Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Rodolphe Boulanger

Riddle me this

Posted by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 17, 2008.

[After a few quiz related posts in the Talk section, here and here , I thought we could try upping the ante. I'm pleased to welcome Rodolphe Boulanger to the blog for a follow-up to his 'Wine Trivia' post in which most people fared rather badly (and I, even worse). Rodolphe , who claims this quiz is slightly easier, is President of The Wine Messenger , an online wine retailer focussed on small grower wines. Rodolphe is also currently a diploma student at the WSET in London.]

Back from Vinitaly in Verona and here's a quiz based on spending the last 10 days in Italy.

1) Brunello is to Sangiovese as Ottavianello is to what?

2) List three substantive differences (viticulture, vinification, terroir, grape varieties, maturation, terroir, food pairing, etc.) between a Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso and a Recioto Classico della Valpolicella.

3) The modern Italian language descends from the Renaissance Florentine of Dante, Petarch and Boccaccio and is an official language in Switzerland, the Vatican, and Croatia, as well as in Italy. However, there are still 2 regions of Italy where the majority of winemakers have another native tongue. What are they?

4) I was born the same year that Italy invaded British Somaliland, Egypt and Greece. I finished my enology degree the same year that Fellini released La Dolce Vita. While Ferrari and Niki Lauda were wrapping up the 1975 Formula 1 championship, I adopted a new technique that soon spread across Italy. I have degrees in economics and enology and am a firm believer in the single-vineyard wines. The French call me le roi _____, and, oddly enough, I've been called "the biggest name in Italian wine." I have won Tre Bicchieri, the highest award from Gambero Rosso countless times. In fact I've won it in 3 different appellations, not that they really matter much. Who am I?

5) One of the following facts about Chianti is false. Which one?
-The principal grape is Sangiovese.
-Regulations handed down by Italy's infamous Iron Baron, mandated the inclusion of white grapes in the wine.
-It traditionally came in a bottle called a fiasco.
-It used to be spelled Kiantis.
-There is no difference in the aging of Chianti and Chianti Classico.
-The Via Appia (Anicent Rome’s Appian way) runs through the heart of the region connecting Florence and Siena
-Recently, most of the vineyards had to be replanted with new, better clones of Sangiovese.
-The Gallo Nero (black rooster), the longtime symbol of Chianti Classico, led to a lawsuit with the California's own Gallo winery.
-The Chianti wine region was originally created by a Medici prince.
-Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, and Colli Pisane are subdistricts that are rarely seen in the US.

Bonus Question
Many of the classic French wine grapes (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, etc) have enjoyed great success around the world. In fact, these varieties account for a majority of the wine available in the US. Italy's classic wine grapes have not travelled nearly as well. However, there are some notable exceptions. What is the most popular "Italian grape" in California? What about Argentina?

Now remember, scout’s honor… no Googling!

Answers to come at the end of next week.

Replies

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 17, 2008.

OK, to break the seal on this, I'll go first. Upcoming FAIL in the works...

1) no idea
2) The latter is dried on straw mats to make a sweeter wine, the former is a table wine. I bet they are made with different grapes too! Former food pairing = food, latter = dessert
3) ?
4) ?
5) I know 60% of these are true, but there's a few i have no idea on, so, without using google, i say the replanting is false.

Bonus: Pinot Grigio = most popular Italian grape in the US, but in California (do you mean grown there?), I'm still saying PG. In Argentina I guess: Barbera

Painful, I *may* get 1.25 for that

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 17, 2008.

Yes, on the bonus question, I do mean most popular by acres planted.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 18, 2008.

1. I have no idea.
2. No comment.
3. I don't know but there are probably some areas of Northern Italy where German is still spoken... I've seen Blauburgunder on some wine bottles from Alto Adige.
4. The only famous Italian winemaker I know of is the father of the Super Tuscan. (Wines made in Chianti in the Bordeaux style I believe...) I can't Google his name...
5. It didn't come in a fiasco?

Good quiz, RBoulanger. Hard though. Looking forward to the answers.

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Reply by John Andrews, Apr 18, 2008.

I admit to being totally clueless about Italian wine when it goes beyond common knowledge. Sooo ... I'll be guessing at most of these and _in some cases_ using whatever resources I have available to me.

