Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tomorrow is #Tempranilloday - Learn a thing or two before you start talking about it.


  • "Spain's answer to Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape that puts the spine into so many good Spanish reds. Its grapes are thick-skinned and capable of making deep-coloured, long-lasting wines that are not, unusually for Spain, high in alcohol." -  Jancis Robinson MW in her book "Guide to Wine Grapes"
  • "Spain's most important red grape variety, is grown all across that country and makes dark, fairly tannic wines with aromas that include berries and spice; very long aging, which was once the norm in Rioja, can mellow Tempranillo wines into the mild-mannered style." - Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW and Ed McCarthy in their book "Wine Style"
  • "Small-berried, thick skinned Tempranillo produces deeply colored, well-structured wine with the capacity to age well. In Rioja, it produces Spain's premier red wine, but it is increasingly planted elsewhere." - Vincent Gasnier MS in his book "A Taste For Wine"
  • Tempranillo is rarely produced as a varietal.  It its is the most important part of the blend in Rioja, where it is blended with Graciano and Mazuelo (the name for the Carignan grape in the region). It  also takes part of the blend of many Douro reds (and Ports) where it's known as Tinta Roriz.
  • The wines generally have a medium body, with high acidity and medium-high tannins. When young the wines display lots of fruit (mostly strawberry and cherry). When they age, they show spices, plum, and vanilla (from the American oak barrels where they are usually aged).
  • If from a cool area, these would be very usual aromas and flavors: Berries, bramble, damson, cherry, tea, bilberry, raspberry, dill, tobacco, citrus, herbs, and strawberry (the terms in bold being the most common).
  • If from a warm area,  these would be very usual aromas and flavors: Berry jam, blackberry, cassis, plum, and prune.
  • In 1905, Frederic Bioletti brought Tempranillo to California where it received a cool reception not only due to the encroaching era of Prohibition, but also because of the grape's dislike of hot, dry climates. It was much later, during the 1980s, that Californian Tempranillo-based wine production began to flourish, following the establishment of suitably mountainous sites. Production in this area more than doubled since 1993. It still occupies a small acreage, however, some producers - most notably is "El Jefe" from Twisted Oak winery - is being very successful in the production of wines from this grape.
And don't forget... tomorrow is #Tempranilloday!!!

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Rosso di Montalcino shouldn't be blended with other grape varieties - A letter from Nicolas Belfrage MW

On 7 September, Montalcino wine producers will vote if other "authorized" grape varieties can be used in combination with Sangiovese in their Rosso di Montalcino wine.

For several reasons we don't believe this should happen... and we are posting here a letter from Nicolas Belfrage MW (the author of The Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy: A Regional and Village Guide to the Best Wines and Their Producers) urging the producers to vote no.

Here is the letter:

"I understand that, on Wednesday Sept 7, 2011, a vote will be held in the Assemblea of Montalcino wine producers on whether to allow a small but significant percentage of other grapes, which everyone understands to mean Merlot and/or Cabernet and/or Syrah, into the blend of Rosso di Montalcino DOC, which is of course at present a 100% Sangiovese wine.

I would urge you in the strongest terms not to support this change. Rosso di Montalcino, like Brunello di Montalcino, has created for itself a strong personality on international wine markets based largely on the fact that it is a pure varietal wine. In these days when more and more countries are climbing on the wine production bandwagon it is more important than ever to have a distinctive identity, to make wine in a way which no one else on earth can emulate. It is my belief that the strongest factor in the identity of Rosso di Montalcino (and of course Brunello di Montalcino) is the fact that it is 100% Sangiovese.

I am not disputing the fact that Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah are excellent grape varieties, but it is their very excellence, their very strength of personality, which threatens to compromise the unique character of Rosso di Montalcino. Who could ever imagine the producers of Bordeaux voting to allow 15% of Sangiovese into the Bordeaux blend? The idea is absurd – or would be treated as such by the Bordeaux producers. There are many who think that a reverse situation, in Tuscany’s finest vine-growing area, would be equally absurd. Yes, in many cases it may improve the wine – especially in weak vintages or where Sangiovese does not succeed every year. But it will fatally undermine the personality of the wine.

I am aware that a lot of Merlot  and  Cabernet are planted in the Montalcino growing zone, and that there may be a need in the short term to find a commercial use for these grapes. But there are the options of St. Antimo or IGT Toscana. Perhaps, instead of compromising the purity of one of Montalcino’s unique wines, there should be more effort in the irection of promoting these other wine-types.

You will be aware that many of us fear that a compromise in regard to Rosso di Montalcino would constitute an opening of the door to a compromise, farther down the line, of the purity of the great Brunello – one of the world’s great wines. Whether or not that might be the case as was once widely practised – with, one might add, some notable successes, but with the inevitable distortion of the style.

You, the Montalcino producers, hold the fate not only of your own future market in your hands. You are the representatives of all of us who will not have a vote on September 7th.

We urge you, please, to vote NO.

