Where in the World

….is Carmen Grape-iago?

Here you can find every episode’s Where in the World clues. So go on, play along and see if you can guess where Carmen is. Ready. Set. Go!

Episode 63: The Jolly Holiday Special

Bottle-Image

1) Carmen better bring a giant wad of cash with her to this region, as she’ll have access to the world’s most expensive and prized wines. Reverred, meticulously studied, and discussed in depth by wine geeks around the world, this world famous wine region is home to two of the most well known and widely planted grape varieties around, although some would say that few other regions match the complexity, diversity, and age-ability of these grapes in their homeland.

2) Carmen can study till she’s blue in face and she probably still won’t have learned all of the microclimates and geographical differences of this incredibly diverse region with its continental climate. With the biggest number of appellations in its country of origin, it’s in this part of the world where they have perhaps placed the most importance on the concept of terroirs, which led to the delineation of vineyards into a heirarchy of ‘crus’.

3) The only thing that’s easy to remember about this wine region is the grape varieties. There’s one main white, and two main red. When in the cooler climes of northern part of this region, it’s all about white, with the grape variety producing lean, mineral-driven, high acid wines with little to no oak influence; a classic pairing with oysters and other shellfish. Further south in the warmer weather and styles of the same grape are riper, fruitier, and commonly aged in oak barrels for a rounder, richer, toastier style. For the reds, the main grape variety produces light-medium bodied wines with low-medium tannins that are all red berries and violets when young, but turn into savoury/earth/vegetal complex beings with some age. The red grape in the very south of the region produces something similar but all-together more simple, gluggable and fresh. Broadly speaking of course.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 62: The Return!

1) Carmen is in foodie and wino heaven in this old-as-dirt (literally the the calcareous-clay soil there is ancient) ultra-traditional and just plain wonderful wine region. Famed for its vitello tonnato, bagna cauda, polenta, and of course white truffles, the earthy, rustic food matches perfectly with the long-lived wines.

2) While three times bigger than its neighbor (a region almost equally as famous), Carmen could walk the length of this region if she was feeling fit. At its widest point it is only 5 miles (8 km) wide. Over 87% of wine from here is produced in the original five communes of Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba and Monforte d’Alba with Castiglione Falletto and a town by the region’s same name considered the “heart” or unofficial “classico” areas of the zone.

3) Carmen must be a fan of red wine while drinking in this region. Here it is all about Nebbiolo, a grape who’s naturally light color belies its big tannins and high acids. Often described as a ‘thinker’s wine’, it’s typical rose petal and tar characteristics become dry, earthy and mushroomy when aged. If made in the traditional style, the wine’s usually not ready to drink for years, and Carmen could be putting aside bottles for her children or even children’s children to crack open! If made in a more modern style, ripe red fruits are more apparent and the wine is typically ready to drink within a few years after bottling.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 61: The Middle Men

1) While Carmen is in this wine region, she’ll fly into its country’s legislative capital and drive about 30 miles north to ‘The Black Land’, so name in the native tongue of its modern-day founder Jan van Riebeeck because of the native Renosterbos, which, after the winter rains takes on a dark appearance when viewed from a distance in large numbers. Viticulture here is still comparatively young, but the winemakers—many young themselves–are turning the country’s wine scene on its head, practicing dry farming (no irrigation), organics or biodynamics, and minimal intervention in the winery.

2) “It’s predominently a wheat-growing area. We recognise the history but these machines that you sow and reap with can’t move on mountains and slopes. When farmers owned mountains and slopes they could only plant vines, so the older plantings are actually on epic locations but by virtue or necessity, not by design.” –Eben Sadie, one of the region’s most famous winemakers (told to Mike Bennie in a Gourmet Traveller Wine article). Indeed Carmen would have no problem drinking wines from old vines, as many sites push 100 years old.

3) Audio clue from winemaker Craig Hawkins!

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 57: Goon of Fortune

 1) You’d better hope Carmen Grape-iago is happy to drink a lot of white wine if she’s hanging out in this region for long. 90% of wine production here is white and mainly-single varietal (ie not a blend but from 100% of one grape variety) from grapes like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Sylvaner. The wines rarely see oak aging and can range from botrytis-affected dessert wines to bone dry aperitifs. Their signature characteristics across the board are their often spicy, floral aromatics.

