Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amarone has been "made" a DOCG

Amarone, Italy's newest DOCG!

It's like being let into THE FAMILY. Is it necessary? I personally know plenty of people who are willing to pay for Amarone without the pink neck tie around the bottle.

Is there anything noble about a process? I'd say yes in the case of Vin Santo, Recioto, Madiera, Tokay, and endless other wines but I worry about a region being elevated while the production has increased 650% in the last decade.

Amarone, with all due respect, it just seems a little funny.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best Wine Rating System of all Time!!!

FLYING SQUIRREL HEART!!! Best wine rating system ever or Best wine rating system currently in use? You decide!

Hardy all I can say is well done sir!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 Nebbiolo Harvest in Barolo at La Serra

This video was posted on the berry brother's piedmonte blog which is really well done and worth your time.

Recent encounters with amazing old Borgogno Barolo have left me haunted!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Current State of Champagne

Alice Feiring's focused beam of truth has locked on the "economic crisis" currently effecting champagne. I don't know about you but the next time I'm in NYC I'm getting a burger and a $60 bottle of Krug.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gamay is the new Black


I'm not sayin' you heard it here first but everybody is talking about Gamay! Gamay has always been a grape that hasn't been treated seriously. Crush it, ferment it as quickly as possible, and pour out just as fast was the model. That alter ego of Gamay is fading with time and a completely more earnest style is replacing it. Pay attention, the new gamay is worth it. Just ask the French government. Decanter magazine recently reported the French government has decided to develope a new program to study the terrior of Beaujolais and reclassify based on potential quality.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two worthy New York Times articles that answer long asked questions

Does the size of the ice you use and how you shake your cocktail matter? "Dilution has become a dirty word."

What is the Traditional Oregon Pinot Noir style really?

Do you agree? I do with the former and not completely with the latter. Never the less these are worth your time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nerds know things you don't: Cornell Wine Studies

I read Cornell's studies because they're brilliant. This is the kind of reading that's worth printing out and sitting down with to really take your time disgesting.

You can get a free membership to Cornell's hospitality school website here.

Wine List Character Associated with Greater Wine Sales

Managing a Wine Cellar Using a Spreadsheet

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pinot Noir Winemaking 101 decision Chart from Oregon Pinot Camp

A few wine terms worth knowing

Saignée (the French word for the medieval medical process of bleeding) is used when a winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine. The process involves the removal of some almost-colorless juice from the must in the fermenter at a very early stage – it is also known as “bleeding” the fermenter. The red wine is intensified as a result of the bleeding because the volume of juice in the must is reduced relative to the surface area of remaining grape skins. And in some senses, the must involved in the maceration is concentrated. (Typically, the removed juice is fermented separately, producing a rosé wine as a byproduct.)

The winemaker may choose to have some or all of the clusters go through a destemmer that removes the individual berries from the stem. Those clusters go into a destemmer or destemmer-crusher. This is simply a device that tumbles the entire clusters inside a perforated drum, allowing the berries to fall through the perforations and the stems to exit separately out the other end into a bin for disposal. In some machines, the berries then pass between two long, soft rotating cylinders with a variable slot that serves to “pop” varying percentages of the berries before exiting the bottom. Gentleness, capacity, and ease of cleaning are the primary differences in these machines. Some winemakers choose to use a percentage of un-destemmed whole clusters in their fermentation. This is achieved by bypassing the destemmer and simply dumping the chosen amount of clusters directly into the fermenter.

SO2 is added to almost every must and wine and is one of the most basic and important quality control measures available to the winemaker. SO2 acts as both an oxidase enzyme inhibitor and as a microbial growth inhibitor. SO2 is added to the must early (within minutes or hours) to prevent browning and to inhibit native flora. If the native bacteria and yeast grow out of control, the result can lead to higher volatile acidity (VA), off flavors and aromas, and possibly fermentations that stop with sugar still in the wine (stuck fermentation).

The impact of SO2 additions is strongly affected by the pH of the must. If tartaric acid additions have been made, the acidity and pH will change, affecting the activity of the SO2. Almost all of the SO2 added to the must will be bound up during the fermentation and eliminated at pressing. It is almost always added again at the end of malolactic fermentation to protect the young wine from oxidation during the aging process.

Yeast and Yeast nutrients
Once a suitable environment has been created in the fermenter, yeast can be added to start active fermentation, or yeast will not be added at all if the winemaker has decided to let the ferment go native. There are many types of commercial yeast available to winemakers, all with their own special characteristics, from aromatic enhancement to high alcohol tolerance. The timing and quantity of yeast additions affects how quickly the fermentation starts and how rapidly it progresses.

Yeasts require a wide variety of nutrients to grow and perform their job of converting sugar to alcohol. Acid, high temperatures, and alcohol stress the yeast and can lead to off aromas and yeast death. Grape musts can vary dramatically in the level of these nutrients and are often deficient in one or more essential elements. An analysis can be done to determine whether and by how much the must is deficient in the major nutrients required for yeast to grow and complete fermentation. Once fermentation begins, the required amounts of nutrients can be added to the must. This practice ensures healthy fermentations that go to dryness and produce low amounts of off aromas such as sulfides.

Roto-fermenters are horizontal, closed tanks that can be rotated to mix the cap with the must in a pre-programmed manner. They require minimal attention and are easy to empty, but are very expensive to purchase and can lead to over-extraction.

Pigeage (literally “by foot”). In a shallow tank this involves walking on the fermenting must to mix the cap. In larger tanks, it involves immersing most of your body in the wine and mixing in any way possible as you swim or crawl around. A very low-tech approach, it is the most personal cap management tool.

