Its time we take a look at our raw product, the grapes. There are hundreds of different grapes around the world, but some of the most famous wine grapes are grown in the Bordeaux area, and specially in St Emilion, which are the ones we´ll be talking about today.
There are five different grape varieties allowed to be grown here in the Haut Medoc area, they are: merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvingon, malbec, and carmenier. Today, we´re gonna focus on 2 of these grape varieties, which the ones grown here at Soutard. Merlot, which makes up 70% of the grapes in Soutard wines, and Cabernet Franc, which provides the other 30 %.
Let me introduce you to Madame Merlot. This beautiful grape gets its name from a little bird, the merlo. Its a very popular grape, actually, the world´s 2nd most planted. Its a fruity, juicy, sweet grape, packed with aromas and flavours. It is considered a round grape. However it has a thin and delicate skin, and therefore low levels of tannins, which produce a medium body wine.
Now that I mention it, tannins are a substance found in the skin and seeds of fruits and also in wood, that can affect the color, aging ability and texture of the wine, and that provide the wine with astringency, which is that dry sensation in our tongue and palate when we drink wine.
Now, I present to you the Cabernet Franc grape. Its original from the Bordeaux area, were it was established around the 17th century, even though today it is grown in many countries. This baby has a much thicker skin than Merlot, and so higher levels of tannins. It’s a more acidic grape, with very fresh dark fruit flavours, which produces a bright pale red wine. Cabernet Franc together with Sauvignon Blanc, are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon.
So basically here at Chateau Soutard, our enologist mix these two grapes to create a full bodied Grand Cru Classe, in which the cabernet franc provides the structure to the wine, and the merlot all the aromas and flavours that surround it.
We will be developing the whole concept of tannins as we go along, but I hope you got the grip of it so far. We will also be describing many other different grape varieties as we keep on going through this amazing trip that is allowing us to learn everyhting we can about wine.
But remember, its best if you learn the cowboy way…so follow me on Twitter @thewinecowboy, and wait for the next installment of yours truly, Alvaro Bonnelly, The Wine Cowboy!