2) Unlike most other winemaking corners in this region’s country, Carmen would have no trouble picking this wine on a store shelf. Always in tall thin flutes shaped bottles, like their neighbours across the border, and with the grape variety written on the label, when in comparison to many others sharing the shelves, these wines make choosing a dinner party bottle positively enjoyable.

3) Planted at the base of the Vosges mountains with the Rhine river to its east and vines at altitudes of between 175–420 metres, this region has been bandied back and forth between its current country and neighboring one four times in the past few hundred years—a fact that has shaped this region’s identity.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 47: Bubbles & Brollies

1) Wine writer Alice Feiring recently wrote an article about the world’s most unusual wine regions. She named this winemaking country as one of them. Thanks to the effects of climate change, this region is producing an ever-growing number of high quality wines, particularly Champagne-method sparkling. While grapes like Seyval Blanc, Bacchus, and Reichensteiner (hybrids and crossings bred to maximize ripeness in cool climates) have long been grown, Champagne grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay) are changing the face of this country’s vineyards.

2) With limestone soil in land that runs along the same fault line as Champagne, it’s no wonder bubbly rules in this cool climate. But if Carmen were to spend much time in this winemaking country, she’d need a brolly. The climate here is variable to say the least. Says author Robert Tarr, “In [this country], it is only in about 2 years in every 10 that grape production will be really good, 4 years will be average and 4 years poor or terrible”. Despite these depressing statistics, the country still making some pretty good stuff.

3) Winegrowing is expanding rapidly in this country. Recently, a hedge funder named Mark Driver, announced he’s planting 250 acres of chalky downland with Pinot and Chardonnay over the next few years which will produce about 800,000 bottles from the winery he’s calling Rathfinny. He describes his land as ‘the sunniest vineyard on the South Downs’. He has already recruited a fulltime viticulturist from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. Still, despite this country having had a summer of celebrations which have boosted its wine sales considerably, the question remains whether its home grown stuff can compete at the same prices as Champagne and other imported wines.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 41: Bedroom Tipples

1) Its country may be associated with sun and sand, but Carmen will most likely be bundled up and keeping warm in this rugged wooded landscape.  Located at a more southerly latitude than the rest the country, this state’s cool climates allow it to make distinctly different styles of wine from the rest of the country, specializing in sparkling, pinot noir, riesling, and pinot gris.  Global warming is actually helping this state’s wine industry as warmer temperatures allow grapes to ripen more fully, producing more vibrant wines.

2) Sound bite!  The (slightly disturbing) sound of the region’s most famous animal.

3) One of its country’s first regions to be planted with vines, this state actually provided many of the original vine cuttings for the first vineyards of its country’s more famous wine producing regions.  The majority of vineyards are located near the cities of Launceston and Hobart where fresh aromatic whites abound.  But the warmer Coal River Valley and Freycinet Peninsula are capable of making richer reds.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 37: Wine Battle

(clues in audio format!)

1) Hakuna Matata

2) News segment

3) Traditional song of favorite things

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 33: The Cradle of Wine

1)  This week Carmen will be travelling to one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. It has been archaeologically proven that the roots of viticulture in this country date back to between 9000 and 7000 BC, when peoples of South Caucasus discovered that wild grape juice turned into wine when it was left buried through the winter in a shallow pit. This knowledge was nourished by experience, and from 4000 BC the people of this country were cultivating grapes and burying clay vessels called kvevris in which to store their wine, ready for serving at perfect ground temperature. When filled with the fermented juice of the harvest, the kvevris are topped with a wooden lid and then covered and sealed with earth. Some may remain entombed for up to 50 years. Due to the many millennia of wine in this country’s history, the traditions of its viticulture are entwined and inseparable with the country’s national identity.

2)  Audio clue:  News report about wine in the language of the country! 

3)   Although there are nearly 400 grape varieties to choose from in this country, only 38 are officially grown for commercial viticulture, including Rkatsiteli, the most important white variety, and Saperavi, the most grown red, both capable of making serious age-worthy wines. Other grapes include Mtsvani (or Mtsvane) (meaning ‘green’ in the language) which is often blended with Rkatsiteli to add a fruity, aromatic balance,  Alexandrouli (a red),  Alexandria, and Tsolikauri (a white).

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 32: Label Lifter

1)  Carmen might want to visit this region in the summer.  Located along the 48th parallel, it is at the northern extremes of viable viticulture.  It’s also the most northerly district within one of the world’s most famous wine regions.  Thanks to its cool climate, the wines here are anything but lacking in acidity and freshness.

