Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

The King of Red Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon
21
47%
Merlot
0
No votes
Syrah
4
9%
Sangiovese
0
No votes
Nebbiolo
5
11%
Cabernet Franc
1
2%
Pinot Noir
9
20%
Pinotage
1
2%
Other (Please Specify)
4
9%
 
Total votes : 45

Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Sep 13, 2008 6:26 am

First of all and once and for all, dammit, when referring to grapes we are talking about "varieties" and not "varietals". Having so catharted, what do you consider the king of red grape varieties? And, of course, why that one? (Next week – the Empress of White Grape Varieties)
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Doug Z » Sat Sep 13, 2008 6:44 am

i havent replied yet, but anyone want to give me some odds on what Birger will vote for????
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Matilda L » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:13 am

Shiraz.


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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Norm N » Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:11 pm

All of the above.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 13, 2008 5:04 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:First of all and once and for all, dammit, when referring to grapes we are talking about "varieties" and not "varietals". Having so catharted, what do you consider the king of red grape varieties? And, of course, why that one? (Next week – the Empress of White Grape Varieties)

Thank you for that well-pointed rant, Rogov. I'm with you ... to restate it, "variety" is a noun, "varietal" is an adjective. I don't much blame wine consumers for slipping up, because the wrong form is heard so often. But it makes me berserk when wine writers abuse it.

Your poll is interesting, because it forces the voter to choose between voting with the heart for a personal favorite or with the head for the variety that truly earns a pride of place that wine enthusiasts can generally agree upon. On that basis, I've got to go with Pinot Noir. It's a close fight with Cabernet in terms of its ability to make wines of true greatness, but it stands alone, leaving Cab in the dust, as a wine of broad and versatile food-friendliness. And is that not a big part of what wine is all about? Cab and beef or lamb; Pinot with just about everything.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Eli R » Sat Sep 13, 2008 6:19 pm

Syrah, as I enjoy an excellent Syrah much more.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Ian Sutton » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:50 pm

To be honest, not something I'd normally bother voting on, as there are plenty of great wines from made from each grape variety (brushing gently over the Pinotage for now).

Commercially, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. However for personal pleasure, Nebbiolo (when on song) tickles my taste buds in a way that makes it special for me.

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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Ilan T » Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:10 pm

I don't even think there is much of a question. Cab is king. Hands down.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Shlomo R » Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:21 am

I voted for Cabernet Sauvignon. Much as I enjoy other reds, when it comes down to trying to pick out something to relax with at the end of a stressful week, I look primarily for a Cabernet Sauvignon, because i find more depth and richness in better cabernet sauvignons.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Matilda L » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:18 am

to choose between voting with the heart for a personal favorite or with the head for the variety that truly earns a pride of place that wine enthusiasts can generally agree upon


Robin's comments made me reflect further on why I voted for shiraz. It's my personal favourite ... but why? I think I can say that of the most beautiful red wines I have had in my life, most have been shiraz or a blend that relied heavily on shiraz. This variety is king in South Australia. The dry, hot conditions during the fruiting and ripening period bring out the best in this grape. I know makers of mass-consumption wines and crowd-pleasers can be guilty of coaxing too much sweetness, too much unguency from this variety - but the best shiraz is capable of such elegance, boldness and complexity that it is another experience altogether.

Which brings me to .... are different varieties 'king' in different parts of the world? Is it the particular combination of climate, terroir, technique and taste (as in fashion or preference rather than flavour) in any given place that makes a 'king' of the grape that responds best in those conditions?

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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:03 am

Matilda L wrote:Which brings me to .... are different varieties 'king' in different parts of the world? Is it the particular combination of climate, terroir, technique and taste (as in fashion or preference rather than flavour) in any given place that makes a 'king' of the grape that responds best in those conditions?

That's a truly perceptive observation, Matilda. I think you have hit the nail smack on the head: Shiraz in the Barossa and McLaren Vale, Syrah in the Northern Rhone; Pinot Noir in Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux and Napa, Nebbiolo in Piemonte, and so it goes.

I would say that this realm remains limited, though. Not every dukedom carries enough weight to enthrone a king. (I wouldn't call Nero d'Avola the "King" in Sicily, for instance, or Refosco in Friuli-Venezia Guilia ... )
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:25 pm

I'll agree that many regions have their "primary" and even potentially great grape but when I think of kings, emperors or caesars, I think of those grapes that are capable of producing great wines that are is in turn capable of being bottled and then consumed anywhere in the world. Walk into a fine wine shop in London, in New York, even in Tel Aviv and you will find each of the varietals already named from each of the countries in question.

To me the question is which grape will be the king of all of the princes. I'm easy on bestowing dukedoms and other such but when it comes to kings, I'm a bit more particular.

Purposely holding back on my own vote and revelation of choice towards the end of the week as I may have a few somewhat controversial ideas to present as well.

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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Loweeel » Sun Sep 14, 2008 4:18 pm

Petite Sirah, for the reasons that Gaiter & Brecher said so succinctly in their most recent column.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:55 pm

Loweeel wrote:...Gaiter & Brecher



The article to which Loweel refers can be found at http://www.wsj.com/article/SB1221171080 ... d=Tastings
An interesting read.