Nicolas Belfrage MW
30 August 2011"

What do you think? Please feel free to express your opinion.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(Eno)Logically Speaking - Tasting & Grading Wine by Clive S. Michelsen

Some quotes from "Tasting & Grading Wine" by Clive S. Michelsen. 

Tasting & Grading Wine covers the essential aspects of wine analysis. It begins by describing viticulture and vinification, the use of oak in winemaking, styles of wine, defects, sensory analysis, taste, balance, grape typicity, storage potential and acerating of wines. This work offers a complete reference to practical wine-tasting and grading for winemakers, the trade, students and wine enthusiasts.

  • Classical wine styles are not necessarily from winemaking countries in the old world, such as France, Italy and Spain, but wines made in the Old World Style, wines which reflect both grape and regional blending characteristics
  • Modern wine styles are not necessarily from countries like South Africa, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Chile as generally discussed in some wine books but they belong to regions that produce a more fruity alcohol-rich wine
  • Picking late will produce an overripe fruit with very high concentrations of sugar. Fruit-driven wines usually focus on high sugar content
  • The wine's appearance: color. hue, tone, brightness and viscosity can reveal a lot about it's actual condition and age as well as where it might have been made, possible grape types and even some defects
  • Young white wines nearly always start their life cycle with a greenish yellow tint, progressing to an almost dark amber in very old sweet wines. As with red wine, white wines have a richer, darker hue in warmer climates and if oak-matured
  • Young red wines always start their life cycle with a blue-red or purple-red blue
  • A young nose is full of fresh fruit and acidity
  • Good acidity levels are extremely important for sweet wines
  • The rim width is a band of color, ranging in width from 1mm to 20mm. It is instrumental when grading color in relation to age. the older the wine the wider the rim width
  • High viscous tension on the rim of the glass represents high alcohol and sugar contents. In most cases, wines with high alcohol has long slender legs and those with high sugar tale longer to appear and have thicker and fuller legs
  • As the alcohol content increases, it usually affects the body of the wine by making it taste more full-bodied or weighty, warm and powerful. In wines with too much alcohol a hot or burning sensation is also sensed

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Monday, August 29, 2011


IRENE is a storm of the past--the grounds at TANGLEWOOD are greener than ever--waiting for the 8th Annual TANGLEWOOD WINE & FOOD CLASSIC to begin this LABOR DAY HOLIDAY.

I couldn't think of a Better way to spend your Labor Day Holiday in the Berkshire's.

This year's Festival is unlike the past--your Grand Tasting ticket admits you to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, as well. The GRAND TASTING takes place on Saturday, September 3rd, in the HAWTHORNE TENT and is divided into two sessions: 12-2pm and 4-6pm.
Each session is ticketed separately and comes with a Complimentary Lawn ticket for the Jazzfest held on the Tanglewood grounds. At only $75 a ticket, this a true BARGAIN!
The GRAND TASTING features 75 wineries, Artisan Cheese, a Farmers Market(TAFT Farms) and SPECIALTY Meat Products from HUDSON VALLEY FOIS GRAS.

For the true WINE COLLECTOR, on Thursday night, September 1st, an AUCTION DINNER takes place at BLANTYRE ($225) and features wines auctioned by CHARLES ANTIN, from Christie's Auction House. A fabulous 'Gourmet' Dinner will be provided by Blantyre'S Chef CHRISTOPHER BROOKS and Chef DAMIAN SANSONETTI from New York's famous BAR BOULUD.

On Friday, September 2nd, THREE events take center stage:
1)JOSH NEEDLEMAN, founder of CHOCOLATE SPRINGS, will lead a 4pm CHOCOLATE Seminar coupled with Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic's Founder, DENIS TONER, who will lead a PORT SEMINAR ($40) at HIGHWOOD MANOR HOUSE.
2)Following Josh's seminar, a 5:30pm WINE and CHEESE Seminar ($50) will be led by DOM FERA, cheesemonger from NEJAIME'S wine shops of the Berkshires.
3) At 6pm a DIM SUM DINNER ($60) will take place at PRONTO Restaurant in Lenox. Fine wine and Champagne will highlight the meal.

The culmination of the Weekend ends with a lively 11am WINE BRUNCH ($85) featuring the cuisine of Chef CLAUDIA FITZGERALD. The Brunch will take place at the Exclusive SERANAK Club on the grounds of Tanglewood.

TICKETS can be purchased at the event or online at:

DENIS TONER, founder of the TANGLEWOOD WINE & FOOD CLASSIC can be reached at 508-680-6674 for further questions.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

What is the best wine to pair with a hurricane?

You guys already know me well enough at this point, right? So it's not going to be a surprise to any of you if I say that my top priority to prepare for the powerful storm Irene that is going to hit hard the Mid Atlantic region this weekend is to find the perfect wine to pair with it...

Forget about water, food, and batteries! I need a wine that is going to match the intensity of this hurricane. At the top of my list is this wine: Cat 5 from RayLen Vineyards and Winery in Mocksville, North Carolina. On its label, the image of the last Category 5 hurricane to hit North Carolina. Cat 5 is called by the locals “Hurricane Juice.”

