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Red Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These five red grapes are the components of a classic Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot usually play the lead role, while Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot act as the supporting cast. These three grapes help to add colour, structure and body in varying amounts. A Bordeaux blend typically, but not exclusively, uses at least three of the five grapes to be labeled as such, but many wines in Bordeaux and elsewhere stick to just two. The beauty of the blend? Each year the percentage of each grape in the blend can vary and the winemaker can include more of the variety that excelled in that particular vintage.

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Red Wine

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a small berry with a thick skin and a high pip to pulp ratio. This in turn creates a wine high in colour, tannin and extract. Typical Cabernet Sauvignon descriptors include blackberry, cassis, cedar and currant. Because the grape adapts to many different soils and climates, its characteristics truly reflect a sense of place.

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Red Wine

Carménère is yet another grape that was eventually exiled from the Bordeaux blend. In the late 1800s, Carménère was brought over to Chile from France, and it never turned back. For a while, Chilean growers thought this grape was Merlot and labeled their wines as such. But in the early nineties, thanks to DNA testing, vineyards were revisited and the grapes correctly labeled, and Carménère was discovered to be the backbone of many Chilean wines. You can still find plantings of Carménère in France, as well as a few other wine-growing regions, but you'll find most bottlings of this variety in Chile. With Carménère, Chileans are producing wines with good, plummy fruit, like Merlot, and firm structure, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape kicks in a heady dose of pepper and spice, which helps distinguish it from other varietals in Chile.

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White Wine

Carménère is yet another grape that was eventually exiled from the Bordeaux blend. In the late 1800s, Carménère was brought over to Chile from France, and it never turned back. For a while, Chilean growers thought this grape was Merlot and labeled their wines as such. But in the early nineties, thanks to DNA testing, vineyards were revisited and the grapes correctly labeled, and Carménère was discovered to be the backbone of many Chilean wines. You can still find plantings of Carménère in France, as well as a few other wine-growing regions, but you'll find most bottlings of this variety in Chile. With Carménère, Chileans are producing wines with good, plummy fruit, like Merlot, and firm structure, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape kicks in a heady dose of pepper and spice, which helps distinguish it from other varietals in Chile.

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White Wine

Soils are often the defining factor of a Chenin style. In the Loire, the heavier, clay-based soils are best for fostering late ripening, sweet Chenin Blanc – the chalky, more limestone-based soils are responsible for many of the lighter, crisper styles of the grape. Sweet Chenin Blanc is sometimes affected by botrytis, the mold that creates the sweet wines of Sauternes. These wines are long lasting and like honey and nectar on the palate. The dry style of Chenin Blanc is a crisp, refreshing wine with citrus flavours offset by an almost creamy texture. Good Chenin Blancs are delightful wines, versatile with a wide range of food depending on their sweetness level.

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Red Wine

Malbec is used in small amounts in Bordeaux blends to add colour and tannin. In Cahors, where it is also known as “cot,” the grape makes wines there that are full-bodied and able to mature – these wines are dark and sometimes gamey, but delicious – they like to call it the "black" wine of Cahors. But attribute its quick rise in popularity to Argentina. There, Malbec has hit its stride – the grape produces spicy wines reminiscent of blackberries and chocolate, with a velvety texture. Ranging from excellent value to higher-priced collectibles, Argentina has truly made this grape its own.

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