Welcome to Part 2 of our Sparkling Wine Series! Here we have some of the back story of how sparkling wine came about, why certain grapes were used, why they’re still used today.
Although no one is sure exactly how and when it all really started, there is something of a legend regarding a certain winemaker with whom you may be familiar. Anybody heard of Dom Perignon? This fellow was a 17th century monk who was something of an avant-garde in the winemaking world. When France experienced the Little Ice Age, it caused a string of low quality vintages. The Champagne region was really struggling; meanwhile in nearby Burgundy, they were producing some really nice Pinot Noir. This is when Dom Perignon was tasked with making a high quality white wine out of Pinot Noir grapes, which as you may know are red.
Dom went straight to work and when the wine was in barrel it was sent off to be bottled. Once bottled and corked, however, it began to develop the sparkling quality possibly due to refermentation. In other words, there may have been some yeast remaining in the wine which continued to ferment in bottle, producing carbon dioxide. Sparkling wine was born and we’re forever thankful for that!
This also started the use of Pinot Noir as one of the main varietals used in a traditional sparkling wine. Other grapes include Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. The perfect blend of all three typically make up a sparkling wine from the Champagne region. Sparkling wine is usually a blend because it pulls different characteristics from each varietal. A greater, more stable effervescence comes from the Pinot Noir grape, while Chardonnay provides finesse and elegance. Not all sparkling wines are made with these same grapes. Other regions in France and throughout the world customize their blends based on the grapes they grow and the type of wines they produce.
We have Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes here at Hawk Haven Vineyard, so we chose these two to get as close to the traditional blend as we can. We made a blend of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay grapes. We are also producing our wine using the traditional method which is most commonly used by winemakers in the Champagne region. What is this traditional method of producing sparkling wine you ask? Stay tuned for our next blog about this method and two other methods used to produce sparkling wine.
If you missed it, click here for the first blog about why we call it sparkling wine and not champagne!
Have you ever wondered why some bottles of bubbly say champagne and others say sparkling wine? Long story short, it has to do with rules set by the French to protect the quality of the wine produced by the Champagne region. We don’t want to give away too much, though, so you’ll have to keep reading and we promise we’ll tell you all about it. Bear with us; there are some going to be some technical details about how this all works.
The Champagne region of France has been producing grapes for centuries and when it came to quality they set the bar. Then, other regions and countries started growing and producing wine and tried to use the name “Champagne” on their bottles. France wanted to make sure that their consumers could tell when they are picking up a high quality wine from the Champagne region (or any other region in France for that matter). This is when the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) came into place.
A wine with a designated AOC guarantees the buyer that it came from that specific geographical location. It is strictly regulated and based on the concept of terroir. In essence, they did not want any other place to take the name “Champagne” and claim it as their own, potentially tainting the reputation of the Champagne region. There are AOC’s for every wine growing region in France, and the concept became so popular that other countries started developing their own system for labeling wines. Here in the United States, for example, we have American Viticultural Areas (Hawk Haven’s is called Outer Coastal Plain).
Now, when you pick up a bottle of Champagne, you know exactly where it came from. Everything else must be labeled “sparkling wine,” including the bubbly we are producing here at Hawk Haven Winery.
In the next blog we’ll explain further the origin of sparkling wine and what types of grapes are the “proper grapes.” Stay tuned!
Scientists say that the cacao plant may face some struggles in the years leading up to 2050. This is due to the increasing temperature in the areas where the plant is being grown. The already narrow land dedicated to the cacao plant will become narrower and will have to move further and further away from its original spot. It will eventually be unable to move because it will overlap with preserved land for wildlife. Is there a way to keep the cacao plant around without disturbing any wildlife?
Save the Cacao Plant!
There is hope! The Mars chocolate company is funding a research project about the cacao plant. They have backed scientists that are doing research in order to create a cacao plant that can withstand these higher temperatures. (PHEW!) There is technology called CRISPR that allows scientists to make changes to DNA. These changes can help plants that may go extinct or produce deadly toxins when grown in hotter temperatures. Changes can be made to the DNA of the cacao plant; this should allow the plant to withstand the increasing temperatures and dryer climate that is coming to the region that the plant is grown in. We would like to say THANK YOU to the scientists and Mars for trying to keep our beloved chocolate around longer than 2050. We want to be able to pair wine and chocolate together forever, if possible!
Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekends
Just in case nothing can be done to save our beloved chocolate, you might want to get your chocolate fix in! You can do that with your friends, family, and loved ones during the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend. Pairing delicious organic chocolate with our award-winning wines. You won’t want to leave unless you have chocolate and wine in hand (and that’s extremely likely to happen)! If we didn’t convince you enough with the extinction of chocolate, click here to check out our blog about the health benefits of wine, chocolate, and getting together with friends/loved ones. Find out more details about these amazing Wine & Chocolate weekends at Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery this February 10th, 11th, 17th & 18th by clicking here or on the photo to the left.
Hello, my name is Ryan and I am excited to be taking over our first installment of the Wine Wednesday series where today I’ll be talking about one of my favorite varietals: Syrah! I love Syrah in general, but specifically Hawk Haven’s Signature Series Syrah. It is one of my favorites because although I can (and do!) drink it year-round, it’s just a little extra satisfying in the cooler months. It’s such a delicious wine and it really pairs well with the hearty, savory dishes I crave this time of year.
What Makes Syrah, Syrah
Syrah is known as a Rhone varietal, meaning it originated in the Rhone Valley region of Southern France. It is among the top 10 most grown grapes in the world, and its higher acidity makes it a great wine for aging. A lot of people have asked us what is the difference between Syrah and Shiraz, and the answer is: there’s no difference! Shiraz wines are typically from Australia and although flavor profiles may differ as they do in different regions, it’s the same exact grape varietal as Syrah.
