Janet Fletcher, cookbook author and San Francisco Chronicle food writer, from 4 to 7 pm June 7 at the Carriage House on the grounds of the Frank H. Buck...

Loire Valley (wine)

The Loire River near the town of Champtoceaux in the Anjou wine region.

The Loire Valley wine region includes the French wine regions situated along the Loire River from the Muscadet region near the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to the region of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. In between are the regions of Anjou, Saumur, Bourgueil, Chinon, and Vouvray. The Loire Valley itself follows the river through the Loire province to the river's origins in the Cévennes but the majority of the wine production takes place in the regions noted above. The area includes 87 appellations under the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieure (VDQS) and Vin de pays systems. While the majority of production is white wine from the Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Melon de Bourgogne grapes, there are red wines made (especially around the Chinon region) from Cabernet franc. In addition to still wines, rosé, sparkling and dessert wines are also produced. With Crémant production throughout the Loire, it is the second largest sparkling wine producer in France after Champagne. Among these different wine styles, Loire wines tend to exhibit characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors-especially in their youth. The Loire Valley has a long history of winemaking dating back to the 1st century. In the High Middle Ages, the wines of the Loire Valley were the most esteemed wines in England and France, even more prized than those from Bordeaux.

Archaeological evidence suggest that the Romans planted the first vineyards in the Loire Valley during their settlement of Gaul in the 1st century AD. By the 5th century, the flourishing viticulture of the area was noted in a publication by the poet Sidonius Apollinaris. In his work the History of the Franks, Bishop Gregory of Tours wrote of the frequent plundering by the Bretons of the area's wine stocks. By the 11th century the wines of Sancerre had a reputation across Europe for their high quality. In the High Middle Ages, the wines of the Loire Valley were the most esteemed wines in England and France, even more prized than those from Bordeaux.

The Loire river has a significant effect on the mesoclimate of the region, adding the necessary extra few degrees of temperature that allows grapes to grow when the areas to the north and south of the Loire Valley have shown to be unfavorable to viticulture. In addition to finding vineyards along the Loire, several of the river's tributaries are also well planted-including the Allier, Cher, Indre, Loir, Sèvre Nantaise and Vienne Rivers. The area has a continental climate that is influenced heavily by the Loire River and the Atlantic ocean at the western edge of the region. The climate can be very cool with spring time frost being a potential hazard for the vines. During the harvest months rain can cause the grapes to be harvested under ripe but can also aid in the development of Botrytis cinerea for the region's dessert wines.

With over 185,000 acres (750 km2) planted under vine, the Loire Valley is about two-thirds the size of the Bordeaux wine region. Due to its location and marginal climate, the overall quality of a vintage has a dramatic effect on the quality of the region's wines-more so than with other French wine regions. The most common hazard is that the cool climate will prevent the grapes from ripening fully and developing the sugars needed to balance the naturally high acidity of the grapes. During these cool vintages the Sauvignon blanc based wines are lighter in color, less fruity and have more pronounced mineral notes. The Cabernet franc based wines are also lighter in color with more vegetal or "weed"-like aromas. In riper vintages, a Loire Cabernet franc will develop aromas of raspberries and lead pencil shavings.

The Loire Valley has a high density of vine plantings with an average of 1,600-2,000 vines per acre (4,000-5,000 per hectare). Some Sancerre vineyards have as many as 10,000 plants per hectare. With more vines competing for the same limited resources in the soil, the density is designed to compensate for the excessive yields that some of the grape varieties, like Chenin blanc, are prone to have. In recent times, pruning and canopy management have started to limit yields more effectively.

Winemaking in the Loire is characterized by a general avoidance of barrel aging and malolactic fermentation. However some winemakers have begun experimenting with both. Chaptalization is permitted here and can help wine makers compensate for the under ripeness of the grapes in some years. For red wines there has been more emphasis on extending the maceration time of skin contact in order to bring out more color and tannins into the wine. Temperature control is also an important consideration with the cold autumn weather sometimes requiring that the must to be heated in order to complete fermentation fully.

The Loire Valley is often divided into three sections. The Upper Loire includes the Sauvignon blanc dominated areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Middle Loire is dominated by more Chenin blanc and Cabernet franc wines found in the regions around Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray. The Lower Loire that leads to the mouth of the river's entrance to the Atlantic goes through the Muscadet region which is dominated by wines of the Melon de Bourgogne grape. Spread out across the Loire Valley are 87 appellation under the AOC, VDQS and Vin de Pays systems. There are two generic designation that can be used across the whole of the Loire Valley. The Crémant de Loire which refers to any sparkling wine made according to the traditional method of Champagne. The Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France refers to any varietally labeled wine, such as Chardonnay, that is produced in the region outside of an AOC designation.

Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir are the principle grapes of this region that is centered around the appellation of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The two towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire (where Pouilly-Fumé is made) sit on opposite sides of the Loire river with Sancerre being about 10 miles (16 km) to the northwest of Pouilly. The Fumé is said to come from the silex flint interspersed with the limestone in the area that can give a smoky gunflint note to the wine. Another possibility for the name is the early morning fog created by the Loire river that can blanket the vineyards. Wines labeled with just Pouilly are often made from the Chasselas grape.

The region was under the influence of the Duchy of Burgundy for most of its history which partly the reason why plantings were once heavily dominated by the Pinot noir grape. The Phylloxera epidemic of the 19th century altered that dynamic when many of the Pinot noir vineyards were wiped out by the louse. In their place, plantings of the easier to cultivate Sauvignon blanc vine began to increase. While there are still isolated batches of Pinot noir in the region, Sauvignon blanc is now the most heavily planted.

The Anjou region of the Middle Loire is situated around the town of Angers and is known primarily for the rosé wines based on the Cabernet franc grape-including the Rosé d'Anjou and the Cabernet d'Anjou. White wine made from the Chenin blanc is known as Anjou Blanc while Anjou Rouge is often made from Gamay. Some of the higher quality wines are often labeled with the AOC designation Anjou-Villages. The Chenin blanc grape has been planted in the region since at least 845 AD when it was planted at the Abbey of Glanfeuil. Throughout the years it was known in the region under a variety of synonyms including Pineau de la Loire and Franc-blanc.

The area around Saumur is the third largest sparkling wine appellation in France after the Champagne region and the Crémant d'Alsace AOC with more than 12 million bottles of Saumur Mousseux produced each year. Unlike Champagne which is made with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, Saumur sparkling wine is based on the Chenin blanc grape. The area around Saumur-Champigny produces red wine based on the Cabernet franc grape that is similar in profile to the wines produced in St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.

The region around Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire and Touraine has some of the most diverse plantings of all the Loire region and makes a wide variety of white, red and rosé wines. For white wines the main grape is Chenin blanc but Sauvignon blanc and (to a smaller extent) Chardonnay is also planted. For red wines the main grape is Cabernet franc with some smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Malbec. The rosé wines are made from an assortment of Gamay, Pineau d'aunis, Pinot gris and Pinot noir. The villages of Vouvray and Montlouis are the largest appellations in the region and make only white wines from Chenin blanc. The wines can vary in sweetness from bone dry (often appearing as sec on the wine label) to very sweet moelleux wines that are often infected by noble rot.

For years the Touraine region would compete with the Beaujolais region for the release of an early bottling of Gamay that would rival the Beaujolais nouveau. While the competition is not so much of a focal point now, there are still some producers who release early bottlings of the wine around the same time as Beaujolais. The soil around the Touraine area is a variety of limestone with excellent drainage that is known as tuffeau which is the same material used to build many of the famous Loire Valley Châteaux.

The area around Chinon, Bourgueil and St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil produces the majority of the Loire Valley's red wine based on the Cabernet franc grape-known in this areas as Breton. The wines of the Chinon area are the softest and rich expression of the grape while the Bourgueil area produces more tannic and firm wines. The St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil area produces the lightest colored wines. In the 19th century, the wines of the Chinon area were compared favorably by critics to the wines of Château Margaux and even today is considered some of the best expression of the Cabernet franc grape. The wines from this region can achieve a nice purple color with notes of raspberry fruit and graphite. Unlike Cabernet franc from warmer climates, Chinon are typically served slightly cooler than most red wine.

The wines of the Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine and Muscadet-Côtes de Grand Lieu appellation are often bottled sur lie straight from the tank that they are fermented in without any racking or filtering. This create wines that can be very cloudy and require decanting to remove sediments but also produces wines that can be fuller bodied and show extra dimensions of freshness.

The white wines of the Coteaux du Layon, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Savennières, and Vouvray are based on Chenin blanc and are known for their high acidity when young and ability to develop and age well. The villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire are known for their crisp and herbaceous Sauvignon blancs. Some producers in the area are experimenting with oak aging their Sauvignon blanc to give them more rounder and softer appeal. The villages of Bourgueil, Chinon and Saumur are known for their Cabernet franc based wines that range from light and fruity in Saumur to rich and velvety in Chinon. The Muscadet wines from the Pays de la Loire are made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape and are known for their citrus and mineral notes.

