All posts filed under: France

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 …

Advertisements

In hot pursuit of terroir

What are your beliefs about terroir? Researchers across multiple disciplines find some common ground at the 2016 Terroir Congress XI.

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 …

A Rising Tide: Rosé Carries the Reds of Northern Provence to Shore

A rising tide lifts all boats is an aphorism that neatly applies to the winegrow- ing economy of Provence. The red and white wines—from region whose identity has been associated with pink wine since it was settled by the Phoenicians in 600 BCE—are riding to shore on a growing wave of Provençal rosé. According to the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), 2014 marks the 11th consecutive year of double-digit market growth for rosé in the U.S. and retail sales of premium rosé wines—now averaging about $17 a bottle—have jumped by 53% in value. Read the entire article here: A Rising Tide

Non-Vintage Champagnes: Rosé And Riper Styles Are Trending

Both the French and the Brits are drinking less Champagne, but America’s obsession with bubbles is growing. Sales of Champagne in the U.S. are on the uptick even as consumers look to Prosecco and Cava to add some additional sparkle to their lives. When the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) came to town last year with a large, well-orchestrated tasting at the Fairmont Hotel, Blind Tasting focused on the Réserve non- vintage wines; the bread-and-butter category that makes up 81% of all Champagne imports to the U.S. During a briefing at Prospect restaurant, Washington, D.C.- based Sam Heitner who directs the Champagne Bureau USA pointed to rosé as a significant trend, “It’s the fastest growing segment of Champagne in the U.S. making up 16.2% (that’s 2.9 million bottles) of all shipments.” The CIVC reports that in 2013 Americans drank 17.85 million bottles of Champagne, most of which, 87%, was produced by houses, with winegrowers and co-ops exporting just 13% of their production to the U.S. Read the entire article here: Non-Vintage Champagne

Berry Sensory Analysis: A Common Language for Describing Maturity

If everyone on your winegrowing and winemaking teams shares a common language, there’s less risk involved when it comes to making crucial decisions. Few would argue that the most crucial decision a winemaker faces is when to pick. Beyond establishing intentions for the style and quality of the finished wine, making confident, proactive picking decisions relies on accurately assessing levels of ripeness. This acquired skill is on that vineyard managers and winemakers typically master through trial and error as they learn to speak the same language when describing degrees of fruit maturity and other sough-after qualities. Using the analytical method of Berry Sensory Analysis (BSA), a technique to describe the characteristics of grape maturity developed by Jacques Rousseau at the Institut Cooperatif du Vin in Montpellier, France, and introduced in Northern California by Enartis Vinquiry in 2006, winemakers can c onfidently assess fruit quality for specific wine styles and, in turn, gain more control over harvest timing decisions and production methods. Read the entire article here: Berry Sensory Analysis

Grands Crus Classés of Saint Émilion 2010

It’s alive! Unlike its Left Bank counterpart, the Saint Émilion classification is indeed a living thing. The promotion of 17 châteaux not previously classified to the status of Grands Crus Classés in 2012 made this year’s tasting of 33 (of the 63 classified) all the more interesting. Having tasted the 2009s during visits to several of these estates prior to their promotion, focus was squarely on the 2010s during the San Francisco tasting held at Terra Gallery in early November. It’s fascinating to witness change, and the châteaux, which were on an upward trajectory in 2009 for the most part, didn’t disappoint. Read the full article here at Grands Crus Classés of Saint Émilion.

The Undiscovered Burgundy

Visually, Burgundy isn’t a particularly mysterious place; the low-growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines hunker over the earth in their search for heat. From a vantage point to the east of Chablis, you can survey the gentle landscape and precious grand cru sites in a sweeping glance but, the wines themselves continue to remain a mystery—one that we ponder with each passing vintage. During the week-long parade of trade tastings known fittingly as Les Grands Jours, it seemed as if no stone has been left unturned by importers in their efforts to demystify the  wines. Tastings that began in Chablis and stretched to the far reaches of the Mâconnais revealed that, while importers have been astute in seeking out quality, there are new discoveries to be made in Burgundy. Primarily in the form of young producers who have branched out, after years of mentoring, to start their own labels and less-visible sub-regions whose wine quality is pushing forward by leaps and bounds.  At this bi-annual celebration, Burgundy’s grand cru vineyards sustain the most scrutiny, and …

It Takes A Village

Large or small, via négociant or sold direct, Right Bank producers continue to make quality a priority. With the purchase and renovation of Château Belair-Monnage in 2008, Ets Jean-Pierre Moueix’s holdings now stand at 11 estates concentrated in northern Pomerol and the southeastern corner of Saint-Émilion. A 2010 barrel sample showed complex, spicy tannins and more concentrated black fruit than in previous vintages.  Read full article at…St_Emilion

Journey up the river: The Loire Valley from Nantes to Sancerre

It can be said that each wine region of France has a personality, one dictated as much by the winegrowers themselves as it is by geography, history and grape varieties. To the southwest of Paris lies the Loire Valley, comprising four distinct regions running westward with the fl ow of the Loire River; most of the winegrowing here occurs within sight of its banks or those of its many tributaries. The Loire is by nature a languid river; it meanders through countryside dotted with Renaissance palaces and châteaux as it makes its way towards the Atlantic Ocean. From this terminus, the river’s estuary in the Nantais region, a journey up the river begins. Complete article here…Loire_Valley