Hawk Haven’s Unique Syrah Characteristics
When making this wine, Winemaker Todd used the skins of another Rhone varietal, Viognier, to round out the body and lend some nice floral notes to the nose. These then give way to the spicy pepper, mineral, and dark fruit aromas we expect from a well-made Syrah. On the palate, this medium-plus bodied wine offers generous minerality and notes of blackberry and fresh peppercorns, with smooth tannins lingering on the finish.
Pairing Syrah with Food
Just thinking about this wine makes me happy, but of course drinking it is even better, especially when it’s paired with something delicious. This past weekend I paired the 2015 Signature Series Syrah with two incredible dishes: Rabbit Stew, and Mushroom Bourguignon. One for the meat lovers and one for my veggie loving friends! The wine paired perfectly with both; the flavor components of the Syrah really complimented the earthy characteristics of these two savory meals. Below are the recipes to these soul-warming dishes, enjoy! And let us know why you love Syrah and your favorite pairings!
Wine and chocolate; the perfect match for any girls’ night, movie night, or special occasion, like Valentine’s Day. It’s a match that never fails, but might leave us feeling a little guilty in the end. Well, I am here to put an end to some of that guilt you are feeling! Chocolate, wine, and socializing can actually provide some health benefits for you. Yes, I said health BENEFITS! So, grab a glass of wine, some chocolate, and a friend or two and get ready to read about all the benefits that will have you indulging guilt-free!
Benefits of Chocolate
A dark chocolate, 70% cocoa content or higher, with little to no sugar in it is the best option and provides many health benefits through its richness in antioxidants and minerals. It can boost your immune system by helping increase the function of T cells in your body so they can fight off any infection or bacteria. Dark chocolate was found to reduce bad cholesterol in the body and help raise the levels of good cholesterol, which leads to better heart health and lower blood pressure. An antioxidant, flavonoid, can actually help protect your skin. It improves blood flow in the skin and protects against sun damage. Dark chocolate may also improve brain function. It increases blood flow to the brain which improves cognitive function, vision, and verbal fluency. In addition, dark chocolate is high in fiber, which means it will keep you satisfied so you can stay away from all of the other snacks you were thinking about having. Chocolate boosts your immune system, improves your cholesterol and blood pressure, protects your skin, and helps you stay full. Isn’t it amazing how something so delicious can actually provide benefits? Well, prepare for your mind to be blown even more.
Benefits of Wine
Let’s build on those chocolate benefits with some wine benefits. Yes, I said benefits again! The first benefit of wine that might have you thinking about pouring a glass for yourself is that it boosts your immune system! The flavonoids I mentioned earlier are also in wine; these naturally occurring compounds help protect your skin (as chocolate does) AND can aid in fighting off the flu and the common cold. Pretty neat. White wine contains a lot of antioxidants and these antioxidants fight off free radicals in your body. You might be thinking, what the heck does that mean!? Well, you can think of free radicals in your body as rust (your insides aren’t actually rusting it’s just an example) and antioxidants come around and clean up that rust to make sure you’re in tip top shape and everything is working properly! Just don’t drink too much wine as it may have the reverse effect. Just like chocolate, wine can lower cholesterol and improve cognitive function, too! Check out some of the other health benefits of wine on our Facebook page.
Benefits of Gathering with Friends
I just mentioned that wine and chocolate both have an effect on your immune system, right? Well, it turns out that being social with friends can also boost your health! If you are around your friends more often, it has been proven to increase the function of your immune system, in part by helping to fight off depression. So when you start to get those winter blues (we’re probably all feeling it right now) getting together with friends can help combat that and put you back on track! Socializing with friends or family can also improve your brain function; it delays memory loss and keeps us engaged mentally. Lastly, it turns out that you actually might live longer if you have more social interactions. Friends help you in times of stress and they are there to make sure that you take good care of yourself. Send a huge thank you to your friends and loved ones because they’re helping you live longer. Maybe you could bring them some chocolate and wine so you can return the favor by improving their health, too! You can do that right here; buy our wine online OR continue reading to get everything in one place!
Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend
If you don’t know what kind of chocolate or wine you should bring your friends to thank them, just bring them our way! We have all of the good stuff for the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend. Grab your significant other, your best friends, or your family and take advantage of the health benefits you’ll get from pairing chocolate with wine and interacting with friends, family, and loved ones! A warm and inviting atmosphere from the moment you walk through our doors, we’ll share all the love, wine and chocolate with you (as long as you let us have some too). We will pair 5 out of the 8 tasting wines with chocolate. To name a couple, (you’ll have to come to find out the rest!) our 2016 Chardonnay will be paired with 70% Organic Dark Chocolate with Goldenberry (another food that is antioxidant rich) and our 2016 Flying Press Red will be paired with 70% Organic Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs. My mouth is watering just thinking about these two pairings and the 3 others we have lined up! There’s a good chance that this event will help you gain all of the health benefits I mentioned above and you don’t want to pass up that opportunity, do you?
Click here or on the photo to find out more details about these amazing Wine & Chocolate weekends at Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery this February 10th, 11th, 17th & 18th.
So, go ahead, pair the wine and the chocolate together, bring a friend along, and not feel an ounce of guilt! Or maybe a little bit of guilt after you eat all the chocolate and drink all of the wine…but we don’t judge! (We’d do the same thing).
Tip: Consume everything in moderation. Yes, even the chocolate!