In addition to the main production grapes, several local grapes are also used to make wine in smaller quantities. These include the Tressallier grape of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, the Romorantin of Cheverny, the Pineau menu and Groslot of Touraine and the Gros Plant of Nantes. There is also some plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Malbec, Pineau d'aunis, and Pinot gris, Pinot noir.

A characteristic of many Loire wines (both red and white) is the high acidity which highlights the fresh, crisp flavors of their youth only to go through a "dumb phase" between 2 to 5 years of age when the wines flavors are drastically toned down. Many of the better made examples come out of this period with their full palate of flavors and can continue to age well into 20 years. Some of the Sauvignon blanc based wines like Sancerre buck this trend and instead stay more low key till their third year when they mature and develop their full assortment of flavors before they eventually fade around their 7-10th year. However the best made examples in top vintages can often live much longer. Some classic examples of Vouvray can even reach the levels of longevity commonly associated with Port.

Historically the wineries of the Loire Valley have been small, family owned operations that do a lot of estate bottling. The mid 1990s saw an increase in the number of négociant and co-operative to where now about half of Sancerre and almost 80% of Muscadet is bottled by a négociant or co-op.

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Madeira wine

Madeira's location made it an ideal stopping location for voyages to the New World and East Indies.

Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. The wine is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert. Cheaper versions are often flavored with salt and pepper for use in cooking. The islands of Madeira have a long winemaking history dating back to the Age of Exploration when Madeira was a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirits were added. On the long sea voyages, the wines would be exposed to excessive heat and movement which transformed the flavor of the wine as the wine producers of Madeira found out when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip. Today, Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine up to temperatures as high as 140°F (60°C) for an extended period of time and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation. Due to this unique process, Madeira is a very robust wine that can be quite long lived even after being opened.

The roots of Madeira's wine industry dates back to the Age of Exploration when Madeira was a regular port of call for ships travelling to the New World and East Indies. By the 16th centuries, records indicate that a well established wine industry on the island was able to supply these ships with wine for the long voyages across the sea. The earliest examples of Madeira, like Port, were unfortified and had the habit of spoiling at sea. Following the example of Port, a small amount of distilled alcohol made from cane sugar was added to stabilize the wine by boosting the alcohol content. (The modern process of fortification using brandy did not become wide spread till the 18th century). The Dutch East India Company became a regular customer, picking up large (112 gal/423 l) casks of wine known as pipes for their voyages to India. The intense heat and constant movement of the ships had a transforming effect on the wine, as discovered by Madeira producers when one shipment was returned to the island after a long trip. It was found that the customer preferred the taste of this style of wine and Madeira labeled as vinho da roda (wines that have made a round trip) became very popular. Madeira producers found that aging the wine on long sea voyages was very costly and began to develop methods on the island to produce the same aged and heated style. They began storing the wines on trestles at the winery or in special rooms known as estufas where the heat of island sun would age the wine.

The 18th century was the "golden age" for Madeira with the wine's popularity extending from the American colonies and Brazil in the New World to Great Britain, Russia and Northern Africa. The American colonies, in particular, were enthusiastic customers consuming as much as a quarter of all wine produced on the island each year. The mid 19th century ushered an end to the industry's prosperity, first with the 1851 discovery of powdery mildew that severely reduce production over the next three years. Just as the industry was recovering through the use of the sulfur-based Bordeaux mixture, the phylloxera epidemic that had plagued France and other European wine regions reached the island. By the end of the 19th century, most of the island's vineyards had been uprooted and many were converted to sugar cane production. The majority of the vineyards that did replant choose to use American vine varieties like Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia and Vitis rupestris or hybrid grape varieties rather than replant with the Vitis vinifera varieties that were previously grown. By the turn of the 20th century, sales started to slowly return to normal until the industry was rocked again by the Russian Revolution and American Prohibition which closed off two of Madeira's biggest markets.

The rest of the 20th century saw a downturn for Madeira, both in sales and reputation, as low quality "cooking wine" became primarily associated with the island - much as it had for Marsala. But towards the end of the century, some producers started a renewed focus on quality - ripping out the hybrid and American vines and replanting with the "noble grape" varieties of Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia. The "workhorse" varieties of Tinta Negra Mole and Complexa are still present and in high use but hybrid grapes were officially banned from wine production in 1979. Today, Madeira's primary markets are in the Benelux countries, France and Germany with emerging markets growing in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Madeira was an important wine in the history of the United States of America. No wine quality grapes could be grown among the thirteen colonies so imports were needed with a great focus on Madeira. One of the major events on the road to revolution in which Madeira played a key role was the British seizure of John Hancock’s sloop the Liberty on May 9, 1768. Hancock's boat was seized after he had unloaded a cargo of 25 pipes (3,150 gallons) of Madeira and a dispute over import duties arose. The seizure of the Liberty caused riots to erupt among the people of Boston.

