The Center for Wine Economics released a report of a recent study on the sugar levels of wine grapes in California, titled “Too Much of a Good Thing? Causes and Consequences of Increases in Sugar Content of California Wine Grapes.” Not sure how new this news is, but it was new to me so I’m yappin’ about it!
While that title of the report doesn’t sound particularly fascinating, the report’s conclusions are – if you’re a wine geek, that is, and if you’re a fan of California fine wine and have ever wondered why alcohol levels seem to be kind of high in the premium vino coming out of that state. According to the report, it’s not just your imagination – wine grapes in CA have indeed been getting riper over the last twenty years, which translates into higher booze levels, with white grapes bearing the brunt of the increase:
“The data show that the average alcohol percentage increased by 0.30 percent, with a larger increase for white wine (0.38 percent) than for red wine (0.25 percent). This increase in alcohol percentage is consistent with an increase in the sugar content of the grapes used to make that wine of 0.55 degrees Brix, on average.”
That sugar measurement might look small, but according to the report it’s a “substantial” increase, and it’s that rise in sugar levels that is making CA wines a bit more… busty than they’ve been in the past (I imagine if you were used to drinking CA wine from 20 years ago, drank too much, passed out and pulled a Rip Van Winkle, upon waking up in 2011 you’d be forgiven for thinking that during your extended slumber your fave CA Cab had undergone the vinous equivalent of a boob job). What this study does that is so fascinating is this: it puts data and critical thinking behind something that many CA wine drinkers may have already suspected… CA fine wines are getting boozier, and it might be the result of the fine wine market…
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I figured those of you who might be disappointed that the predicted 2011 Rapture didn’t turn up this weekend might need a pick-me-up. Not me – I, for one, knew for certain that the Rapture was not coming, because the only true sign of the approach of Rapture is (of course) a lanky guy in an all-white suit and white top hat wearing shades with red lights in them during the night time and getting his groove on with some funky dance moves. And I didn’t see that guy this weekend anywhere…
Anyway… the pick-me-up takes the form of our latest giveaway: this time I’ve got promo codes for three free copies of the recently-revamped iPhone wine app Pocket Wine, sold by Wine Paradigm (a $3.99 value). This is not to be confused with last week’s giveaway, which is still running until Wednesday. Got it? I promise no more concurrent giveaways, because I don’t want anyone’s head to explode.
What has been exploding, however, is the volume of mobile-related wine content in recent weeks (see my recent take on VinPass, and another story posting here later this week on iPad wine mags), so today’s giveaway feels timely (to me, anyway). It also, in turn, makes me feel increasingly older and out-of-date with the mobile scene, since I don’t own an iPhone, a Droid device, or an iPad (hey, Apple: potential sponsorship opportunity here, people!) and therefore have had to request screen prints from the mobile apps that carry my reviews to approve anything they do with my content, since I can’t view the stuff in its native format. I know… I suck… Whatever.
You know the drill: you comment, and in one week I randomly select winners from the commenters! There will be three winners, each receiving one promo code each for a copy of Pocket Wine. Disclaimer: I’m giving away promo codes (here’s how to redeem them in the Apple App Store if you’re one of the lucky winners), not devices – and if you’re a winner you have to redeem your promo code by June 13th (or it turns back into a pumpkin… or at least stops working).
One thing I like about Pocket Wine is that it has (or seems to have, based on the screenprints!) a focus on developing and tracking your own personal taste preferences (see inset pic) – and we all know that I’m a pretty big fan of that approach, because it’s how I learned about wine in the first place. But it’s a player in what seems to be an increasingly crowded field of wine-related mobile apps.
So our topic for the comments: How do you feel about the plethora of mobile wine apps? Handy tools? Or just crapware taking up your precious mobile phone memory? Got any faves? Shout it out for a chance to win!
