Here are the answers to last week’s quiz:
1) The Merlot grape can best be described as:
a) Early ripening with thick skin
b) Early ripening with thin skin
c) Late ripening with thick skin
d) Late ripening with thin skin
The answer is b) Early ripening with thin skins
The early ripening makes them an ideal partner with the late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. It allows the grape growers to hedge their bets. Bad weather in the spring? No problem, they still have their Cab. Bad weather in the Fall? No problem, they still have their Merlot. The thin skins give Merlot softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. Both grapes have a similar flavor profile.
2) The Merlot grape has a flavor profile similar to that of:
a) Pinot Noir
c) Cabernet Sauvignon
The answer is c) Cabernet Sauvignon
3) Sandy soils:
a) Retain water and are acidic
b) Retain water and are alkaline
c) Do not retain water and are acidic
d) Do not retain water and are alkaline
The answer is c) Do not retain water and are acidic. The reason that well-draining soils are acidic is that as the water drains out, the calcium also leaches out making room for Hydrogen cations, creating a more acidic soil. Acidic soils also have more micronutrients such as zinc, iron, manganese and boron.
4) The region known for its ‘crasse de fer’ soil is:
a) St. Émilion
The answer is c) Pomerol
5) Two of the best regions in the US for Merlot are:
a) Sonoma and Virginia
b) Napa and Washington
c) Long Island and Washington
d) Central Coast and Oregon
The answer is b) Napa and Washington Washington state is known for its sandy, well-draining, iron-rich soils.
6) Two other major players in the production of Merlot are:
a) Spain and Italy
b) Canada and Switzerland
c) Australia and Argentina
d) Italy and Chilé
The answer is d) Italy and Chile. Italy grows more Merlot than any other region other than France. Chile, like Washington state, also has sandy, well-draining soils.
Bonus Question #1 What is the connection between water retention and pH balance of the soil?
The answer is if water is retained in the soil, than calcium will not leach out, and the soil will be more alkaline. The soil will also be cooler and better for acidity in the grape.
Bouns Question #2 What does ‘crasse de fer’ mean?
The answer is ‘crasse de fer’ means iron-rich soil such as is found in Pomerol. Pomerol’s clay has oxidized iron in it. ‘Fer’ translates to ‘iron.’ ‘Crasse’ translates to ‘dross’ which is the scum formed on metals from oxidation. As in most cases, it sounds much better in French.
Extra Credit When was the last time you had a really good Merlot? What was it? Describe it.
Answer; thank you for the recommendations! And thank you for playing. This one goes to Ernest of Whine and Cheers for Wine