Monthly Archives: June 2012

Article: Bordeaux Wine Region

If you’ve made the decision to get serious about making some fine wine, chances are that your friends are looking to you for answers to some of their most pressing questions about wine.  To provide some assistance in this regard, and to enhance your overall cocktail party savvy, let’s explore some common French viticulture, starting this month with Bordeaux.

Bordeaux is a city of about one million population located on the west coast of France exactly half way between the equator and the North Pole – that is, at 45º north latitude, the same latitude as Minneapolis.  While its climate is greatly tempered by its proximity to the sea, it nonetheless is plagued by a short growing season and by severe vicissitudes in wind and weather.  A winemaker I visited there told me that they see California-style brix “only one year in twenty.”  Chaptalization (addition of sugar) is mandatory.  Thus, Bordeaux wines leave the gate with muscular tannins, a good dose of acid and only a nod at the warm fruitiness we have come to expect in California.

That the raw cabernets of Bordeaux needed taming became apparent hundreds of years ago, when five main wines rose to the top and became what we now call the Blends of Bordeaux.  These are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  Though, in truth, one would be hard pressed to find many Bordeaux’s containing Malbec today.  Bordeaux is also home to some white wines – Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc principally; and to the richly sweet Sauternes of Graves’.  More than 80% of Bordeaux wines are reds.

There are 57 appellations, 13,000 growers and 10,000 wineries in Bordeaux.  Together, they blanket the world with nearly 900 million bottles of wine annually.

Cabernet Sauvignon, structured and intense, forms the backbone of all red Bordeaux’s.  Merlot, round and supple; is the flesh on Cabernet Sauvignon’s bones.  Cabernet Franc, used in most Bordeaux’s, provides some violet and spice.  Malbec, if used at all, contributes softness.  Petit Verdot, used like Malbec in small quantities or not at all, helps with alcohol and structure.

Any two of these wines used in combination may be called a Bordeaux, though a typical blend in the west (near the city of Bordeaux) is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and others.  In the east (near St. Emilion), the blend might be 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% others.  Chateau Petrus uses a blend of 91% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The British call Bordeaux’s “clarets.”  In the U.S., we call them anything BUT Bordeaux’s, since the TTB requires that 75% of a wine’s fruit originate in the viticultural area represented on the label.  “Meritage” (rhymes with “heritage”), is a registered term used by some California wineries to denote a wine made with California Bordeaux varietals.

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June 20, 2012 Meeting – Varietal Focus Groups

This gallery contains 13 photos.

The SHW Club spent a wonderful evening sharing our experiences in making Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, and Portz within our club varietal focus groups.  We also recognized the June Jubilee Best of Show winners Donna Brown, Neil Shleffar, … Continue reading

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2012 June Jubilee

This gallery contains 37 photos.

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Club of the Year Benefits

As shared in previous announcements and the June 2012 The Grapevine ( ), Sacramento Home Winemakers won the distinction of Club of the Year in the 2012 WineMaker International Amateur Winemaking Competition.

Quality Wine and Ale Supply (, one of the competition’s sponsors extends a 10% discount for Sacramento Home Winemakers members through October 31, 2012. Quality Wine and Ale Supply provides the following instructions:

You MUST follow the procedure below to receive your 10% club discount…
Enter to our website via this link:
Your credentials are:
Password: cluboftheyear2012
Your 10% discount will show on the FINAL checkout page.
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Cabernet Franc Grapes (for a split of the yield)

To: Sacramento Home Winemakers

We have 210 – 220 vines of Cabernet Franc, that due to personal time constraints we will be unable to process and bottle. They are located in Granite Bay, California.

We would like to find someone interested in processing and bottling this wonderful fruit in exchange for some split of the yield, please call or email to discuss.

(916) 879-5483 – Thanks, Bob Jahn



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Next Meeting June 20, 2012

Program: Varietal Focus Group Presentation
Join us for our regular monthly meeting at the Turn Verein on
Wednesday, June 20th at 7 pm. Our program will consist of table top
presentations of the wines of the five Varietal Focus Groups that were
formed last fall: Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Petit Sirah, Tempranillo,
and Port.

Mentors Joy Smathers, Steve Barrett, Donna Bettencourt,
and Henry Wilkinson, respectively, will relate the challenges and
successes of the group, and members of the group will share their
comments as well.

The passionate growers of the grapes will also
present and include: Gerald Cresci (Chardonnay), Warren Bogle (Petite
Sirah), Layne Montgomery (Tempranillo), and Andy Standeven (Port
varietals). Members will then be invited to taste these wines, as they
travel from table to table.

Also, there will be a short demonstration of our new website by Judy
Pinegar, our newly appointed web master.

