ANSWERS – Back To School Wine Quiz

Thank you for participating in the Wine Star Back To School Wine Quiz! (If you haven’t taken it yet, go take it and then come read this.) I hope you all rewarded yourself with a nice glass of something for getting in the school spirit.  Here’s a little wine-know about each of the 15 items on the quiz.  Overall, we have some super Wine Knows following this blog!! I’m impressed!!

Cabernet Sauvignon (93% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-known grape that often is used to make single-varietal wines (wines that only use this grape). It originates from Bordeaux, France where it is one of the major blending grapes used in red Bordeauxs.


Pinot Noir (100% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

I guess I don’t even need to explain this one since everyone got it right. But Pinot Noir is also often made as a single-varietal wine. It has some significant characteristic differences from its varied producing regions – fun to taste one from Oregon, from France, from New Zealand, etc!


Bordeaux (96% answered correctly!)


Bordeaux is a region in France that produces some of those most important – or influential – wines. There are several major blending grapes used in Bordeaux wines – for red they include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.


Super Tuscan (67% answered correctly!)

This one was tricky… it would be more accurate to answer this one as “neither” a grape varietal or a region/appellation. But it is more closely aligned with a designated appellation than anything.

Basically, “Super Tuscan” refers to a wine made in Tuscany, Italy that most typically includes the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, and/or Canaiolo. These wines have a lower “quality” designation based on Italian wine laws but only because they don’t follow all the rules in order to be labeled at the higher quality classification step. However, the original Super Tuscan wines are made by some of the most well known producers and have an innovative touch to them – especially when these first started to appear in the the 1970s. So while they are down a step on the classification scale, they are often up a step on price point (especially the more famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia, Tignanello, or Ornellaia). You won’t see “Super Tuscan” on a label, but you may see “Toscana IGT” (the appellation). Many restaurants refer to these wines as a “Super Tuscans” on their menu.


Chardonnay (81% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

This is a grape varietal – it is one of the most widely planted white wine grapes and is often used to produce wine made with 100% Chardonnay. Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France – so if you’re buying a bottle of white Burgundy, it is Chardonnay!


Barolo (74% answered correctly!)


Barolo is a designated region within the northwestern part of Italy in Piemonte. You will see “DOCG” after “Barolo” on a label, which is indicative of its quality classification. Barolo is made with the Nebbiolo grape and is one of the few wines that can usually be aged for over 20 years!


Burgundy (81% answered correctly!)


This is a region in France that produces wines primarily made with Pinot Noir in reds and Chardonnay grapes in whites. So if you buy a red Burgundy, it is most likely Pinot Noir. (But will have some distinct differences from Pinot Noirs made in Oregon, for example!)


Riesling (96% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Riesling is a grape that is often thought as one of the most food-friendly white wines. While many times it is used to produce sweet wines, there are plenty of dry or off-dry Rieslings as well!


Barbaresco (56% answered correctly!)


Like Barolo, Barbaresco wines come from the Piemonte region in northwest Italy and are made with the Nebbiolo grape. You’ll also see these wines with a quality designation of “DOCG” after “Barbaresco” on the label. It’s an indication (or confirmation) that the nebbiolo grapes are grown in this little zone of the Piemonte region and made according to the required practices.


Barbera (52% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Barbera is another grape from Piemonte, Italy. These often make delightful, fruity wines that are great with food. You’ll often see “Barbera d’Alba” on the label.


Sangiovese (81% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Sangiovese is one of Italy’s – specifically, Tuscany’s – most famous red grapes. If you’re drinking Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, or Brunello di Montalcino, it is made with mostly Sangiovese. Interestingly, I’ve had several lovely Arizona Sangiovese wines as well!


Moscato (89% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

This is a grape that produces the well known “Moscato d’Asti” – a sweet sparkling, or fizzy, wine. If you have tried a $6 bottle of Moscato (as they are often available at that price point) and hated it – try one in the $15+ range. You’ll notice a difference.


Chianti (81% answered correctly!)


Chianti is a region in Tuscany that primarily uses Sangiovese grapes. It can also be blended with Canaiolo and some others, but generally, when you’re drinking a Chianti or a Chianti Classico (a more specific region), you’re having mostly Sangiovese.


