Back to the beginning. Like Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, we return to the region that brought us the glorious noble grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec: Bordeaux. We at Jungle Jim’s have an eternal connection to this venerable region, and it is never more evident than behind the doors of our hallowed wine cellars. Step inside and join us in our continuing reverence for this storied place, and give one of these beauties a try:
By Kevin Keith
Piedmont. Pronounced “peh-ah-MON-tey.” Italy’s other famous wine region. The home to almost a third of Italy’s total population (the Po River Valley, within which Piedmont resides, is home to the bustling metropolises of Turin and Milan) is also home to two of wine nerds’ greatest loves - Barolo and Barbaresco. Towns as well as wines, these noble wines are made entirely from the mighty Nebbiolo grape, a rich, powerful and tannic grape variety that gives you structure and patience gives you complexity.
Yet Piedmont is known for a great many other wines. Varietals such as Barbera (the most planted grape in Piedmont), Dolcetto, Moscato Bianco (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Arneis, Favorita, Cortese, Croatina, Vespolina and Freisa, and even familiar grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc are also planted.
The region boasts the most DOCG (Denominazioni di Controllata e Garantita, or Controlled and Guaranteed Destination of Origin) and DOC (Denominazioni di Controllata, or Controlled Destination of Origin). 17 DOCGs and 42 DOCs are present in Piedmont (6 more DOCGs than Tuscany and 1 more DOCs).
Barolo, known historically as the Wine of Kings, was often prefered over Bordeaux during the reign of monarchies throughout Europe when, in the mid-1800’s, the mayor of Cavour, Camillo Benso, invited renowned French enologist of the day Louis Oudart to Barolo and he was able to create the first modern day Barolo. This wine eventually became popular with nobility, and earned the phrase “the wine of Kings, the King of Wines.” Barolo, by definition, is 100% Nebbiolo, aged a minimum four years in small oak barriques, and will most likely come from vineyards in and around the communes of Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and the northern half of Monforte d'Alba. (Roughly 87% of Barolo comes from here).
It’s counterpart - Barbaresco - is also 100% Nebbiolo yet aged at minimum 3 years in small oak barrique. Primarily from the communes of Barbaresco, Treiso, and Nieve, Barbaresco wines have been referred to as more feminine to Barolo’s masculine character, but I wouldn’t necessarily go down that road.
Some incredible examples from Piedmont, including Barolo and Barbaresco, can be found at both Jungle Jim’s locations. Try one of these great wines, or just ask one of our friendly neighborhood wine geeks here at JJ’s on your next visit:
Who says it is too hot in August to drink red wine? Pinot Noir is the perfect hot weather red wine. After just returning from the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon here are some of the stand outs. These wines all pair well with light fare and are our favorite Summertime Reds.
Cabernet Sauvignon. Still the undisputed champion in the hearts and palates of red wine drinkers the world over. Dense, full-bodied, and capable of matching up with all the carnivorous offerings grilled up in backyards across the U.S. of A. Help us celebrate Cabernet with a few terrific, highly-rated selections from our Over 90, Under $30 section:
by Kevin Keith
Leave it to me to try to weave a thread between three wine regions of France that have not very much in common other than being French wine regions. But I am up for the challenge, as all three of these places are more than worthy of your attention, and offer things you may or may not have experienced in your journeys throughout the wine world. The Jura, Savoie and the French Southwest. Let’s begin.
The Jura, located between Burgundy and Switzerland, bridges the gap between the styles of wine found in this two aforementioned places. Surrounding the town of Arbois, this is primarily white wine country, specializing in local grapes such as Savagnin, Trousseau and Poulsard, along with a rather unique expression of Chardonnay. These wines are quite good, and experiencing something of an attraction with sommeliers. There is an uniqueness to these wines you won’t find in too many others. Lots of minerality notes that are quite pronounced. Those intimidated by Burgundy should seek these wines out.
The Savoie, or the Savoy, is located to the south of the Jura, near the borders of Switzerland and Italy, and are known for producing both white and red wines. The whites are derived from indigenous grape varieties such as Jacquere, Roussanne, Roussette and Gringet, and reds almost exclusively from local grape Mondeuse.