Classic red varietals selected in this harmonious blend include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot. This full-bodied Cabernet blend is fruit-forward with concentrated layers of cassis and fig. It finishes with smooth, caramelized vanilla notes and serves best with a nice cut of beef or venison. Named after the most powerful hurricane, this wine pairs well with people who live in a coastal town.

Or... on the opposite spectrum...
This dry, fruity, crisp, distinctive blend was assembled from four varietal wines to provide diverse aromas and flavors that compliment New England cuisine. Yet, it is fruity, medium-bodied and crisp with a nice clean and lingering finish that makes it equally suitable as a stand-alone aperitif.

And yet another suggestion. The Cabernet Sauvignon from... Hurricane Ridge Winery in Washington State.

And after the storm is over, let's all celebrate with some Champagne Tarlant!

Come on Irene! Bring it on. I'm ready for you honey...

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Competitive Exclusion with Heterogenous Sellers: The Case of State Wine Shipping Laws

The American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) just posted a new AAWE Working Paper on its website.

For free online access please click on the link provided below.

AAWE Working Paper No. 90 Economics 

 Competitive Exclusion with Heterogenous Sellers: The Case of State Wine Shipping Laws
Jerry Ellig and Alan E. Wiseman

More free-access Working Papers can be found at:
Please also check out the Journal of Wine Economics:
In order to receive the Journal of Wine Economics (hard copy and online access) join AAWE.
You can sign up or renew your membership at:

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(Eno)Logically Speaking - "Knowing and Making Wine" by Emile Peynaud

Some quotes from "Knowing and Making Wine" by Emile Peynaud. This French oenologist and researcher died in 2004, but he has been credited with revolutionizing winemaking in the latter half of the 20th century, and has been called "the forefather of modern oenology".
  • Wine being made to be drunk and appreciated, it is only logical that tasting should be the most valid means of judging its quality. Chemical analysis, however detailed, is insufficient. It throws light on the act of tasting and supports it; it cannot replace it. A routine analysis can make no distinction between an exceptional wine and an ordinary wine; every enology laboratory is well aware of this
  • Only wines of great quality maintain their pleasant impression to the end
  • Aroma refers to the odor of a young wine, whereas bouquet is only acquired through aging. According to this definition, a new wine cannot yet have bouquet and a wine that has aged in the bottle has no more aroma
  • In wine, the sweet taste of alcohol counterbalances the taste of the acids and phenolic compounds
  • The enologist's work begins with maturity control (of the grapes)
  • It is well known that old vines, richer in reserves, give more regular maturity and a better and more consistent quality
  • The grapes, the vintage, and the crop are what are vinified. You do not vinify wine; wine is the result of vinification
  • Red wine is macerated wine. It is made up of substances extracted from the juice of the grapes and also those found in the solid part, the matter from the pulp, skins and seeds
  • Aroma and fruitiness (of the wine) are generally in inverse proportion to the level of phenolic compounds
  • White wine is made by fermenting just the grape juice in its own, that is to say, without extraction of the solid parts of the bunch
  • It's more important to make dry white wines with perfectly healthy crops than with perfectly ripe ones
  • Treat the grapes and process the must in order not to have to treat the wine
  • Apart from a few cases of special wines, it must be considered that air is the enemy of white wine much more so than of red wine
  • The best way of growing old, which also holds true for wine, is to keep one's qualities of youth for a long time
Here are links to some of his books:
The Taste of Wine: The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation
Knowing and Making Wine
Le gout du vin (French Edition)
Le Goût du vin : Le Grand Livre de la dégustation


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    Wednesday, August 24, 2011


    Submit Questions for CIVC Communications Director by Wednesday, August 31
    Want to know more about this year’s Champagne harvest? Learn which Champagne tastes best with poultry? Find out what makes Champagne different from other regions that produce quality sparkling wines? Whether you write a wine blog, sell Champagne or are an everyday enthusiast, you can now get answers to all of your Champagne questions directly from the vineyards in France.
    Thibaut Le Mailloux, communications director for the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC),  the trade association representing all of the houses and grape growers of Champagne, France, will be taking questions online through Google Moderator <>  from now through Wednesday, August 31.
    Follow this link <>  to submit your own questions or to vote on questions submitted to Google Moderator by other Champagne fans. You can also send questions through Twitter <>  or Facebook <> , or email them directly to, and we will post them to Google Moderator for you. Use the hashtag #Champagne for all questions submitted via Twitter.
    Please submit all your questions no later than Wednesday, August 31, and check back for Thibaut’s answers during the week of September 5.
    Google Moderator Page:
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    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Everything you need to know about "Brett"

    After revisiting the article "The positive taste of brett in wines and food matching" by Randy Caparoso, it generated a few good discussions and I received a number of messages asking for more information about Brettanomyces - "Brett".

