Posts Filed Under wine news
Imagine this scenario…
You pour yourself a glass from a premium bottle, the aromatic liquid spilling forth with the tell-tale floral and stone fruit aromatics of high-quality Riesling. You take a long whiff, then a sip, swooshing the liquid around in your closed mouth to get all the volatile compounds going, noting the secondary aromas and overall presentation that identify the growing conditions of the vintage from which the grapes were harvested.
Then you pass the glass to your eight-year old daughter, who downs the rest of it unceremoniously.
This scenario can happen, with no ill effects to your pre-teen offspring, and all quite legally, if the juice happens to be from one of the $10 bottles made by the likes of Virginia’s Oakencroft Farm or Oregon’s Draper Valley Vineyard that are offering high-end, vitis vinifera grape juice – as reported earlier this month on USAToday.com.
As in unfermented grape juice. Like Welch’s, only made from vintage-dated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, and the like. Navarro Vineyards has been doing it for decades, in fact.
Why am I mentioning this? Because I’m fascinated by it, for a number of reasons.
First off, if you have too many grapes on your hands this is a brilliant way to put them to potentially profitable good use. And while alcohol is an important element of body and even flavor, this is also potentially an amazing tool for introducing people (and kids!) to different fine wine grape varieties, without the buzz (apparently, keeping the grapes from fermenting is one of the primary challenges in the fine grape juice biz, by the way). And the juices could spice up recipes that otherwise call for wine (Navarro sort of suggests this via their Verjus cookbook).
I’m not sure I’ll ever look at Welch’s quite the same way again (even if it will be to pause momentarily at the refrigerated section of the grocery store to give silent thanks that those Concord grapes never reached fermentation)…
It seems that venerable news-aggregator has stumbled upon the apparently news-worthy advice that shopping in the “Bin End” section (so named, as I understand it, because these were often literally bins of wine stacked up at the end of the aisles in wine shops) of the wine store is a good place to find vinous bargains.
To the tape:
“…you can also score some discounts by looking for your wine or liquor store’s “bin ends” section, or bottles with scratched labels, wines or vintages that are bout to be rotated out of stock, or just not a great seller at that store.”
But not all is a bowl full of rosés in those end bins. The trouble with the bin-end-bargain advice quoted by Lifehacker (which is a re-blog of wine buying tips from TheKitchen.com – the rest of which are much more sound, by the way) is that quite often the wines offered in bin ends aren’t much of a bargain at all.
If you’re not careful, shopping those bin end bargains might actually leave you more disappointed than a Steelers fan after an improbable NFL post-season Tebow-ing (full disclosure: I’m a long-time Steelers fan, so, yes, this is cathartic for me, okay?)…
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Before you flame me, Yes, I am already aware of the irony of today’s title.
I realize that some of you might have been trapped for the last several days under your collapsed wine racks and several hundred bottles of your collected vino. Or maybe you are just coming off a severe wine bender, Rip Van Winkle style, one where the hangover lasted for a few weeks. If you’re in any of those camps, I offer the following recap of some recent wine news:
[Editor’s note: at least skim the above links, or the rest of this is not gonna make much sense.]
I can’t tell you if the pay-to-play allegations are true, but I can tell you that the Spanish wine biz seems to be quite relieved by the news of Miller’s departure, based on private correspondences I’ve had with people in the biz there (most of which amounts to them thinking that Jay was “terrible” – names withheld for obvious reasons!).
I’ve been conspicuously absent in saying anything about any of this stuff here on 1WD. Why? Because I don’t really give a rat’s ass, and feel compelled to talk about it now only because I’m getting asked why I’m not talking about. So before the irony gets infinitely recursive, here are the top three reasons why I haven’t been talking about it…
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No, I’m not kidding.
The fact that the Australian Wine Research Institute researches have sequenced the Brettanomyces genome is, potentially, the single most important piece of news to hit the wine world since it was discovered that malolactic fermentation could be controlled. In terms of newsworthy impact, it makes Scarecrow’s busting of the Premiere Napa Valley auction record look like the equivalent of your regional free paper running a headline like “Local Youth Paves Driveways.” And for me, it makes the recent Pancho Campo/JayMiller/Wine Advocate pay-for-play tasting controversy taste like small beer.
For those wondering what the hell I’m on about here, last week I was sent a link to a Decanter.com article titled “‘The enemy’ at bay: scientists crack brett gene code” by a fiend via email (the subject line: “Finally, some good news! What will Bobby P. do??”).
The story, in a nutshell, is that Brettanomyces – the spoilage yeast responsible for creating aromas in wine that range from a hint of smoky meat to horse sweat to downright pungent, mousy-barnyard-droppings-wrapped-in-Band-Aids – has had its genetic code cracked by a team of intrepid Aussie-based scientists.
Why the big deal? Because it means the wine world is closer than ever to finding a way to control Brett yeasts – and until that day comes, I stand fast in my resolve when I tell you that Brett is not terroir, and is not really an element of added complexity; it is a flaw (and if someone’s wine happens to have the relatively inoffensive meaty kind of Brett, they’re not necessarily uber-talented winemakers or viticulturists adding a dash of complexity to their final product; odds are they’re just lucky)…
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