Fining and Filtration
Fining and filtration are tools for clarification and for tannin and flavor modification of wine. Wines can have a high volume of suspended solids that will not clarify by settling and need to be removed prior to bottling. Some wines have bitter and unpleasant tannins or other negative flavor compounds that need to be removed or modified. The decision to fine or filter a wine depends on the specific problem that needs to be addressed. The choice of what to do is often based on small experiments called bench trials. The winemaker takes small samples of wine and adds various fining agents or combinations of fining agents to determine their effectiveness in solving the problem. That information is then used to treat the entire lot. The most common fining agents are egg whites, gelatin, milk and whey, and isinglass (protein from the air bladder of a sturgeon). These are often effective in extremely small doses, measured in ounces per one thousand gallons.

Bitterness is one of the more common problems addressed by adding fining agents. As wines age and develop, tannin molecules connect into chains of varying lengths. Some of these are perceived as bitter or astringent and can be removed by adding specific proteins to the wine. Unfortunately, there is no laboratory test to analyze exactly what tannins are causing the problems or what treatments are most effective in their removal. Luckily there are a wide variety of fining agents and the best treatment can be determined by bench trials using specific agents at varying doses. Although effective in removing undesired tannins, fining a wine always removes some positive flavor components. The goal in fermenting, pressing and aging is to end up with all of the extracts and flavors that the winemaker wants and nothing extra. That way, nothing will have to be removed. In certain circumstances filtration is necessary. White wines are commonly filtered.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Corked: The movie

Because every once in a while you need to laugh at yourself.

This must see mocumentary was brought to my attention by Burgundia.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Map of Napa Valley Wineries

A full list of the Napa sub-AVA descriptions from the Napa Vintners Association.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

John Cleese: Wine for the Confused

A fantastic video for the wine beginner or anyone who puts more trust in a narrator with an English accent. Click on the top right box on the screen to see a full screen view of this Cleese masterpiece.

Notice the gods in the beginning of the movie? The final man showed is a new world Pinot Noir maker who makes wines that are benchmark examples of what new world pinot can be. I'll give you another hint, he's a man who doesn't mince words when it comes to sharing his opinion on what it takes to make world class wine.

Any clue who he is?

Monday, July 20, 2009

2004 Burgundy Vintage

Here is a piece from the Burgundy report that I find interesting.

I must say that I've notice a more rustic edge to the 04's that seems to be showing itself more and more as the wines age however I've just assumed the wines were showing their age due to the vintage character. As a man of little money and less years of collecting burgundy under my belt this has been something that attracts me to the vintage. On the whole the wines of 2004 are showing more interesting layers right now than any other recent vintage since 2001 for the money.

What recent vintage do you prefer drinking?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An interview with Hugh Johnson by Decanter Magazine

Find the original post here.

Johnson and Jancis Robinson's Wine Atlas is a must have book for any wine lover.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Map of Barolo DOCG


A link to a PDF of this document

A Video of Donnhoff's vineyards by Jaime Goode


Why is this interesting you may ask? Well, to quote one of my favorite people I've never met on the planet. "There are two kinds of people in the world, people who believe in terrior, and idiots"-TT

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oregon's Willamette Valley Sub-AVA descriptions and a soil map from the Oregon Pinot Camp Manual

One of David Lett's original Pinot Noir plantings located in the Dundee Hills

Willamette Valley Sub-AVAs
[Descriptions provided by winemakers from each AVA, independently]

Dundee Hills
The first grapes in the Willamette Valley were planted in the Dundee Hills. It remains the most densely planted locale in the valley and state. Within the 6,500 acres of this almost exclusively basaltic land mass that runs north-south and overlooks the Willamette River to the south and the Chehalem Valley to the north, and which rises to 1,067 feet in elevation, more than 1,250 acres of
grapes are planted on approximately 50 vineyards. It is approximately 30 miles to the southwest of Portland and 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, with protection from the ocean climate provided by the higher Coast Range of mountains.

Dundee Hills soils are reddish, silt, clay, loam soils derived from Columbia River basalt flows and, as such, are easily decomposed to provide moderately rich, deep, and good water-holding soils. Soils and climate differentiate this AVA. The hillside planting regions above 200 feet provide good water and air drainage, good frost protection, moderate fertility, and moderate temperatures for adequate ripening, but with acid retention.

Pinot noirs from this AVA are characteristically red to black fruited, with raspberry to black cherry ranges, offering earth, truffle, cola, and perfume aromatics and flavors, with light spices and a core of sweetness on the palate.

Eola-Amity Hills
The name of this AVA is derived from a ridge of hills adjacent to the Willamette River. The ridge is actually composed of the Eola Hills, straddling the 45th latitude on the southern end, and the Amity Hills on the northern spur. The proposed minimum elevation for the AVA is 200 feet

Two of the predominant influences on the characteristics of wines from the Eola Hills are shallow soils and the Van Duzer corridor. The soils of the Eola Hills contain volcanic basalt from ancient lava flows. The basalt is combined with a preponderance of marine sedimentary rocks and/or alluvial deposits. These soils: Nekia, Woodburn, and Steiwer are generally much shallower and rockier relative to most other Oregon AVAs. These shallow well-drained soils tend to produce smaller grapes with greater concentration.

The Van Duzer Corridor essentially provides a break in the Coast Range that allows cool ocean winds to flow dropping temperatures dramatically, especially during late summer afternoons. These late afternoon and evening breezes help provide the cool nights that keep acids firm and are essential for optimal ripening

The wines tend to be bigger, more full-bodied wines. The fruit components tend towards blackberry, black cherry, and plum contrasted with raspberry, strawberry, and cherry flavors, which may predominate in wines from deeper soils. The mineral content of the terroir is often present both on the nose and on the palate. The wines often display considerable focus and clarity of fruit. They also favor primary fruit character over spice, tending toward the darker black fruit spectrum (black cherries and blueberries). Compared to other North Willamette Valley regions, the wines often exhibit brighter acidity and firmer structure, along with considerable longevity, this due to the cooling effect of the Van Duzer Corridor. Wines from lower elevations tend to lean more toward plum and bramble fruit, showing slightly more secondary flavors such as earthy, mineral and spice/herbal tones (e.g. white pepper and dried flowers).

