Friday, March 22, 2013

Wining by Proxy...JD's account of the Barrel Seminar at Garagiste Southern Exposure...

As the Goddess of Wine was pouring Shai Cellars wines at the Garagiste Southern Exposure event in February, First Acolyte JD attended what was to be a seminar on the science of barrels in winemaking. It turned out to be a bit different from planned...

We started off with an easy and fortunately uneventful drive to Solvang on a beautiful, dry, bright Saturday morning. Let’s spend it inside learning about barrels, their effect on wine and taste some wine!

Ryan Render of the cooperage company Tonnelerie Saint Martin was sick, so unable to make it.

The original wine samples from McPrice-Myers were put into a reverse-layout side-by-side refrigerator/freezer the previous night. This situation was not discovered until the morning of the seminar. Alas, the wine was frozen. A quick scramble was done at Larner Vineyards and Michael Larner brought in a nice cross section of his in-process wine for the seminar.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wining...and Blending with Four Brix...

Blending wine is an art. The goal of blending is to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts; to make a wine that other people will find pleasing to the nose and palate, and will want to buy from you. To make this happen, the winemaker must be part chemist, part artist. Part mad scientist helps, too.

I was invited to participate in a group blending experiment at Four Brix Winery in Ventura. Winemaker Gary Stewart sources fruit mainly from Paso Robles, carts it down to Ventura and makes wonderfully appealing, delicious wines. Having completed the bottling of the wines that were planned, Gary found himself with some wine still quite viable for further blending for a special bottling for the Brix Heads - the winery's club members.

Let's get some blending background first:

A standard varietal like Syrah or Chardonnay, is made from the same type of grape. In California, a varietal needs to be 75 percent of one type of grape, while in Europe it's generally 80 percent. It's possible for wineries to add other grapes to a varietal to enhance the elements and still call it a single varietal wine. Blends are what their name suggests. They typically consist of at least 40-50 percent of one type of grape and a smaller mix of two or more other grapes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wineaux of the Goddess - Greek Edition

This year being the exploration of world wine regions, the monthly meeting of the Wineaux of the Goddess happily discovered that thousands of years of grape cultivation and winemaking experience create delicious, food-friendly, low-cost - and low-alcohol - wines. Because these grapes were all new to us, we did not taste them blind. We started with the white wines in order of vintage, and followed suit with the reds.

The origins of wine-making in Greece go back over 6,500 years, and evidence suggesting wine production confirms that Greece is home to the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world, and the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes. The spread of Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, spread Dionysian cults throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 1. Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes and readily prescribed it. Greek wines and their varieties were well known and traded throughout the Mediterranean. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain. The Vitis vinifera grape which thrives in temperate climates near coastal areas with mild winters and dry summers adapted well and flourished in the Northern Mediterranean areas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Central Coast Wine Classic

Are you folks familiar with the Central Coast Wine Classic? It's a terrific annual event that raises a lot of money for many deserving organizations! Check it out!

The Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation is pleased to announce the grantees for funds from the 2013 Twenty-Ninth Annual Central Coast Wine Classic, to be held from July 11th through 14th, in Avila Beach, Shell Beach and San Simeon on the Central Coast of California. From net proceeds from the Wine Classic, specific projects are funded for 501(c)3 non-profit corporations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties whose missions are in the Healing, Performing or Studio Arts. Over the past nine years the event has conferred grants $2,101,055! to 103 such non-profits. Grants for 2013 will be conferred in early October in San Luis Obispo.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wineaux of the Goddess - Northern Rhone edition

Northern Rhone - Hermitage

That hardy group of tasters known as the Wineaux of the Goddess met at Fab's Corner Cucina the second Wednesday of February to taste some selections of wines from the Northern Rhone Valley of France. We brought one bottle per person, handed it off to the lovely Amelia for bagging and numbering, and dove in. A few notes to get us started:

The Rhône Valley is the oldest established winemaking region in France, dating back 600 years before the Romans. The Rhône River flows west through the vineyards of the Valais and then northwest into Lake Geneva, rushing south through the vineyards of Savoie and then west to join the Saône at Lyons. From there, it turns south for some 250 miles and flows into the Mediterranean Sea west of Marseille. It is this last stretch, between the city of Vienne in the north and the city of Avignon in the south, where the wines of the Rhône Valley are produced.