Posts Tagged ‘From’

(by Gemma Correll)

 

My sixth Wine Bloggers Conference was approached with trepidation. I’ve been questioning the utility of the semantics of “blogger” and “wine blogger” of late. Also, I knew nothing of Penticton, British Columbia. Finally, very few of my closer blogging-friends and colleagues would be in attendance.

The format was the same. Bring together “wine bloggers” in a wine region to discover that region, learn about wines from other parts of the world, explore their wine writing avocation amongst their peers and strengthen the camaraderie of the group. It turns out my trepidation was without merit. It was a very successful conference for me despite nearly coughing up my lungs with a nasty bout of the flu. I learned a lot this weekend.

1. Modern Greek Vin Santo is an amazing wine and should be discovered by all wine lovers.

2. Lungs can’t actually be “coughed up”, but you can exercise and tighten up your stomach muscles in the process of discovering it’s not possible.

3. Penticton, British Columbia really is a “must visit” for serious wine lovers, and its “Penticton Lakeside Resort” was the most beautiful venue yet for a Wine Bloggers Conference.

4. It would do all wine bloggers good to focus equally as much on the quality of their writing as on the extent of their wine knowledge.

 

Read on …

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The brewing industries in many countries are undergoing dramatic changes, with increasing numbers of craft breweries challenging the traditional volume-based business model of major corporations.

In the US for example, more than 400 breweries opened in 2012, an increase of 17% from the year before. Craft beer continues to grow even when beer consumption overall is declining in many markets around the world. This certainly seems to be the trend in countries like the US, Canada, New Zealand and indeed Australia.

In 1990, the centralisation of the Australian beer industry seemed complete; three companies controlled the market and the whole country had just 11 breweries. Yet this seems to have been the turning point rather than the end state: 20 years later the craft beer sector had well and truly made its entrance so that by 2013, Australia’s beer industry consists of over 130 breweries.

The trend suggests craft breweries have found a niche market where the large breweries find it hard to compete. Craft beer is often differentiated by taste, as a food companion and by the raw material used to produce it. Enthusiasts sometimes refer to the common beers in derogatory terms as “fizzy yellow lagers”. Some may reject mainstream beer products based on a perceived lack of flavour; others reject it based on ownership of the label.

Some pub mangers around Melbourne refuse to serve beers that are not produced by small independent companies due to negative attitudes towards large multinational businesses, and a belief that craft beer can only be produced by small and independent businesses. Independent craft breweries have been able to make something positive out of their small size by framing themselves as unique and it is resonating with drinkers and pub owners alike.

While beer consumption in Australia has decreased steadily every year since 1979, consumers increasingly demand quality beers and the consumption of craft beers is increasing. ABC news reported that the consumption of craft beer in Australia is increasing by 6% every year. Nevertheless, the beer industry in Australia is still largely centralised, with multinationals SAB Miller (UK) and Kirin Holding (Japan) controlling about 90% of the market.

Yet it is this very high centralisation of the industry, where the large players can be regarded as “generalists”, that provides the opening for small players to enter the market as “specialists”. For craft breweries, such concentration of power in the industry is actually good news because these breweries serve a different market.

The specialists are often focused on selling more than just beer. They are selling an experience, quite often centred on educating consumers about beer styles and how to match it with food. As such, the craft beer industry is tapping into the monopoly of the wine industry as being the natural beverage to accompany a meal.

 

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The origin of French wine.

The origin of French wine.

A new study finds evidence that ancient Gauls began wine production in 425 B.C. in the Languedoc

Dom Pérignon, Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti—the roots of these iconic wines and all of French wine culture may lie in a simple stone press, according to new scientific research. Uncovered in the Mediterranean town of Lattes, just south of Montpelier, the roughly 2,400-year-old artifact was originally identified by archaeologists as an olive-oil press. But a new round of chemical and archaeological analysis now identifies the press as the earliest evidence of wine production in France.

The analysis, headed by Patrick McGovern, the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses an array of evidence to not only hypothesize when the French started making wine, but who originally taught them how to do it.

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French wine industry rooted in Italy!

French wine industry has Italian roots!

The earliest evidence of wine in France suggests that it came from Italy, and that it was mixed with basil, thyme and other herbs, according to new research.

This early wine may have been used as medicine, and likely was imbibed by the wealthy and powerful before eventually becoming a popular beverage enjoyed by the masses, researchers said.

The artefacts found at the French port site of Lattara, near the southern city of Montpellier, suggest that winemaking took root in France as early as 500 BC, as a result of libations and traditions introduced by the ancient Etruscans in what is now Italy.

The analysis in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is based on ancient wine containers and a limestone press brought by seafaring Etruscan travellers.

“France’s rise to world prominence in the wine culture has been well documented,” said lead author Patrick McGovern, director of the bimolecular archaeology laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

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Raging california wildfire!

Raging California wildfire do not stop agricultural work!

 

A group of farm laborers who chose to seek shelter from the suffocating smoke of a California wildfire last week were terminated for taking a break.

At least 15 workers at Crisalida Farms in Oxnard, California, found themselves struggling to breathe last week as the Camarillo Springs wildfire blackened the sky with smoke and ash. The blaze damaged more than a dozen houses, threatened 4,000 homes, and burned a store of highly toxic pesticides that caught fire at an agricultural property.

Located just 11 miles south of the fire, workers at the Southern California strawberry farm had a difficult time breathing as they laboriously worked in the fields. Their boss had warned them that taking a break would compromise their jobs, and they were faced with a dilemma.

