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Frank:
A friend of mine likes oaky Chardonnays and asked for the name of some good Ontario ones. Not being from Ontario, I was at a loss for recommendations.
Any suggestions?
Jim Knowles

PS.The oakier the better.
PPS. I had a question about vineyard purchase. You gave me some helpful info. I bought one in the Prince Edward County, 51 acres.

Jim,
Any Chardonnays that have the designation Reserve on the label, for a start! That's the code for mucho oak!
Cave Spring, Henry of Pelham, Flat Rock, Chateau des Charmes, Peninsula Ridge - all do a good oaky Reserve versions.
Good luck with the County acreage and keep me in the loop as it progresses.
Frank

 
Frank,
How long can I keep a bottle of White Riesling in the fridge after opening it? What is the best way to reseal it? Thank you for your help.  – Wendy Zurawski

Wendy,
The answer is: Five days if you simply put a cork in the bottle and it back in the fridge. If you can find a half-bottle then save and cork the remaining wine in that, it will last twice as long. Air is the enemy of wine and the smaller the container, and the less air above the wine, the better. There's a product called Private Preserve, which is a canister of neutral, heavier than air gas. You inject a spritz into any opened bottle, the gas settles on the wine surface and seals out the air. Presto! It's as though you never opened the wine!
I have little faith in the Vacu-Vin type products because they depend on extracting all the remaining air from the bottle - almost impossible except in a laboratory situation.
So, the secret is - a smaller bottle if possible or Private Preserve. But the fridge does help. Most of this applies to red wines also, Wendy. They also improve with a few days of exposure to air.
The worst thing that can happen is that you end up with vinegar for your salad dressing!
Regards, Frank

 
Frank,
I have had a 1973 Mirassou Monterey Johannisberg Riesling in a dark cool place since I received it three years ago. I am not very familiar with the wine and would like to know what its rating if any is, and how best to enjoy it?
Thank you, Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth, I'm pretty sure your wine will now be a good vinaigrette! Even if it has been correctly cellared in a cool, dark cellar for its entire life, it is likely to be over the hill.
Sorry. It's worth a try, though, so go ahead and open it. You'll find its color going towards amber and not too much fruit will still survive on the palate. But do give it a shot.
Just don't plan on it being the only wine you have available with dinner! Let me know how it turns out.
Frank

 
I have had two bottles of wine sitting around collecting dust and I haven't been able to find anything online to tell me about them until I found your page. I guess what I want to know is if they are still good and what are they worth? The wines are, Benton Grove Vintage Selection 1995 and Marcus James Special Reserve Chardonnay Vale Aurora.

Sorry to disappoint you, but.... Benton Grove is a North Carolina wine made from inferior Muscadine grapes usually used for jams and jellies, and past its best. Marcus James is a big Argentine producer, decent quality/value, but not Chardonnay for the long haul, they're best enjoyed young and fresh.
Drink up now!

 
I am having an Afternoon High Tea Shower for my niece. There will be 40 women attending and we would like to serve a glass or two of champagne as the guest arrive. My budget is in the $200 range. What and how much would you suggest. I've left this a little late and hope that you can get back to me in the next couple of days.

You need 18-20 bottles for 40 people, which equals about $10 per bottle on your $200 budget. Since it's a group of ladies, you might get by with less wine, so you can afford a little more, which would then allow you to purchase one or more Marques de Monistrol Cava Brut Reserva; Segura Viudas Lavit Rosado Brut Cava; Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut Cava; Vallformosa Claudia Parellada/Muscat 2005.
Have a great afternoon!

 
I recently bought some 2004 Australian Shiraz including Amon-Ra, Mitolo River, Tatiarra The Trademark, Glaetzer Estate and Delisio Krystina, among others. I realize each wine is different but can you tell me, in general, what is the optimum age at which to drink these wines and what, in general, is the longest they can age before starting to deteriorate?

Oz Shiraz tends to be made for (very enjoyable) short to medium term consumption - all sweet fruit, robust alcohol, soft tannins and moderate acidity. As a general rule, they're best with a couple of years on them, peaking around five, tiring at eight years, toast at 10-12.