Champagne (96% answered correctly!)


We all know you can’t call a bottle of sparkling wine “champagne” unless it comes from Champagne, France. That is because it is a specific appellation that has very specific rules for how the wine is made. Champagne is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and/or Pinot Noir.


Beaujolais (74% answered correctly!)


Beaujolais is a region in France that uses the grape, Gamay. Almost all the production from this region is for red wine. We often see “Beaujolais Noveau” in the fall – it is a young wine meant to be enjoyed immediately. But it is far more simple than a Beaujolais (non-noveau), so give them both a chance!


We’ll eventually explore all of these in more detail… are there any you’d like to know more about sooner than later?!

Divine Wine Sunday: Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Wine is always best when enjoyed with good company… and I had the pleasure of enjoying this week’s Divine Wine with several of my favorite people over a long dinner (and several bottles of happiness).

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Divine Wine of the Week: Cartlidge & Browne 2010 Pinot Noir, Healdsburg, California

Price: $14.99/bottle available at Sportsman’s Fine Wine & Spirits, $12.99 at Total Wine (both based on prices in Phoenix, AZ)

Wino Assessment: Pinot Noir is one of my favorite overall wines (oh wait – most wines fall into this category for me!).  It is great with appetizers, with a meal, by itself, in the afternoon, in the evening. It’s just versatile.  And who doesn’t love good versatility?

The Cartlidge & Browne Pinot is a great “standard” Pinot Noir. It has all the typical flavors that you might find in a Pinot – a little earthy/oakiness while also having some soft fruit (strawberry/cherry) which balances the overall flavor. While enjoying with my friends, we all agreed that it was very smooth, easy to drink wine.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: The winemaker describes this wine as follows:

“Cherry, strawberry and rhubarb notes define the aromatics of this wine and are backed by hints of cinnamon and oregano. Bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and ripe tomato are balanced by a layer of earthy mushroom. Smooth and silky!”

Divine Wine Bite: Now that you have the bottle, you’re wondering what the heck to eat with it. (And yes, I firmly believe that all good meals are planned around a good bottle of wine.) Since this particular Pinot Noir has the earthy flavors as well as soft fruit and spice flavors, it can really go with a variety of dishes.  Enjoy it with hearty meats such as lamb or veal. It also pairs beautifully with salmon.  Keep in mind that to pair wine and food together well, look for common or opposite characteristics in both.  Maybe prepare your meats with a mushroom sauce (matching smooth flavors in the food to that of the wine). If you pair this wine with salmon, try it with a rich red wine reduction or a glaze of sorts.

Looking for a specific recipe? Try this Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Pinot Noir Reduction.  This is the dish that I enjoyed with friends and this bottle (or bottles) of wine and we all agreed the combination of the dish with the wine brought out flavors in both!

Give it a try! Let me know what you think!

Divine Wine Sunday: GaVin Pinot Noir

Over the past several days, I have been gallivanting about Portland, Oregon with a few friends, including loyal W2WK reader, Ms. Snodgrass.  We excused ourselves from life at our respective homes under the guise of running in a race, but knowing it was an opportunity to hang out in Portland to enjoy the food, wine, and merriment the city has to offer…. not to mention hanging out with some lovely ladies!  So while I have the Northwestern spirit in my bones, I thought I’d blog about a lovely Oregonian vino that I had the opportunity to enjoy while in Portland!

Diving Wine of the Week: 2007 GaVin Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Price Range: $12.99

Wino Assessment…

This was a bold, earthy Pinot Noir. But the earthiness didn’t leave your mouth dry – the wine finished very lightly and with a little bit of a soft raspberry fruitiness.  I definitely could have had more than the one glass I did enjoy. (Don’t be too surprised that I stuck with just one glass.)

The Wine…

Oregon is certainly known for its Pinot Noirs. Nearly all Oregon wineries grow Pinot Noir, which originates in the Burgundy region of France.  In fact, Oregon happens to be the only other region in the world (outside of Burgundy) that specializes in Pinot Noir.  (Interesting, eh!?)  Another interesting Pinot Noir fun fact is that the grape is never blended with other grapes – in Burgundy, Oregon, and other regions, a bottle of Pinot Noir is always made with 100% Pinot Noir grape. It isn’t blended with other grapes because it isn’t just doesn’t blend well.  (That said, it is used with some sparkling wines… but, of course, they are not labeled “Pinot Noir”.)