Please bring a wine glass for your use. Thanks to all for helping set up
before the meeting. We are to vacate the meeting room by 9:30 PM
and your help in facilitating the clean‐up is appreciated.

‐‐ Donna Bettencourt, President


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Sweet Cherries for Wine Making Wanted

SHW Member Jamie Kojak is in search of 20-30 pounds of sweet black cherries to make wine with.  If you know of a tree, please contact Jamie directly at:

916 833-1224


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Club of the Year!! WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition

From: Brad Ring
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 5:51 AM
Subject: Club of the Year
To: Donna Bettencourt, President SHW

Hi Donna,
Congrats on your award. The Club of the Year is given to the winemaking club whose members earned the most medals during the competition weighted for type of medal earned (gold-3 points, silver – 2 points, bronze – 1 point). We had our big awards dinner and ceremony last Saturday night on the campus of Cornell University in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region. Steve Barrett from your club was on hand to accept the trophy – an etched wine carafe. I’ve attached a photo of Steve from the ceremony. You just beat out the Contra Costa Wine Group from the East Bay area (who had won the award the last few years). As you might know the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition is the largest event of its kind in the world. This year we had 4,318 entries arrive from all 50 states, 8 Canadian provinces and 7 different countries so as Club of the Year you’ve certainly earned bragging rights. In a few months I would be happy to send you out the 2013 competition entry forms you can distribute to your membership so you can defend your Club of the Year title next year! Next year’s WineMaker Conference and awards ceremony will take place closer to you in Monterey on May 17 & 18 and I hope to see many of your members in attendance. Again, congrats and please let me know if you have any questions.


Brad Ring
Brew Your Own magazine, WineMaker magazine
WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition

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Article:Burgundy Wine Reigon

Burgandy Map

In battling through the French wine industry with its Bordeaux’s, Grand Cru’s, terriors and AOC’s, it is refreshing to visit Burgundy, where it is almost California-like with its concentration on varietals: All red Burgundies are pinot noir, and all white Burgundies are chardonnay.

Well, more or less. A neutral-tasting high-acid grape, Aligoté, is grown in the region and used for the sparkling wine, Crémant de Bourgogne. Also, the red grape, Gamay is used to produce Beaujolais – but while Beaujolais is technically within the Burgundy wine region, it is universally identified as a Beaujolais. Likewise Chablis, in the extreme northern portion of Burgundy, is made of 100% chardonnay fruit but retains the name of the sleepy little town of Chablis.

By the way, never, ever confuse a sumptuous French Chablis with the cheap American and Australian jug wines which pirated the name, “Chablis,” though they never contained a drop of chardonnay.

Of all the wine regions in the world famous for red wine, Burgundy is the coolest and most northern, situated in eastern France roughly between the cities of Dijon and Lyon. The climate is continental, with very cold winters and hot summers. Rain, hail and frost are all possible around harvest time. Therefore, year-to-year variations among Burgundies can be great, going from exalted to depressing in a single year. Drinking Burgundy is, in fact, wine’s ultimate crap shoot.

There is archaeological evidence to suggest that viticulture was established in Burgundy as early as 51 BC. The earliest written praise of Burgundy wine was recorded in 591, though the fruit at that time was probably Fromenteau — chardonnay came along much later.

Burgundy wines have experienced much change over the past 75 years. First, there was the economic depression of the 1930’s, followed by the devastation of war in the 1940’s. Ravaged and depleted vineyards were lovingly restored, using potassium fertilizers, until in the 1950’s the region produced some of the most stunning wines of the 20th century.

Over the next 30 years the vines were over fertilized into producing higher yields of less acidity, flavor and concentration. During the period 1985 – 1995 there was a turning point in Burgundy; a new course in winemaking began producing deeper, more complex wines – a course which continues to this day.

What should you expect when you lift that glass of Burgundy? A good white Burgundy will be complex and multi-layered – but forget the adjectives you might use to describe a California chardonnay; opulent, buttery, oaky, bursting with tropical fruit, etc. Flavors will be subtle, mineral, less conspicuous. A red Burgundy can have plumy fruit laced with spice, citrus or mocha flavors. But the reds can also be earthy, a term Europeans tend to associate with sensuality. Not surprisingly, we Californians are more likely to call it barnyard, and worry about brettanomyces.

— D.D. Smith

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Whites, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes for Sale (Herald)

Cresci Vineyards has the following grapes for sale:  chenin blanc, French colombard, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon.  Destemmer/crusher available.  Call for quantities and price.

Gerald Cresci

Cresci Vineyards

11746 Giusti Rd

Herald, CA 95638

209 748-2122



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