The back-to-school season can be both exciting and maddening. Switching gears from the fun and sun of summertime to the focus and discipline of the academic year is a whirlwind of emotion for everyone involved: students, teachers, and parents. At least teachers and parents can ease into the shift with wine to take off the edge! Bury your nose in a glass instead of a book while engaging in these classic scholastic pursuits. Test prep never tasted so good!
Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy and it is speculated to have grown wild in Tuscany before being domesticated by the ancient Etruscans. The name literally translates to “the blood of Jove” referring to Jupiter, the chief god of Roman mythology. The first recorded mention of the grape is from the 16th century! The Castellani winery has been producing amazing Sangiovese since the late 1800’s. Try their Toscana Sangiovese for an excellent introduction to this classic Italian grape!
Chardonnay is a robust grape with the temperament to be successfully grown in all types of global vineyards. Its classic home is Burgundy in France, which, while a small region, enjoys a diverse set of climate zones and produces Chardonnay that ranges from lean and crisp to fruity and lush. Burgundy born Olivier Chanzy works with vineyards in his homeland to create perfectly balanced Chardonnay that is undeniably Burgundian. His 2015 Chardonnay is youthfully expressive and bright; a real treat at a great value!
Cava is the term for Spanish sparkling wine produced in the same style and method of Champagne, a rigorous traditional process which involves fermenting the wine for a second time in the bottle, which creates the effervescence that we all love! Time that the wine spends in contact with the exhausted yeast (the organisms that turn grape juice into wine) creates the toasty flavor and creamy texture of the wine. Look to Spanish Cava for excellent values in Champagne-style wine, like the Ondarre Seleccion Millennium, a crisp and refreshing sparkler with impressive depth of flavor!
French Language and Culture:
French wine labels can be dense and confusing! Here are a couple of terms to take the pressure off!
Vin: Means wine!
Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or Protégée: Controlled or Protected Designation of Origin are terms used to indicate the specific region or vineyard from where a wine originates.
Château and Domaine: Roughly translate to castle and estate, respectively, but refer to the given name of the winery.
Côtes or Coteaux: Terms for hillside or slope that refer to the ideal orientation of a vineyard for optimal wine production, often seen in the name of a wine region.
A great bottle to help you practice your new language skills is the Château la Cassagne-Boutet Côtes de Bordeaux. This estate is in the Blaye region of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, known for its traditionally focused Merlot blends, and the 2014 vintage has a rich and warm fruit character that is incredible!
Think and drink deeply while you take advantage of the time left before the coming hustle. Take the evenings and weekends when you can to stop and enjoy a glass of wine and a moment’s peace from the school year!