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The Ten Best Spanish Red Wines: A Beginner’s Guide

Spanish red wines get a lot of press for being good values, but shopping in that aisle can be as daunting as it is for France and Italy if you aren’t sure what grows where. Just as in the other European countries, much of Spain focuses on the grape varieties that perform the best in the local area. At its most simplistic, Spain can be divided into three “bands” for red grape varieties. The Tempranillo grape variety excels in central and northern Spain, Garnacha thrives to the northeast and the Monastrell variety reigns in the southeast.

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The Ten Best French Red Wines: A Beginner’s Guide

The French red wines can be intimidating to the uninitiated, but they are actually easy to understand by just knowing a few basics. French winemakers have had such success in matching the perfect grape variety to specific plots of land for so long, that these marriages have been codified into law. That means that each wine region can grow only the varieties that grow well in that area. Hundreds of years of trial and error have passed and wine buyers of today can generally be assured that any given bottle of French wine will taste as it should. That’s not to say that French winemakers are not allowed to experiment and innovate—they are, just under specific appellations. Once you know the best varieties for each region, shopping for French red wine is a snap!

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Harmonious Balance in Sangiovese: Ruminations on a Tuscan Taste

Matt Kirkland was an attendee of the WSG’s first Study Trip to Tuscany with Jane Hunt, MW. Here, he shares some of the insights he gleaned from the trip.

Quality in wine can be assessed based upon balance, length, intensity, and complexity (and typicity when not tasting blindly). As the workhorse grape of central Italy, Sangiovese had a checkered history relative to quality. It is a high acid grape, with relatively high tannins; and quality demands a balance of these structural components. The goal of this essay will be to discuss the acid/tannin balance, its impact upon quality, and the implications for “mouthfeel” of the resultant wines. The harmonious balance of quality can be achieved with pure Sangiovese (Brunello de Montalcino or some Chianti’s, or with blends as in Chianti or the “Super Tuscans”); the key is taming the interplay of tannin and acid on the palate. The journey through Tuscany is a delectable discovery of vinous diversity, unified by the grape.

“In the bad old days, Sangiovese tended to be overproduced which accentuated its tendency to exhibit high acid and unripe tannins… Sangiovese’s dominant viticultural characteristics are that it can vary as much as Pinot Noir in its sensitivity to place and that it ripens relatively late.” Jancis Robinson, www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/grape-varieties/red/sangiovese

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Sarah Graham-Beck reports live from our 2017 Bordeaux Wine Study Trip

Assisting trip instructor Gerard Basset MW, MS, our Tour Manager Sarah Beck-Graham reports daily on the learnings and encounters on our 2017 Bordeaux wine study trip taking place October 1st through 6th 2017.

Sarah lives in Bordeaux and has 15 years of experience in the Bordeaux wine industry.  She has been manager of a top Right Bank chateau and worked for several top Bordeaux wine merchants. She now guides wine tours in the region and handles logistics for wine-related events.

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16 of Pascaline's Top Producer Picks in the Loire Valley

Master sommelier and Loire valley native, Pascaline Lepeltier, has been working with key Loire producers over the past months in preparation for the October 2017 Loire Wine Study Trip.

Take a look at her notes on this carefully curated list of both iconic and rising star estates/producers in the Loire Valley

An interesting read to get you re-acquainted with some of the more historically famed estates as well as introduce you to some of the new generation vintners who are pushing boundaries and defining the region’s vinous future…

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Wine and Food of the Loire Valley

Much has been written about the beautiful Loire Valley, well known as “the garden of France.” The wine region follows the meandering Loire River more than 600 miles through the gently rolling hills of a picturesque countryside. There is an abundance of vines and food crops in this fertile stretch of France. The Loire produces the largest amount of white wines of any French region, and it is the world’s largest mushroom producer. As the old adage says, “If it grows together, it goes together,” and this is perhaps nowhere as evident as it is in the Loire Valley.

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