Chehalem Mountains

The Chehalem Mountains AVA is a single uplifted land mass southwest of Portland in the northern Willamette Valley, extending 20 miles in length and 5 miles in breadth. These mountains stretch from the town of Wilsonville in the southeast, snake between Sherwood and Newberg, and reach almost to Forest Grove in the northwest. They include several discrete spurs, mountains, and ridges, such as Ribbon Ridge and Parrott Mountain. The highest point within the Willamette Valley is the Chehalem Mountains’ Bald Peak, at 1,633 feet, which effects weather for the AVA and helps to distinguish it from the adjoining grape-growing hillsides and surrounding lowlands, less appropriate for grapegrowing.

It is the geography and climate that largely differentiate this AVA from others. That notwith- standing, the variety of soils within the AVA helps to play host to different grape varieties. Soils on the southern and western slopes are basaltic (including Saum and Jory) and ocean sedimentary
(including Melbourne and Willakenzie). Soils on the north face of the mountains are wind-blown loess (Laurelwood). Inappropriate heavier alluvial soils are largely excluded from the AVA by virtue of its minimum elevation of 200 feet.

Within the almost 70,000 acres of this AVA are over 1100 acres of grapes, grown in more than 80 vineyards, and 15 or so wineries. The Ribbon Ridge AVA is a sub-AVA of the Chehalem Mountains.

A wide range of Pinot noirs can be produced in this AVA, from more lightly red-fruited, elegant and balanced stylings, to black-fruited, briery, earthy, and highly structured wines carrying brown spice and wood notes, plus most gradations in-between.

Yamhill-Carlton District
North of McMinnville the land slowly rises to the hamlets of Carlton and Yamhill. Low ridges surround the two communities in a horseshoe shape. The free-flowing North Yamhill River courses through the center of a lush patchwork quilt of nurseries, grain fields, and orchards. The neatly combed benchlands and hillsides of the Yamhill-Carlton District are home to some of the finest Pinot noir vineyards in the world.

Historically nourished by forestry and farming, this area is rapidly emerging as a global center of Pinot Noir production. This pastoral corner of Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley creates a unique set of growing conditions. The Coast Range to the west soars to nearly 3500 feet (1200m) establishing a rain shadow over the entire district. Additional protection is afforded by Chehalem Mountain to the north and the Dundee Hills to the east.

The coarse-grained, ancient marine sediments native to the area are the oldest soils in the valley. These soils drain quickly, establishing a natural deficit-irrigation effect. Thus, the vines stop vegetative growth earlier here than elsewhere, leading to more complete ripening, even in cooler growing seasons. This allows Pinot noir to develop deep ruby colors and broad, silky tannins. The mouth-filling wines exude powerful fruit aromas of raspberry, blackberry, and black cherries complexed by minerality reminiscent of pipe tobacco, espresso, clove, and dark chocolate and accented by scents of rose, violet, lavender, and sweet wood smoke. These are alluring, complex, supple gems of Pinot noir to sip and savor.

McMinnville District
The McMinnville AVA sits due west of Yamhill County’s wine country home, the city of McMinnville. It extends approximately 20 miles south-southwest toward the mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor, Oregon’s lowest Coast Range pass to the Pacific Ocean. The proposed AVA is a blend of geo-climatic factors that make it unique among Yamhill County’s proposed AVAs. Specifically, the appellation encompasses the land above 200 feet and below 1,000 feet in elevation on the east and southeast slopes of these foothills of the coast -range mountains. Geologically, this region is dramatically different in soil profile from other winegrowing areas in Yamhill County. The soils are primarily uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts, with alluvial overlays. Beneath is a base of the uplifting basalt. Clay and silt loams average 20–40 inches in depth before reaching harder rock and compressed sediments, shot with basalt pebbles and stone. The uniqueness of the soils for winegrowing is in the 20–40 inch depth.

Climatically, this AVA is, again, in its own class. These primarily east and south facing slopes sit in a protected weather shadow of the Coast Range Mountains. Rainfall is lower (33 inches annually) than sites only 12 to 20 miles to the east. The foothills also provide protection from chilling winds in the unstable air conditions of spring and fall. Winegrowers also have the option of placing vineyards on more southerly facing sites to take advantage of the drying winds from the Van Duzer Corridor. There are presently approximately 600 acres planted in the AVA. Of greatest note is the flavor qualities of the Pinot noir wines from this area. Unlike the wines from hillsides to the east, the Pinot noirs from these soils are highly pigmented, with a strong backbone of tannin and acidity and a massive palate of black fruit and earthy flavors.

Ribbon Ridge
Ribbon Ridge is a very regular spur of ocean sediment uplift off the northwest end of the Chehalem Mountains, comprised of a relatively uniform five square miles (3,350 acres) of land in a breadloaf-like shape. In excess of 300 acres within 15 vineyards are currently planted on the ridge. The AVA is distinguished by uniform ocean sedimentary soils and a geography that shows it protected climatically by the larger and taller land masses surrounding it. Paucity of aquifers forces many vineyards to be dry farmed. The AVA’s elevation minimum is 200 feet, with its highest point 683 feet.

Pinot noir characteristics from Ribbon Ridge include predominantly black fruit (black cherry, blackberry, and black currant), moderate to high structure sometimes bordering on rustic, good acidity especially in higher elevations, and good extraction. Wines contain fine tannins, a range of brown and wood spices, fresh-turned earth and chocolate dependent on vintage. Wines are thought to ultimately age very well.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Willamette Valley Weather and Vintage review from OPC

This is an excerpt from the Oregon Pinot Camp handbook. I would suggest you pay close attention to the 2007 vintage. It's been severely panned by the press however the wines exemplify exactly what makes Oregon a wonderful place to make Pinot Noir. High toned red fruit, medium body and "kung fu acidity"*.

OPC Weather and Harvests: A Vintage Review

1985: The vintage was hot and dry from beginning to end. Harvest was in late September, under ideal conditions. Crop was a bit short. Also noteworthy was frost on May 11th and 12th, which affected many locations near the valley floor. Quality was good to excellent.