For more ageable Shiraz/Syrah, you'd be looking at the Northern Rh┘nes of France, which also happen to be lower alcohol/higher acidity and elegantly food friendly. 

How does one determine how long to cellar a wine to achieve its peak? Are there any guidelines for different varietals?

Where to begin? Certain grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Malbec (can require years of aging to mellow out and become smooth and silky. That's their nature, and you need to know which wines are made from these grapes: wines like red Bordeaux, Piemonte reds, Chianti and so forth . . . Best bet is to buy maybe three bottles of each wine you like. Taste one now and see how tannic (austere) it is now, taste the second in 2-3 years, and the third in 5-7 years. This is how you'll learn to gauge the ageability of the wines. Other reds, like Pinot Noir (Burgundy), Tempranillo (Rioja), Gamay (Beaujolais), and Cabernet Franc (Loire) are softer, and they mature much earlier. It's good to have a mix in your cellar so there's always something ready now!

 
Dear Frank,
Hello there I'm from Cork, Ireland. I found your address online I have an Avignonesi Grifi 1988. Could tell me if its worth anything, if its gonna be sour, or basically give me some advice? I don't know much about wines to be honest but I love red wine and I got this bottle for a couple of euro recently thinking I'd made a steal. Anyway I'd appreciate your advice.
If its any help it says on the bottom of the label Vino da Tavola Rosso di Toscana.
Regards, Shane Power

Dear Shane,
There's an '88 offered by Italian Wine Merchants in New York for US180, but I suspect that it's the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
The '86 Rosso is going for about $37 in the US right now. The key here is Vino da Tavola Rosso di Toscana - your basic Tuscan red, not a single-vineyard riserva.
Probably good salad dressing but hey, for 2 euros, what the heck! Treat it nicely, give it chance to rest and enjoy it with a nice Steak Florentine.
Could be a pleasant surprise! Let me know.
Frank

PS: Here's some historical background on the Avignonesi: In 1309 pope Clement V transferred the papal residence from Rome to Avignon. In 1377, when Pope Gregory XI moved the residence back to Rome, some noble families of Avignon left France to follow him.

One family became known as Avignonesi. They separated into three branches which settled in Rome, Siena and Montepulciano. The Montepulciano cellars are among the most ancient in Italy.

Palazzo Avignonesi was designed by Jacopo Barozzi (called Vignola) in the 16th century and houses the cellars. In 1974 the Falvo brothers, vineyard owners in Cortona, took over Avignonesi and invested greatly in viticulture, using local varieties and introducing Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir.

Nowadays, Avignonesi consists of four wine estates: Le Capezzine, I Poggetti, La Selva and La Lombarda with 109 ha of vineyards and 3 of olive groves. Le Capezzine, near Valiano di Montepulciano, has been impeccably restored.

It contains spacious cellars for vinification, for ageing and storing, the vinsantaia, warehouses and offices. The estate comprises 19 hectares, of which 8 hectares of vineyards divided as follows: 6 of Alberello vines in the "settonce" pattern; 1 dedicated to density experimentation in a circular vineyard and 1 to growing 127 ancient varieties indigenous to Montepulciano, today in danger of extinction.

 
Hi Frank,
I continue to enjoy Wine Express, keep going with it. Lately I have developed reactions to some wines. Not quite sure what is causing it. However, I tried organic wine and this seems to be helping. My suggestion: Could you publish a list of organic wines as I hear from other friends that they have also reactions to wines, especially the red ones.
My second question is: How long can one keep an open bottle? I usually seal it with one of the pumps taking the air out and store it in the fridge. I would appreciate hearing from you about this. Thanks!
Elsbeth Wright

