Posts Tagged ‘Wine Making’

Sonoma's old vines.

Sonoma’s old vines.

 

In Sonoma’s Bedrock Vineyard, I’m surrounded by 124-year-old twisted vines with the arthritic look of stumpy bonsai trees.
The mad mix includes a couple of dozen varieties. Bedrock winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson points out familiar zinfandel, little-known bastardo, nearly extinct castets and some grapes no one’s yet identified.

He makes a pretty delicious red that contains almost all of them.

“Old vine field blends are the only California wines that aren’t ersatz,” he says. “They’re unique. What’s magical is the sum of the parts.”

His dozen or so red and white cuvees from historic vineyards are among the state’s most fascinating wines, high on bold personality, with warmth, intensity, perfumed aromas and layers of flavor. Tasting them, I’m drinking California wine history.

While Sonoma has the largest concentration of old vineyards in the state, they’re in danger of disappearing.

Twain-Peterson, 32, is one of the people on a mission to save them.

In old tan shorts, grey shirt, and a three-day beard, he tours me around this vineyard he owns with his family, filling me in on its backstory. The founders, in 1854, were “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker and two-time shipwreck survivor and banker William “Tecumseh” Sherman, who later became famous Civil War generals.

After root-louse phylloxera wiped out the vines in the 1880s, mining magnate Sen. George Hearst, father of newspaperman William Randolph Hearst, splashed out part of his fortune from the Comstock
Read on …

Also read:

The Complete Guide: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere is an amazing gift. To have this book for my wine library is a tremendous resource; and, making the time to read it delivered even more gifts.

 

wine

 

Written by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen, two very savvy World Wine Guys who are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, have gone around the world and are now sharing those adventures. Their gathered stories are warm and very informative, sharing much of what they learned in this very thorough book. Representing each region well, they also present it in such a way that the only thing left to satisfy is your own personal curiosity through adventures you need to start planning….

Much of the Southern Hemisphere has escaped me because I’ve never physically made it over the equator. I’ve been to the South Pacific, to the Caribbean, Canada, most of the US states (40+ states), and to Europe… but not gone over the equator.

My favorite section was Chile. Perhaps it’s because I was part of the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, and enjoying those wine immensely. It was very enlightening about this wine grape growing country, with the book connecting me on a much deeper level with that recent wine exposure.
Read on …

Winemakers say one of the industries that has made South Africa well-known overseas is on the verge of collapsing due to the high prices of bottling in the country.

 

bottling-line

 

They say this is the result of a bottling monopoly enjoyed by two major companies.

The wine industry is feeling the pinch so much that “some wine estates are being sold” and most of them bottle their wines overseas because it is cheaper to do so there than here.

This could result in the country losing millions of rands in revenue and jobs if nothing was done to save the industry, said wine estate owners.

Speaking at The Wine Show in Durban, which ran from November 23 to 25, several wine estate owners complained of a monopoly in the bottling industry, saying the… read on

The Château Bellefont-Belcier estate.

The Château Bellefont-Belcier estate.

 

Grand cru classe vineyard fetches up to $2.6 million per hectare of vines.

 

A Chinese industrialist has completed the landmark purchase of Château Bellefont-Belcier, a leading estate in France’s prestigious Saint-Émilion wine-making area, sources involved in the sale say.

The property is the first of its rank – grand cru classé (classified great growth) – to be acquired in what has been a wave of Chinese investment in the Bordeaux region.

Bellefont-Belcier, which had been on the market for a number of years, has 13 hectares of vines on a total estate of 20 hectares. A source said the sale price was between 1.5 million and two million euros ($1.94–$2.59 million) per hectare of vines.

The new Chinese owner is a 45-year-old industrialist with assets in the iron sector who has already diversified into the wine-importing business. He met the château’s employees on Friday and has since returned to China.

Chinese investors have acquired around 30 lower-ranked properties in Bordeaux (the larger region that includes Saint-Émilion) in the past two years. During 2012 China has also become the region’s biggest export market in terms of volume.

So far, Chinese investment has not been controversial in a region with a long tradition of foreign ownership of wine estates.

In contrast, the acquisition by a Chinese buyer of Château de Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy this year triggered a major row, with local winemakers and far-right politicians claiming the country’s heritage was being sold.
Read on …

 

After an exhilarating first day at the Cape Wine 2012, Professor Alain Deloire from the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch, kicked off a fascinating seminar on “A passion for old vines”.

The beautiful and charm of old vines. (Image courtesy of Martin Redmond)

On a academic level an old vine could be defined as an old woody structure consisting of roots, a trunk and arms. The aspect that distinguished it as an old vine however, is the fact that such a vine is “full of memory”.

On a genetic level, the old organs on such a vine, are not only able to annually give birth to new leafs and berries, but miraculously also pass on its “memory” to these new organs.

It is this “memory’ that makes old vines so precious. In a sense, old vines will after years of being cultivated in a specific site, become at home that environment. They will adapt themselves to a specific climate, soil and people. This will then be stored in their “memory”.