1986: The year started early, with buds bursting around March 20th. Bloom was somewhat early. The summer was hot, with the year tracking very close to 85°F until 3 inches of rain fell in September. Good weather returned at the end of the month, but the poor weather during fruit maturation diminished the quality of the Pinot noir vintage somewhat. Some excellent Chardonnays were made. Quality was average to good.

1987: Very hot, dry vintage with a September harvest. Grapes harvested in hot conditions. Sugars sometimes reached maximums before flavors developed. Quality was poor to very good.

1988: The lack of rain in the Fall and early Winter of 1987 led to a peculiar malady in 1988 called “late Fall drought-induced Boron deficiency”. The result was a very poor set and resulting small crop. Nonetheless, 1988 was a classic Oregon Pinot noir vintage, with cool temperatures and a long, dry Fall. Quality was good to excellent.

1989: In the late Winter of 1989, Oregon suffered a severe freeze with temperatures at below -5°F. The consequence was moderate to serious vine damage and bud damage in the Spring of 1989. Crops were significantly reduced. The vintage was characterized by a late budbreak, but a hot Summer and Fall. Harvest was in September. Quality was good to very good and the quantity was short.

1990: Very cold conditions in December of 1989 caused bud damage which led to the third straight year of short crops in Oregon. The vintage resembled 1988, with a long cool year and a dry Fall. Quality was very good to excellent.

1991: A long, cool Spring pushed bloom into late June and early July. The rest of the season was, however, ideal with an extraordinary, long, warm Fall. The crop was good. Because of the late harvest, quality was enhanced by severe thinning. Quality ranged from average to very good, depending on cultural practices.

1992: This was the hottest year in Oregon’s brief modern viticultural history. The harvest ranged from early to mid-September. Fortunately, the heat relented somewhat at the end of maturity, allowing many producers to make wines of outstanding quality. The experience of 1987 may have aided producers in making their cultural and picking decisions. Crop was good. Thinning was required to be successful. (The earliest harvest to-date.)

1993: This may become another classic Oregon vintage. Bloom was in late June. Harvest was relatively late, but the Fall was warm and relatively dry. The crop was average. Thinning generally enhanced wine quality. (The latest harvest to-date.)

Vintage notes 1985–1993 by Ted Casteel, Bethel Heights Vineyard

1994: A highly ballyhooed vintage, this was a short, dry, and warm harvest. Thinning was unnecessary, with most vineyards having croploads under two tons per acre. Alcohols are moderately high, extraction huge and the reception by press predictably strong. Seen as the best vintage released to-date by some, with 1998 rivaling it.

1995: A vintage with rain at harvest ending a good growing season and, unfortunately following on the heels of 1994, received poorly by critics. A moderate to good yield and heavy rains for a week or more in the middle of harvest meant many wines lack the depth of fruit and color that others have. That notwithstanding, the vintage made exceptionally rich, elegantly styled wines at the single vineyard and reserve levels.

1996: The second rain-affected harvest, fruit in this year was closer to fully ripe when a few days of rain arrived, resulting in almost normal size and richness in the Pinot noirs. The vintage yields were slightly below normal levels but not financially threatening as with 1994 and 1998, plus in all years since 1994 more winemakers are chosing to crop-thin to achieve intensity. A fat, rich vintage considered the best of the rain years by critics.

1997: The last of the rain vintages, this year showed great promise until the skies opened. Crop loads promised the largest harvest yet and they were almost ripe when rains came. Unlike the prior two vintages when the rains stopped for post-rain ripening, 1997 remained wet. Botrytis pressure was high and earlier-picked vineyards and those who sorted and crop-thinned fared better. Very good structures bordering on tannic, plus slow to evolve fruit has made this vintage unpopular with critics, although excellent producers made stellar wines just now showing off.

1998: Glorious wines, not much of them. A large 1997 crop and damp, cool weather at bloom doomed this vintage to short crops, but that meant, with a normal ripening season and no early rains, deeply extracted and highly structured wines. Croploads were even smaller than 1994 and the wines, just beginning to be released, are big but require time in bottle to regain their lushness and finesse. Possibly the best vintage to-date. But wait…

1999: A very cool growing season followed a very late bloom period in 1999. A great wine was thought unlikely to arise, considering a full cropload hungin most vineyards and a need for the last two months before harvest to be perfect to fully ripened fruit. Many vineyards were severely crop-thinned as a precaution, but the weather cooperated and all vineyards ripened if owners were patient. Many of the best wines are as good as 1998, some claiming to be better. Great variability can be expected, however, due to earlier than optimal picking by those not trusting Mother Nature. An almost Burgundian level of acidity will make this vintage ageworthy.

2000: The 2000 growing season was almost perfect, starting early in both budbreak and bloom, setting a full crop in vineyards and thus giving a chance to precisely choose optimum yields with crop thinning. During harvest, which started the last week of September and lasted until the last week of October, only 1.1" of rain fell, with very good ripeness and moderate to good acids. Colors and extractions on the Pinot noir cuvees were excellent, acids good, but not as firm as 1999 and fruit totally ripe without disease pressure. Third-in-a-row, with 2000 a good average of the prior two vintages’ characteristics. In a word, a “pretty” vintage.

2001: This year produced a soft, big vintage. It saw almost ideal growing and ripening weather and less than an inch of rain during harvest. This is not a typical cool climate vintage since acids are as low and ripeness as full, despite above average yields before crop thinning, as we’ve seen since perhaps 1987. The Pinot noirs will be soft, fleshy and early appealing, with moderate colors. Whites will be full and broad, and early maturing. The alcohols are restrained slightly by yields that didn’t force extreme extraction. With perspective in 2004, a lighter, slightly harder and not well- received vintage by critics—some excellent wines, although not across the board, from the weakest vintage of the excellent 1998–2003 string.