“The ashes were falling on top of us,” one of the workers told NBC LA. “[But] they told us if we leave, there would be no job to return to.”

On the evening of May 2, the Camarillo fire had reached about 10,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained. About 11,500 people had been evacuated at this point as hazmat teams warned locals not to inhale the smoke – especially since it contained toxic chemicals from the pesticides that had caught on fire.

 

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The various sources of tannin in wine.

 

In wine, tannin is a textural element that makes wine taste dry.

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins. About 50% of the dry weight of plant leaves are tannins. As a characteristic of wine, tannin adds both bitterness and astringency as well as complexity. Wine tannins are most commonly found in red wine, although white wines have tannin from being aged in wooden barrels.

  • What Does Tannin Taste Like?

Tannin tastes dry and astringent and you can feel it specifically on the middle of your tongue and the front part of your mouth. Unsweetened black tea is a great example of nearly pure tannin dissolved in water.

  • High-Tannin Foods

Tea Leaves
Walnuts, Almonds and Nuts with Skins
Dark Chocolate
Cinnamon, Clove and other spices
Pomegranates, Grapes and Açaí Berries
Quince
Red Beans

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The wine trade’s recent rhapsody in pink has resulted in a rosé marketing binge which can confuse as well as entice.

Not so long ago, rosé was just a swimming pool wine: slippy and thirst-quenching, a frivolous herald of summer weather. Then it became popular. We all started to drink pink, even the French, who don’t just knock back getting on for twice as much rosé as they do white wine, but also more rosé than they make: over a third of the pink wine produced on the planet is consumed in France.

 
Now rosé is also chic. And as always along with chic comes prestige, high prices – and Brangelina, whose 6,000-bottle release of the first vintage of rosé from their Château Miraval bolt-hole in Provence (€105/£88 for a six-bottle case) sold out within five hours when it went online earlier this month.

 
Oh la la. Does rosé just have delusions of grandeur or is it actually grand? You can now buy the still stuff in (increasingly expensive thanks to the cost of the glass) yacht-christening sizes: magnums, jeroboams, clanking great nine-bottle-big methuselahs. Pink champagne, which once had all the class of a hen-night stretch limousine, is now super-smart – and super-expensive.

 
And then there’s the performance of flogging rosé “en primeur” à la Brangelina, often before the wine has even been bottled, for all the world as if this pale-pink mayfly of a wine were a fancy first growth or limited-production burgundy – which seems presumptuous beyond belief.

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More than 700 French wine producers are now supporting the Vin de France promotional classification scheme, which came to operation in 2010.

Vin de France, which is run by trade body Anivin de France, allows producers to promote their wines using the grape variety or varieties on the label and not just the region or appellation.

It was introduced following the relaxing of the labelling regulations by the European Union in 2009 and means wines can be marketed in a similar way to New World wines.

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On a recent trip through the Pacific Northwest, I spent a lot of time drinking wine. Not a huge surprise. After all, the area ranks as one of the nation’s top wine-producing regions. Plus, I’m all about sampling outstanding, regional wines. What intrigued me was how the drink was invariably poured — just like draft beer, the wine came straight from a tap.

Back in New York, I started noticing uptown restaurants such as Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem and downtown gastropubs such as Spitzer’s Corner featuring tap wines on their menus. Was this a gimmick or the new norm? Just what was the impetus behind wine served from a tap?

The concept, I learned, isn’t new. By the third century, much of Western Europe dispensed its wine from wooden barrels. The Gauls supposedly used casks as early as the first century B.C. These vessels replaced two-handled jars known as amphorae, which the Ancient Greeks had created for storing, transporting and serving wine. Lighter yet sturdier than the Grecian ceramic jugs, a wooden keg could also hold more alcohol than its predecessor.

 

The evolution to draft wines

Over the centuries, as vintners and consumers developed a taste for aged, bottled wines, kegs became as passé as amphorae. That archaic status changed, in part, in the 1970s, when Australian producers began packaging some of their younger wines in collapsible bags and cardboard boxes.

 

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Couple-selecting-wine-horiz-orig-640x427

The freedom to choose and drink wine.

 

Wine is old, ancient, neolithic. It has been consumed throughout recorded history. Yet wine as we know it today is relatively new. Where it originated, what it tasted like and represented, and how it was transformed over time are explored in Paul Lukacs’s fascinating new book, “Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures,” published in December by W. W. Norton & Company.

One thing is clear from Mr. Lukacs’s work: most wine for much of history was vile, nasty stuff. If an ancient critic had etched a tasting note to describe the wine that most people drank, it might have read, “Wretched, horrible, vinegary, foul.” Yet people drank it anyway, because they had no choice. Other beverages like water and milk were disease ridden. Wine might have tasted awful, but alcohol was a built-in disinfectant.

It was not until the Renaissance, writes Mr. Lukacs (who, when not researching wine, is an English professor at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore), that familiar notions of discrimination came to be. Only then did wine connoisseurs, a minute group to be sure, begin to associate particular styles and qualities in wine with specific places, an early idea of terroir. And only then did astute wine drinkers begin to perceive that some wines could be appreciated intellectually and emotionally rather than just physically, and that the best wines conveyed a sense of balance, length and depth.

But it was really with the Enlightenment in the 18th century, when a series of revolutions began that would transform our understanding of grape-growing, wine production and wine storage, that wine began to resemble what we now take for granted.

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