All posts tagged: blind tasting

Big data supports expert wine tasters

In the course of developing software for predicting consumer wine preferences, a Houston-based start up, VineSleuth, shed new light on the abilities of expert wine tasters and the validity of blind tasting assessments. Contrary to popular belief, the company’s VineSleuth metrics, which are based on the work of Chief Science Officer Michael Tompkins and his team, reveal that tasters can consistently identify aroma and flavor characteristics in blind wine evaluations. “We have extensive experimental data which support that expert evaluators have the capacity to precisely identify wine characteristics in blind repeat samples,” said Tompkins whose work spans thirteen years in the field of numerical methods. “During the course of our experiments, our vetted evaluators repeat sample characteristics about 90% of the time,” he says. VineSleuth’s data directly confronts the popular misconception that consistent sensory evaluation of wine is a random occurrence. In developing an algorithm designed to help consumers make wine selections based on personal preference, the company has established a benchmark based on the results of its top-performing tasters (including this author) and intends …

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The Quality Threshold

Flash Heat Treatment Shown to Benefit Vines and Wine

Many advances pioneered by the dairy industry have improved winemaking in the cellar, but when it comes to using flash or instantaneous heat, it all starts in the vineyard. Flash pasteurization was first applied to milk in 1933. Sixty years later, flashbake ovens made their debut and, shortly thereafter, the adoption of frost prevention and thermal pest control techniques for winegrowing began making news. Fast forward two decades and you’ll find the latest generation of Thermal Plant Treatment (TPT) technology gaining interest from Oregon to Monterey. After three years of rigorous trials by Walnut Creek, Calif.-based AgroThermal Systems, trials show that patented flash heat treatments to vines are producing a host of benefits that extend well beyond the disruption of pest lifecycles. Read the article here: Flash Vine Treament  

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

Anderson Valley’s Pinot

Many Anderson Valley Pinot Noir producers time the commercial release of their wines around the annual Pinot Noir Festival and technical seminar, now in its sixteenth year. This year’s event took place in May, and some 40 producers poured their wines at Goldeneye Winery in Philo. As vintages go, 2010 and 2011 challenged producers in more ways than one. Yields were down in 2010 by as much as 30 percent due to a blast of heat in August. Fruit that wasn’t scorched that year ripened, but not overly, resulting in wines with good acidity and flavors. A wet 2011 had many producers scrambling to pick before October rains intensified pressure from botrytis. While Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs can be roughly sorted as one of two broadly-defined wine styles we’ll call “fragrant and sleek” and “bold and deep,” the string of cooler La Niña vintages that started in 2009 and continued through 2011 has closed the gap somewhat on that divide. With more generous vintages such as 2012 and 2013, which is shaping as warm and …

Rutherford Dust 2010

We’re kicking up the dust once again with the 2010 vintage presented by the Rutherford Dust Society at a blind tasting held at Beaulieu Vineyards’ Rutherford House in July. According to President Davie Piña, the Society is in the last stages of their watershed restoration project which has lessened erosion and reduced disease pressure along the 4.5 miles of riverbank that bisect the AVA. “Rutherford growers have given up eight acres of vineyard to restore the river,” said Piña who was met with a round of much-deserved applause for his pivotal role in managing the project. Across the 18 red wines shown that morning, vintage events in 2010 including cool, grey La Niña conditions punctuated by a severe heat spike and untimely rain during harvest produced a narrower range of styles. The tasting was organized moving clockwise around the AVA from west to east and conditions at Rutherford House were ideal with the wines being given time to aerate prior to the tasting. Read the full article at Rutherford Dust 2010.

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.