Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007....A Great Vintage for Wine!

Another year has come and gone and we will be bringing in the year 2007 with a Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial . It has been a turbulent year in the world of wine, what with acquisitions and continued grape gluts and all. Neo-prohibitionists not withstanding wine is rapidly becoming part of our culture. Just think where the wine industry in North America would be today if prohibition had never occurred. Then of course we have certain well meaning religious groups claiming the wine in the bible was just grape juice. Grapes and grape juice contain natural yeasts and without refrigeration or adequate sulfite levels it is pretty much impossible to prevent fermentation. I speak from personal experience when at one time I had purchased a five gallon pail of refrigerated Zinfandel juice from California. I kept it in a storage area overnight to begin the wine making process the next day. When I went to remove the lid it blew off with a spray of foamy, fermenting juice.

I believe 2007 will be an exciting year in the world of wine. You won't find me writing about a particular wine I might just have had the pleasure of tasting. What's the point. You probably wouldn't find it in your neck of the woods. Speaking of woods, that wish bone peace of wood in the picture was retrieved from my driveway after a recent winter storm. And of course the real wish bone is from our incredibly delicious free range Christmas turkey. My wish for all of you is, that you will have a happy, healthy and succesful 2007.
There will be many more entertaining and educational websites coming on stream. One web site that is leading the charge to educating North Americans about our wines is Appellation Be sure to bookmark it, if you haven't already done so. An amazing amount of info available on this site. Wineries as well will have increasingly informative and entertaining web sites. Check this one from Bodegas Castano, as well as the Moet & Chandon site above.
I leave you on this New Year's Eve with a quote from
the American playwright, Elmer Rice.
" You can have too much champagne to drink but you can never have enough."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Peace on Earth .....Goodwill to men!

Glory be! We made it through Christmas without any major turmoil or disasters around the globe. Peace however was disturbed in the world of resveratrol. With all the good news out there about this magical element found in red grapes there was bound to be some conflict. In my November 1, 2006 blog entry titled Hickory Dickery Dock I mentioned the potential problem of a big rush to produce this in tablet form. Science writer David Bradley in his comment on resveratrol, posted on that entry, echoed th e same concern. Now two companies producing resveratrol are going head to head. Apart from this nasty scenario by two competing companies attempting to cash in on the resveratrol hype, it points to the need to deal with archaic internet laws.
Recently another player came on the scene attempting to capitalize on the resveratrol phenomenon. According to the Guelph Food Technology Centre, this grape flour has great potential. I had some concerns and attempted to make contact with Mark Marpole at Vinifera for Life. After my initial contact I was promised that my questions would be answered when time allowed. Two more tries and still no response. Following are the questions I asked Mark Walpole regarding the grape flour.

1. Did your product require some regulatory testing before being approved?
2. To obtain a steady supply of grape skins, you will be depending on a good number of wineries, potentially with different viticultural practices, to suply your need for grape skins. Pesticides and fungicides, especially in Ontario's humid climate, may be used at higher levels than in other wine regions. Are there any concerns about this, either by yourself or any regulatory agencies?
3. Varying levels of sulfites are intially added to control bacterial spoilage or to kill off wild yeasts. These sulfites would still potentially be present on the skins used for your product. Is there any concern about this, especially for people with sulfite sensitivities?
Seems like fairly reasonable questions. Those questions were posed on the 23rd of November. No answers yet.
So click on the picture with my dog Maddie and my glass of wine and here is my take on it. I was enjoying wines before the French Paradox hit the 60 minutes tv show. Underline enjoying. All this resveratrol hype has seen an increase in red wine consumption. Good so far. But if that is why you are drinking red wine, you are missing what drinking wine is all about. Wine deserves to be drunk for the pure pleasure it can give. Any health benefits should just be considered a bonus. Let me raise my glass in a toast to wine and to all of you visiting my blog.
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all people everywhere!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wine Marketing...French Style!

A crackdown on drinking drivers, reduced consumption of wine by the French, competition from New World wines, over production and a preference by 92 per cent of French consumers under 25, for other alcoholic drinks has created major problems for the wine industry in France. In a country steeped in history and culture revolving around wine, it has lawmakers proposing legislation that among other things would see youngsters in school taught about the glories of French wine. (please click on the pictures for larger images of some of that French fame)
I believe a program such as this proposal before the French legislature has some real merit. Not because I think it is a good
marketing tool but rather that it gives the educational system an opportunity to teach youngsters about moderation in drinking and the health benefits of drinking wine.
In the meantime "crisis distillation" is still a major headache for the EU. But perhaps the French government should come up with an educational program for those unruly South of France winemakers. Things are heating up again and the more radical elements of the Winemaker's Regional Action Committee (CRAV) are ready to take their fight to the streets again.

Let me end with a toast to the French and à votre santé, mon ami!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

British Columbia picks grapes for Icewines!!

A sudden cold snap in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, the home of some of the best Icewines in the world and vintners were taking advantage of the early frosts to pick the grapes for the 2006 harvest. I was looking for some global warming experts to get them to explain the more than two feet of snow that got dumped on our usually mild and snowless Vancouver Island. I could not find any of them. Maybe they were buried in the snow.The rosebud in the vase is posing on my sundeck railing along with the unexpected frosty precipitation.
In a direct communication with the world renowned expert on Icewine, John Schreiner, and I quote: "Any vintner that failed to pick icewine grapes this year should not be in the business. It was magnificently cold for three or four days … not just nights, but days. It was possible to pick in the day and I imagine most did. " and "the 2006 icewine vintage will be outstanding because it was early, when the grapes were full of healthy fruity flavours..... bursting with fruit character of an early freeze wine." John's book entitled simply "Icewine" is the ultimate book on Icewine. Follow this link to get John's perspective on the 2006 vintage. One of my favourite BC wineries is Tinhorn Creek. They produce the only Kerner Icewine in Canada. Lush and flavourful, its one of my favorites. I expect their Icewine and many of the BC Icewines to walk away with multiple medals when they are released. Try and get some and you will taste what God must be drinking from Icewine Paradise here on earth.