Madeira was also a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, and it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are also said to have appreciated the qualities of Madeira. John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, of the great quantities of Madeira he consumed while a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress. Chief Justice John Marshall was also known to appreciate Madeira, as were his cohorts on the U.S. Supreme Court at the time. A bottle of Madeira was also used by visiting Captain James Server to christen the USS Constitution in 1797.

The island of Madeira has an oceanic climate with some tropical influences. With high rainfall and average mean temperature of 66°F (19°C), the threats of fungal grape diseases and botrytis rot are constant viticultural hazards. To combat these threats, Madeira vineyards are often planted low trellises known as latada that raise the canopy of the vine off the ground similar to a style used in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. The terrain of the mountainous volcanic island is difficult to cultivate with vineyards planted on man-made terraces of red and basaltic bedrock. These terraces, known as poios are very similar to the terraces of the Douro that make Port wine production possible. The use of mechanical harvesting and vineyard equipment is near impossible making wine grape growing a costly endeavor on the island. Many vineyards have in the past been ripped up for commercial tourist developments or replanted with such products as bananas for commercial concerns. There is some replanting taking place on the island; however, the tourist trade is generally seen as a more lucrative business than wine-making.

There are four major types of Madeira, named according to the grape variety used. Ranging from the sweetest to the driest style they are: Malvasia (also known as Malmsey or Malvazia), Bual (or Boal), Verdelho, and Sercial. Occasionally one sees Terrantez, Bastardo and Moscatel varieties, although these are now increasingly rare on the island due to oidium and phylloxera. After the phylloxera epidemic, many wines were "mislabeled" as containing one of these noble grape varieties, which were reinterpreted as "wine styles" rather than true varietal names. Since the epidemic, Tinta Negra Mole and Complexa is the workhorse variety on the island and is found in various concentrations in many blends and vintage wines. Of these, Bastardo and Tinta Negra Mole are red grape varieties, the rest are all white.

Regulations enacted recently by the European Union have applied the rule that 85% of the grapes in the wine must be of the variety on the label. Thus, wines from before the late 19th century (pre-phlloxera) and after the late 20th century conform to this rule. Other "varietally-labelled" madeiras, from most of the 20th Century, do not. Modern madeiras which do not carry a varietal label are generally made from Tinta Negra Mole.

Other varieties planted on the island, though not legally permitted for Madeira production, include Arnsburger, Cabernet Sauvignon and the American hybrids Cunningham and Jacquet.

The initial winemaking steps of Madeira start out like most other wines with the grapes being harvested, crushed, pressed and then fermented in either stainless steel or oak cask. The grape varieties destined for sweeter wines, Bual and Malvasia, are often fermented on their skins to leech more phenols from the grapes to balance the sweetness of the wine. The more dry wines made from Sercial, Verdelho and Tinta Negra Mole are separated from their skins prior to fermentation. Depending on the level of sweetness desired, fermentation of the wine is halted at some point by the addition of neutral grape spirits. Produces of cheaper Madeira will usually ferment the wine completely dry, regardless of grape variety, and then fortify the wine so as not to lose any alcohol due to evaporation during the estufagem aging (see below). The wines are then artificially sweeten and colored.

What makes Madeira wine production unique is the estufagem aging process meant to duplicate the effect of a long sea voyage of the aging barrels through tropical climates. There are three main methods of used to heat age the wine, used according to the quality and cost of the finished wine. The most common, used for low cost Madeira, is bulk aging in low stainless steel or concrete tanks surrounded by either heat coils or piping that allows hot water to circulate around the container. The wine is heated to temperatures as high as 130°F (55°C) for a minimum of 90 days as regulated by law. The second method involves storing the wine in large wooden cask in a specially designed room outfitted with steam producing tanks or pipes that heat the room, creating a type of sauna. This process more gently exposes the wine to heat and can last from six months to over a year. The highest quality Madeiras are aged without the use of any artificial heat, being stored by the winery in warm rooms left to age by the heat of the sun. In cases like vintage Madeira, this heating process can last for at least 20 years.

Much of the characteristic flavor of Madeira is due to this practice, which hastens the mellowing of the wine and also tends to check secondary fermentation in as much as it is, in effect, a mild kind of pasteurization. Furthermore, the wine is deliberately exposed to air, causing it to oxidize. The resulting wine has a color similar to a tawny port. Colourings such as caramel have been used in the past as a colouring to give some consistency (see also whiskey), although this practice is decreasing. Wine tasters sometimes describe an oxidized wine as being maderized.

