Posts Tagged ‘Quality’

French wine in a can?

French wine in a can?

 

Making its debut at the prestigious Vinexpo beginning Sunday in Bordeaux: French wine in a can!

Will Winestar’s single-serving cans create a riot in the hallowed halls of the international wine and spirits fair?  Maybe not.

The Paris-based company isn’t dealing in the generic swill those adorable single-serving bottles typically hold. Their wines are all A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). Each 187-milliliter can (one-fourth the size of a typical 750-milliliter bottle) lists the wine estate, the appellation and the grape varietals as well as the vintage. Working with the European office of Ball Packaging, Winestar founder Cédric Segal developed a can with a coating inside “to make total isolation between the wine and the can.”

The first series hails from Château de L’Ille from the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France. The white is a blend of the local Rolle (Vermentino) grape, vintage 2011. The rosé is Syrah and Grenache, vintage 2012. And the red is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache from the 2011 vintage. The cans sell for about $3.30 to $4.

Segal says he got the idea when he was traveling in Asia and saw that Australia was selling quality wine there in cans. Why couldn’t that work just as well with French wines?

He realizes that the French have a very strong tradition with the bottle and doesn’t expect the can to be adopted immediately in France. “Most export markets, though, have already accepted the screw cap and synthetic cork, so it’s not such a big leap,” Segal said.

 

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Russian girl stomping grapes during Russian wine harvest.

 

Cheap sweet whites dominate the home market but a handful of ambitious Russian wine producers are raising the standards.
For most westerners, the whole concept of “Russian wine” sounds a bit like an oxymoron. And if you ever sip wine at a Russian party, the chances are you won’t like it much. Or at least you will find it perplexing.

That’s because four-fifths of wines sold in Russia are poor quality semi-sweet varieties, and involve the use of concentrate.

The reasons for this date back to Soviet times, when Russians’ taste for semi-sweet and sparkling wines was formed. Many Russians today consider dry wines too sour. It was Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, who did most to foster this tradition.

It may be hard to believe but, according to the International Wine Office, the Soviet Union ranked fifth in the world in terms of area under vines and seventh in terms of wine output by the end of the Fifties.
The young Soviet winemaking industry found enthusiastic support from Stalin and from Anastas Mikoyan, his Armenian minister for food production. Both Georgia and Armenia, in the fertile, Mediterranean-like climate of the South Caucasus, have a rich tradition of winemaking that predates even the ancient wine culture of Greece.

Wine was drunk in Russia only by the aristocracy before the 1917 Revolution. But all this changed under Stalin, who believed wine had to be affordable for every Soviet citizen.
Scientists managed to produce frost-resistant, high-yielding varieties of grape. But the quality suffered: wines made from such grapes were barely palatable because of their high acidity and lack of taste. To remedy this flaw, grape sugar and often ethyl alcohol were added to the wines – practices that are still widely used in the Russian wine industry to this day.

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Alcohol to high in wines?

Alcohol to high in wines?

 

Alcohol levels in just about everything are rising, and a lot of people aren’t happy about it. Nonetheless, winemakers would really rather you not know that they’re doing something about it. Or, at least, one particular something about it: dealcoholization, or “dealcing.” While there are alcohol-free or very low alcohol wines on the market, what I’m talking about is bringing super-hot 14-17% alcohol wines down to the more comfortable 11-14% range.

 

Why alcohol levels are rising is no mystery. Winemakers are working with riper grapes to satisfy contemporary tastes for the big, the luscious, and the fruit-forward. Wine growing regions are warming up so that grapes have the time and sunlight to accumulate sugars like never before. Better yeasts are able to handle both more sugar and more alcohol without giving up, so winemakers don’t have to add water to ensure that high-sugar musts will ferment.

What to do about all this heat is a different matter. You might argue that we shouldn’t do anything about it at all; higher ABVs are a natural consequence of riper fruit, riper fruit is good, and so there we are. But plenty of other people, including a lot of consumers, aren’t happy about seeing numbers in the 14-16% range on their bottles, and a substantial industry has emerged in an effort to make those people happier.

Reducing alcohol isn’t just about pleasing customers who want lower-alcohol wines, though that’s part of it. It’s also about taxes. Both in the United States and the EU, wines with more than 14% alcohol reported on the bottle (labels only have to be accurate by plus or minus 0.5%) accrue higher taxes than wines under that limit. For mega-wineries with lakes of wine to process, “dealcing” to slide below that threshold can save money. And then there’s the “balance” argument; some winemakers feel as though their wine tastes better with super-ripe flavors but less alcohol than that ripeness usually produces. The EU allows winemakers to reduce the alcohol content of their wines by up to two (ABV) percentage points either via the reverse osmosis or spinning cone approach. American winemakers are free to reduce as they please.
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Wine from Rioja.

Wine from Rioja.

 

Rioja is becoming “increasingly polarised” in terms of quality, according to one of the top winemakers in the region.

“Some producers are destroying the image of Rioja by putting Gran Reservas on the market for £8 a bottle, which is stupid,” Jesús Madrazo, chief winemaker for Contino, told the drinks business during a visit to London this week.

“The region is becoming increasingly divided between those at the bottom end producing volume wines, and those who are really serious about quality and terroir,” he added.

Madrazo believes the future for the region lies in the new generation of terroir-focused winemakers coming up through the ranks.
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