Anyway, the GaVin Pinot was delightful.  Interestingly, however, I cannot find a website for this winery.  (Hmm… new business idea… find small wineries and build their websites and request payment in liquid form…. it could work!)  I did however, find this write-up on GaVin’s Pinot in a “Leschi Market” newsletter from Seattle:

“Aromas of raspberry and strawberry lead to flavors of red cherries, with hints of baking spices and supple tannins. This is a well crafted wine and considering the complexity and quality it is an incredible value in Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.”

I don’t know how trustworthy the Leschi Market wine news is, but sounds pretty accurate to me after enjoying my glass of GaVin!

One more tidbit… Willamettte Valley is often mispronounced.  I know because I have been corrected in the past.  It is “will-AM-ette”… not “will-am-ETTE” as I feel is one’s natural assumption.  Now you can sound cooler when scoping out Oregonian wines from this fine valley.

The Bite

So what does one eat with an Oregonian Pinot Noir?  Well, I personally think Pinots can be enjoyed with just about anything… but to narrow it down from “anything”, may I suggest grilled salmon?!   You’ve probably heard that silly rule that white wines should be enjoyed with seafood and red wines with meat.  Well, that’s a bunch of baloney.  And apparently, Oregon Pinots were among the first famous ‘stupid rule-breakers’.  And they did so with grilled salmon.  In fact, there’s a whole festival called the International Pinot Noir Celebration which brings Pinot Noir winemakers from around the world to celebrate the delights of Pinot with U.S. Northwestern cuisine.  The event apparently comes to its grand conclusion with a salmon dinner to accompany all the tasty Pinot consumption.

I think I’m adding “Attend International Pinot Noir Celebration” to my list of must-dos in life.  Especially convenient that it is in Oregon, because I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to this very beautiful part of the U.S.!


[Source for all Wine Know in this post is from The Wine Bible.]


Wine Know from Carmody McKnight’s Owner

Hey Winos,

Check out the Divine Wine Sunday post on Carmody McKnight’s Pinot Noir from January 23rd.  Gary Conway, owner of Carmody McKnight’s winery, added a comment to the post and has provided more “Wine Know” on his Pinot Noir (and Pinots in general)!  Thanks for taking the time to “stop by”, Gary!

There is more Wine Know available at Carmody McKnight’s blog.




PS: I know, I know – I’m again behind on this week’s Divine Wine Sunday… but it is en route!


Divine Wine Sunday: Carmody McKnight Pinot Noir

Observant Wino to Wine Know readers may have noticed that last week there was no Divine Wine Sunday post… and that this post did not get quite make it for a “Sunday” posting. My apologies for the inconsistency… But I hope you all will forgive me as I was on a short hiatus from consuming wine (or any alcohol) to begin 2012 with a clean start…. that and get over a lovely winter cold.  After my two week hiatus, however, I pulled out one of my “special” bottles of wine from my (fairly) recent Paso Robles roadtrip a few months back.  And today, on Divine Wine Sunday (err… Monday?), I am highlighting that delightful wine.

First, as you can imagine, I was pretty excited to enjoy a nice glass of wine after a couple weeks without.  So when a good friend and fellow Wino invited me over for dinner, I thought, “Perfect! It is special wine time!”  As some of you may know from previous posts, I spent a few days in Paso Robles visiting a number of vineyards and tasting lots of great red wine.  I brought home about a case of wine and had yet to break any open…  Until this Pinot accompanied a delightful dinner…

Dive Wine of the Week: Carmody McKnight Pinot Noir, Carmody McKnight Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Carmody McKnight Pinot Noir

Price Range: $34.00  from the winery, I have not seen it available in stores yet, but am on the look out.

Wino Assessment: This is no typical Pinot Noir.  I find that Pinots tend to be on the lighter side of red wines – very easy to drink with or without food.  But the Carmody McKnight Pinot Noir is a bit earthy but with a velvety finish.  It maintains the fruit flavors (maybe a bit of a jammy flavor) but is far less fruity than I expect a Pinot to be. From the first sip, I was immediately reminded why I enjoyed it so much (and therefore, took a bottle home).