2)  (audio clue) Learn the alphabet in the language of this region!

3)  This is the home of chardonnay–in fact it originated around the region as a whole.  However, unlike the more southerly districts within the region, this place is famous for producing leaner, crisper chardonnays which are generally unoaked, except at their upper levels, and even then receive a shorter time in neutral barrels than their southern compatriots.  Have the oysters ready when drinking this often flinty, steely style of chard!

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 29:  Talking Wood

(clues in audio format!)

1)  Traditional Song: have a listen!

2)  Restaurant conversation: have a listen!

3)  A Cartoon called ‘Loula’: have a listen (and a watch)!

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 27:  Lieu-dit Caprio

1) Carmen would have no trouble getting a glass of the good stuff here. This region is the biggest wine-producer in its country, representing 62% of total vineyard area. The majority of wineries are dotted around the Wairau Valley, but further south, there are also plantings in the Awatere Valley. The moutains of the Kaikoura Ranges rise up from the southwest, and in the center stands the region’s capitol city of Blenheim.

2) Industry giant Montana planted the first vines in this region in 1973, establishing the country’s first southerly commercial vineyard. Their success lead to a string of other investors keen to set up shop in this region. But it was a single wine from a single winery in 1985 that really put this place on the map. It’s made from a single international grape originating from France, however, in this part of the world the grape manifests itself into a zippy, bell peppery, gooseberry, tropically fruity summer sipper, and has become the flagship drink of the whole country.

3) After the most famous grape variety (which shall not yet be named), this region has also gained an international reputation for making quality pinot noir. Chardonnay does well too, and both grapes can be used to make traditional method sparkling wine. Riesling is another success, particularly in botrytis-affected dessert wine.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 26:  The Wizard of Oz

1)  The region Carmen is in this week was ‘discovered’ 50 years after its famous big brother, and spent many years in his shadow, both in terms of size and prestige. However, thanks to the efforts of now highly renowned winemakers like Bruno Giacosa and Giovanni Gaja in the 1960s, this region gained its own reputation for excellence. The wines from both regions are made from the native grape, Nebbiolo, which produces light coloured, highly tannic and perfumed floral wines.

2)  The grapes from this region ripen earlier than their big brother’s due to the vineyards’ proximity to the river Tanaro, and are a bit lighter because they’re slightly more suseptible to maritime influence. Therefore the wine style is also lighter thanks to the minimum ageing requirements of two years in total (a year of which must be in oak), a full year less than Big Brother. This also means the wines are normally at their best at around 5-10 years of age–again a shorter ageing period than the aformentioned brother region.

3)  Vineyards in certain areas within this region are considered to be of higher quality than others, and therefore their grapes will fetch more by negociants. These include: Asili, Montefico, Montestefano, Rabajà, Albesani, Gallina, and Pajore’. Wines that resemble this region’s famous big brother in body and concentration, usually from places in the commune of Neive like Santo Stefano and Bricco di Neive, are called by the locals, ‘Baroleggiano’.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 25: “Crunked at Lunch”

1)  This Valley stretches between the 46th and 47th parallel (the same as Bordeaux) and encompass over 11,000,000 acres, with 17,000 planted to grapes. Those grapes primarily being Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon. The whole region shares the common climate traits of cold winters and long dry growing seasons with low humidity. The warm days and cool nights of the area help retain the balance of acid and sugar levels in the grapes. Many of this region’s vineyards are planted along a broad, semi-arid plateau at altitudes of 1,000-2,000 feet.

2)  The volcanic and sandy loam soil of this valley offers good drainage and is poor in nutrients, ideal in forcing the vine to concentrate its resources into the grapes. This region gets 300 cloudless days a year and experiences no more than 15 inches of rainfall, usually a lot less. Therefore, irrigation (sourced from the major rivers that run through the area) was and is a necessary technique for vineyard management. Although more and more wineries and vineyards are now trying their hand at dry farming.

3)  Some of the smaller viticultural areas within this region are Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain and Wahluke Slope. And now time for a quote!!  Jancis Robinson wrote of this region, “From my first visit there in 1981, I’ve always been impressed by (this region that cannot be named)’s merlot. It just sort of jumped out of the glass at me. The wines are clean and sappy.  A word that I often use to describe these wines is “confident.” You just feel this is right: this is not an attempt at something, this is something.”

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 24:  “Sexual Chocolate?”

1)  The Georgians may be able to lay claim to being the oldest known wine producing country in the world, but this country has pretty impressive birthrights of its own.  Wine production here can be traced back to 7000 B.C. but it was around 3000 B.C. when the Phoenicians, those enterprising maritime traders (aka the world’s first wine merchants), spread viniculture into the Mediterranean and even further afield.

2)  Thanks to the influence of the thirsty Frenchmen at the end of World War I, this country got to grips with international grape varieties like cabernet, merlot, syrah, grenache, cinsault, viognier, and muscat.  But if Carmen were to visit this country, she would also find native grapes, mostly used for blending, including obaideh, merwah (said to resemble chardonnay and semillon resepectively), and caladoc (a crossing of malbec and grenache).

3)  This country’s wine scene is ever growing, despite having to jump through a lot of geo-political hoops.  Since the end of their civil war in 1990, the number of wineries has grown from 5 to 40.  Most of the wine is still drunk within the country; fairly surprising considering the majority of the country is Muslim (although the country’s religious divisions are insanely complicated), but some of the good stuff still makes it to American and British shores. The majority of wine production comes from the eastern Beqaa Valley but you’ll also find some vineyards north in Batroun and south in Jezzine.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 23: “Music to Our Mouths”

(clues taken from an article by Jancis Robinson)

1)  This country produces 10.9 million hectolitres of wine (about a fifth as much as France) but this includes 1.37 million hl imported in bulk from the likes of Chile and sold as though it were from the country in question. There has recently been enormous investment by local wine companies in creating supposedly luxury brands of wine, although most of the money has gone into extraordinarily lavish packaging and the ‘marketing’ costs inevitably associated with a market as unregulated as this one. The actual wine itself can often be remarkably similar to the one sold by the same company at one tenth the price. Also wine duties in this country are high, and fakes of famous wines (particularly of Lafite and Domaine Romane-Conti and often of pathetic quality) are rife.

2)  It’s rumoured that Pierre Lurton, director of LVMH (aka Louis-Vuitton-Moet-Hennessey)’s Châteaux Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem, has been overseeing vine plantings in this country, and Chateau Lafite have already begun a joint venture there. In fact, in 2008, wine merchant Berry Brothers and Rudd predicted that within 50 years the quality of wine from this country will rival that of Bordeaux.  In just a few decades, its domestic market for wine is projected to become the largest in the world even though the current annual per capita consumption of wine is only 0.35 litres.

3)  Only about a tenth of this country’s 400,000 hectares of vines are devoted to wine production, but there are now more than 900 wineries all over the country, just over half of them in Shandong, where maritime influence keeps winters mild but also brings the risk of humid summers and rot. The most exciting new region is Ningxia -but here, as in so much of the country, winters are so severe that vines have to be individually buried by mounds of earth in winter and uncovered each spring. Now that so many young people have moved from country to city, labour costs are suddenly a major factor in wine production.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 22: “Auld Lang Vine”

1)  Contrary to popular belief, the famous wine style from this region was not invented by a well known monk around 1700, but 40 years earlier was documented by the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret.  However if Carmen were to time travel, she wouldn’t recognize this region’s wine style until she reached the 19th century when it started to be made the way we now know it, and even then much of it was sweeter than it is today.  The Brut designation was designed in 1876 for the British.

2)  Carmen would literally be drinking like a queen in this region, which first gained international fame because of its association with the anointment of French kings and other royalty.  Since the 17th century, the leading producers of this region have devoted a lot of energy to ensuring their wines’ history and identity, linking them closely with luxury and power, and aiming their marketing particularly at an emerging middle class who were (and are) looking to spend their money on symbols of upward mobility.

3)  One of the most strictly regulated wine regions and styles in the world, its name has been protected by the Treaty of Madrid in 1891, and later reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after WWI.  It is a PDO (protected designation of origin) product within the EU.  If Carmen decided to set up vineyards here (and good luck to her–they are some of the most coveted and expensive plots of land in the world), she wouldn’t have an easy time either.  The growers and winemakers in this region within the appellation are also highly regulated, restricted to making their wine primarily from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier and required to follow a set of lengthy rules regulating pruning, vineyard yield, degree of pressing, time that the wine must remain on its lees (yeast) before bottling, and when it can be released to the public.  The Comité Interprofessionnel also limits quantity to maintain the wines’ infamously high prices.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 21: “Eis Eis Baby”

1) Carmen will have to wrap up warm to visit either of the two main wine regions of this country during the winter.  Along with Germany, the country Carmen is in produces the most ice wine in the world, particularly on the eastern side.