2002: An extended, dry and moderately warm harvest put the finishing touches to what may be one of the best two or three vintages Oregon has seen—perhaps best ever for whites, close to best for reds. A slightly early budbreak ushered in a warm, dry growing season with excellent heat summations, but not heat spikes. An inch of rain in mid-late September corrected imbalanced high sugars and low pHs and set the stage for an extended harvest of well over a month for Pinot noir. Harvests of young fruit prior to this only rain event may give some elevated alcohols. Croploads were full, permitting precise green harvesting for full ripeness and extraction. Excellent acidities due to moderate temperatures throughout the growing and harvest periods, make this a richly ripe but structured vintage, both for whites and reds.

2003: This is an excellent vintage, albeit unusual in the fiery nature of the growing season. The same dry and warm growing and ripening seasons held for 2003 as with the past few vintages, only more so, with Region II (not cool climate!) heat accumulations of 2,500 units, average highs of 78F July-October, and half the normal rainfall with 2.75 inches. Fruit was disease free, crop set was generous enough for easy honing to desired levels, and soil moisture was adequate due to good pre-season winter rains. Concerns regarding this vintage center on high sugars and resultant high alcohols, and low acids. Most comparable past vintages, like the excellent 1992, may urge us not to worry.

2004: This vintage started out as a carbon copy of 2003, but thankfully cooled off and got needed rains in late August and then again in mid-September before most vineyards’ final ripening phase. What a difference some rain makes! Young and early vineyards that were almost ready to harvest the first week of September could have done without the rain, but the rest thought it a blessed relief and assured nutrient mobility in the vines. A short cropload due to poor weather at set, extreme temperatures the prior vintage, and vineyard growth irregularities, plus growing season heat (2004’s Degree-Day 2404 compared to 2003’s 2535 in McMinnville) make 2004 properly plump and extracted, but with restraint—average Brix down 1%. An interesting vintage—almost an average of 2001, 2002, and 2003, with perhaps a little more variability in reds and more structured, brighter whites similar to 2002.

Vintage notes for 1994–2004 by Harry Peterson-Nedry, Chehalem

2005: Although moderate in temperature, this was the coolest vintage of the last six years. It got off to a very early start (March budbreak), but the weather turned cool and rainy in late May and June, leading to a late bloom and reduced crop due to poor set. A warm and dry July and August followed. Fall was cool and it rained significantly late in September. Although most winemakers fear rain just prior to harvest, in Burgundy they say a good rainstorm in early September is a basic ingredient of a great vintage. 2005 was a classic example of fall rains providing balance to the fruit after a dry summer. There was almost no damage to the fruit from splitting or rot and harvest followed in dry conditions over the next few weeks. There is significant excitement (and some surprise) over the quality of wines produced in this unusual vintage. The wines are well balanced, have moderate alcohol, good acidity, and supple tannins.

2006: Thanks to favorable weather at bloom and an extended growing season, Oregon’s 2006 vintage was characterized by that rare combination of plentiful crop yields a warm and dry growing season with little precipitation and modest disease pressure. The resulting wines were rich and hedonistic. If there were any issues, they revolved around fruit reaching higher sugar levels prior to developing physiological maturity. Higher than average alcohols resulted. 2003 was the only vintage in recent times warmer than 2006, as measured by heat unit accumulation.

2007: This is a milestone Oregon vintage- Beautifully balanced, racy white wines and elegantly structured red wines were produced, in spite of some significant rainfall that occurred throughout the first three weeks of October’s harvest. Bud break and bloom occurred “on time” in the first week of May, followed by a summer of above normal temperatures (by 3 to 4 degrees F!) September, when slightly below normal ‘finishing temperatures” put Oregon onto the path of beautifully long hang times. Then a series of rain fronts progressed weekly across Oregon’s vineyards delaying harvest by as much as 2 weeks. As flocks of migratory birds were ushered into the area with each successive storm front, growers reported using bird netting for the first time in 2007. Growers picked hastily in the dry windows between these weekly weather events. Those growers with their crop-loads well tuned to lower-yields, and well up on their spray schedules were rewarded with balanced and elegantly ripened fruit: Great colors and ripe tannins combined with layers of complex and subtle flavors. As of this writing, many of the white wines are released and achieving critical acclaim; the Pinot noir wines are still resting in the barrels having only just completed M/L.

2008: Hailed by many as the “best vintage of the last 20 years”- Oregon’s 2008 started with a very late bud break- almost a full month last. However, the finishing weather of October was a God-Send: very little precipitation fell in the early weeks of October, just enough to keep the vines from shutting down. 78 degree days and 45 degree nights allowed fruit to ripen slowly and evenly, with very little disease pressure. Surprisingly, the vintage ended with very little accumulated Growing Degree Days- a mer 1976. This resulted in extremely well balanced wines with complex fruit flavors, yet still with relatively low sugars (therefore lower potential alcohol levels compared to recent vintages such as the 2006, or 2003).

*Kung Fu Acidity- a term created by Matt Olson

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is Oregon getting ahead of itself with it's AVA system?

Before reading this piece I would have said no! However this article by the very respected Bill Hatcher is convincing.

Sub-AVAs Undercut Oregon

A closer look at the fragmentation of an industry

By Bill Hatcher

And here is a response from Ken Wright and three other winemakers who don't agree with Hatcher at all.

Wine Games with Gary Vaynerchuk

Needless to say I'm a huge fan of Winelibrary TV and the whole Gary V empire. Gary continues to keep his feet on the ground with fresh ideas while achieving much deserved success.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Map of Chilean Wine Regions

Map Sourced from Chilean-wine.com


is a variety of grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine, the French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in the South West France region. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine. It is also grown in Chile, cooler regions in California, and in Washington. Mablec is growing rapidly in popularity in the US.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the words of Terry Theise

I was reading terry theise's new 2009 "narcissistic rant" about Germany and I felt like I had to repost something that he wrote while discussing the subject of if "Low yieds = better wine." Theise goes on to sum up his point by saying, "Concentration is a virtue but over concentration makes for opacity and brutishness. I'd rather see a wine whose voice could break a glass than one that takes a hammer to it."