    A few facts about Brettanomyces:
    • It produces volatile phenols that confer to wine aromas that the authors describe as medicinal, smoke, animal or spice. (In the U.S., we tend to use descriptors such as Band Aid and barnyard.) But the authors emphasize that, even if these aromas are not produced or are not intense enough to be a problem, volatile phenols still cause a masking of the nice fruity aromas and varietal character that could have been in the wine had Brett not been there. Additionally, Brettanomyces can hurt the wine by the production of compounds other than volatile phenols, such as acetic acid (sourness, vinegary character), decanoic acids (soapiness) and tetrahydropyridines (mousy flavor)
    • Because it favors an environment low in carbon dioxide and high in oxygen, wine stored in barrels following fermentation is the most susceptible, especially if the environment is warmed to promote malolactic fermentation. Brett character is almost exclusively found in red wines, since acids necessary to form some of the indicative aromas are exclusively extracted from grape skins. Certain grape varieties (Mourvédre) have naturally higher concentrations of these precursor acids.
    • Although old barrels are almost mythologically blamed, there are indications that new barrels are much more susceptible to Brett infection. Barrel age and hygiene, however, seem to be less essential to preventing Brett than more interventionist winemaking procedures, such as sterile filtering. Targeted use of sulfur (large additions at well-timed intervals) and diligent temperature control, along with conscientious equipment cleaning can prevent Brett from becoming established.
    • New barrels are more permeable to oxygen and can bring new substrates into the wine. Therefore, new barrels are not any more preferable to fight Brett than “suitably maintained” used barrels. Here are a few suitable practices the authors recommend: 1) Protect the wine as soon as possible with the addition of early SO2. 2) Regular rackings contribute to the lowering of the B. bruxellensis population. Lees incorporation should be considered only after a microbial analysis has shown the lees are B. bruxellensis-free. 3) Fining is beneficial as it helps flocculation of B. bruxellensis. 4) Heat treatments (40°C for several minutes) tend to be effective. 5) Filtration is also effective against B. bruxellensis. 6) Dimethyldicarbonate, also known as Velcorin®, has a very high antimicrobial activity against B. bruxellensis. Unfortunately, its action is transitory—it quickly hydrolyzes to methanol and ethyl acetate—and for this reason, it cannot completely replace SO2. In Europe, Velcorin is only allowed at maximum levels of 200 mg/L and then only in wines with residual sugar >5g/L. In the lab, 150 mg/L of Velcorin was enough to inhibit B. bruxellensis.  

    The article below (by Richard Gawel) was originally published at the Australian Society of Wine Education National Convention. Hunter Valley, Australia.
    Unfortunately, their website is no longer active, so there's not a direct link to it.

    The desirability or otherwise of the wine character known as "Brett" is one of the most controversial issues of recent times. Arguments have been made for Brett character being a complexing and a legitimate expression of natural, uncomplicated winemaking, while others view it simply as an unattractive wine fault that results from poor winery hygiene and sloppy winemaking. 

    The Aroma and Flavour of Brett Character

    But what is Brett character and how and why does it appear in some wines? The wine character described as "Bretty" comes in various forms. It is the combined result of the creation of a number of compounds by the yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis, and its close relative, Dekkera bruxulensis. The three most important known aroma active compounds are 1) 4-ethyl phenol (4-ep), which has been variously described as having the aromas of Band-aids®, antiseptic and horse stable 2) 4-ethyl guaiacol (4-eg) which has a rather pleasant aroma of smoked bacon, spice or cloves and 3) isovaleric acid which has an unpleasant smell of sweaty animals, cheese and rancidity. Other characters associated with Brett include wet dog, creosote, burnt beans, rotting vegetation, plastic and (but not exclusively caused by Brett) mouse cage aroma and vinegar.

    The Formation of Brett Character in Wine

    Brettanomyces has been isolated from the outside of grapes and from winery equipment. However its, favoured winery haunt is the oak barrel as it often provides for conditions that strongly favours its growth.

    Certain conditions are known to favour the growth of Brettanomyces during winemaking. If low free sulfur dioxide levels are coupled with high wine pH and warm temperatures during barrel maturation, then issues may arise. If older oak is used and the wine has a reasonable amount of dissolved oxygen, …. look out! Furthermore it is thought that Brett can also multiply after bottling if the wine contains residual fermentable sugars, a situation made more likely if the wine was minimally filtered. Lets look at the why's of these factors.

    Brettanomyces proliferates under warm cellaring conditions. Twenty degrees C is an ideal temperature, with even small reductions in temperature seriously hamper its growth. Sulfur dioxide is an anti-microbial agent that is added by winemakers throughout the winemaking process. If it is added in sufficient amounts, and the pH of the wine is reasonably high (SO2 is more effective at higher acidity levels), then the growth of Brett will be retarded. On the other hand, high alcohol levels and the existence of even small amounts of fermentable sugars such as glucose suit the growth of Brett, as they are its preferred source of energy for growth. Some recent research under laboratory conditions suggest that Brett does not grow at alcohol levels above 13%. However, this result is not consistent with the observation that many wines with alcohols far in excess of this have gone bretty under winery conditions.