2) In between playing some of the country’s famed winter sports or visiting a rather large waterfall, Carmen can drink wine from cool climate grapes like pinot noir, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and riesling.  Grapes like merlot, shiraz, cabernet, and chardonnay have also been receiving some rave reviews lately.  Additionally, there are some crazy hybrids like marechal foch, baco noir, and vidal.

3) If Carmen got sick of drinking wine made from grapes, she could indulge in some fruit wine, popular in this country, particularly on the eastern half.  Not to be confused with proper wine and outside the scope of the regulating body (the VQA), fruit wine can be made from apple, apricot, black currant, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, elderberry, gooseberry, huckleberry, nectarine, peach, pear, plum, red currant, raspberry, saskatoon berry, and strawberry.  Honey, maple syrup, spice, or chocolate can also be added.  The Quality Certified (QC) mark was created to identify quality fruit wine that is not made from grapes.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!

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Episode 20: “Pull Your Own”

1) This week Carmen is getting quite the workout, treking to the highest mountain in the Americas. At 6,962 m (22,841 ft)its snow-capped peaks are not only beautiful, but they also provide essential water to the famous wine producing valley below. Red grapes have long grown in the interior, but new coastal plantations are proving the valley’s potential for white wines as well. Carmen could also do a day trip to the country’s capitol city of Santiago, only an hour away.

2)  If Carmen were to get her hands dirty in the vineyards, she would soon discover that this region, and indeed the entire country, is one of the few in the wine world to be completely phylloxerra-free, and therefore all of the vines are ungrafted and on their own rootstock. While phylloxera was destroying the vineyards of Europe throughout the 19thcentury, this country and region actually benefitted from it, because many great European winemakers brought over their skills and knowledge and vastly improved the quality of the wine. In 1870 Maximiano Errazuriz, a native who had spent time in Europe, was one of the first to plant vineyards in the region Carmen is in, planting 700 hectares which at the time made it the world’s largest vineyard owned by a single landowner (!)

3) Carmen will be sipping a lot of big minty cabernet sauvignon while she’s in this region, as it’s the most grown grape variety.  But she’ll also get to drink merlot, syrah, chardonnay, a bit of pinot noir, and some carmenere.  Carmenere is perhaps this country’s only ‘national’ grape (although its famous for being able to grow LOTS of grape varieties). Originally from Bordeaux, the French never replanted caremenere after phylloxera, but it thrived in this country. Originally thought to be merlot, it was sold for many years under that name to the North Americans who were much more familiar with merlot than carmenere!

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!  

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Episode 18: “Moon Vines & Turkey Wines”

1) ” Volcanoes burped _____out of the ocean a mere 30 million years ago.  They’re still active–on_____, the easternmost of_____, you can fry an egg in the heat that comes from some crevices. Those burbling bellies have left ______with a rare, fresh-from-the-planet’s-core coating of volcanic soil. Craters pockmark the island, and old lava flows course across it. The bare soil is painted with a limited palette: deep red-brown, gray and black.Within this stark landscape, vines look anomalous. They don’t even look like normal vines. They hunker against the ground like cacti, spreading horizontally behind curved barriers dug into the earth that winegrowers erect as protection from the easterly winds.”  (from this article by Derrick Schneider)

2)  80 miles off the southwestern coast of Morocco, this archipelago is actually a part of another country 1200 KM away, and in a different time zone from it as well.  It has a population of about 2 million.

3)  There are around 30 different indigenous grapes in this region including Gual, Malvasia, Listan Blanco, Diego, Moscatel, Listan Negro, Tintilla, Marmajuelo and Negramoll.  They have all been untouched by Phylloxera, since these pests can’t get a grip in the area’s sandy soil.  Therefore all vines are un-grafted and on their own rootstock, essentially the same as they were 150 years ago.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!  

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Episode 17: “High Altitude”

1)  Carmen may have to have adjust to the altitude when visiting this region!  With by far the highest vineyards in the world, the northernmost part of the country, in an area called Salta, the vineyards reach a staggering 3000 metres/10,000 feet!