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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Ken Schechet » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:48 pm

I basically agree with Robin on this one. I would actually rephrase the question as which "wine makes you go weak in the knees when it's right". By that criterion it's Pinot Noir for me. Add to that it's ability to accompany almost any food and it's no contest.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:52 am

Robin's point is well taken – making the distinction between that grape that for reasons of taste we deem to be king and that which indeed is king.

As to personal taste, I would have to vote for Cabernet Sauvignon as producing the greatest wines of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, "greatest" in this case being defined by a combination of out-and-out quality and age-worthiness.

From a more quantitative point of view my vote would be different and that partly because of the issue of parentage. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Merlot and Nebbiolo might all be considered the bastard and accidental offspring of other grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon an accidental cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc; Syrah of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche; Pinotage of Pinot Noir and Cinsault; Merlot somewhat a confused offspring of Cabernet Franc and Carmenere; Nebbiolo most probably a cross between Freisa, Negera, Vespolina, Rossola and Bubbierasco and Sangiovese the offspring of Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo).

Now - we have seen quite enough problems throughout history of bastard sons and even a few bastard daughters killing their parents, siblings and other rivals, so I'm not ready to take on such a bastard as my king. My vote thus goes to Pinor Noir, pure and noble of birth and indeed producing some of the world's truly greatest wines.

It was Andre Tchelistcheff who declared that "God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot Noir". In this case my heart goes with God but my vote goes to the devil.

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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Doug Z » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:34 am

dont forget concord...makes for great grape jelly and peanut butter on white bread.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:56 am

I assume Pinotage was included for comic relief..... :roll:
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:00 am

Bill Spohn wrote:I assume Pinotage was included for comic relief..... :roll:



Well, perhaps not as king or even crown prince, but then again Pinotage in the right hands can do some very nice things. May we settle on an Earldom?


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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:12 am

Daniel Rogov wrote:Well, perhaps not as king or even crown prince



QED. The poll asks for King. Period

Not second or third rank - although I did that recently in another thread and it was interesting to see how people ranked the lower echelons.
(I'm still smarting because I forgot to include Nebbiolo as a first rank grape!)
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Ryan M » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:39 am

It seems almost a cliche, but if there is a king of reds, then it is in fact Cab Sauv. On the other hand, as I have said before, Cab Sauv may be kingly, but only the 'Blood of Jove' is godly! ;) (Sangiovese => Sanguis + Jovis = Blood of Jove = Blood of Zeus)
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:58 am

Actually, Ryan, the only grape other than cab that caused me even a moment of thought was pinot and I can sympathize with anyone that chooses that grape over cabernet. Perhaps I, too, could have become a Burgophile if the grape just wasn't so frustrating and the best wines so expensive. Actually, I don't mind the best ones being expensive, it is buying all the rest at exorbitant prices and finding out that they AREN'T the best that galls one.
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Ryan M » Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:20 am

Bill Spohn wrote:Actually, Ryan, the only grape other than cab that caused me even a moment of thought was pinot and I can sympathize with anyone that chooses that grape over cabernet. Perhaps I, too, could have become a Burgophile if the grape just wasn't so frustrating and the best wines so expensive. Actually, I don't mind the best ones being expensive, it is buying all the rest at exorbitant prices and finding out that they AREN'T the best that galls one.


Certainly Pinot would be a strong contender (if one puts aside its fickle nature). Syrah would be a legitimate choice as well. I would not vote for Sangiovese, because I wouldn't want to insult it by calling it 'merely kingly.' Now in Italy, I say Nebbiolo would be king - but Sangiovese would be Emperor (seriously)!
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Re: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties

Postby Michael Greenberg » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:30 pm

The question is a bit ridiculous..while you may state that you prefer apples to oranges in general --there is the particular wherein an orange is so special and outstanding it may transport you to rapture and that orange experience may exceed any that any apple gave you so far in your taste experience....similarly you may a general preference for one red grape variety over all the others but in particular cases one or several of those others might be KING over any taste experience you have ever had from the variety you stated a general preference for...

Another problem would be particular scoring--if you prefer Cab Sauvs to Pinot Noirs in general,perhaps you would prefer a 90 scored Cab Sauv to a 95 scored Pinot Noir even if the same critic had scored them both...One wonders if that critic would then agree with you as to which was the better wine and KING (at least between these two).

Then there is the "when" problem....Maybe you taste some really great Malbec now-it transports you to heaven and you rate it 5/5--it can't possibly be more enjoyable--YET because some critic rates some Aussie Shiraz costing 20 times more as a 100--the best ever Shiraz from that producer --well how can you possibly put your inexpensive Malbec up into that august company? Even if the recommended drinking window for that Shiraz is 25 years hence --when you might be dead and never get tovtaste it! In such cases you are valuing reputation overyour actual taste experience...You may think the Shiraz is worthy of being KING over your Malbec-but in 25 yeras --even if you taste it then--mayvbe your taste buds have gone south and you cannot longer appreciate the wine as someone else could...

The only criteria in judging which is King is to taste NOW different vintages and varieties and if you can find one that transports you to a higher paradise--then that is KING--for now. Otherwise its back to apples and oranges and straight preference/personal prejuidices in making generalizations...
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