The Grape: “Pinot” in French is “pine” and “noir” is “black”.  Pinot Noir grapes are black grapes that are clustered tightly together in a way that is similar to a pine cone. While it is grown around the world, it is most commonly associated with the Burgundy region of France.  (So next time you have a recipe calling for a Burgundy type wine, you could probably pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir if it is more convenient!)  The Pinot Noir grape has lots of clones – nearly twice as many as the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon grape in France.  This is due to the fact that Pinot Noir grapes are prone to mutations, and after many many years of cultivating these grapes, the best of the best are cloned and planted in vineyards around the world.

The Wine: Pinot Noir is a very popular wine – it is grown all around the world, making it very accessible. It tends to be a light to medium bodied wine with cherry and raspberry flavors and aromas.  That said, Pinots tend to have a wide range of flavors, textures, and bouquets (all things discussed last week on Thoroughly Wino Thursdays: Let’s Talk About Taste!) Because of this wide array of flavors, aromas, textures, etc., Pinot Noir wines can often be difficult to identify.  So a few people commented on the “animal” category of flavors and aromas in last week’s post.  I’m here to pass along a little news for you… you may think you’re all that drinking your bottle of Burgundy and feeling very sophisticated.  But according to my favorite resource, The Oxford Companion to Wine, traditional Burgundy (region of France most commonly associated with Pinot Noir), is famous for its “farmyard’ aromas.  Yes.  It is true.  I think I’m going to have to go out and find a “traditional” bottle of Burgundy to blog about the farmyardiness flavors.

A couple of other fun facts about Pinot Noir as a wine.  It is typically lighter in color compared to other reds which has to do with the coloring matter of the grape skin.  It is also used in producing sparkling wine, including Champagne, as well as Rose wines.

So, what does Carmody McKnight say about their Pinot Noir?  Well, I don’t know!  Their website is operational, but the page that shows info on their specific wines is not working at present.  (Quite a shame for a winery’s website, eh!?!)  I did find this description for their 2006 bottle (I believe I had their 2007) on a different website:

Earthy with red and dark fruit aromas, good balance and nice finish.”

I fully agree!! The wine did have a great balance (which I think I better double check to ensure it means what I think it means… but in this case, I presume it means that from the beginning of the sip to the end of the sip, it holds its flavor in an even way).

!!UPDATE!! (February 3, 2012): The winery’s website is operational again, and I have pulled their description of this fine Pinot Noir.

“The most romantic of wines, our estate Pinot Noir is surprisingly opulent, yet elegant and velvety textured, with strawberry and berry-earthy savoriness in its overture. Blackberry and spicy plum vie for attention with black cherry and currant flavors, finishing in a final act of subtle tannins, a trace of toasty oak, and a silkiness that glides seductively over the palate.”

Regions: As previously stated, Pinot Noir is grown all around the world – particularly in many regions of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and North America.  Carmody McKnight is located in the Paso Robles area (about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles), and Pinot Noir is grown heavily there.  The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for its Pinots… and perhaps you’ll find it interesting that Oregon is approximately the same latitude as that of Burgundy in France.

With that, I’ll leave you with a Pinot Noir fun fact and a couple of quotes that I enjoyed coming across in my “research”….

Pinot Noir Fun Fact: Around 2004-2006, Pinot Noirs became extremely popular, and many believe it has to do with the movie Sideways.  (A movie that I enjoyed for the wine factor, but the plot kinda weirded me out.)

Pinot Noir Quotes:

“[Pinot noir is] the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”  -Joel Fleischman, Vanity Fair

“[Pinot Noir is] sex in a glass.” -Sommelier Madeline Triffon

I’m guessing that if the content of this post didn’t make you want to run out and buy a bottle of Pinot right now, that these quotes might.  And if you find yourself facing a bottle of Carmody McKnight’s Pinot Noir, then get it and let me know what you think!!

[Source for all Wine Knowledge unless otherwise stated is from The Oxford Companion to Wine.]