    Filtering the wine before bottling can reduce the numbers of Brett cells, and hence the incidence of Brett character that develops in the bottle. However, there is anecdotal evidence that filtered wines that are sound at the time of bottling can randomly become infected with Brettanomyces after a period of time, probably as a result of the bottled wine containing residual sugar and being stored in warm conditions.

    It is widely acknowledged that the majority of wines with Brett character, became that way during the period of barrel maturation, particularly if second use (or older) oak barrels were used. Brett can colonise a barrel between fills, and can begin to reproduce when the barrel is refilled with new wine. Figure 1 shows Brett extending pseudomycilium into the surface of an oak stave. Topping up barrels with a wine which contains Brett cells, may also contribute to those barrels 'going Bretty'. Shaving and re-toasting the inside of re-used barrels significantly reduces the incidence of Brett growth. However, it is also worth noting that the use of new barrels does not guarantee that Brett will not appear. Recent work in California has shown that new barrels filled with sterilised wine can still sustain populations of Brett high enough to produce above threshold levels of 4-ep.

    But why does oak maturation particularly favour Brett growth? Firstly, Brett is a slow growing yeast that does not compete well against other micro-organisms. During alcoholic fermentation the wine yeast Saccharomyces out easily out-competes it. Two possible reasons are that it naturally grows slower than Saccharomyces, and that it prefers aerobic conditions for growth. During primary ferment, the wine is saturated with carbon dioxide which makes for a hostile environment for Brettanomyces. On the other hand, barrel maturation is a step in conventional winemaking that provides both the time and the lack of competition needed for Brett to successfully grow to levels which results in sensory modification to the wine. Wines stored in barrel are usually lower in SO2 and are kept warmer than at any other time (other than during ferment of course). This is necessary so as to encourage malolactic fermentation (MLF). Lastly, the necessary processes of racking off lees and regularly topping up barrels ensures that there are always reasonable levels of dissolved oxygen in the wine. For all these reasons, it is thought that the time between the completion of primary fermentation and the start of MLF this is the most likely time that Brett multiplies and produces brettiness in wine.

    Brettanomyces Character is Seen Primarily in Red Wine. Why?

    One final matter concerning Brett is rarely mentioned. It occurs almost exclusively in red wines. Why is this so? Red wines have a much higher level of tannin like substances called coumaric and ferulic acid than do white wines as they are extracted from the skins of grapes during red wine fermentation. The wine yeast Saccharomyces and some lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillis have enzymes which degrade these acids to weakly smelling intermediates called 4-vinyl phenol and 4-vinyl guaiacol (Step 1 of Figure 2). These compounds are then enzymatically degraded over a period of months by Brettanomyces to the strong smelling 4-ethyl phenol and 4-ethyl guaiacol respectively (Step 2 of Figure 2). Incidentally Brettanomyces is the only major micro-organism in wine that has the ability to transform 4-vinyl-phenol into the potent band-aid® smelling, 4-ethyl phenol. Hence 4-ethyl phenol is rightly considered to be the "trademark" aroma of Brettanomyces growth in wine. Where you find 4-ethyl phenol you will invariably find Brett, and vice versa.

    Surveys of Australian wines have shown that detectable levels of 4-ethyl phenol is more likely to be seen in darker coloured wines, with Shiraz and Cabernet wines than wines made from either Pinot noir and Grenache. The reason for this is unclear, but may involve the coumarates which are a form of coloured anthocyanins found in red wines.

    Formation of 4-ethyl phenol in wine

    Figure 2: Pathway to the formation of 4-ethyl phenol and 4-ethyl guaiacol in wine

    The Prevalence of Brett Character

    Has Brett character become apparently more prevalent in recent years? Some commentators believe that we have simply become more aware of it and that it has always been around. I am sure that there is some truth in this. Upon personal reflection, I feel that classic Hunter Shiraz with its 'sweaty saddle' aroma and flavour is a very likely case in point. However, in my opinion, the overpowering, fruit destroying, antiseptic like aromas and flavours that are now occasionally encountered in wines sourced from every winemaking region of Australia is a relatively new phenomenon. The trend in this country today is to produce red wines picked from riper grapes. In addition to maximizing flavour development in some varieties, this also results in wines that are on average higher in pH and alcohol. Furthermore, residual sweetness is being retained in some commercial red wines in an attempt to fill out the palate and to give it greater apparent fruitiness. These trends together with the use of minimal SO2 and filtration, has enhanced the conditions under which Brett is retained and thrives.

    The Desirability or Otherwise of Brett Character in Wine

    But is the action of Brett desirable? In my humble opinion, the answer depends on degree. As well as producing a band-aid aroma, Brett can create an array of 'interesting' smells that can excite those that are inclined to be excited by them. Furthermore, the ratio of the rather unattractive 4-ethyl phenol to the rather pleasant smelling 4-ethyl guaiacol varies substantially from wine to wine, with reports varying from 3:1 to over 40:1. In the latter case, it is highly likely that the wine would smell like the inside of a band-aid box, while in the former, the aroma would in all likelihood be far more spicy and savoury like. The reason for these differences between wines are not completely understood but are likely to be either due to differing ratios between wines coumaric and ferulic acids (the respective precursors of 4-ep and 4-eg), or to different strains of Brettanomyces being more effective in producing one compound relative to the other. Very recent research with five different strains of Brettanomyces has not lent much support to the latter possibility. Under laboratory conditions the different strains produced roughly equal proportions of 4-ep to 4-eg in the same red wine. But the search for strains of Brett which may be low 4-ep producers will no doubt continue.