1) I"m going to guess Sicily ... but it is probably a less known southern eastern region.
2) I'm going with vinfinication, terror and time of harvest.
3) I'm going with French and the regions of Piemonte that border France.
4) No clue ... not even going guess. @Mark ... is the person you thinking of Angelo Gaja?
5) If memory serves me correctly there is a difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. Doesn't Chianti Classico have to be 100% Sangiovese?

Bonus:
Italian grape in US: I'm going with Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
Argentina: I"m going to guess Sangiovese ... I see more and more of that in Cali (along with Tempranillo)

Okay ... didn't use any aids ... just guessed. :-)

3)

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Reply by Daniel Petroski, Apr 20, 2008.

Well thought out post and tough questions (Master Sommelier/Master of Wine tough). I'll give it a shot....

1) Ottavianello is to Primitivo
2) Stealing your grammatical exercise from #1: Ripasso is to Beaujolais + secondary (soak) fermentation; Recioto is to Sweet (Straw) wine
3) I don't know.
4) Angelo Gaja
5) It used to be spelled Kiantis.
Bonus: California = Pinot Grigio; Argentina = ??

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 22, 2008.

Honda -- I was thinking of Piero Antinori (I just Googled his name. I won't take credit for this answer if it's correct.) And now I know of two famous Italian winemakers.

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Reply by John Andrews, Apr 22, 2008.

K ... I'm waiting to see how badly I did. :-)

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 23, 2008.

I think we need a 'dummies' quiz so we can all feel the joy of actually winning something for once...

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 23, 2008.

something like, name two varietals beginning with "Cabernet". Hint: one of them sounds like France

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 25, 2008.

1) Brunello is to Sangiovese as Ottavianello is to what?

Brunello is a local name for the Sangiovese grape and Ottavianello is the Puglian name for Cinsault.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/accademi...

Hey - Snooth got it right (type Ottavianello into the search box). No points to anyone else... although Dan was on the right track.

2) List three substantive differences (viticulture, vinification, terroir, grape varieties, maturation, terroir, food pairing, etc.) between a Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso and a Recioto Classico della Valpolicella.

Anything and everything relating to Valpolicella naming is dastardly complex. I put it in the quiz so that I wouldn't forget what I learned in Italy!

Valpolicella is northern Italy's great red blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. If a wine comes from the oldest (and "finest") part of the Valpolicella area, designated the Classico zone, it can be called Valpolicella Classico. If it doesn't, it can't. Similarly, if it has sufficient alcohol level, a year's aging and a more specific blend of grapes, any Valpolicella can be labelled a Valpolicella Superiore. These 2 attributes are like on and off switches. They can both be on, both be off, or anything in between. Following so far?

An old tradition in this part of the Veneto, is to select the best bunches of grapes before harvest and dry them for ~4 months on wicker mats (or in special drying rooms) to concentrate the flavors. These grapes (almost raisins by now) are then pressed and fermented. The resulting wine is sweet because not all of the sugar is turned into alcohol during fermentation. But, seriously, how much of a market is there today for red dessert wine? This is where Amarone comes in. A relatively recent creation, (notice that it isn't a DOCG), Amarone della Valpolicella is incredibly popular. It is a fully dry Recioto made either from less dried grapes or a fuller fermentation. You get the same wonderful flavor compounds from the drying process, but you also get at least 14% alcohol and dry wine.

Still awake? What is a Ripasso then? If you thought the Veronese were cunning to develop Amarone, a Valpolicella that can sell for $50 to $100 a bottle, this might be their greatest coup yet! In this method, the Valpolicella wine passes over or is even fermented with the skins and lees left over from the Amarone and Recioto wines adding richness character and body. So, for slightly more than a regular Valpolicella, the consumer can get a wine substantially improved by its expsoure to Amarone byproduct - yum!

So to return to the matter at hand, we had two different wines. The first is Superiore and the second is not. The second is from the Classico region, but the first is not. The first has undergone the Ripasso process. The second was made with dried grapes; the second is also sweet.

Philip 2/3 point (straw mats and food pairing), Dan 2/3 point (2ndary and sweet wine)

3) The modern Italian language descends from the Renaissance Florentine of Dante, Petarch and Boccaccio and is an official language in Switzerland, the Vatican, and Croatia, as well as in Italy. However, there are still 2 regions of Italy where the majority of winemakers have another native tongue. What are they?

