All posts filed under: Winemaking

The Minor Components of Wine

Wine is, for the most part, water and ethanol which in turn become vehicles for the minor components that are largely responsible for aroma, taste and texture. Through the efforts of researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Burgundy in Dijon, our understanding of wine’s biochemical landscape is expanding rapidly. Research focusing on metabolites known as metabolomics, the scientific study of the set of metabolites present within an organism, cell or tissue, has now validated the concept of terroir by showing that every vineyard and every wine has a fingerprint that, like our own, is utterly unique. At the metabolic level, wine contains a record of how it was made—a fingerprint that points to the origin of the oak and “memories” of sulfur dioxide additions that were made to the must. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Beyond general references to tannins, acids and sugars, the lesser elements of wine are usually left to their own devices. Knowing what constitutes those components and how they collectively contribute to wine …

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

Will Magnetized Yeast Revolutionize Riddling?

New technique promises to speed sparkling wine production. There’s no mistaking a gyro­palette at work, its top-heavy robotic arm twirling a wire pal­ette of bottles like a baton. But you’ll need a scanning elec­tron microscope to see the iron nanoparticles that have the poten­tial to make it obsolete. The early adoption of the robotic gyropalette by Cava producer Cor­doniu in the mid-1970s was a mile­stone that altered the course of the modern sparkling wine indus­try. Mechanized riddling reduced the amount of time required to move spent yeasts cells into the neck of a bottle from two months to a matter of days, all without any adverse effects on the sensory qualities of the wine. The wholesale adoption of mechanization by traditional-meth­od sparkling wine producers and many Champenoise dramatically reduced the production costs and time to market imposed by the labor-intensive technique of hand-riddling bottles. As such, bottle-aged sparkling wine became a viable and affordable alternative to still wine. Almost despite technology, this time-honored method remains very close to its original form. Beyond the gyropalette and …

Long-lived Lake County

Wine quality has been on the rise in Lake County and winegrowers there have their sights set determinedly on the future—and it’s a very bright one at that. Driven by increased demand for high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc, the value of the region’s wine grapes climbed by 20 percent in 2012, reaching a ten-year high, while yields inched up by just three percent. Here at THE TASTING PANEl, we’ve been following winegrowing in Lake County closely for the last five years. When questions arose about the age ability of the region’s wines, we were quick to take up the challenge. More often than not, exposure to Lake County wines is limited to the supporting role they play in blends from nearby appellations. When this point was raised during a technical seminar hosted in June at MacMurray Ranch by the appellation’s winegrowers, Steele Wines’ Joy Merrilees had answers at the ready but no proof positive that the region’s high-elevation wines can withstand the test of time. Read the complete article here…Long-lived Lake …

Success with optical grape sorters

For a host of reasons, including the simple truth that sorting is a winemaker’s last opportunity to improve quality, optical sorters are giving producers of all sizes more control over the timing and speed at which harvest occurs. With optical grape sorting technology at work in many of the world’s leading wine-producing regions, mechanization is beginning to take on a new meaning – one that is more aligned with quality gains than with the cost-saving measures historically associated with mechanical harvesting. Although optics are one of the newest processing technologies for wine grapes, there is already plenty of anecdotal and empirical data available which demonstrates that, for many producers, optical sorting is a faster, more efficient and potentially less costly alternative to hand sorting. Optical sorting technology itself is far from being new. It was used by the food processing industry for more than 30 years before it was adapted and widely marketed for wine grapes in 2008. Over the last several years, field trials conducted in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile and California by several …