Dear Elsbeth,
Good to hear from you. The culprit for most people who have an adverse reaction to wine is...sulfites.
A weak solution of potassium metabisulfite is used in all commercial wine making equipment and containers to sterilize them and knock out the airborne bacteria that turn wine into vinegar. They rinse the bottles, too, just before filling them for distribution.
Fortunately and very happily, sulfites are very volatile and you can get rid of them quite easily.
Open your wine, white and red, at least 30 minutes before serving, take a wide-mouthed jar or jug, pour the wine vigorously, i.e. from as high as you can, and aerate it into the jug.
If it's a white, put it back in the fridge. But you need to let it air for at least a half hour.
Voila, the sulfites will be gone and you'll not have any more problems.
It's good for the reds anyway, because it allows them to open up properly and show their real stuff!
Organics use as little sulfites as possible, so the need to aerate them is not so urgent. I'll try to get a list of the available ones for you.
Meanwhile, some poorly made wines might have an excess of sulfites -- they exhibit what we call a "burnt match" aroma. This is a major fault and the wine should be returned for refund.
Kind regards
Frank

PS The best wine keeper is Private Preserve, a canister of inert, heavier than air gases that you spritz into the bottle after it's opened.

The gases completely cover the surface of the wine and it's as though the wine was never opened. Magic! Way better than the Vacu-vin type of treatment. Remember: nature abhors a vacuum and it's almost impossible to create one outside a lab. The cans, which are light as a feather and feel as tho there's nothing in them are good for more than 100 bottles and are at the LCBO for around $15-ish at last count. In the fridge is still a good idea for reds and whites but let the reds warm to room temp before the next pour.

Elsbeth wrote back:

Hi Frank, I guess the act of treating the wine before drinking is also called, decanting and I have seen the most beautiful glass jugs, bottles, etc. for it.
Cheers, Elsbeth

Dear Elsbeth,
Decanting in the traditional sense is done to leave behind the harmless but unsightly deposit that's "thrown" in the bottle by tannic red wines, such as Port, for example, as they mature.
This is a rather elegant pouring procedure – and its gentler aeration is also aimed at helping to open up the wine's flavors – compared to the vigorous aeration I'm recommending to deal with sulfites.

 
Hi Frank,
I have a 2004 Chhâteau de Châtelard Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vignes, purchased on impulse. When should I drink it? When a Beaujolais (or any wine, for that matter) has a 'long finish', does it tend to have better ability to age?
Must say, great to find your website.
Many thanks, Craig Grummer

Dear Craig,
This is a wine from the Gamay grape: Gamay originates in France's Beaujolais region, and is also grown in Burgundy, the Loire and Rhône Valleys, Switzerland, California and Ontario. It's the grape of lively, fruity Beaujolais, including top wines from the Beaujolais villages of Ch╚nas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, and the Beaujolais Nouveau wine, too!) The taste is deliciously fruity, fragrant and vivacious, like wild strawberries, with touches of violets, peardrops, bananas, becoming more like a red burgundy (Pinot Noir) with age. The one you have is worth keeping another 2-4 years. The 2004 vintage is stunning, one of the best ever, fresh, full and fragrant, a good wine that will benefit with some bottle age.
Kind regards, Frank

Dear Frank,
How does one determine how long to cellar a wine to achieve its peak? Are there any guidelines for different varietals? – Daniel Poudrier

Daniel,
Where to begin? Certain grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Malbec and so forth, do require years of aging to mellow out and become smooth and silky.
That's their nature, and you need to know which wines are composed of these grapes: wines like red Bordeaux, Piemonte reds, Chianti and so forth...
Best bet is to buy maybe three of each wine you like. Taste one now and see how tannic (austere) it is now, taste the second in 2-3 years, and the third in 5-7 years.
This is how you'll learn to gauge the ageability of the wines.
Other reds, like Pinot Noir (Burgundy), Tempranillo (Rioja), Gamay, Cabernet Franc, are softer and mature much earlier.
It's good to have a mix in your cellar so that there's always something ready now!
Kind regards, Frank

 
Dear Frank,
I recently bought some 2004 Australian Shiraz including Amon-Ra Shiraz, Mitolo Reiver Shiraz, Tatiarra 'the trademark' Shiraz, Glaetzer Estate Shiraz and Delisio Shiraz Krystina among others.
I realize each wine is different, but can you tell me, in general, what is the optimum age at which to drink these wines and what, in general, is the longest they can age before starting to deteriorate.
Thanks, Mike Liebergall