2)  This region continues to fascinate many international winemakers who find it a paradise to grow wine grapes there.  With a long ripening period, almost no problems with phylloxera, the Andes mountains as a protector, and a natural irrigation system, Carmen could join the ranks of a long list of famous international winemakers who are continually inspired to make wine here.

3)  Whilst in this part of the world, Carmen would be able to taste wine from grapes like Malbec, Torrontes, Muscat, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pedro Giminez, Bonarda, Cabernets, and Syrah, throughout the northern and middle part of this country, in regions like Salta, Mendoza, San Juan, and Rio Negro.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!  

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Episode 15: “Top Tips for Wine Travel”

1)  Although this region has been making wine since the 1840s, the industry lay dormant for about 30 years until a revival happened in the 1960s when winemakers from the famous wine regions just south of here migrated north and planted pinot noir in an area previously thought too cold for viticulture.  These days the pinot family (noir, gris, and blanc) are what have made this region famous throughout the world.

2)  This designated wine regions here consist of places like Walla Walla Valley, Snake River Valley, Columbia Gorge, and mostly famously the Willamette Valley, which runs on a similar latitude to two other famous pinot noir producing regions, Burgundy, and in the Southern Hemisphere, Central Otago New Zealand.

3)  In 2009 this region moved up to rank 3rd in its country for wine production.  However, in comparison to the country’s biggest producing region, it’s tiny.  For example its biggest winery, King Estate, ships only 175,000 cases per year and most produce under 35,000 cases or even less than 5000 cases per year.  In contrast, the biggest producing region’s largest winery, produced 65 million cases of wine in 2002 (yowsers!!).

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!  

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Episode 14: “Witness the Chickness”

1)   This region lies in its country’s largest state.  However, despite being the largest in terms of land mass, the state only has 2.3 million inhabitants (10% of the national total), 85% of whom live in the south-west corner.  In fact you’ll find that many natives from other states have never even been here!

2)   This wine region lies south of the its state’s biggest (and indeed only!) city, named after a place in Scotland, and where my husband is from!  The region is also famous for its fabulous pristine beaches great for surfing and dolphin spotting, its towering Eucalyptus trees, and its caves, including Mamoth, Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi Cave, Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave. (Apparently Hugh Jackman called it the best place he’s ever been to!)

3)  This region is famous for making very distinct vegetal (think asparagus and peas!) sauvigon/semillon,  and very eucalyptus/menthol cabernet–not shy wines!  Some of the more famous wineries include Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Voyager, Cullen, Cape Mentelle, and Mad Fish.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 13: “Bowl of Lambrusco”

1)  This region was once divided into two regions with the Po River to the north, Apennine Mountains to the south and Adriatic sea to the east.Fun fact: it borders the Republic of San Marino- the third smallest European Country and oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world. It’s basically an enclave surrounded by Italy.

2)  This region is the birthplace of famed opera composer Guiseppe Verdi and of filmmaker Federico Fellini. It’s also home to the oldest university in the Western World, founded in 1088. Guess what else? All of the following cars are manufactured here: Ferrari, Lamborghini,  Maserati, and also Ducati motorcycles. Baller!

3)  Let’s get to the nitty gritty. The main grapes of the region are: albana, malvasia, pignoletto, trebbiano, ortrugo, sangiovese, bonarda, barbera, lambrusco, ancellotta, and even some cabernet sauvignon.  As one of the gastronomical capitols of Italy, it is home to the following edible items: balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico), parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto di parma, gnocco fritto, culatello, grana padano, mortadella, tortellini….and-um-horse and donkey meat from time to time.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 12: “Land of the Hanepoot”

1)  Although it’s classified as ‘New World’, this country has actually been making wine since 1659, and at one time Constantia (both a region and a winery) was considered one of the greatest wines in the world. Contantia was this country’s first wine, and it was made by Jan van Riebeeck, the founder of the famous city within which the winery and region lie.

2)  This country is usually included among the top ten wine producing countries in the world. The majority of wine production takes place in the southwestern part of the country, and includes regions like Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Walker Bay, and Elgin.  I spent my honeymoon traipsing around this country, and we stopped in wine region Tulbagh to attend a wedding at a winery!

3)  The most common grape variety in this country is chenin blanc (or ‘steen’ as the locals call it).  Chenin’s home is in the Loire Valley, but this country has really made the grape its own, often making a more ripe and fruity style of wine, and putting chenin on the map for many consumers.  Despite a fair amount of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz being made, this country is also famous for pinotage (a crossing of pinot noir and cinsault), a red grape ‘created’ specifically to suit the hot, dry climate of this country.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!
 