Terry Theise speaks the truth! Read more of his perspective on germany, austria,champagne and the enjoyment of life when you've got time to sit down and digest some serious stuff.

The Sommelier alert is a nice touch Terry!

Donnhoff will make you get up off of that thing. Just sayin....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chambolle Musginy Vineyard Map

This map was sourced from Scott Paul's blog. You can find a mini Burgundy wine 101 and 102 with allen meadows along with more maps of Burgundy here.

Oregon's Willamette Valley: Featured on Grape Radio

They've done it again! Graperadio.com ,one of the internet's most informative wine resources, has put together a benchmark feature show on the Willamette Valley.

This couldn't be more timely with little boy's and girl currently packing their bags for Oregon Pinot Camp! All I can say is I'll be sportin' my pinot camp jacket next winter!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greek Grape Varietial Discriptions

White Vitis Vinifera

*please note that variations in spelling and translation are common, with small differences appearing on labels according to the region or producer.

Assyrtiko: High-acid variety native to Santorini and the Aegean islands, considered by many to make Greece's finest whites. Usually used to make dry, racy wines, with strong mineral character.

Lagorthi: A high-acid variety producing crisp, energetic wines with low alcohol, solid structure and pronounced minerality.

Robola: Known as ribolla in Italy. Produces fresh, tangy wines with bright citrus and zesty mineral character.

Roditis: Common in Peloponnese. A late-ripening, vigorous variety that yields light, crisp wines with fresh citrus and herb character.

Savatiano: The most planted grape in Greece. A high-yielding variety that produces low-acid, early maturing wine which are often high in alcohol. This is the most common variety used for retsina and is usually blended with other, higher acid grapes.

Red Vitis Vinifera

Agiorghitiko: Also called Saint George. A widely planted, high-yielding variety producing low-acid, often early-drinking wines, emphasizing red fruits and gentle spice. Often made in an easygoing style and frequently blended with more tannic or high-acid grapes.

Kotsifali: Native to Crete. Produces aromatic, rich, full-bodied wines with low acidity and soft tannins. The wines are never deep in color as this is a thin skinned grape.

Limnio: Common in northern Greece, where it often appears in blends. Tends to make powerful, structured wines with tangy red fruit and fresh herb qualities and moderate to high acidity.

Mandilaria: A thick-skinned variety from Crete. Produces deeply colored, low-acid and full-bodied wines, often with pronounced tannins. Widely used in blends for the color it brings.

Mavrodaphne: Yields full-bodied, dense wines. Most often used to make rich dessert-styled versions, which are among Greece's best-known wines.

Xinomavro: Considered Greece's greatest red variety and responsible for its most serious reds. Notoriously fickle to grow, it is a late-ripening variety, producing powerful, structured, richly flavored wines with hard tannins. The wines made from Xinomavro are seldom dark and are often compared to nebbiolo or Pinot Noir. The picture below displays the pine cone like shape of the xinomavro cluster.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Proper Temperature for Serving Wine

If you're not already reading Eric Asimov regularly you should start. His commentary is always balanced and extremely informative. Here is a recent post about serving wine at the proper temperature and how paramount it is to the wine's expression.

Eric, as we say in the south, "go on brotha, if lovin wine at the proper temperature is wrong, I don't want to be right."

Organic Wines defined with links

"What Is the Real Definition of Organic?

Organic products in the United States are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in accordance with the Organic Food and Production Act (OFPA) passed in 1990 (7 C.F.R. pt. 205). Products labeled as "organic" must be certified according to standards for ingredients and production set by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and administered by the National Organic Program (NOP) within the USDA. Organic foods and beverages are produced without using the following: most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

The NOSB defines organic agriculture as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity." Certainly the goal of organic agriculture—and the wine industry in particular—is to address larger issues, such as soil erosion water quality, loss of biodiversity, chemical dependence, and ecological impacts, such as resistance to natural predators.

Organically Grown Grapes vs. Organic Wine

Organic wines are currently in a state of limbo because many traditional winemaking ingredients are not currently approved for organic labeling by the NOSB. The term "organic wine" can be used only when 100 percent of the grapes are certified organic and where no sulfites are added. For example, a wine that contains only organic grapes but also uses sulphur dioxide (SO2), yeasts, bentonite or egg white gases (e.g., N2, CO2) in the winemaking process is not considered an "organic wine." Instead, these wines are commonly labeled "made from organically grown grapes."

There is continued discussion between the NOSB and the California Organic Advisory Board to recommend revised standards that would allow the use of sulphur dioxide; however, comments from the initial Federal Register notice last year resulted in withdrawal of the regulation for revision. Revised regulations could be adopted in the upcoming year.

Although the labeling limitation has been a disincentive for some winemakers to obtain organic certification, many grape growers are moving forward with their efforts to obtain organic certification (a three-year process) in anticipation of a resolution of the ingredient issue. In addition, many growers are finding that their winemaking partners want to use or purchase organic grapes—even without the labeling advantage. Because chemical sprays can enter the vat through grape skin residues or from pulp from the plant itself, growers and winemakers have an independent desire to eliminate trace pesticides and other chemical residue from their content. Winemakers have found that organically grown grapes have a unique, if not better, crush, providing additional flavor options.

During a grower's three-year transition to obtain organic certification, production costs can increase as much as 5 to 10 percent. "After the first three years, most producers agree, organic growing costs become equal or less than conventional growing costs as money is no longer being spent on synthetic chemicals." (OTA, Marketwatch) The biggest difference for growers of organic grapes is adopting growing practices that maintain biologically active soil. The use of cover crops and natural fertilizers, and the planting of companion crops, such as echinacea to attract natural predators, are common. In addition, weed management is integrative, allowing a cycle of growth, mowing and composting wherein the biomass is used as fertilizer instead of chemical sprays.