European producers and even consumers have been aware of this for centuries and because of this a strong relationship exists between the perceived quality of a wine and the age of the vines. Older vines are simply seen as producing better quality wine and are equally true for both red and white varieties. This quality aspect is founded on the fact that an old vine has an established root system.

The European producers are also in the habit of isolating buds containing the “memory” when and where ever old vines are discovered. This genetic material are then used to transfer the “stored” memory to new vines.

In a country where vineyards are being planted for production “runs” off between 20 and 25 years only, such an approach to old vines asked for a serious mind-shift.

Can this be to tall an order and to big a dilemma for an industry so focused on just keeping the boat afloat on an ever changing global economic ocean?

By law, wine in South Africa is produced from fresh grapes, and yeast, that can either occur naturally on the grapes or gets introduced to the must. Depending on various other considerations like style, grape quality and the health of the wine, additional additions of acid, sulfur dioxide, wood products, and various fining materials can be added.

Not all wines are created equal! (Johan Botha 2012)

Why then are not all wines created equal?

On a cellular level all wine in its purist form is a dynamic and ever-changing bio-chemical environment. It is a living and breathing entity!

Why do some wines get embraced, praised and acknowledged with awards on a regular basis?

If we had a simple and easily executable answer to this, all wines would equally bare the embrace of medals and awards. Unfortunately there exist no magic spell, no secret scientific formulae or even an idiot’s guide to producing award winning wines!

What I do know, is that wines receiving accolades regularly are produced by a synergy of many different inputs.

Vineyard monitoring and management, grape selection, site selection, micro climate manipulation, terroir and variety selection, vinification techniques, wine making philosophy, time, passion, patience, fortune, freedom of choice and human restraint all being of equal value to produce an iconic wine. And who knows, maybe more than often, some plain luck!

For this month’s spotlight I have chosen the following multi-awarded wines:

Saronsberg Full Circle 2010
The wine has a deep, dark purple colour with prominent dark fruit, red berry and ripe cherry flavours, followed by seductive spice and violet nuances. The pallet is textured and full-bodied with plush fruit and wild scrub notes, capsuled in silky tannins ending in a long finish.

Awards:
International Wine Challenge 2012 – Silver Medal
Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2012 – Gold
Sawi Top SA Wines 2012 – Platinum

Lomond Pincushion Single-Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011
The wine has a brilliantly clear colour with green tinges. A delicate aroma of citrus, pineapple and a mix of tropical fruits on the nose is followed by an elegant palate with a fresh acidity that balances out the intense fruit flavours.

Awards:
2012 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Wines – Finalist
Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012 – Bronze
International Wine Challenge 2012 – Bronze Medal
Top 100 SA Wines 2012 Status
Michelangelo International Wine Awards 2011 – Silver Medal
Weinwelt – German Magazine June/July 2011 – 89 Points
Decanter 2011 – Gold Award

Teddy Hall Dr Jan Cats Chenin Blanc Reserve 2010
Bright gold with green tinge, tropical fruit salad nose – pineapple and some quince. On the palate the balance is impeccable with grapefruit, vanilla and baked apple flavours. Underlining the wine’s pedigree is an intense finish which lingers long after the mouthful has been swallowed.

Awards:
Wine Spectator rated Teddy Hall Dr Jan Cats Chenin blanc Reserve 2010 91 points
Top 100 SA Wines 2012
Medal winner at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012
This wine received 4½ stars Platter’s 2012 wine
The only Chenin blanc gold Medal winner at the Classic Wine Trophy Show 2012,
Awarded top 10 Chenin for the 2012 Chenin Challenge run by the magazine Classic Wine.

Kaapzicht Chenin Blanc 2012
Ripe quince, pineapple and stone fruit, with some interesting savoury undertones. Lightly textured palate, with a hint of sweetness and balancing crunchy acid, results in a brisk finish.

Awards:
Best Value Award winners for 2013
Michelangelo International Wine Awards 2012 – Gold Medal

Rijks Private Cellar Pinotage 2008
This crimson coloured wine has a unique elegant nose of red fruit and cherries, which is reminiscent of a great Pinot Noir. These attractive fruity aromas carry through onto a rich, creamy palate that is finished off with well-balanced refined tannins.

Awards:
Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012 – The Best Pinotage
2012 ABSA Pinotage Top 10 finalist
Double Gold Michelangelo
Trophy winner at International Wine & Spirits Competition for best Pinotage in the world
Trophy at Michelangelo for best Pinotage
Trophy at Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show for best Pinotage
Rated as 1 of the Top 100 wines in SA

Orange River Cellars Ruby Cabernet 2011
Deep, ruby-coloured with pronounced mocha coffee aromas, complemented by almond flavours on the palate.

Awards:
Best Value Award winners for 2013
All six wines entered into the 2012 China Wine Awards won gold medals

Now that we have some excellent wines to drink, what shall we eat?
Tasty and easy to prepare, the following South African recipe is not only ideal for healthy and wholesome cooking, but also the perfect traditional South African dish to accompany our selection of bold and amazing reds:

South African Venison Pie with Red Wine and Rooibos Tea

By enjoying these, and many other, award winning South African wines and our traditional cuisine, you will soon realize that you have ample reason to be proudly South African!