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Episode 10: “Skin Contact”

1)  Carmen can have her pick of wine styles in this country.  Last October, Christina spent time in red-soiled Istria, on the northwest coast, visiting many talented producers making wines in a similar style to neighboring Italy and Slovenia, with native grapes like Malvazija (for whites) and Teran and Refosk (for reds).  The wines matched splendidly with the rustic cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Austria, Hungary, and Italy, and includes truffles by the bucket load, and an endless amount of fresh seafood.

2)  If Carmen wanted to travel inland to the northeast of the country, she could head to Slavonia, famous not only for its large oak casks, but also for white wines made from native grape, Graševina, which yields light, crisp, mildly aromatic wines with intriguing bitter almond finishes.  67% of wines from this country are white, many of which are found inland around Slavonia.

3)  Further down the coast in Dalmatia, Carmen could lounge around on the beaches of this country’s stunning coastline and many islands.  When Christina was there, the food wasn’t as good as it was in Istria, but she did drink MANY wines from native red grape Plavic Mali (a relative of Zinfandel) or Posip, a wonderfully custartd-y, pear-y white wine from the island of Kortula.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out!
 

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Episode 9: “Summer in January”

1)   This wine region can lay claim to having the most southerly vineyards in the world. It is also has the only truly continental climate in the country. Christina was there in January. The sun was shining, and summer was in full swing.

2)   This region’s latitude is the southern hemisphere equivalent to both Burgundy and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, both famed for their production of Pinot Noir. So it’s not surprising that Pinot also finds itself an extremely comfortable home in this region too, making some of the best in the country (and I think the world!).

3)  Christina willingly threw herself out of a plane at 15,000 feet over the ‘Southern Alps’ of Queenstown, famous for being the home of adventure sports, and about 45 minutes away from the wine region that Carmen Grape-iago is in!

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 8: “The Land of Focaccia”

1)  This region, one of the smallest in its country, is famed for a specific style of bread, a sauce made of a particular green herb (hint: the herb starts with a ‘b’ and ends with an ‘l’), and seaside terraced vineyards.

2)  Christina got married in this region 3 years ago! Whitney was one of her bridesmaids and had to fly allllll the way over there (poor her).  They spent our days on long boat rides along the coast, eating, drinking (duh), and hiking.  This region is home to a National Reserve, six large parks, two smaller parks, and three nature reserves.  It is famous for one continuous trail that links 5 of the region’s towns.  It took Whitney about 3.5 hours to get through the first 4 towns before she had to hurry back to get to Christina’s wedding rehearsal!

3)  The main grapes you will find in this region are vermentino, pigato, rossese and ormeasco.  A rare sweet wine called Sciacchetra can also be found if you look hard enough.  But mostly the region is known for bright, fresh white wines with good acidity, and light, aromatic red wines all with seafood pairing ability.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 7: “Going Back to Cali”

1)  This region has 2.6 million acres of vines from North Yuba to Mariposa County.  “There’s no fog here, and there’s very few cloudy days. You just have a huge amount of sun all the time.”

2)  “With granitic soils, elevations pushing up to 3000 feet, warm days and very cool nights, we think we’ve found one super star appellation for all things Rhône.” -Tracey and Jared Brandt

3)  From an interview in Vintage Berkeley:

Q:  What kinds of grapes do you think are best-suited to being grown in ________?  What have you had the most success with?

A:  “Zinfandel is a logical choice for most, but we’re not zin fans so that never came into question.  Syrah does well in certain areas because of the granitic soils.  Grenache seems wells suited because of its ability to withstand the heat we sometimes get.  We are trying Tannat, and it seems to like it here.  We are growing a bit of Tempranillo, but its seems rather unhappy here, although the fruit is very good.  I’m sure there are other varieties – I’d look toward grapes that seem to grow best in mountainous regions with relatively new rock underneath, like we have here in ________ – Hank Beckmeyer

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 6: “Natural Wine”

1)  This region was first on the list for Whitney and Christina’s natural wine adventure, as it’s a very important place for natural winemaking.  They had a few wild nights drinking and dining with winemakers in sub-regions like these: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Anjou, Saumur, Muscadet, Chinon, and Vouvray.