In the meantime, wine labels containing the phrase "grown with organically grown grapes" seem to be increasing as the certified acreage increases, and the inclusion of this information on labels is used by some as a marketing distinction along with appellation or variety."

More information along with links can be found at Winebusiness.com or at the Organic Trade Association site.

Can you taste the difference?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Map of Montalcino

Sourced from The Montalcino Report

Silicon Valley Bank Report: State of the Wine Industry

If you don't have the stomach for it just take the red pill and forget this was ever posted

A must read for those of us who are wondering what is really happening in the wine industry behind the polished tasting rooms.

The Report

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Austrian Wine Region Maps

Map Source and more information on Austria can be found at, Winesfromaustria.com

Breakdown by Variety Planted in Austria:

Grape varieties: in %
Grüner Veltliner
Blauer Zweigelt
Weißer Burgunder & Chardonnay
Blauer Portugieser
other varieties white
other varieties red
Source: Federal Institute for Viticulture, Eisenstadt, 2002

Friday, May 29, 2009

Spanish Grape Discriptions and D.O. map

Sourced from Winesfromspain.com

Airén- This is Spain's most widely planted white grape variety. The bunches are large and tightly-packed. It produces wines with a characteristic bouquet and alcohol content between 12% vol. and 14% vol. It can be found, among other regions, in Ciudad Real (51% of planting), Toledo, Cuenca, Albacete, Murcia and Madrid. It is the main variety in Vinos de Madrid DO.

White. Native to Galicia, with small, very sweet glyceric berries which produce high quality wines. It is the basic grape of Rías Baixas DO. There has been a dramatic increase in the area planted with this grape over the last few years.

Garnacha Blanca
White Garnacha. Produces full-bodied wines with a high alcohol content. Very abundant throughout Spain, especially in Tarragona, Zaragoza and Teruel. It is classified as a main variety in Alella, Costers del Segre, Tarragona and Terra Alta DOs.

Garnacha Tinta
Red Garnacha. A high-yielding grape that produces vigorous wines. This is the most widely grown red grape in Spain, especially in La Rioja, Madrid, Navarre, Tarragona, Teruel, Toledo and Zaragoza. It is considered a main variety in the following DOs: Ampurdán-Costa Brava, Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Costers del Segre, La Mancha, Méntrida, Penedés, Priorato, Somontano, Tarragona, Terra Alta, Utiel-Requena, Valdeorras and Vinos de Madrid.

Garnacha Tintorera
Red. This grape, also known as Alicante, is so-called because it is the only variety, along with Alicante Bouché, which has coloured flesh (tintorera comes from the verb teñir = to dye). It is widely planted in Albacete, Alicante, Orense and Pontevedra, and it is considered a main variety in Almansa DO.

White. A high quality, very aromatic grape. Native to Galicia, new planting has been encouraged in the last few years, especially in Valdeorras DO. It is considered a main variety in Valdeorras and Bierzo DOs.

White high quality Galician grape that creates very aromatic wines. Authorised in Rías Baixas and Ribeiro DOs. There is also a red Loureira, but it is very rare.

White. Also called Viura. This is the basic cava variety. Mainly found in Badajoz, La Rioja, Tarragona and Zaragoza, this is considered a main variety in Calatayud, Conca de Barberá, Costers del Segre, Navarra, Penedés, Rioja, Somontano, Tarragona and Terra Alta DOs.

Red. According to recent studies, this grape is very similar to Cabernet Franc. It produces high quality wines and is most widely planted in León (68%), Zamora, Lugo and Orense provinces. It is considered a main variety in Valdeorras and Bierzo DOs.

White, superbly aromatic grape with a high sugar content. It produces very characteristic wines and is also frequently consumed directly as a dessert grape. Widely grown across the whole of Spain, it is particularly frequent in Valencia and Málaga. It is also considered a main variety in Málaga and Valencia DOs.

White. A basic grape in Jerez wines, called Jerez outside this growing area. Its high yields led to extensive planting in many Spanish regions, especially Galicia. It flourishes in Cádiz (68%), Orense, Valladolid, Zamora and Huelva. It is considered a main variety in Jerez and Condado de Huelva DOs.

Pedro Ximénez
White grape with a high sugar content. To a greater or lesser extent, it is found almost everywhere in Spain, It is most widespread in Córdoba (68%), Badajoz, Málaga and Valencia and is considered a main variety in the following DOs: Jerez, Málaga, Montilla-Moriles, and Valencia.

Red. Superb quality and very aromatic, the star of Spanish grapes. It is called Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in Castile-La Mancha and Madrid, and Tinto Fino and Tinto del Pais in Castile and Leon. It flourishes in Burgos, La Rioja, Alava, Cuenca and Ciudad Real. It is considered a main variety in the following DOs: Calatayud, Cigales, Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, La Mancha, Penedes, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Somontano, Utiel-Requena, Valdepenas, and Vinos de Madrid. Also known as Tinta del Pais, tinto fino

Tinta de Toro
Red. Produces aromatic, good quality wines, although it does not give high yields. Some maintain that it is an acclimatised version of Tempranillo that has become adapted to the region of Zamora, and that this is also the origin of its name. It is considered a main variety of Toro DO

White. Originally from Galicia, it produces wines of little body and good acidity, with considerable personality and an intense bouquet. It can be found throughout Galicia and in Córdoba.

White. Native to Galicia, this is one of the most aromatic varieties of Galician grape, and its cultivation is being encouraged in a number of areas. It is considered a main variety in Ribeiro DO.

White. Very high quality and one of the best white varieties in Spain. It makes very aromatic, glyceric, soft wines with body. It is plentiful in Valladolid (69%), Segovia and Ávila. It is considered a main variety of Rueda DO.

