Sunday, January 28, 2007

What's in a Name (Wine Label)??

As you will notice, I have added "DogPile" in my sidebar. It is a handy little search engine bringing all the best search engines like Google, Ask,
Yahoo!search and MSN search, together in a nice little pile. Give it a try.
I am sure you have noticed that I like to keep up on the benefits of drinking wine. Before it was generally known that drinking red wine is good for you, I was merrily drinking wines and even putting up with the side effects of partaking of too much of a good thing. Now I can look back on that and think that I was actually doing myself some good. So type in "Red Wine Benefits" into the DogPile Search engine and watch a few items come up.

And soon France will be sporting some new labels. Hurting from reduced consumption at home and slumping sales abroad caused by competition from New World wines French vintners will be able to present their wines with a new "Vignobles de France" label. Ooh la la! If you can't beat them , join them. You can't please them all though. Vintners in the Languedoc-Roussilon region aren't too thrilled with this new development. After all they have been promoting their single varietal wines for some time now on the export markets and were already producing "vins de cepage" wines. Fortant, The pioneer brand of French varietal wine was the leader and has been producing varietal labeled wines since the 1980's.
Just to help the French out a little I have produced a label for them as shown above. Or how about that Fat Bastard? Be sure to visit Peter Mays' site to get a look at over 200 unusual labels, including the above Fat Bastard Chardonnay. Is it time for the French to put out a "Skinny Bastard" wine?
In New Zealand they are rejoicing over a new wine label agreement. Members of the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) signed an agreement on wine Labels. The agreement establishes rules for the what may be allowed on labels regarding product name, country of origin and alcohol content. A small victory for Canada as well, in that to be able to use the term icewine on the label, the grapes must be frozen on the vine.
Meanwhile back on the ranch in the good old USA a new labeling requirement has vintners alarmed and questioning its sanity. A new federal proposal would see redesigned labels to warn consumers who are allergic to certain foods. For a take on one person's enlightened opinion on that, go to this site.
So many good things to put on a wine label, why not simply lump all the negative requirements under "Consumer Beware" with a federal website address where you can go and spend a half hour or so reading all the terrible things that can happen to you when you partake of the "Fruit of the Vine"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Red wine Rx for your health!

Professor Roger Corder, head of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London has published his scientific research indicating that red wines rich in polyphenols, specifically procyanadins, are potent inhibitors of Endothelin-1. Endothelin-1 causes constriction of blood vessels in the heart which leads to formation of atherosclerotic plaque. Polyphenols are chemical components in grape skins which account for color and mouthfeel. Phenolic ripeness leads to soft sweet tannins creating a full soft mouthfeel. According to Roger Corder
regions that produce wines with higher procyanidins have longer life expectancies among the locals. Wines from southwest France appear to have higher levels. The Mendoza region in Argentina is another wine region where polyphenols accumulate in greater amounts
due to increased sunlight intensity at higher altitudes. The Malbec and Cabernet sauvignon grapes are particularly affected. Another great marketing tool in the making? Perhaps we can bring these wines in duty free with a prescription from our doctor. How would the boys and girls at customs deal with this if we brought in our wines after a visit to some of these regions because our doctors prescribed them? For a good article on resveratrol visit this site.
As always click on the pics to see the larger versions but above all have another glass of health giving red wine.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fake Icewine warning......!!!

(click to enlarge pictures) Fake icewine label and Victoria, Vancouver Island's largest selection of Icewines at The Wine Barrel.
British Columbia had an outstanding Icewine crop for the 2006 vintage. (see my December 3 entry in archives) Other areas in the eastern states and Ontario have not had the required Icewine temperatures and most icewine makers have all but given up hope of picking grapes for this vintage. Some have picked the grapes set aside for icewine production and are turning it into late harvest dessert wines. Ontario did get a cold snap this past week and some Icewine harvesting is happening there. With an increasing interest in and popularity of Icewine there will be a shortage of Icewines next year. China will be making icewines but they won't be the real thing. Natural frosts with the grapes allowed to stay on the vine and picking the grapes in the summer and then using a deep freeze are just not the same. Because of the potential shortage watch for the imitation and fake icewines to come on the market in increased numbers. If it is a true Canadian Icewine look for the VQA designation on the label. Often fake icewine labels have some grammatical errors as well as spelling mistakes as in the above label. They dance around the word "icewine" carefully and use confusing language. One final note. With all that has been written these past weeks on Icewines there is one point that needs correction if you run across it. There are temperature and minimum brix requirements but there are no date restrictions. The grapes can be picked any time when the temperature drops to -8 degrees Centigrade and not November 15 as I have seen in some publications. I know, because I have discussed this with the world's expert on Icewine, John Schreiner. I hope you will get the opportunity to enjoy a "real "Icewine sometime soon.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More Air... with the Air Au Vin.

Wine needs a little air before consumption.
Enlarge by clicking on pics. If you happen to visit beautiful downtown Victoria, BC, stop at
The Wine Barrel and pick one of these up.
Be sure to read my follow up post for the reason air (oxygen) is an essential element in the development of great wines.

Grand Vin de Bourgogne....and 160 years of O2!

There is something magical about wandering among the vines in Burgundy, especially when you are Thierry Violot-Guillemard proudly harvesting his outstanding 2005 vintage. Well worth a visit if you happen to be in Pommard. Be sure to click on the above pictures.
Imagine the magic if you could have attended this special tasting. My invitation was lost in the mail but they went ahead anyway with a most memorable dinner in honor of Bouchard Père & Fils, celebrating its 275th anniversary. And what an incredible event this would have been. This is where you close your eyes every time you take a sip of these glorious wines. No Parker points needed. I don't think they even sent him an invite. Quoting from the article "Scientists know that the gradual interaction between a fine wine and small amounts of oxygen results in what we call aging." One hundred and sixty years of glorious Burgundian oxygen.
The great majority of us will never have an opportunity to attend such a grand affair but speaking of air (oxygen), I am a firm believer in allowing a little air to mingle freely with my red wine before I sit down to enjoy it. Decanting comes to mind but if you are in a hurry to get to your wine, which I always seem to be, then this nifty little gadget (click on the demo button) is what you have been looking for.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wine... from Cradle to Grave?

Catholics have been in the marketing business for centuries. "Fish only, on Fridays" gave a huge boost to the European fish markets for centuries. Today we all eat fish because it is good for our health. Those good old omega-3's are found in abundance in fatty fish such as sardines,salmon, trout and herring.
So besides getting your daily dose of resveratrol, be sure to eat plenty of fish.
But a little future planning is always in order and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland is ready to help you out. Always had a hankering to be surrounded by vineyards? Well, if it doesn't work out for you in this life, your loved ones can take care of it for you in your afterlife.
There is some marketing potential here. For instance, a case of wine or two could be produced in your remembrance on an annual basis. The back label could proclaim "This wine produced in the tranquil Valley of Peace has a lot of body....etc."
Perhaps a franchising opportunity in the making? Now if they also plant vineyards on property surrounding children's nurseries, the diocese could truly claim to be taking care of you from cradle to grave. Here is a toast to all you wine loving Catholics out there!