2)  While Whit and Christina were in this region, they drank a lot of wine from native grapes like sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, melon de borgogne, and for the reds, cabernet franc and sometimes gamay. But it’s known being the ‘garden’ of its country not only because of the abundance of vineyards, but also of fruit orchards, artichokes, asparagus, and cherry fields which line the banks of the river. Oh and it’s also the home amazing goats cheese which goes well with the minerality and high acidity of the wines!

3)   Unlike many other famous winemaking regions in its country, the wine regions here run west to east instead of north to south, along a river of the same name as the region.  While there, Whit and Christina drove through winding tree lined roads dotted with fairytale-like castles that helped make this region a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.  If you’re visiting though, try not to drive in the rain–they’re a little short on street lights.  And decent windshield wipers for their rental cars….

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 5: “Spoonful of Scotch”

1)  Christina is lucky enough to be going to this area for five days to present in a video next month.  She will film for one day, and then spend the other four drinking copious amounts of the fortified style of wine that makes this region so famous (although it actually produces just as much non-fortified wine as it does fortified).

2)  This region is so darn beautiful, it was declared one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country in 2001.  With it’s steep terraced vineyards and slippery schist (yes I said schist) soil, machine harvesting is near on impossible, so everything is harvested by hand.  Combine that with very hot summers and wet winters, and it’s amazing wine grapes grow here at all!

3)  This region is great about using its native grape varieties which include grapes like Tinta Amarela,Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz (the same as Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Christina’s favorite, Bastardo.  For the whites you’ll find Gouveio, Rabigato, and Viosinho. (Whitney’s favorite grape names from this place are Baga and Maria Gomes!)

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 4: “Mama Irene”

1)  This region is perhaps most famous for the fortified wine, Marsala, which was actually created by an Englishman and is often used in cooking (my grandma makes a mean chicken Marsala!).  But the best Marsalas are delicious on their own as a dessert wine!

2)  Christina had her first go at riding a scooter in this region, and it was a hair-raising experience (although it wasn’t to be my last time on a scooter in Italy as Whitney can attest).  But she got through it because she knew there were a few glasses of wine made from grapes like Nero d’Avola and Frappato waiting for her at the end of that scary day.

3)  Although sometimes seen in a not-so-positive light because of its long history of Mafia presence, this beautiful region has a rich culinary and vinous history.  Some tasty local treats include Caponata, Arancine, Panella, and Cannoli. Capers and olives feature in many dishes, and pair well with the rusticity of the local vino.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 3: “Cheap Plonk” (aka ‘Where in the World is Christina?!’)

1)  Whitney’s adopted state of California ranks first in grape production in the United States, and Washington ranks second.  The region Christina is currently in, included with the rest of its state, ranks third.  But over 85% of its grapes are from a different species from those most commonly used in wine production–Concord is the most grown variety, but you’ll also find grapes with names like Delaware, Niagara, and Cata(w)ba.

2)  In 1962, a Ukrainian man named Dr. Konstantin Frank, while working as a janitor at Cornell University (next door to Whitney and Christina’s Alma Mater), proved that grape varieties from the Vitis Vinifera species, like Pinot Noir and Riesling COULD grow successfully in this part of the world.  Despite being widely ridiculed even after his success, Dr. Frank is today credited with having led the revolution of wine quality not only in this region but in the entire half of the country.

3) (read by Christina’s mom)  The winters may be long, and the flat vowels of my accent may not be pretty, but the ‘handful’ of lovely lakes dotting the countryside where I grew up make this a wonderful place to live.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

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Episode 2: “Bond was Wrong”

1)  In December of 2009, Whitney and Christina visited this country’s capitol city. And Whitney may or may not have sung the score to The Sound of Music to a cab driver one night when she may or may not have been drunk.

2)  Besides making great wine, this country is also home to Riedel, makers of some of the most expensive wine glasses in the world.

3)  When visiting in 2009, it took Christina 2 days to figure out how to say Neusiedlersee- one of this country’s winemaking regions.  With places like Carnuntum, and Südoststeiermark, this ‘wien’ country does not win a prize for ‘easiest to pronounce’ places. But with a winemaking history dating back to well before the Roman times, they have certainly earned the right to call their regions whatever the heck they want.

Where in the World is Carmen Grape-iago? Click HERE to find out! 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judy April 16, 2012 at 12:52 am

what are some good wineries in the grapevine,tx area? i want to go to a tasting but their are too many to choose from and I want to go to a go to a good one.

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