Dear Mike,
Oz Shiraz tends to be made for (very enjoyable) short to medium-term consumption – all sweet fruit, robust alcohol, soft tannins and moderate acidity.
As a general rule, they're best with a couple of years on them, peaking around five, tiring at eight years, toast at 10-12.
For more ageable Shiraz/Syrah, you'd be looking at the Northern Rhônes of France, which also happen to be lower alcohol/higher acidity and elegantly food friendly.
Regards, Frank

 
Frank,
I just watched Oprah today with Dr. Oz .
Dr. Oz says it's healthy to drink two glasses of red wine a day because red wine contains something in the skin of red grapes (white is made without the skin contact) that is a cancer and heart helper.
We buy our wine from a store that uses concentrated juice mix (you place your order and then go and bottle it 6 weeks later).
My question is: Do you think there is a difference between a store-bought wine and the juice concentrate from a health point of view?
Don in Orillia, Ontario

Don,
Resveratrol (the good stuff for your heart) is primarily found in the skins of the red and black grapes, as you know. Reds from cool-climate regions like Ontario, Bordeaux and Burgundy are the highest in this beneficial compound.
I've not seen any studies but my take would be that there's still a fair amount of resveratrol in the juice concentrate, and therefore in the finished wine.
However, nothing can touch the wine from fresh fruit for maximum health value, so why not also include a few glasses of commercial wines in your personal intake?
Couldn't hurt!
Kind regards, Frank

 
Dear Frank,
I have recently returned from Portugal where I was given a 1.5L bottle of red wine. The front of the bottle says 1989 Reserva Dao Terras Tomas Ribeiro. Will the wine still be OK to drink and would you know what it is worth? I cannot find any information on the Net about this wine so you are my only hope.
Thanks for your time. – Wesley Simm

Wesley,
You have a pleasant enough dry, fruity red that will be drinking well now (magnums age longer than 750 mLs) and this should be the backbone of a fine BBQ or a dinner built around a good red-meat main course.
Little or no resale value at auction, but would cost $30-$40 to buy today.
Enjoy, Frank

 
Dear Frank,
I recently started working a restaurant and my manager said we need to learn the seven noble grape varieties, but when I try to find that information all I get is answers to "noble rot". Can you list them for me? Thank you. – A. Glen

Dear A.G.,
There are more than seven "noble" grape varieties that make the finest wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, (the main grapes of Bordeaux), Pinot Noir from Burgundy, and Syrah (Shiraz) from the Rhone, the major reds -- and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon (Bordeaux), Chenin Blanc (Loire) and Riesling (from Germany), for the major whites. There are others, like Viognier, Tempranillo from Rioja, etc., but they can come later!
Kind regards, Frank

PS Noble rot, by the way, is the benevolent version of the fungus botrytis cinerea that desiccates the grapes, and turns the wine into those honeyed sweet sippers, Sauternes, being the best known!

 
Hello Frank,
I have recently purchased 73 bottles of wine - 32 white and 41 red -- they are both Australian Banrock wines. The white is a Chardonnay and the red is a Shiraz. I will be keeping the bottles stored until June next year, a period of 9 months.
The wine was bottled in 2004. Will it keep until next June? It is a screw cap.
Thanks, Graeme Yates

No problem, Graeme.
Wines under screw cap have been seen to age well for up to 20 years.
However, the Banrock white is not designed for quite that long a life.
Two to three years would be confidently expected.
Therefore OK to 2007.
The screw cap will keep it fresh and avoid the possibility of being tainted by a bad cork.
Regards, Frank

 
Frank,
My buddy and I have been making wine for 14 years now. Although we both agree on good old Zinfandel as our favorite, we have made other varietals. We are looking for something different to add to our list.
In the past, we have made Pinot Noir, straight Cab, Cab/Merlot, straight Merlot, Barbera/Merlot (which was really good) and, of course, the classic Zinfandel/Alicante mix. If you can come up with a few suggestions for a full-body red we would be grateful.
Thanks, John Cetrulo from Jersey

