Archive for October, 2006

Last night I left a 6-day fieldwork from somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I needed to travel with a old stylish ferry back to civilization. When I got on boat, the sun was almost gone. I could only hear engine and breeze. It was a silent evening.

 It was not finished, however, my message was gone when I tried to upload it. I had no mood to rewrite it again…that’s all.


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The last whole week I was kind of disconnected with the virtual world. I even had no mood to write anything here, as I was too stessful to find out the real problem of my computer. As today my computer at home is finally working fine and I am very free at my work today (as usual), to put a comma at the problem, I am writing and trying to be more sophisticated here, I will write something about wine bottle shapes.

Shapes of wine bottles vary between regions and also types of grapes.

101119.jpgFor Bordeaux region and Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, the typical Bordeaux blends, what we usually can get is taller, thinner bottles and the “slope” of the bottle is high and not “smooth”.

bouteilles_rouge.jpgFor Burgundy(Bourgogne) region and wines made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir , we can see a fatter bottles with “A-shape shoulder slope”. Wines from Loire Valley in France also share this kind of shape.

00486408h.jpgFor wines from Alsace (Northeastern France) and made of Riesling, a tall “hoch bottle” is used. I will put three types of bottle shapes here when I am at home. (Damn! Safari in MAC cant support toolbar on wordpress)

And we always can see a common feature of wine bottles – the concave “trough” at the bottom. It is called “punt”. The reasons of having punt in the bottles are lost in the history. It might be a prehistorial artifact (glass-blowing techniques in the old days) or it has its real function – to strengthen the bottle (usually for sparkling wines) or to consolidate the deposits/residue at the bottom. Anyways, what people widely believe, is it represents a high quality of wine! The wineries follow the old day style of wine bottles and put punts at the bottom. I hope I got a right reason of why the punt exists. If I present some wrong information, please inform me.

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desktop at home got virus and is dead.

My computer has a new windows and all my files in c drive are gone. Luckily, my old data, including photos or stuff are in d drive. All my memories are in d drive, i couldnt imagine if they are busted, how I will react…cry? the memories since I was 19 years old are in d drive, it is almost like my brain, is an external brian to store something that I don’t usually put in my real one. If one day I want to recall them, I need this external one. Thanks whoever, my brain is still alive!

Again, two things in the world we never can trust: men and computers

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map from: http://www.stratsplace.com/maps/f_medoc.html

Medoc is situated at the left bank of Garonne River in area of Bordeaux. The primary variety of grapes is cabernet sauvignon. The growing season in Medoc is 2 weeks longer than in Saint Emilion at the right bank of the rive as the water moderates the cold fronts. As a result, cabernet sauvignon in Medoc always comes to full maturity. I guess the combination of cabernet sauvignon with Medoc would be not a bad wine anyways. Besides this, as it is located at the downstream of the river, the texture and flavours vary due to the texture of the soil. The more downstrean, the finer sand or clay we will get from the river. This makes the wines texture and flavours coarser(well..I am not sure how the flavour can be coarse..but it is stated in the web).

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Okay…I bought a bottle of wine at Pak’n Shop today, coincidentaly I bought one which is manufactured purposely for A.S. Watson Wine. Its brand name is Cellar Selection, which means it doesnt belong to any of Chateaux. Anyways, the wine is blended in Medoc, a region within Bordeaux. It has “Appellation Medoc Controlee” however it is not bottled at the castle(vineyard) but at the region of the production. At the back, it states the wine is made of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. So since my first “trial” wine is from Medoc, I start studying Medoc in more detail.

I dont know how to describe the taste of the wine. It is not very dry not fruity but it is quite rich in favour. It at least drives me drink more and more as it also has mouthfilling texture. However it is not very smooth and I feel my tongue a bit rough after drinking it.

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I am learning all of grapes from this link:


The previous post I mentioned about 8 types of grapes (5 for red wines – rouge and 3 for white wines – blanc).

Red wines:

The first one is Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe it is too common and well, in fact I just have known these days that it is a kind of grapes. I thought it is just a name of a brand or whatever. Anyways, it is a dark thick-skinned grape and best grows in warm, semi-arid regions. It as well contains a lot of Tanins (a substance which helps long-aging). According to the website, cabernet sauvignon wines give smell of black currant with bell pepper, to this point I have nothing to say as I am only drinking wines with my eyes so far, not with my tongue.

Merlot is a family member of Cabernet Sauvignon, which has lower in tanins. Since it has lower tanins, the merlot wines can be mature faster and softer. So some wines which are made of Cabernet Sauvignon contain Merlot as well to softern the texture. Again according to the website, merlot wines give a ripe berry component in bouquet(smell in wine’s world). Wines tend to be soft, fruity and smooth in texture. Espically for merlot wines, cooling the bottle for 15-20 mins in the fridge is good to give the best taste of the wines.

Cabernet Franc is often used in Bordeaux. However it is not the major grape for wines. It is usually used to enhance the aroma and acidity. It makes wines light and fruiter than cabernet sauvignon.

Malbec, like cabernet franc, is not the main role of the wines. It is a thin-skinned grape which needs more sunlight to grow. It is relatively harder to mature than merlot and cabernet sauvignon. It owns a very small percentage of the blend. It gives dry, mouthfilling taste if it is a good one. Malbec nowadays is used less and less in Bordeaux but Argentina is its new home.

Petit Verdot, like cabernet franc or malbec, its function is to give advantage to the wine. It has a very deep purple colour and a strong tanin structure. Petit verdot at the same time is growing in market of California as the weather is more suitable of it.

White wines:

Sauvignon Blanc can give different favours according the environment in where it grows. It grows in a warm climate (in which it usually adapts), it gives “melon” favours and more acidic. If it grows in a cooler climate region, it can give a favour of “grassy/herbal”. Sauvignon blanc usually is good when it is served with seafood.

Semillon is always blended with other grapes (e.g. sauvignon blanc) as to take advantage from different grapes. Semillon has a high ability to age for a long period of time.

Muscadelle usually enhances the favour in the bouquet. It gives fruitiness to the taste in the wines.

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Taking Bordeaux as the first lesson, in fact many districts/regions in Bordeaux are famous in producing wines.

Map of Vineyards of Bordeaux

Bordeaux is located at southwestern France and those famous vineyards include Medoc, Pomerol, St.Emilion, Graves and Sauternes.

Medoc at the same has been divided into many sub-regions, some famous are St. Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, haut-medoc and Margaux. While the well-known castle (chateau) Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour are from Pauillac.

Pomerol has one famous castle: Chateau Petrus.

St. Emilion has two well-known castles: Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval-Blanc.

Graves has one well-known castle which actually can share the same reputation with C. Latfite or so. This is Chateau Haut Brion.

There are only 6 authorized grapes (but one is abandoned) can be used in wines labelled Bordeaux. They are:

For red wines: 1)Cabernet Sauvignon; 2) Merlot; 3) Cabernet Franc; 4) Melbac; 5) Petit Verdoc

For white wines: 1)Sauvignon Blanc; 2) Semillon; 3) Muscadelle

So now it comes to varieties of grapes, it is another big topic…perhaps I should start another topic to write about this.

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