Sunday, February 25, 2007

(Wine) Diamonds are Forever!

We are all familiar with the wine diamonds found clinging to the bottom of a cork or that have settled to the botom of the wine bottle. Cold stabilization will reduce the amount of these tartrate crystals that will eventually show up in some wines. For a good description of "wine diamonds" check out this article. But I am now talking about the real thing. Click on the above picture to get a closer glimpse at an 85 facets, $12000 diamond. Moet & Chandon's smiling representatives Philippe Bures,Flame Rodriguez and Richard Loewen were on hand in Victoria, British Columnbia, to make a presentation of this diamond to Daphne Korths, winner of a contest held by Moet & Chandon.

Personally I would rather take two of the Nebuchadnezzars and the rest in cash. And of course I would revisit one of my favorite Champagne houses wher it all began. Do you think the Dom ever envisioned a magnificent diamond like this to be associated with the Champagne house he inspired when he exclaimed "Come quickly, I am tasting stars"
Here is to you Dom Perignon. You will forever be remembered!!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Make mine a Dealc Wine, please!

Market demand for big, fruity highly extracted wines has caused many a vintner, particularly in California, to delay the harvesting of grapes. This has resulted in significant increases in sugar content with subsequent production of wines with higher alcohol levels.
But is North America's love affair with these higher alcohol content wines coming to an end?
According to this report from Appellation America dealcing wines is much more common than generally believed. Apart from adding water to dilute the alcohol content, the two methods employed in North America are the reverse osmosis and the spinning cone procedure. At the recently held new wine equipment Simei Exposition in Milan, Velo introduced their Dealc 2000 system. (scroll down the article to the Velo dealcing system) This new technology lowers the alcohol content in wine by a combination of reverse osmosis and distillation. The reverse osmosis permeate is the only part of the wine to be heated to remove the alcohol by distillation. An indication that European winemakers are also concerned with high alcohol wines.
British wine drinkers, who by and large were responsible for the Bordeaux wine region's success are apparently returning to the more traditional style of wine. Marketing gurus at the major UK supermarket, Marks & Spencer are predicting a change in consumer preference towards a lower alcohol wine. A vindication perhaps of Jancis Robinson's opinion of the 2003 Chateau Pavie as opposed to Parker's preference. As I discussed in my December 2006 entry on this blog expect many exciting and interesting happenings in 2007. I leave you with this quote: "The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do." (Galileo, 1564-1642, Italian physicist and astronomer) Too much sun, too much sugar, too much alcohol. Maybe its time for some changes in viticultural practices, especially in light of global warming.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Here a vineyard, there a vineyard, everywhere a vineyard!

Old McDonald had a farm... but now it is a vineyard. Everywhere you go in North America, new vineyards are being planted and new wineries are getting established.
Including here on Vancouver Island, BC. One of the oldest and well established vineyards and winery is the Blue Grouse Vineyards in the beautiful Cowichan Valley. This picture was taken just prior to their bountiful 2006 harvest.
An amazing 1000 new wineries were added last year in North America. Colorado saw the largest % increase (46%) in new wineries of any of the states. Have a look at this well made video taken at the Winter Park Winery. You can almost smell the grapes.
Canada also had a large % increase with 128 new wineries added and British Columbia leading the way with 46 new wineries. Other wine regions, notably Chile, Argentina, Russia, India and China are also adding new wineries at a fast pace. Why is this happening? Certainly here in North America, it is fuelled by the tremendous surge in interest in all things related to wine, not the least of which is the health implication of drinking wine, especially red wines. Our love affair with wine is infectious and the exuberance shown by our younger generation is rapidly making wine an accepted and well established part of our culture.The consumption of wine by the Millennial generation has increased from 10 percent in 2004 to 17 percent in 2006.
We are making our own decisions as to which wines and what style we prefer. The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate are not nearly as influential with our new found knowledge and desire to make our own decisions.
"Designation and certification of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the United States and Designated Viticultural Areas (DVAs) in Canada has been, and continues to be, the necessary first step in shifting the North American wine culture to the kind of appellation-focused paradigm that will greatly broaden interest and expand markets." The foregoing is a direct quote from Appelation North America's publisher Roger Dial. As usual Roger has hit the nail right on the head. Be sure to read this interesting article.
One final note. We have all heard the expressions "So much wine, so little time" and "Life is too short to drink bad wine" My thought is that life is too short... period. So have another glass of wine and enjoy them all while you can. I know I will.