The Southwest can be found to the southeast of Bordeaux, encompassing such ancient regions as the Madiran and Cahors. A total of 31 different AOCs can be found among the 5 subregions:
Some of the grapes used to make wine in this exceptionally diverse region are: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Jurançon, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Manseng, Tannat, and Ugni Blanc.
A few of the wines we offer from these regions:
Zinfandel. America’s grape. And while we celebrate our independence this 4th of July, we recognize the wine that is widely accepted as truly an American varietal with some terrific new standouts from these great producers.
Mendocino County. You may or may not be aware that north of Sonoma County lies a sleepy little region that has been turning out amazing reds, whites, and sparkling wines for some time. Champagne Louis Roederer came to this region to make their California sparklers in 1982, in the gorgeous Anderson Valley. Fetzer had long been a part of this winemaking scene, and other producers like Parducci and Navarro have been at it for quite some time as well. Check out these great wines:
by Kevin Keith
You would think that the majority of South America’s grapes would be primarily of Spanish (or Portuguese) origin, yet like much of the world, the grapes thought of to be more French in affiliation dominate the wine regions of South America. The countries of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have even laid claim to certain French grape varieties as their “signature,” or defining grapes. Argentina has Malbec, a Bordeaux grape that isn’t grown much at all in Bordeaux anymore but in the Southwest French region of Cahors (though it is also grown here in the U.S. and in Australia as well). In Chile, it is the Carmenere grape of Bordeaux (it doesn’t exist there now) and Uruguay has Tannat (known primarily to hail from the Southwest French region of Madiran). Yet the winemaking culture began when Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes brought vinifera grape varieties to the New World via Mexico in the early 1500s. Subsequently, it was mandated by Cortes that all landowners plant vines on land allocated to them.
Viticulture spread to Peru, where winemaking became prolific enough that Peruvian winemakers were shipping their wines back to Spain. Chile and Argentina soon followed suit. However, by the end of the 16th Century, King Phillip II tried in vain to ban new plantings in the Americas.
Argentina’s emergence as a winemaking region began as early as 1557, yet it wasn’t until much later after Jesuit missionaries were able to determine the best growing regions, that Malbec was introduced to the region from France. Over time, Malbec grapevines took to the Argentina climate and soil with exuberance, and the consensus of the winemakers of the region have more-or-less determined Malbec as its calling card to the world.
Chile on the other hand, found their signature grape almost by accident. Carmenere is the long-lost grape variety of Bordeaux - you could almost think of this as the grape version of Atlantis. Cuttings accidentally labelled as Merlot made their way to Chile via France and were grown and marketed as Merlot for some 40 years before DNA testing determined it to be the long-lost Carmenere. Over the past two decades it has become Chile’s signature grape in the world.
Uruguay too, has their own signature grape variety. Tannat, as I mentioned previously, comes from the Madiran, in Southwestern France, neighboring the Armagnac. It is a big, dark and brooding grape variety that is difficult to grow. Its wines can be very tannic, but Uruguay seems to have as well-suited a climate for Tannat as Argentina is for Malbec.
Other grape varieties that South American winemakers are beginning to hang their hats on are Bonarda (Italian in origin, where it is otherwise known as Charbono, yet becoming prominent in Argentina), Torrontes (considered the only native South American grape) and the ancient grape Pais (known here in the U.S. as Mission and in Argentina as Criolla), which is experiencing a resurgence among Chilean winemakers.
We’ve a great selection of these wines in our stores, which are definitely affordable to try at any time. Check out these wines:
Inundated with all the new wines from all over the world, it’s easy to move past some of the great wines from what we wine nerds look to as the Motherland - France. We’ve got some amazing reds and whites from all over France in our Over 90, Under $30 set you should definitely try on your next visit:
Our love affair with the grape varieties of the Rhone Valley are unending, as we continue to bring you extraordinary examples of these amazing reds and whites from all over the world, including these great wines: