All posts filed under: Bordeaux

Red blends: Greater than the sum of their parts

While researching the current popularity of blended wines in preparation for a talk at the 2017 International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show about blends that begin life as bulk wine, I discovered white blends emerged as the exception rather than the rule. Consumer preferences for monovarietal white wines—Sauvignon Blanc is currently the fastest-growing white variety—are the likely drivers there, but that doesn’t stop winemakers from creating successful proprietary blends. In 2014, blended wines accounted for more than 40 percent of new entries to the U.S. market, with the lion’s share going to reds (29.3 percent) and whites accounting for just 1.9 percent. When surveyed, domestic consumers said they liked blended wines because they are experimental, interesting and trendy with better value. But it’s not the classic blends from regions like Bordeaux, the Southern Rhône, Valpolicella and Rioja they’re referring to; it’s the under-$25 blends that are marketed as nothing more than just that—blends. One striking example of success with modern blends is Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine portfolio, which goes even further by eliminating vintage and relying …

Pyrazines: A double-edged sword

Pyrazines—too much of a good thing and they’re a fault; absent in varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and they leave something to be desired. In relation to bitterness, pyrazines can be the source of a flaw or fault, but that’s just one of many ways they can impact wine flavor. Ask any maker of Bordeaux varieties, someone who grows grapes in a marginal climate or experiences a colder vintage, about their concerns, and they’ll surely count elevated pyrazines among them. Admittedly, pyrazines are a double-edged sword. Without them we wouldn’t have the expansive range of wine styles that are possible from Sauvignon Blanc or the markers that help us identify the family of Bordeaux varieties and the likes of Carmenère. But in the extreme, pyrazines dominate wine at the expense of other varietal flavors. We’ve all tasted them—from pungently herbaceous boxwood (the polite reference to cat pee) and jalapeño pepper in Sauvignon Blanc to rank green bell pepper or even weeds in red wines that haven’t achieved physiological ripeness. Pyrazines are the family of volatile organic …

The Dawn of Agtech

Agricultural drones may be creating plenty of buzz, but their terrestrial cousins — the robots — are poised to make their commercial debut. Next year promises to be the year of the agricultural robot. With the altruistic vision of creating a sustainable society where future generations are free from worry about food security and safety, the world’s first robotic lettuce farm will go into production in 2017. Kyoto, Japan-based company, Spread, has retooled an indoor vertical lettuce plant where robots will plant, water, harvest and trim up to 30,000 heads of lettuce every day. The automated plant will reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30% and recycle 98% of the water needed to grow the crops. The company has plans to build similar robot farms to grow staple crops and plant protein around the world. Growing lettuce in a greenhouse is a far cry from managing a vineyard, but from apple harvesting robots that can carry bins of fruit weighing half a ton, to grapevine pruning rovers that make surgical cuts, several …