Do You Care About Wine Yeasts? (Crowd-Sourcing Wine Learning)

Vinted on May 2, 2011 binned in commentary, learning wine, twitter, winemaking

Last week, I wondered aloud (on twitter) whether or not anyone out there cares if a winery uses cultured yeasts instead of wild yeasts.

The feedback from the twitterati is included below after the jump (if you chimed in already via twitter, your response may be listed for all of the 1WD faithful to see – don’t say I didn’t warn ya!).

The short (and grossly oversimplified) answers to the question, by the way, seem to be "Yes!" for wine geeks and "No, who cares as long as the juice tastes good!" for the majority of people, based on the twitter responses that I received.

The topic of wine yeasts, and why they seem to touch off a hot-button reaction among wine pros and the geekier of wine aficionados, requires a bit of a primer, because to most wine drinkers, this is gonna be some pretty esoteric shiz.

During my last trip to Napa, I stopped into Chimney Rock for some barrel samples tasting (that’s samples of wines from barrels, not tasting samples of barrels) and spent a few hours geeking out over all things wine-related with the affable Elizabeth Vianna (CM’s winemaker who last week was promoted to GM).  Elizabeth is open, honest, and easy to get along with, and she’s not shy when it comes to expressing her opinions.  And yet, when she was explaining the winemaking process behind each of Chimney Rock’s wines, she became almost apologetic when she mentioned that they – gasp! – inoculate their wines with cultured yeasts

Imagine, the audacity!  The HORROR!!!…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For April 30, 2011

Vinted on April 30, 2011 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 07 Signorello Padrone (Napa Valley): Enormous & generous in its black & blue fruits, mocha, spices, & levels of sheer booziness. $125 B+ #
  • NV Pol Roger Brut Reserve "White Foil" (Champagne): Sure it’s the real deal, but it might be just a tad *too* much of the real deal. $47 B+ #
  • 06 Twisted Oak *%#&@! (Calaveras County): You’ll only be cursing when the bottle of this bright, peppery, spicy red is finally empty. $18 B #
  • 10 Trivento Reserve Torrontes (Mendoza): Awww, he brought flowers… but he’s a little *too* sweet (& kinda rough around the edges). $11 C+ #
  • 09 De Martino "Legado" Syrah (Choapa): Meatier, smokier and more chewy than a night out at your favorite Brazilian steakhouse. $14 B #
  • 02 Achaval-Ferrer Quimera (Mendoza): Not much missing in this overachieving, savory, gorgeous, stunningly age-worthy Malbec blend. $40 A- #
  • 09 Xumek Malbec (San Juan): A savory surprise with chalkiness & hints of earth & smoke. Big, black & searching for lots of beef. $16 B #
  • 09 ZONDA Malbec/Syrah (San Juan): Great value if you like your reds explosively fruity. Any more in-yo-face & it would *be* yer face. $13 B- #
  • 09 Xumek Chardonnay (San Juan): When the picnic weather warms up this refreshing & food-friendly Chard will be asking for basket space $16 B #
  • 09 Scaggs Vineyard Rosé (Napa Valley): Small bottle, big berry flavor. Downright musical combo of acidic lift, flowers & orange pith. $25 B+ #
  • 08 Scaggs Vineyard Mt. Veeder Montage (Napa Valley): Boz brings real soul to CA GSM. Meaty, leathery, spicy, juicy & impeccably made. $45 A- #
  • 08 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec (Mendoza): To get more blueberry than this you’d need to be at the bottom of a Dannon yogurt cup. $25 B+ #
  • 09 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay (Sonoma County): Inside the cream & oak beats the green-peared heart of a cool-climate Chard. $20 B #
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Biodynamics Hits Chile, Without the Controversy (At Least For Now): In the Vineyards at Emiliana

Vinted on April 28, 2011 binned in on the road, overachiever wines, sexy wines, wine review

In the morning fog of Casablanca, a stone’s-throw from Santiago, Chile – provided that you could throw that stone over the enormous mountain range that divides Casablanca and the city, that is – the world feels very, very small. At least, it did to me on my recent S. American jaunt.

The world feels small despite the fact that those fog-covered vineyards (cooled by the effects of the mountains, which dramaticly reduce the amount of sunlight and heat compared to the city) are owned by Emiliana, a company that collectively farms the largest source of estate-grown organic wines in the world.  It felt small despite the scale of how “all-in” Emiliana is when it comes to organic viticulture.

Part of the cozy feel comes from Emiliana’s Casablanca estate itself: home to wandering birds (especially the chickens, who eat the larvae of what are locally called “burrito spiders” but I took to be mites, who can damage vine roots), and alpaca (whose wool is sold by the vineyard workers).  Part of the feel also comes from how the workers are treated here – they are trained and then help manufacture olive oils, hats, and various other native crafts that are sold in the off-season to help maintain their income when not working the vineyards (many of them also have named plots in the organic gardens near the vineyards, which helps supply them with healthy food).

But mostly the world felt small to me in Emiliana because they kept talking about Biodynamics, a topic that got very hot recently here on the virtual pages of 1WD.  And they kept calling it… wait for it… the “science of Biodynamics.”

I can feel the collective shoulder-tightening ire of the wine geeks reading that last sentence.

And where did Emiliana get the BioD bug?  From a visit by consulting winemaker Álvaro Espinoza Durán to Sonoma’s Benziger, where I visited in the not-too-distant past, and talked BioD with head honcho and BioD cheerleader Mike Benziger – and then interviewed BioD viticultural consultant Alan York (whose clients include Benziger and rocker Sting) as part of a more in-depth pro/con BioD debate.

And to further the far-away-but-close-to-home experience, I found the vinous results of this Biodynamic work to be pretty similar to those I’ve encountered elsewhere in the wine world… namely, inconsistent

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