Since 1993, Madeira that is produced from Tinta Negra Mole are legally restricted to use generic terms on the label to indicate the level of sweetness as seco (dry), meio seco (medium dry), meio doce (medium sweet) and doce (sweet). The terms pale, dark, full and rich can also be included to describe the wine's color. A wine labeled as Finest, means that it has been aged for at least 3 years. This style is usually reserved for cooking. Wines made from at least 85% of the noble varieties of Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey are usually labeled based on the amount of time that they were aged. Wines with Solera listed were made in a style similar to Sherry with fractional blending of wines from different vintages in a solera system.

A style called "Rainwater" rarely produced today and, when it is, is usually shipped only to the United States. This style of wine is mild and similar to Verdelho, but can be expected to be made from Tinta Negra Mole, and is primarily used as an aperitif. There are conflicting accounts of how this style was developed. The most common is that the name derives from the vineyards on the steep hillsides, where irrigation was difficult, and the vines were dependent on the local rain water for survival. Another theory involves a shipment destined for the American colonies that was accidentally diluted by rain water while it sat on the docks. Rather than dump the wines, the merchants tried to pass it off as a "new style" of Madeira and were surprised at its popularity among the Americans.

Exposure to extreme temperature and oxygen accounts for its stability; an opened bottle of Madeira will survive unharmed for a considerable time, up to a year. Properly sealed in bottles, Madeira is one of the longest lasting wines; Madeiras have been known to survive over 150 years in excellent condition. It is not uncommon to see Madeiras pushing the century mark for sale at stores that specialize in rare wine.

Before the advent of artificial refrigeration, Madeira wine was particularly prized in areas where it was impractical to construct wine cellars (such as those in parts of the southern United States) because unlike many other fine wines it could survive being stored over hot summers without significant damage.

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Australian wine

Zones used for labelling the source of Australian wine

The Australian wine industry is the fourth-largest exporter in the world, exporting over 400 million litres a year to a large international export market that includes "old world" wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming over 400 million litres of wine per year. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.

Vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope were brought to the penal colony of New South Wales by Governor Phillip on the First Fleet (1788). An attempt at wine making from these first vines failed, but with perseverance, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines for winemaking, and Australian made wine was available for sale domestically by the 1820s. In 1822 Gregory Blaxland became the first person to export Australian wine, and was the first winemaker to win an overseas award. In 1830 vineyards were established in the Hunter Valley. In 1833 James Busby returned from France and Spain with a serious selection of grape varieties including most classic French grapes and a good selection of grapes for fortified wine production. Wine from the Adelaide Hills was sent to Queen Victoria in 1844, but there is no evidence that she placed an order as a result. The production and quality of Australian wine was much improved by the arrival of free settlers from various parts of Europe, who used their skills and knowledge to establish some of Australia's premier wine regions. For example, emigrants from Prussia in the mid 1850s were important in establishing South Australia's Barossa Valley as a winemaking region.

Early Australian winemakers faced many difficulties, particularly due to the unfamiliar Australian climate. However they eventually achieved considerable success. "At the 1873 Vienna Exhibition the French judges, tasting blind, praised some wines from Victoria, but withdrew in protest when the provenance of the wine was revealed, on the grounds that wines of that quality must clearly be French." Australian wines continued to win high honours in French competitions. A Victorian Syrah (also called Shiraz) competing in the 1878 Paris Exhibition was likened to Château Margaux and "its taste completed its trinity of perfection." One Australian wine won a gold medal "first class" at the 1882 Bordeaux International Exhibition and another won a gold medal "against the world" at the 1889 Paris International Exhibition. That was all before the destructive effects on the industry of the phylloxera epidemic.

In the decades following the devastation caused by phylloxera until the late 1970s, Australian wine production consisted largely, but not exclusively, of sweet and fortified wines. Since then, Australia has rapidly become a world leader in both the quantity and quality of wines it produces. For example, Australian wine exports to the US rose from 578,000 cases in 1990 to 20,000,000 cases in 2004 and in 2000 it exported more wine than France to the UK for the first time in history.

The industry has also suffered hard times in the last 20 years. In the late 1980s, governments sponsored growers to pull out their vines to overcome a glut of winegrapes. Low grape prices in 2005 and 2006 have led to calls for another sponsored vine pull. Cleanskin wines were introduced into Australia during the late 1990's as a means to combat oversupply and poor sales.

