Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 32, Summer 2005   
Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only?Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 31, June 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 33, September 2005

Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only?


 Among the many letters we receive from our readers, we are frequently asked about our opinion concerning the same subjects and, despite we cannot reply to each of them, in case the subject becomes frequent, the best way to answer everyone is by means of our pages. It is right the frequent subject found in many letter which suggested us to cover it in this issue's editorial. The subject is - in its nature - pretty simple, however the answer which can be given are many and each case must certainly be considered accordingly. Since many months, many readers keep on asking us our opinion about the frequent presence of some grapes in most of red wines. In particular Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, even in case they have nothing to do with the wine history of some places, most of the times radically changing the nature and the tradition of many wines.

 Indeed, by considering the grapes used for the production of many red wines, the recurrent and insistent presence of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty high. The introduction of these grapes has also been done in those areas in which wine was traditionally made with other grapes since ever. Moreover, they were recognized new appellation areas in which these grapes are used alone for the production of mono varietal wines. This latter case - undoubtedly - has nothing to do with the traditions of those places, with the exception - of course - of French areas from which these grapes are from. For example, if we consider Italy - the country for which our readers mainly rise their criticisms - Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are frequently added in variable quantities to the classic - and certainly excellent - typical red grapes of the many regions, such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Nero d'Avola and Montepulciano, as to mention some examples.


 

 Why are these grapes so widely used in the production of red wines as to change the secular traditions of many places and - in many cases - by completely replacing them? If we do not consider traditional reasons - evidently excluded in this case - and by considering the goal of producers is also selling wine, we could consider commercial reasons only. However, if we carefully evaluate this problem, it is clear the solution is not exclusively found in commercial issues only, but also in cultural, fashion and interests matters. Let's consider everything from the beginning by premising something important. It is undeniable Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have both proven their enological value and the quality of their wines in many occasions. Therefore this is not - and it cannot be - a war against these two grapes as every good connoisseur understands their indisputable value. Maybe is it because of these indisputable values they are believed to work miracles in the production of wines, by transforming a mediocre wine into a divine nectar?

 By seeing the frequency with which these grapes are being used in wines, this could also be the case. Let's consider this issue from another point of view instead. Organoleptic qualities of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are so easily recognizable which is pretty hard not to notice them in a wine. Moreover, their organoleptic qualities are also pleasing, easy and immediate to understand. Merlot, with its roundness and its pleasing aromas, is undoubtedly capable of making a harsh wine smoother and more agreeable, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon can give a certain organoleptic importance to many wines. These qualities do not require attention or competence in order to be appreciated, therefore the wines produced with these grapes meet the taste and the favor of a wide number of consumers. Of course, we are just generalizing. We truly understand there are many Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines with a remarkable organoleptic complexity requiring all the attention - and pleasure - of a taster.

 If it is true Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are more acceptable and preferred by consumers, this also explains the commercial reason: these wines are more easily sold. A simple and practical rule of marketing which easily ensures profits: it is being produced what it can be sold. This is a logic - according to the producer's point of view, who undoubtedly makes wine for passion as well - which is unexceptionable. How many examples could be mentioned about wines that, before providential adding of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, were almost unknown and not very considered by consumers and have then experienced a sudden notoriety and appreciation? We are sure every reader who sent a mail about this subject knows at least one name of such a wine. However, the subject is worth of more consideration, which can also be cause of concern and of which we cannot certainly be happy. If it is true the organoleptic qualities of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - pretty typical and evident - are found in many wines, how strong is the danger of making wines all alike? According to our opinion - and maybe the opinion of our readers as well - this “danger” is pretty high.

 Anyway, we cannot complain about this that much, because if these wines meet the favor and the taste of consumers, this means most of wine lovers ask and look for such wines. A wine which is not sold would not be produced anymore, as it has always happened to many wines - even glorious - which have seen the end of their story or have undergone appropriate corrections. If consumers ask for easy and immediate wines, therefore the problem is also cultural, as well as about laziness and scarce interest to explore less obvious wines and with organoleptic qualities requiring higher attention. It is also appropriate to remember that in case a wine is good and well made - despite the grapes used for its production - it should be considered for what it really expresses. However it is undeniable this trend will lead to a sort of homologation in wines - all the same, all alike - a perspective for which it is hard to be happy for, or at least, it does not make us happy. That's why we believe the solution must basically come from wine lovers and consumers. Without denying Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - once again, we fully understand their high and undeniable value - we should be more attentive and open to any wine, by approaching the glass with the complete and humble intention of listening to its history, its character and its personality.

 



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 32, Summer 2005   
Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only?Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 31, June 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 33, September 2005

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

What is the difference between Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo?
Clare Price -- London (England)
Despite Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo are both red, the two wines have no characteristic in common. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is produced in Montepulciano - a city of Tuscany in the province of Siena - with Prugnolo Gentile (a variety of Sangiovese Grosso), Canaiolo Nero, Colorino and Mammolo grapes. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is named after the homonymous grape - Montepulciano - which does not have any connection, neither historical nor genetic, with the grapes used for the production of Nobile. Moreover, the two wines are also different according to an organoleptic and enological point of view, however in both cases can be found wines with high and remarkable quality and value. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - thanks to its moderate acidity - is usually round and tannic, with deep colors and with aromas resembling black skinned fruits. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - which is also available as reserve - generally have a fuller body and aromas recalling violet and wild fruits.



In summertime I usually prefer having slightly sparkling wines served very cool. Can you please suggest me some good matching for these wines?
Jean-Claude Delpeuch -- Paris (France)
During summertime the preference of consumers is mainly about white, slightly sparkling and sparkling wines, even because they can be served at low temperatures and therefore more agreeable. Slightly sparkling wines - besides being consumed as aperitifs - can also be successfully used for the matching of foods. The main qualities of such wines, of course, are effervescence - caused by the presence of carbon dioxide - and acidity, two qualities which can be well matched with fatty and basically sweet foods, such as pasta, rice and grains as well as fish and crustaceans. For this reason, slightly sparkling wines - as well as sparkling wines - are welcome in summertime meals because in this season foods are usually lighter and fresher. A good summertime matching can be made with a slightly sparkling wine served with a rice salad or pasta salad, as well as with boiled fish or crustaceans or cooked with a light sauce.



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 32, Summer 2005   
Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only?Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Only? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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