- 07 Twisted Oak "The Spaniard" (Calaveras County): Savory, inspired red blend that is most certainly not "unemployed in Greenland." $49 A- #
- 08 Bonny Doon "Le Cigare Blanc" (Arroyo Seco): The lady’s a little bit fat, but she’s singing of quince – & boy, can she ever sing. $19 B #
- 10 Bogatell Garnacha Blanca (Terra Alta): Like Dr. Who’s TARDIS, packs way more melon than should realistically fit inside of 750ml. $12 B- #
- 06 St Francis Merlot (Sonoma County): Lots of red fruits & confidence (and it ought to be confident, because it’s pretty damn solid!). $17 B #
- NV Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvee de la Pompadour (Carneros): Almost as light as the elegant rose petals of which it will remind you $35 B #
- 05 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Young, promising but livin in the shadow of its 04 older bro $75 B+ #
- 08 D’Alessandro Nero d’Avola (Sicilia): Enough black plum for a grocery store Produce department, enough grit for a Spaghetti Western $15 B- #
- 09 VIVI Primitivo (Puglia): Mr. Spicy Red Berry is nice, but has a lingering odor that’s a little too Primitivo if you catch my drift. $10 C #
- 09 VIVI Falanghina (Campania): Lime, flowers & apples with a bite strong enough that it needs Chicken Alfredo to be fully tamed. $10 C+ #
- 09 Sacha Lichine "Vins Sans Frontiers" Sauvignon Blanc (Vin de Pays d’Oc): Refreshing, like water, which it more-or-less tastes like. $10 C #
- 08 Sacha Lichine "Vins Sans Frontiers" Cabernet/Merlot (Vin de Pays d’Oc): Hi! I’m fruiy! Really fruity! Did I mention I was fruity? $10 C+ #
- 10 Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Leyda Valley): The forecast calls for vibrant, tropical weather. Vino-wise, that is. $10 B- #
- NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé (Champagne): I’ll take my earthy red berries on 7-grain bread with a side of rose petals, please. $47 B+ #
- NV Graham Beck Brut Rose (Western Cape): Lavenders & red berries in a simple presentation, but sometimes simple is *just* right. $15 B- #
- NV Graham Beck Brut (Western Cape): Under-ripe pear is about all that’s there. But the rich mouthfeel just might keep you sippin’. $16 B- #
- 09 Valckenberg Dornfelder (Rheinhessen): Here we go ’round the blackberry bush, the blackberry bush, the blackberry bush… $12 B- #
You don’t really know a winemaker until you’ve shared a seesaw ride with him. That’s my new mantra after visiting Viña Morandé’s “House of Morandé” restaurant and tasting bar (oh, yeah – and playground) just outside of Santiago in Chile.
The playground is for the kiddies, to keep them occupied while mom and dad taste some wine. At least, that’s the company line from Pablo Morandé, winemaking director at Viña Morandé.
Pablo comes off as a series, polite man; he’s tall, with white-grey hair, and a matter-of-fact look about him. When asked questions, his answers are short, to-the-point, and delivered with a sort of “of course this is the answer” confidence that comes from being one of the pioneers of modern winemaking in the area. In other words, they’re hopelessly non-quotable; but who needs quotes when you’re sharing a seesaw moment, right?
Being the pioneering granddaddy of modern winemaking in these parts is, of course, relative – it means you’ve been making wine since, say, 1996, and not 1896, so “grandfather” might not be totally appropriate a moniker. But when you see Pablo Morandé, I defy you not to think “grandfather.” When you meet Pablo Morandé, there is no way in hell you’re not going to be thinking “grandfather.”
Anyway, I consider it a Vatican-worthy minor-miracle that we got Pablo Morandé on the seesaw. But then, after finishing up a tasting and lunch at his restaurant during which he wasn’t spitting, it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise after all, despite his serious demeanor (I’m guessing that the wines helped).
What has Pablo Morandé learned in his relatively long Chilean winemaking tenure? In summary: do less…
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