Curious Wine Blog

Small Sips #8: Malbec

MALBEC IS A DARK-SKINNED GRAPE that is most associated with the high-altitude (up to 3,000 metres!), desert vineyards of Argentina's Mendoza region. The variety is in fact originally from southwest France, where it is still widely cultivated today, especially in Cahors.

Recipe: Steak Tartare

STEAK TARTARE, a legendary French dish dating from the early 20th century, isn't for everyone but if you love steak and you're not squeamish about the whole 'raw meat' thing it can be pretty amazing, and not difficult to do.

Grape Focus: Sauvignon Blanc

SAUVIGNON BLANC, the world’s eight most-planted grape, hails originally from Bordeaux and the Loire but is today cultivated in every country that makes wine. Famous regions that specialise in it include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Bordeaux, Casablanca (Chile), Friuli (Italy) and the Adelaide Hills.

Curious Small Sips #6: Crianza

CRIANZA is a general Spanish wine term relating to the maturation of a wine prior to its sale. But it also has a locally-defined meaning: in Rioja, for example, a red Crianza must legally spend at least one year in oak barrel (generally not new) plus a year in bottle.

Country Focus: Portugal

PORTUGAL IS A REFRESHINGLY EXOTIC ‘mainstream’ wine producer: hardly anyone has heard of its regions, with one notable exception; mention of its extensively-used native grapes – 200 are in use - prompts blank-faced head scratching in all but the most devoted oenophiles.

Recipe: Peri Peri Roast Chicken

PERI PERI ('pepper pepper') is a traditional Portuguese sauce that dates from the fifteenth century. Depending on how it's made it can be incendiary stuff, but if you're a bit wimpy you can tame the fiery heat by just skimping on the chillies and Tabasco.

Grape Focus: Grenache

GRENACHE, the world’s 7th most-planted grape, is an increasingly-fashionable Mediterranean variety that is grown extensively across the wine world's warmer spots, particularly either side of the Pyrenees and in South Australia.

Regional Focus: Rueda

RUEDA, 100km northwest of Madrid, was something of a sleepy backwater until the 1980s when massive Rioja house Marques de Riscal ‘discovered’ and popularised local sleeping beauty grape Verdejo, in the process propelling the region into the spotlight.

Country focus: New Zealand

THE WORLD'S MOST ISOLATED COUNTRY, separated by three hours’ flight time from its nearest neighbour Australia, New Zealand lies between 36° and 45° south. Indeed it is the planet’s southernmost wine-producing nation and boasts also its most easterly wine region, Gisborne.

Regional Focus: The Rhône

The Rhône, in southeast France, is the country’s second-largest wine region after Bordeaux; but it’s really best considered as two separate, distinct, areas. The elevated northGrows mostly Syrah, and makes barely a tenth of the Rhône’s wine but more-or-less monopolises the zone’s glamour.