    In some wine growing regions such as Bordeaux, the Rhone and, dare I say it, the Hunter Valley, it is now acknowledged that some wine producers have developed 'house styles' over time that have actually been defined by some form of Brett character. Many of these producers, or the media, or both, have naively attributed these unusual and sometimes complexing characters to being 'an expression of the soil'. However, overwhelming scientific evidence in the form of elevated 4-ethyl phenol levels in their wines have forced them to admit to the less romantic notions of the microbiological origin of these characters. This is not to say that they necessarily will, or indeed should, do anything different in the future, as many Bretty house styles have become widely accepted and in some cases revered by the wine tasting public. But in the cases where a wine smells more of a hospital ward than it does wine, surely the wine-maker should begin to reflect on what wine drinkers seriously value. That is, real fruit and real complexity. Unfortunately some winemakers (possibly in an attempt to save their career), have attributed the accidental making of overtly Bretty wines as a serious attempt at making something different and complex. Wine diversity is a wonderful thing and should be encouraged in the face of continued 'internationalisation' of wines. But as Pascal Chattonet once argued. Brettyiness has nothing to do with a wines 'typicity' as claimed by some French wine producers. His counterclaim is that wines that are overly Bretty do indeed smell and taste much the same, so overt Brettyness mitigates against 'typicity' and diversity. I'm in Pascal's camp. Real 'typicity' and 'expression' indeed come from the fruit. A message that I hope is not lost on the winemaking fraternity.

    Note: This work by Richard Gawel - AWRI - was presented at the Australian Society of Wine Education National Convention. Hunter Valley, Australia.
    And here the links to two great postings about Brettanomyces by Jamie Goode:
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    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Philosophically speaking... Great Quotes From Seven Great Wine Books

    If you missed any of the postings of the series "Philosophically speaking...", here is a list with the links (both to the articles with the quotes and to the books themselves):

    Philosophically speaking... Terry Theise in his book "Reading Between the Wines"
    Reading between the Wines

    Philosophically speaking... Elliot Essman in his book "Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World"
    Use Wine to Make Sense of the World

    Philosophically speaking... "Questions of Taste - The Philosophy of Wine"
    Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine

    Philosophically speaking... Matt Kramer in his book "Making Sense of Wine"
    Making Sense Of Wine

    Philosophically speaking... Jonathan Nossiter in his book "Liquid Memory - Why Wine Matters"
    Liquid Memory: Why Wine Matters
    Philosophically speaking... Roger Scruton in his book "I Drink Therefore I Am"
    I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine

    Philosophically speaking... "Wine & Philosophy - A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking"
    Wine and Philosophy: A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking (Philosophy for Everyone) 

    One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
    TheWineHub exists to help you with that. 

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    PURITY VODKA may be the "WORLD'S BEST VODKA"" by Philip S. Kampe

    VODKA production in SWEDEN dates back to the 15th century. Interestingly, the origin of Vodka comes from Sweden's GUNPOWDER industry, where high-proof spirits were used as a component of black powder for muskets. When the government granted licenses to distilleries for production of Vodka and Aquavit, it was understood that gunpowder makers had first priority over beverage consumers.

    The SWEDES love Vodka and in 1830 over 175,000 registered stills existed in a country of less than THREE million population.

    As you can see, historically VODKA is TRADITION in Sweden. Today it is one of image and style.

    Recently, I had the opportunity, thanks to ALEXANDRA MOTTE, to taste the new 'BUZZ' word in Vodka, PURITY Vodka. A Special PURITY Night at the Bar was arranged at Charlie Palmers' AUREOLE Restaurant, near Times Square, for invited guests to sample drinks made with PURITY Vodka.

    A little history regarding PURITY Vodka:
    + Distilled at ELLINGE Castle in southern Sweden
    + Thomas Kuuttanen is PURITYS Master Blender and Visionary. He has worked over a decade to develop and refine his recipe
    + PURITY is made from Estate-grown wheat and barley
    + ELLINGE Castle mineral-rich artisanal spring well water is the only water used to blend PURITY
    + The fermented mash is distilled in a proprietary still that is made of copper and gold
    + The proprietary still can only make 158 gallons per batch
    + 34 distillations take place of which 90% of the ditillate is disgarded
    + The remaining 10% constitutes the 'perfect cut' of the distillation
    + When the Vodka leaves the still it is so 'PURE' that is doesn't need to be filtered, leaving all the natural flavors and character in the vodka
    + Prior to bottling, the vodka is reduced to 80 proof with a blend of 70% deionised water, 30% natural artisanal water and blended with tailor made organic column spirits made from the finest wheat
    + PURITY won a GOLD MEDAL at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Three Gold medals in Cannes

    Master blender THOMAS KUUTTANEN goal is to create a Vodka that is like no others in the world, a vodka that is smooth, full-of-character and is full-bodied.