Xarel.lo o Xarello
White. Together with the Macabeo and Parellada varieties, it makes up the trilogy of cava grapes. It produces very aromatic wines. It is considered a main variety in the Alella (where it is known as Pansá), Costers del Segre, Penedés and Tarragona DOs, as well as in denominated cava-producing areas.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Germany: General information on regions most widely planted varietals

Germany's total amount of land under vines 102.489 hectares

White varieties: 67.663 hectares (66%)
20,2% Riesling 20.770 hectares
15,6% Müller-Thurgau 16.078 hectares
5,7% Silvaner 5.820 hectares
4,9% Kerner 5.053 hectares

Red varieties: 34.826 hectares (34%)
10,7% Spätburgunder 11.022 hectares
7,5% Dornfelder 7.686 hectares
4,8% Portugieser 4.931 hectares
2,5% Trollinger 2.597 hectares

By Region:

Rheinhessen 26.171 hectares
18% Müller-Thurgau (71% white)
13% Dornfelder (29% red)
10% Silvaner

Pfalz 23.394 hectares
20% Riesling (62% white)
12% Dornfelder (38% red)
13% Müller-Thurgau

Baden 15.944 hectares
35% Spätburgunder (59% white)
21% Müller-Thurgau (41% red)
10% Grauburgunder

Württemberg 11.459 hectares
22% Trollinger (31% white)
19% Riesling (69% red)
17% Schwarzriesling

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 9.533 hectares
57% Riesling (92% white)
16% Müller-Thurgau (8% red)
7% Elbling

Franken 6.005 hectares
36% Müller-Thurgau (86% white)
21% Silvaner (14% red)
12% Bacchus

Nahe 4.221 hectares
25% Riesling (77% white)
16% Müller-Thurgau (23% red)
10% Dornfelder

Rheingau 3.167 hectares
78% Riesling (84% white)
13% Spätburgunder (16% red)
2% Müller-Thurgau

Saale-Unstrut 652 hectares
22% Müller-Thurgau (76% white)
12% Weißburgunder (24% red)
9% Silvaner

Ahr 529 hectares
61% Spätburgunder (12% white)
11% Portugieser (88% red)
7% Riesling

Mittelrhein 495 hectares
69% Riesling (87% white)
8% Spätburgunder (13% red)
7% Müller-Thurgau

Sachsen 446 hectares
21% Müller-Thurgau (85% white)
16% Riesling (15% red)
13% Weißburgunder

Hessische Bergstraße 444 hectares
51% Riesling (84% white)
9% Müller-Thurgau (16% red)
8% Grauburgunder

Source: German Federal Bureau of Statistics (Statistisches Bundesamt)

Wine Map of Portugal

The second map was found at winesworld.net

The ABC glossary of wine: Swapping parker for Dr Vino

"Albariño. Signature white wine from Spain -- sunny, peachy, floral and mouthwatering. Spanish wines -- red, white, rosé and its sparkling Cava -- tend to be excellent values these days."

Everything in Between

"Zweigelt- Austria's most widely planted red grape, sometimes seen as a rosé. The red is fun, charming and a little peppery."

Things must and always do change, as seen in the classic case of MJ! Don't try and find parker in this glossary!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintank’s recently released wine industry social media report

This is a must read for anyone in the wine industry and is planning on staying in it. Click on this link to get the full pdf.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Murphy Goode's job of a lifetime.....The only choice in my mind is MR. DIRTY SOUTH HIMSELF!!!!

Show some love and check his video. Honestly, he had me at bacon frying in an iron skillet!

Map of Barbaresco and the 2006 Vintage

This is the perspective of the 2006 vintage from the winemaker of Produttori del Barbaresco. Seen as one of Europe's most successful farmer co-ops PdB has been making Barbaresco since 1894! In my mind they represent the best quality to price ratio Barbaresco in the market. More info on Produttori del Barbaresco can be found here.

"The 2006 vintage began with nice spring weather. The warm temperatures in the first half of May caused early flowering around May 25 (flowering usually occurs in early June for Nebbiolo). Temperatures lowered at the beginning of June but without adversely affecting the flowering and fruit set of the vines. These conditions led to an abundant harvest. July brought temperatures higher than average. But August saw milder and more pleasant weather with warm days alternated with cooler and more ventilated days. Unlike other regions in Italy, rainfall was scarce and as a result, the season was relatively dry, especially for vineyards with the best exposure, which were warmer and drier. The abundant amount of fruit made summer thinning all the more important in order to rebalance production and allow for good ripening.

September arrived with healthy fruit with somewhat high sugar levels. But the development of the fruit and its aromas was however delayed, especially in the warmest vineyards with the best exposure. Two intense September rainstorms marked a break from otherwise summery conditions. The first happened around September 10 and this actually helped aromatic ripening to begin again and thus was helpful. The second rainfall arrived later, on September 25 and 26, when the fruit was already ripe. At that point, there was no point in waiting any more and as soon as the sun dried the fruit, we began to harvest on September 29 and we finished picking on October 7 after nine days of good weather that allowed us to harvest excellent, healthy fruit.

2006 Barbaresco will be an excellent Barbaresco with natural alcoholic content higher than 13.5%, with intense color and good acidity. A good wine for aging, from another vintage in a string of good vintages including 2004 and 2005."

This map was sourced from Stratsplace.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


PHYLLOXERA, small, sap-eating, greenish insect of the genus Phylloxera, closely related to the aphid . Phylloxeras feed on leaves and roots, and many species produce galls on deciduous trees. Their life cycle is complex; one species is known to pass through 21 different stages. Most notorious of the group is the grape phylloxera, Phylloxera vitifoliae, native to E North America. The species has winged and wingless generations, the former causing galls on grape leaves and the latter feeding on the roots, causing nodules and eventually killing the vine. The grape phylloxera came close to destroying the wine industry of France after its accidental introduction in about 1860; grafting of susceptible European vines onto resistant North American root stock saved the European vineyards. Phylloxeras are classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Homoptera, family Phylloxeridae.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition; 1/10/2004

Friday, May 1, 2009

Map of the Greek wine regions

Map Sourced from Diamond Importer