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Snooth User: dgiambro28

Hello Fellow Newbies! (And everyone else!)

Posted by dgiambro28, Aug 15, 2013.

Hi!  Who remembers Sutter Home White Zinfandel?  Well, I guess you can still buy it, but back in the 80's it was huge on the wine scene, (well, to those with a limited budget and an even more limited palate) and that's what got me started.  I've come a long way, but still have so much to learn.  I progressed through the really sweet whites to Chardonnay (which on a hot summer day can still be wonderful) to Pinot Noirs, and then onto Merlot, Cab, and Zins.  My selections have been limited to pretty standard choices from California, and more recently the Horse Heaven Hills area in Washington State.  I live right near the NYS Finger Lakes region, but don't really prefer the wine from our state (I hope I whispered that and no one in NY heard me!)  There are some very nice NYS wines, just not my taste.  Anyway...recently a friend brought me a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.  It was Gran Reserva Serie Riberas from Concha Y Toro.  I wasn't familiar with it, but based on the words Gran Reserva, I assumed it was a nice bottle, and it proved indeed to be nice.  

The experience with this lovely wine from a region that I have no familiarity with inspired me to expand my wine horizons, and learn and enjoy wines in a different manner.  Today I spent some time with a wine specialist in our local shop, and picked up some bottles that I'm not familiar with to enjoy now....and some to enjoy at a later date.  So the wine cellar is coming to my house soon and a new journey begins!  

I'm curious as to what Snooth members recommend for semi-novices such as myself.  I'd like to take a wine appreciation class, and I'd love some wine recommendations!  Bring it on!


Reply by outthere, Aug 15, 2013.

Welcome to a Snooth DG. I have to say that me suggesting wines to you may not be in your best interest since we may not enjoy the same things. I delved into Chilean wine for a bit but it really didn't float my boat.

The best way to expend your horizons is by doing exactly what you are doing right now with the wine store. Share your experiences with us here and we will get a good feel for where your palate is and where it might be headed.

The varietals you enjoy play second fiddle to the style of winemaking you enjoy. Do you prefer high alcohol, big fruited wine or leaner more feminine styles, or both... Matching the style to a varietal you already enjoy may be easier for us.


Reply by EMark, Aug 16, 2013.

Who remembers Sutter Home White Zinfandel?

Well, DG, quite a few of us do.  And most of us have tried more than one.  Sutter Home, the winery that you mentioned is generally credited with creating "blush" wine made from Zinfandel grapes.  The White Zinfandel fad was quite interesting--and, in my view, very beneficial.  It did get many people interested in wine, and it saved acres of Zinfandel vineyards from being replanted to Chardonnay or Merlot.  There is no shame in drinking White Zinfandel.  Although, as much as I appreciate Sutter Home's contributions, theirs would not now be my first choice.

Before I continue, let me welcome you to the Snooth Forum and compliment you on a well-written and informative post.  I hope that you continue to participate, here.

Thank you for the comments on the Chilean Cab.  We enjoy reports on all types of wines.  Many of us are not wine professionals, and, so, we all have limited experience.  Your reporting your experience is quite helpful to me. 

I have to commment on the "Gran Reserva" nomenclature, that you highlighted in your reporting on the Chilean wine.  There are two reasons why anything is put on a wine label:  marketing and legal.  The "legal" part of that depends on where the wine is being produced or where it is being sold.  For example, in order to be sold in the United States, a wine label must indicate the alcohol content regardless of where it was produced.  On the other hand, the word "Reserve" (or any variation such as "Proprietor's Reserve" or "Private Reserve") is, for the most part (the exception is Washington state) not legally defined in the U.S.  So, its appearance on most U.S. wine labels is marketing fluff.  The state of Washington does legally define the word "Reserve," but, in my opinion, their definition has loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.  (I am not a lawyer, and I did not sleep in a Holiday Express, last night, but there are a few attorneys that do participate, here.  If they want to take exception to my opinion, then, that might be enlightening for all of us.)

I did a quick web search and found this article on how to read a Chilean Wine Label by the Wines of Chile (granted, a marketing organization).

Regarding the use of the word "Reserva":

In addition to brand name, wineries may use the term “Reserva” to indicate a higher quality. The legal definition indicates that the wine has “distinctive organoleptic properties.” It must contain a minimum of 12º alcohol (see Alcohol Content below), and may or may not have oak treatment.

The term Reserva Especial indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12º alcohol, and oak treatment.

Reserva Privada indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12.5º alcohol, and optional oak treatment.

Gran Reserva: indicates “distinctive organoleptic properties,” a minimum of 12.5º alcohol, and oak treatment.

OK, this may not be an exact citation of the law.  So, any conclusion that I draw, here, might be suspect.  The way I read this, the only thing that is very clearly defined is alcohol content.  I don't see a real definition of "distinctive organoleptic properties" or "oak treatment.  So, again, I would jump to the conclusion that there are some big loopholes, here.  In my research, I found one blogger  who claimed that there is no legal definition of "Gran Reserva" on a Chilean wine.  I guess I might argue with him on that point.  A poor legal definition is a legal definition in my view.

I'll let you do some research, but Spain, for example, has very specific legal definitions of these terms.  So does Italy.

Regardless, you tried the wine and you liked it.  Excellent.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 22, 2013.

Welcome to Snooth DG.

Looking forward to following your experiences as you discover which wines ring your bell and which wines do nothing for you, or worse! Who can forget White Zin? Even today with the right food, at the right moment it can still bring a smile to my lips!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 22, 2013.

GdP, you probably missed the chance to revisit "white Zin" in a whole different way last year.  According to Clay Mauritson, the 2012 harvest was enormous, but they still dropped fruit... twice!  The second time, some of the fruit had begun ripening but wasn't fully ripe.  He kept thinking about all the fruit he was going to drop and decided to make a "blush" or rose Zin.  There's wasn't a ton of it, so he offered the whole thing to a restaurant in New York, and they took it all.  Not even the wine club had a shot, and he doesn't really plan to do it again.  (He does do rose from Bordeaux varietals, but this is a one off.)

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