    What I found was a Vodka that 'WAS LIKE NO OTHER', the true intention of Thomas Kuuttanen. The result is a vodka that is stunningly elegant, full of character with rich deep notes and finesse. PURITY is so smooth that the word fiery never enters the palate. Clean, lemony aromas abound followed by a palate full of anise, chocolate, vanilla and malt.

    PURITY is classified as an ULTRA-PREMIUM vodka. Made in small batches, as mentioned earlier, PURITY's direction is only to the TOP.

    At $39.99 a 750ml bottle, PURITY is a TRUE STEAL!


    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Philosophically speaking... "Wine & Philosophy - A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking"

    Some things that I wish I had said myself. Or not... but they have been said by these guys on the book  "Wine & Philosophy - A Symposium on Thinking and Drinking"
    • "If a critic says one wine is better than another, is it "true," or rather just the expression of some subjective opinion of the critic?" - Fritz Allhoff
    • "Could we like wines that are (objectively) bad wines and dislike ones that are (objectively) good wines?" - Fritz Allhoff
    •  "The relationship between wine and health, though characterized by the same complexity that characterizes wine itself, is best defined by the philosophical doctrine of temperance. Temperance maybe understood as the mean between the extremes of overindulgence and abstinence" - Frederick Adolf Paola
    • It would be a serious mistake to confuse the rich experimental meaning of the flavors and aromas of a wine with the purely sensory configuration of those tastes and aromas themselves. With wine as with music, it is not the sensory qualities as such, but rather what they represent - in the relevant broad, non literal sense being appealed to - that constitutes their experiencial meaning" - John Dilworth
    • "Drinking a wine is not like experiencing a previously finished artwork, but instead it is an exploratory, spontaneous activity in which you yourself are the artist or creator of what you experience. In these respects it is like the fertile activity of a jazz artist as he creatively improvises on a standard jazz tune" - John Dilworth
    • "Wine is just the raw material for a series of highly personal improvisational experiences" - John Dilworth
    • "The tastes of wines, and how we choose to experience them, are indeed purely matters of personal imagination" - John Dilworth
    • "It is clear you cannot enjoy wines to the fullest without the benefits of experience" - Kent Bach
    • "You do not have to be able to label the wine's aromas and flavors in order to discern and appreciate them" - Kent Bach
    • "People who talk profusely about wine are generally not put to the test. They, like many wines, can make a good impression without being all that good" - Kent Bach
    • "Wine changes over time, even short periods of time, and there is pleasure in noticing these changes from one glass to the next"- Kent Bach
    • "It sounds plausible to think that being able to describe how wines smell and taste (and look and feel) enhances one's pleasure in smelling and tasting them" - Kent Bach
    • "Wine talk aids tracking and organizing one's experience with wine and, obviously, in sharing it. But great wines speak for themselves!" - Kent Bach
    • "Wine, like objects of art, is enjoyed by the sensory experience of the object and enhanced by discourse" - Keith and Adrienne Lehrer
    • "A good wine taster is one who perceives, differentiates, and attends to the complete set of properties that a wine exemplifies, bases his or her aesthetic descriptions on those perceptions, and grounds a final evaluation of the wine on these descriptions and interpretations. This is an analytic procedure and not a simple pleasure reaction. It involves acuity, attention, sensibility, sensitivity, memory, and experience. It involves objective perception" - John W. Bender
    • "Wine descriptions can be precise without necessarily being subjective, but if that precision is based on the judgement of the degree to which a wine exhibits a certain property, and that reaction is a function of your particular level of physical sensitivity to the wine's various components, isn't an objectivist in trouble?" - John W. Bender
    • "We would never (and logically cannot) think it appropriate to suggest that tasters with divergent sensitivities ought to be coming to the same conclusions about the same wine" - John W. Bender
    • "The most interesting form of subjectivity in wine appreciation is grounded in our own objective differences" - John W. Bender
    • "Fine wine as we know it grew up and developed as an aesthetic system based on the idea that it is possible to differentiate quality in wines in a way that is largely objective" - Jamie Goode
    • "Parker's preferences have caused producers to change the way they make their wines, so that they will garner the all-important high scores" - Jamie Goode
    • "Vision has more of an input in the wine-tasting process than most people would think" - Jamie Goode
    • "Those who restrict themselves merely to naming aromas and flavors end up missing out on some of the more important aspects of the character of wines that cannot be described in this way, such as texture, structure, balance, and elegance" - Jamie Goode
    • "Taste is imprecise, and shows a lot more individual-to-individual variation than other senses" - Jamie Goode
    • "Wine appreciation is aesthetic: that is, it is an activity akin to listening to music or viewing a painting" - Douglas Burnham and Ole Martin Skilleas
    • "Aesthetic practice aims to produce consensus on interpretation, and this is why judgement leads to 'surely you must see it that way too.'" - Douglas Burnham and Ole Martin Skilleas
    • "The points system invites the notion that there is a template for excellence in wine that the wine under scrutiny measures up, to a greater or lesser degree" - Douglas Burnham and Ole Martin Skilleas
    • "Taste and smell are just too susceptible to suggestion to allow any danger from outside information to intrude upon the taster's experience of the wine" - George Gale
    • "Wine tasting is not an object-less pleasure; it is a realistic and imaginative encounter with a gustatory object" - Kevin W. Sweeney
    • "We have a tendency to anatomize wine, to consider it as a collection of elements rahter than an indivisible whole" - Randall Grahm
    • "In wine as well as in virtually every other domain, we tend to make snap judgements and not look past the blatantly obvious. We value style over substance, surface over depth" - Randall Graham
    • "It is our role as winemakers to create alternative universes for our customers, to touch their souls with wines that are themselves ensouled" - Randall Graham
    • "Whether we succeed or fail, the intent to make a wine with soul ennobles our own souls and we must be grateful for that precious opportunity" - Randall Graham
    • "Terroir can be presented, but it cannot be proven - except by the senses" - Matt Kramer
    • "It may be more important for our wine expenditures to track the pleasure the wine gives you, rather than the wine's quality, since quality and pleasure can diverge" - Justin Weinberg
    • "If we were to assume, contrary to fact, that price and quality (in wine) are correlated, it is not clear why that should motivate us to make the more expensive purchase, since quality and pleasure are not correlated" - Justin Weinberg
    • "As a wine lover, it is hard to imagine a time in history when it would have been better to live than now" - Justin Weinberg
    One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
    TheWineHub exists to help you with that. 