In recent years organic and biodynamic wines have been increasing in popularity, following a worldwide trend. In 2004 Australia hosted the First International Biodynamic Wine Forum which brought together biodynamic wine producers from around the globe. Despite the overproduction of grapes many organic and biodynamic growers have enjoyed continuing demand thanks to the premium prices winemakers can charge for their organic and biodynamic products, particularly in the European market.

Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.

Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine "Shiraz".

About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called "alternative varieties" other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced.

Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated in canopy management and other viticultural techniques and in wine-making, and they have a general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in Europe. Australian wine-makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the northern hemisphere during the off-season at home." They are an important resource in the globalisation of wine and wine critic Matt Kramer notes that "the most powerful influence in wine today" comes from Australia (Kramer).

Australia's most famous wine is Penfolds Grange. The great 1955 vintage was submitted to competitions beginning in 1962 and over the years has won more than 50 gold medals. The vintage of 1971 won first prize in Syrah/Shiraz at the Wine Olympics in Paris. The 1990 vintage was named 'Red Wine of the Year' by the Wine Spectator magazine in 1995, which later rated the 1998 vintage 99 points out of a possible 100. Wine critic Hugh Johnson has called Grange the only First Growth of the Southern Hemisphere. The influential wine critic Robert Parker, who is well known for his love of Bordeaux wines, has written that Grange "has replaced Bordeaux's Pétrus as the worlds most exotic and concentrated wine".

Other red wines to garner international attention include Henschke Hill of Grace, Clarendon Hills Astralis, D'Arenberg Dead Arm, Torbreck Run Rig and other high-end Penfolds wines such as St Henri shiraz.

Australia has almost 2000 wine producers, most of whom are small winery operations. However, the market is dominated by a small number of major wine companies. After several phases of consolidation, the largest Australian wine company by sales of branded wine was Foster's Group in 2001-2003 and then in 2004 and 2005, Hardy Wine Company. Hardys, part of the world's biggest wine company Constellation Brands, had the largest vineyard area and the largest winegrape intake in the years 2001 - 2005. A list of the major wine companies in Australia and their associated wineries can be found below.

The South Australian wine industry is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine.

In recent years, the Tasmanian wine industry has emerged as a producer of high quality wines. In particular, the Tamar Valley has developed a reputation for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are well suited to the cooler Tasmanian climate.

Queensland is also developing a wine industry with over 100 vineyards registered in the state. Some notable wines are produced in the high-altitude Granite Belt region in the state's extreme south, production is centred on the towns of Stanthorpe and Ballandean.

The Australian Wine export market was worth 2.8 billion dollars a year in June 2007, and was growing at 9%pa. Of this about 2 billion dollars is accounted for by North America and the UK, and in this key latter market, Australia is now the largest supplier of still wines.

2007 statistics for the North American market show that Australian wine accounted for a 17% share of the total value of U.S. imported wine, behind France with 31% and Italy with 28%.

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Chilean wine

Pedro Lira's 1889 painting of the founding of Santiago by conquistadors. As the Spanish conquered the land they brought grapevines with them.

Chilean wine is wine made in the South American country of Chile. The region has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region. In the mid-18th century, French wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were introduced. In the early 1980s, a renaissance began with the introduction of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for aging. Wine exports grew very quickly as quality wine production increased.

The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines to the United States. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère. So far Chile has remained free of phylloxera louse which means that the country's grapevines do not need to be grafted.

European Vitis vinifera vines were brought to Chile by Spanish conquistadors and missionaries in the 16th century around 1554. Local legend states that the conquistador Francisco de Aguirre himself planted the first vines. The vines most likely came from established Spanish vineyards planted in Peru which included the "common black grape", as it was known, that Hernán Cortés brought to Mexico in 1520. This grape variety would become the ancestor of the widely planted Pais grape that would be the most widely planted Chilean grape till the 21st century. Jesuit priests cultivated these early vineyards, using the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. By the late 16th century, the early Chilean historian Alonso de Ovalle described widespread plantings of "the common black grape", Muscatel, Torontel, Albilho and Mollar.

During the Spanish rule, vineyards were restricted in production with the stipulation that the Chilean should purchase the bulk of their wines directly from Spain itself. In 1641, wine imports from Chile and the Viceroyalty of Peru into Spain were banned, severely damaging the wine industry in the colony. The market loss caused the huge surplus of grapes to be made into pisco and aguardiente. The concentration solely on pisco production, nearly eliminated wine production in Peru. For the most part the Chileans ignored these restrictions, preferring their domestic production to the oxidized and vinegary wines that didn't fare well during the long voyages from Spain. They were even so bold as to start exporting some of their wines to neighboring Peru with one such export shipment being captured at sea by the English privateer Francis Drake. When Spain heard of the event rather than being outraged at Drake, an indictment was sent back to Chile with the order to uproot most of their vineyards. This order, too, was mostly ignored.

