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Corvina

After a charming trip to Venice, we headed just a bit west, but still in the northeastern part of Italy to sample wines made from Corvina. We find the weather to be quite temperate, amanating largely from the Adriatic Sea to its east, the breezes blow frequently, and the soil is chalky clay. It's this last element that seems important. Corvina has not been found to produce usable grapes growing in anything but chalky clay.
It's a curious grape. It buds early, but loses those buds and then re-buds. Ultimately, it ripens late, is not particularly tannic, and has very thick skins that are extremely amenable to drying. 
Primarily, Corvina is used as the predominant grape in the wines of Veneto (Venice is the capital) and in particular in the smaller region of Valpolicella within Veneto. Typically, Corvinone and or Rondinella are blended with Corvina to give more balance and structure to an otherwise finicky grape.
From these blends, we typically get three types of wines -- those labe…

Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet)

Let's go to the Loire Valley of France today. We're in the far western part of the country about an hour mostly north of Bordeaux. The grape we are enjoying today, while frequently known as Muscadet, named after the small region in which it is usually grown, is technically Melon de Bourgogne. It's a hybrid, likely born of Pinot Blanc and Gouais Blanc.
Melon de Bourgogne, sometimes known as simply Melon, has a strange history. Once a heavily planted grape, it was outlawed during much of the 16th and 17th centuries in France. Originally from the area around Anjou on the Swiss border far to the east, Melon was widely produced and shipped to Holland (now part of the Netherlands). Political struggles, however, caused its probibition, and it was only after the disastrous winter of 1709 in the Loire Valley that vignerons looked to Melon. Winemakers in Loire needed a white grape that they felt could withstand winters of that sort and planted Melon plentifully around Muscadet. While…

Mencia

We're in northwest Spain today the Castilian area, the part of the country that people don't get to, to drink wine made from Mencia, a local red grape known as Jaen in Portugal. While it does grow in other places, Mencia's natural home seems to be in the Denomincation d'Origen Protegida (DOP) of Bierzo. It's a series of mountains surrounding valleys, the more mountainous Alto Bierzo and the flat plain known as Bajo Bierzo.
The area was hit hard by the phylloxera disease nearly a century and a half ago. Coming out of phylloxera, winemakers planted a lot of Mencia because of its high yields and resistance to the disease. The good news was the high yields. The bad news was the lack of intensity of the wines. It's only been in the 21st century that local winemakers planting primarily on mountainsides in the rocky, minerally schist soils have been able to control the yield and produce more intense Mencia. It's those more intense Mencias that we will be tasting to…

Cserszegi Fuszeres

We had a tough travel decision today. Do we fly into Bratislava, Slovakia and drive about an hour south across the Danube or do we simply parachute into Moson County Transdanubia in eastern Hungary. After checking the weather, we chose the more traditional route. 
Upon our arrival, we notice that the area is quite hilly -- not mountainous although the Transdanubian Mountains do encroach just a bit, but nothing but rolling hills. And, the hills while not completely covered in foliage are quite green. The weather here is quite like the American midwest although not normally as cold in winter. The winds whip quite liberally, in fact, throughout our stay, there is a constant wind of 20 MPH/32KPH or more with gusts often double that.
Our grape today is Cserszegi Fuszeres chosen because a loyal reader asked for pronunciation guides. Today, I break down and tell you this is anglicized chairseggy foosarresh. It is a white grape -- a Traminer as is Gewurtzraminer. So, we expect it to be aromatic…

Montrachet

This morning, we took a quick 18 minute bike ride from Meursault to Montrachet for our final day of our Chardonnay journey. The air was crisp and a bit breezy as we rode the couple of miles through the rolling countryside of Cote de Beaune (part of Burgundy). Understanding the wines from here may be a bit confusing, but we're going to try. 
First, the appellation d'origine controllee (AOC) of Montrachet is itself split in three, in order by fame (and fortune): Puligny-Montrachet (sometimes just Montrachet), Chassagne-Montrachet (sometimes Le Montrachet) and Batard-Montrachet, the poor stepchild with no alternate moniker. In fact, each of Puligny, Chassagne, and Batard is a commune within Montrachet. Producers of wine in each of those communes customarily append the name of the commune of origin before Montrachet in the name of the wine. For example, if your wallet is incredibly large and your pallet equally impressive, you might try the likes of Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrac…

Meursault

We got adventurous today and rented motorcycles to take the scenic 90 mile trip south and slightly east from Chablis to Meursault, just a bit southwest of Dijon. We noticed a bit of warming as we moved south and this is reflected in the wines we taste today.
As is the case in all of Bourgogne (Burgundy), when we say white wine, we mean Chardonnay. And, frankly to a Burgundian, there is no Chardonnay outside of their beloved home that deserves the label.
Meursault is one of the most storied communes in all the white wine world. It's also is home to some of the most expensive wines in the world, some very much worth it if you have the money and others just making use of the Appellation d'origine controllee (AOC) to increase their prices.
Because we've given ourselves license to do so, as in blogland, we have unlimited wine budgets, today we are drinking only the finest that Meursault has to offer. What we are looking for are elevations between about 800 and 1,000 feet (roughly …

Chablis

Today we continue our Chardonnay journey in the historic winemaking Appellation d'Origin Controllee (AOC) of Chablis. It's the northernmost AOC in Bourgogne (Burgundy) and is actually closer to the AOC of Champagne than it is to most of Bourgogne.

We flew into Paris and took a lovely boat ride down the Seine to the area around Dijon, took a quick ride to the Serein and road a small boat on the Serein to the point where it meets the Yonne in the little town of Chablis. Here, the summer evenings are quite cool and the days merely temperate. We notice nothing but vineyards, the most ornate of them all sitting on gentle slopes and facing southwest. The southwest facing slopes get the most constant and brightest summer sunshine, perfect for growing Chardonnay in the otherwise cool (for France) wine-growing region.

As we spend our day going from chateau to chateau, we note that at most, there is no sign of oak anywhere. We learn that even among the 7 Grand Cru and 40 Premier Cru, oa…