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    tasting 4 wines tonight 4 #pinotsmackdown : #FR (Burgundy), #DE (Rheingau), #US (California) & #IT (Trentino) #wine

    via TweetDeck

    Here is the line up of the 4 Pinots:
     1) Taz "Fiddletix Vineyard" 2002 - Santa Rita Hills, California - USA

     2) Domaine Saint-François Santenay 1er Cru "La Comme"2005 - Burgundy, France

     3) Borgo del Posseri "Paradis" Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2007 - Trentino, Italy

    4) Kloster Eberbach Domaine Assmannhausen "Höllenberg" Trocken 2007 - Rheingau, Germany

    More on the tasting coming later...

    One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
    TheWineHub exists to help you with that. 

    GERARD BERTRAND--a HOTEL "Chateau L'Hospitalet" and RESTAURANT in the middle of the VINEYARD by Philip S. Kampe

    The World knows GERARD BERTRAND is a man of many muses. He was a WORLD CLASS RUGBY player, a WINEMAKER and now he is restoring CASTLE HOSPITALET and turning it into one of France's PREMIER Hotels and Restaurants.

    Located near NARBONNE, with a view of the Mediterranean, CHATEAU L'HOSPITALET is perched within 2500 acres of GERARD BERTRANDS' vineyards.

    The view from the Chateau of nature's beauty is breathtaking. Vineyards and pine forests surround you. The elevation makes the Mediterranean look like your neighbor.

    Care and respect for nature has landed CHATEAU L'HOSPITALET recognition by receiving the "Natural Carbon Field" award that signifies perfect control of nature. This is a RARE award and one cherished by GERARD BERTRAND.

    GERARD BERTRANDS vineyard is a sizeable operation located in LANGUEDOC (southern France). His wines are WORLD CLASS and sold WORLDWIDE. He partners with 40+ growers and over 10 co-ops to source grapes. GERARD BERTRANDS wines vary from affordable to collectable.

    In a recent interview I had with Gerard he expressed his wine philosphy: Understand the evolution in consumer behavior toward EXPRESSIVE, WELL-BALANCED and ELEGANT wines at FAIR PRICES and you will SUCCEED.


    Look for his wines at your local wine shop. I have a few FAVORITES to recommend:

    CONTEAUX du LANGUEDOC la Clape L'Hospitalet la RESERVE 2005
    Deep cherry in color with aromas of cranberry, cherry and huckleberry, this syrah explodes on your palate with flavors of wild mushroom, cola and dark fruit.
    This wine is a real steal and a MUST BUY!

    Round, fruity and succulent, this Pinot Noir has a long finish and elegant taste.
    This wine would pair perfectly with either veal or chicken and is a special wine at reasonable price.

    Aromas of this VIOGNIER seduce you with hints of apricot nectar, peach pie and figs.
    At $16.99 a bottle, this pleasurable wine lights up your palate with hints of cinnamon and cream that take center stage. This serious, full-bodied wine is a sure winner.

    Remember GERARD BERTRAND wines the next time you BUY WINE!!
    And remember to visit his vineyard and stay at CHATEAU L'HOSPTALET for the ULTIMATE French Wine-Getaway!!

    One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
    TheWineHub exists to help you with that. 

    How Hungarian Cabernet Franc Changed My Life by Philip S. Kampe

    My Dad was known to his friends as ‘Cab Franc.’ You see, his name was really Joseph and all of his social time with visiting frien...