Italy has 20 regions (think US states). 5 of them have a special degree of autonomy and (at least) 2 of them still have other languages spoken by a majority of their wine producers: Valle d'Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige. Aosta is nestled into the western Alps north of Turin and still has a large Francophone community as well as some speakers of an ancient German mountain dialect. Similarly, Trentino-Alto Adige or the Sudtirol was a part of the Austrian empire until 1919. In the northern part, Alto Adige, German is still the most common language.

1/2 point for Mark, 1/4 point to Honda,

4) I was born the same year that Italy invaded British Somaliland, Egypt and Greece. I finished my enology degree the same year that Fellini released La Dolce Vita. While Ferrari and Niki Lauda were wrapping up the 1975 Formula 1 championship, I adopted a new technique that soon spread across Italy. I have degrees in economics and enology and am a firm believer in the single-vineyard wines. The French call me le roi _____, and, oddly enough, I've been called "the biggest name in Italian wine." I have won Tre Bicchieri, the highest award from Gambero Rosso countless times. In fact I've won it in 3 different appellations, not that they really matter much. Who am I?

Yes, this is Angelo Gaja of Barbaresco. His technique was aging in small oak barrels, his name is small (4 letters), and he has won Tre Bicchieri for his wines made in Barolo, Barbaresco and Tuscany.

Honda gets 1 point (for not-not guessing) and Dan gets 1 point.

5) One of the following facts about Chianti is false. Which one?
-The principal grape is Sangiovese.
-Regulations handed down by Italy's infamous Iron Baron, mandated the inclusion of white grapes in the wine.
-It traditionally came in a bottle called a fiasco.
-It used to be spelled Kiantis.
-There is no difference in the aging of Chianti and Chianti Classico.
-The Via Appia (Anicent Rome’s Appian way) runs through the heart of the region connecting Florence and Siena
-Recently, most of the vineyards had to be replanted with new, better clones of Sangiovese.
-The Gallo Nero (black rooster), the longtime symbol of Chianti Classico, led to a lawsuit with the California's own Gallo winery.
-The Chianti wine region was originally created by a Medici prince.
-Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, and Colli Pisane are subdistricts that are rarely seen in the US.

The Appian Way is in southern Italy. Amazingly enough, a crappy clone of Sangiovese was planted throughout Chianti and had to be replaced in the 1990s in most of the region, the wines most certainly did (and still do) come in a fiasco (http://www.snooth.com/wine/paolo-to...), for Classico see Valpolicella above (it is basically the same concept), and it really was called Kiantis.

0 points to all

Bonus Question
Many of the classic French wine grapes (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, etc) have enjoyed great success around the world. In fact, these varieties account for a majority of the wine available in the US. Italy's classic wine grapes have not travelled nearly as well. However, there are some notable exceptions. What is the most popular "Italian grape" in California? What about Argentina?

Wow, everyone got off track here. The most popular "Italian grape" planted in California is Primitivo, or as the locals call it, Zinfandel! In Argentina, it is the unremarkable Bonarda.


Congrats to Dan for winning and a big FAIL to Philip and Mark for being bested by their own website.
Dan 1 2/3 points
Honda 1 1/4 point
Snooth 1 point
Philip 2/3 point
Mark 1/2 point

The Dummies quiz is in the works. You guys have to venture guesses more often. Look what it did for HondaJohn!

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Reply by John Andrews, Apr 25, 2008.

I have to admit ... this quiz shows how little I know about Italian wines. However, I do have to take contention to one point. RBoulanger, you say that Zinfandel is actually Primitivo? I believe that is not entirely correct. The winery work produces a Zinfandel every year and we often get asked where did the grape come from ... the answer we give is that it is a decendent of a Croatian grape called Crljenak Kaštelanski (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinfandel). Which, happens to be genetically the same as Primitivo as well. Soo ... I would argue that Zinfandel is not actually an Italian varietal.

Okay, I'm really just trying to get another half point so I can beat Dan! ;-) Oh wait, he answered the California question the same as me! :-(

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 25, 2008.

@Honda

That's why I called it an "Italian Grape" and not an Italian Grape. Nice Try!

Italian wines are really tough. The laws don't totally make sense, there are more grape varieties than there are Democratic superdelegates, the production is triple that of California and there's almost 3000 years of history to deal with!

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 25, 2008.

I am very proud of Snooth right now. *Sniff* They grow up so fast.


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