In the 18th century, Chile was known mostly for its sweet wines made from the Pais and Muscatel grapes. To achieve a high level of sweetness the wines were often boiled which concentrated the grape must. Following his shipwreck off the coast at Cape Horn, Admiral John Byron (Grandfather of the poet Lord Byron) traveled across Chile and came back to England with a glowing review of Chilean Muscatel comparing it favorably to Madeira. The 19th century wine writer André Julien was not as impressed, comparing Chilean wines to a "potion of rhubarb and senna".

Despite being politically linked to Spain, Chile's wine history has been most profoundly influenced by French, particularly Bordeaux, winemaking. Prior to the phylloxera epidemic, wealthy Chilean landowners were influenced by their visits to France and began importing French vines to plant. Don Silvestre Ochagavia Echazareta6 was the first, importing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Malbec, Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon in 1851. In 1870 Don Maximo Errazuriz founded the first winery dedicated to international varieties. He hired a French oenologist to oversee his vineyard planting and to produce wine in the Bordeaux style. Errázuriz saw potential in Chile and even experimented with the German wine grape Riesling. In events that parallel those of the Rioja wine region, the entrance of phylloxera into the French wine world turned into a positive event for the Chilean wine industry. With vineyards in ruin, many French winemakers traveled to South America, bringing their experience and techniques with them.

Political instability in the 20th century, coupled with bureaucratic regulations and high taxes tempered the growth of the Chilean wine industry. Prior to the 1980s, the vast majority of Chilean wine was considered low quality and mostly consumed domestically. As awareness of Chile's favorable growing conditions for viticulture increased so did foreign investment in Chilean wineries. This period saw many technical advances in winemaking as Chile earned a reputation for reasonably priced premium quality wines. Chile began to export extensively, becoming the third leading exporter, after France and Italy, into the United States by the turn of the 21st century. It has since dropped to fourth in the US, being surpassed by Australia, but focus has switched to developing exports in the world's other major wine markets like the United Kingdom and Japan.

Chile is a long, narrow country that is geographically and climatically dominated by the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile's vineyards are found along an 800 mile stretch of land from Atacama Region to the Bio-Bio Region in the south. The climate is varied with the northern regions being very hot and dry compared to the cooler, wetter regions in the south. In the Valle Central around Santiago, the climate is dry with an average of 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain and little risk of springtime frost. The close proximately to the Dry Andes help create a wide diurnal temperature variation between day and nighttime temperatures. This cool drop in temperature is vital in maintaining the grapes' acidity levels.

Most of Chile's premium wine regions are dependent on irrigation to sustain vineyards, getting the necessary water from melting snow caps in the Andes. In the developing wine regions along the Coastal Ranges and in the far south, there is not a lack in needed rainfall but vineyard owners have to deal with other factors such as the Humboldt Current from the Pacific which can bathe a vineyard with a blanket of cool air. For the rest of Chile's wine regions, the Coastal Ranges serve a buffer from the current and also acts as a rain shadow. The vineyards in these regions are planted on the valley plains of the Andes foothills along a major river such as the Maipo, Rapel and Maule Rivers.

The vineyards of Chile fall between the latitudes of 32 and 38° s which, in the Northern Hemisphere would be the equivalent of southern Spain and North Africa. However the climate in Chile's wine regions is much more temperate than those regions, comparing more closely to California and Bordeaux. Overall, it is classified as a Mediterranean climate with average summer temperatures of 59-64 °F (15-18 °C) and potential highs of 86 °F (30 °C).

Chile's natural boundaries (Pacific Ocean, Andes Mountain, Atacama Desert to the north and Antarctica to the south) has left it relatively isolated from other parts of the world and has served to be beneficial in keeping the phylloxera louse at bay. Because of this many Chilean vineyards do not have to graft their rootstock and incur that added cost of planting. Chilean wineries have stated that this "purity" of their vines is a positive element that can be tasted in the wine but most wine experts agree that the most apparent benefit is the financial aspect. The one wine region that is the exception to this freedom from grafting is Casablanca whose vines are susceptible to attack by nematodes. While phylloxera is not a problem, winemakers do have to worry about other grape diseases and hazards such as downy mildew, which was spread easily by El Niño influences and severely affected the 1997-1998 vintages. Powdery mildew and verticillium wilt can also cause trouble.