Hi John,
Syrah (Shiraz) and Sangiovese leap to mind as blenders, especially with your Cabs and Merlots.
A contribution of smoky, tarry elegance from the Syrah and high-acid, bright berry fruit notes, Chianti-style, from the Sangiovese. Think Barbera/Merlot with a little more complexity here...
Sangiovese would work with the Zin, too.
Happy winemaking! Frank

 
Dear Frank,
I am handicapped (or disabled however it's called these days), and unable to attend wine tasting events, which is probably what I should do.
For years I've been trying red wines, but I'm not fond of dry red ones. When I manage to get to a Liquor Store and ask for help, usually they give me a red wine and say it has a sweet taste (it doesn't). Once I got a red wine that had a one rating and it was with a guarantee that I would love it – it was horrible. I don't know what category I should be looking into, but do they have one ratings these days?
If you can help a bumbling amateur, I sure would appreciate it (a deep, hopeless sigh). – Patricia Yelle

Hi Pat,
We're all learners! Some of us just practice more than others...
The bad news is that most red table wines are dry! Almost all the red and white table wines on the shelves are rated 0 or 1.
A sugar rating code of 1 is almost bone-dry!
I suggest that you should be buying wines rated at 3-10 and I'll bet that you'd enjoy Ruby, Tawny or LBV port.
Among the whites, you might enjoy Moscato d'Asti, an aromatic and somewhat off-dry Italian summer white. Late Harvest Ontario Rieslings are delicious. Rieslings as a category tend to be off-dry to sweet, except for anything marked Riesling Dry! And white Zinfandels are sweetish. More elegant are Amontillado Sherry (not Fino!) and Madeira.
One little trick: if you get trapped with a dry red that's just undrinkable, add a little Ribena or Creme de Cassis, and stir!
Kind regards, Frank

 
Frank,
I have a tough question for you. I would like to purchase a number of bottles from 1995 and 1998 vintages, that I will drink when they are from 13 to 30 years old. These are the years my daughters were born, and I will buy 3 bottles from each vintage to be opened at their Bat Mitzvah (13 years old), graduation (about 22) and wedding (hopefully before they turn 30).
So, obviously the wines need to be from a fabulous vintage for the region, and have to be able to age for as much as 30 years and not be past their prime. The region does not matter to me. As for price, up to $100 per bottle is OK.
I've been doing some research and it seems that few wines can last as much as 30 years. If that's not possible, I suppose Vintage Port would be OK, except that I don't think that there were Vintage Ports from either year.
Lastly, I need to be able to purchase these from the LCBO.
Best regards, Corey Miller

Corey,
You've waited a little long to have the greatest selection from these vintages, however...
You could still buy, from the LCBO Classics Catalogue:
Bordeaux reds from '95, a great year, Leoville-Barton, $129; Montrose, $139.
Barca Velha '95, a big, ageable Portuguese red from the Douro, $99.
Rhone '98: Hermitage Le Pied de la C┘te, $95... excellent vintage.
Barolo '98 Ginestra Riserva from Paolo Conterno, $85.

There are no Vintage Ports for those years: However, if you can find Quinta or "estate" Ports such as Quinta da Noval, which are produced in the non-declared years, they'll be fine, or look for Madeiras, the longest-lasting wines of all!
Happy hunting! Frank

 
Frank,
I'm having some wine shipped to me from a vineyard near the Central Coast of California, where I invested in a winery. The owner is sending me the wine but asked me how many cases I wanted sent. I don't know how many bottles are in a case. Is it 6? is it 9? And I am to embarrassed to ask him. Please let this be our little secret. How many bottles of wine are there in a case?
Thanks R.K.

Dear R.K.,
Not a dumb question.
Usually 12 bottles per case, quite often 6, but you really do need to ask.
No reason to be embarrassed, there are no rules and it's up to the individual wineries. They all vary in their practices and they may ship (highest quality/most expensive wines) in sixes and others in twelves.
Champagne and sparkling wines are generally in sixes.
Frank

 

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