There is not much vintage variation due to the reliability of favorable weather with little risk of spring time frost or harvest time rains. The main exception, again, is Casablanca due in part to its closer proximately to the Pacific. For the Chilean wine regions in the Valle Central, the Andes and Coastal Ranges create a rain shadow affect which traps the warm arid air in the region. At night, cool air comes into the area from the Andes which dramatically drops the temperature. This help maintain high levels of acidity to go with the ripe fruit that grapes develop with the long hours of uninterrupted sunshine that they get during the day. The result is a unique profile of flavonoids in the wine which some Chilean wineries claim make Chilean wines higher in resveratrol and antioxidants. Harvest typically begins at the end of February for varieties like Chardonnay with some red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon being picked in April and Carmenère sometimes staying on the vine into May.

The Andes also provide a ready source of irrigation which was historically done in flood plain style. Chilean vineyard owners would dig canals throughout their vineyards and then flood the entire surface area with water allowing some to seep into the ground and the run off to be funnel away through the canals. This encouraged excessive irrigation and high yields which had a negative effect on quality. During the wine renaissance of the 1980s & 1990s more vineyards converted to drip irrigation system which allowed greater control and helped reduce yields. The soil composition of Chile's vineyards varies from the clay dominated landscapes of Colchagua, which is thus heavily planted with the clay-loving Merlot, to the mixture of loam, limestone and sand found in other regions. In the southern Rapel and parts of Maule, tuffeau soil is present with volcanic soil being found in parts of Curico and Bio-Bio.

Chile has benefited from an influx of foreign investment and winemaking talent that begin in the late 20th century. Flying winemakers introduced new technology and styles that helped Chilean wineries produce more international recognized wine styles. One such improvement was the use of oak. Historically Chilean winemakers had aged their wines in barrels made from rauli beechwood which imparted to the wine a unique taste that many international tasters found unpleasant. Gradually the wineries began to convert to French and American oak or stainless steel tanks for aging.

Financial investment manifested in the form of European and American winemakers opening up their own wineries or collaborating with existing Chilean wineries to produce new brands. These include...

Chile's wine laws are more similar to the US appellation system than to France's Appellation d'origine contrôlée that most of Europe has based their wine laws on. Chile's system went into effect in 1995 and established the boundaries of the countries wine regions and established regulations for wine labels. There are no restrictions of grape varieties, viticultural practices or winemaking techniques. Wines are required to have at least 75% of a grape variety if its to listed on the label as well as at least 75% from the designated vintage year. To list a particular wine region, 75% is also the minimum requirement of grapes that need to be from that region. Similar to the United States, the term Reserve has no legal definition or meaning.

Over twenty grape varieties are grown in Chile, mainly a mixture of Spanish and French varieties, but many wineries are increasing experimentation in higher numbers. For most of Chile's history, Pais was the most widely planted grape only recently getting passed by Cabernet Sauvignon. Other red wine varieties include Merlot, Carménère, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet franc, Pinot noir, Syrah, Sangiovese, Barbera, Malbec, and Carignan. White wine varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Sauvignon vert, Sémillon, Riesling, Viognier, Torontel, Pedro Ximénez, Gewürztraminer and Muscat of Alexandria.

Chilean winemakers have been developing a distinct style for their Cabernet Sauvignon, producing an easy drinking wine with soft tannins and flavors of mint, black currant, olives and smoke. The country's Chardonnays are less distinctive, following more the stereotypical New World style. While sparkling wines have been made since 1879, they have not yet established a significant place in Chile's wine portfolio.

In the late 20th century as Chilean wines became more popular, wine tasters around the world began to doubt the authenticity of wines labeled Merlot and Sauvignon blanc. The wines lack many of the characteristics and typicity of those grapes. Ampelographers began to study the vines and found that what was considered Merlot was actually the ancient Bordeaux wine grape Carménère that was thought to be extinct. The Sauvignon blanc vines were found to actually be Sauvignonasse, also known as Sauvignon vert, or a mutated Sauvignon blanc/Sémillon cross. In response to these discoveries several Chilean wineries began to import true Merlot and Sauvignon blanc cuttings to where most bottle of wines labeled Merlot and Sauvignon blanc from vintages in the 21st century are very likely to truly be those varieties.

In some international competitions, Chilean wines have ranked very highly. For example, in the Berlin Wine Tasting of 2004, 36 European experts blind tasted wines from two vintages each of eight top wines from France, Italy and Chile. The first and second place wines were two Cabernet-based reds from Chile: Viñedo Chadwick 2000 and Sena 2001. The Berlin Wine Tasting of 2005 held in Brazil featured five Chilean wines in the top seven. In the Tokyo Wine Tasting of 2006, Chilean wines won four of the top five rankings.

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Source : Wikipedia