Friday, August 31, 2007

When Wine is Not Vinegar....

I have been making vinegar for some years now. Part bottles of red wine that have sat around for a few days and I do not want to consume in their oxidized condition find their way into my trusty little vinegar barrel. I have to top it up regularly because like all oak barrels and especially in smaller ones, there is a significant amount of evaporation. I let it sit for up to 9 to 10 months and then bottle the contents of the barrel, making sure I leave enough to start my next batch with the remaining "mother". Rummaging through some of my old files I ran across this certificate from the Vinegar Man. Check it out if you are into making vinegar or are contemplating to start doing so.
The reason I am getting carried away with all this vinegar stuff is because of this "just in" bit of news about this new machine.
Sounds good but only one small problem.
This machine looks for acetic acid. Acetic acid is produced by Acetobacter aceti which is a gram negative aerobic bacterium.
When air leaks past a faulty cork and if the Acetobacter is present, the ethanol is oxidized into acetic acid. And there in lies the problem. Not all wine contains the Acetobacter bacteria and therefor not all oxidized wine automatically becomes vinegar. Good winery practice by restricting exposure to oxygen and making sure the must is properly sulphited, will all but eliminate the problem. Having said all that it has recently come to light that the Acetic acid bacteria can remain viable in wine for years even under anaerobic conditions. Take a moment and read how. All the more reason for careful winery practices. In the meantime I don't think I will be rushing in to spend fifty bucks to have my wines analyzed. I will continue to store my wines properly and whatever is left over after I open a bottle and not drinking it all, will end up becoming some awesome vinegar because that little old barrel of mine has plenty of Acetic acids bugs waiting for it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Too much Wine.... not enough time!

I recently had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the largest wine shop I have ever visited and came away wondering. Wondering about many things regarding wine but especially about the vast number of wines available to today's consumer. Everything Wine is over 11,000 square feet of wine, wine, wine. Close to 3000 wines from around the globe. I wondered how I could ever try all 3000 of them and I posed that question to the two lovely wine tasters pictured here.(Photo courtesy Rob d'Estrube) We are getting a good head start. Remember the little ditty about 99 bottles of beer on the wall? If one of them should happen to faaaa...lll, 98 bottles of beer on the wall. Well how about 3000 bottles of wine on the wall... if you should happen to drink one of them..
there are 2999 bottles more on the wall. The world of wine has become so very complex and we are inundated with wine info from marketers, wine critics, wine writers, etc. all vying for our
attention. Snooth reportedly has 1,689,590 recommendations for you to consider. It makes my head spin. Parker Points, Wine Spectator Points, everybody has a point. But are we not
forgetting something here? Are we not forgetting to stop once in a while to smell the roses or in this case the wine? My wine travel friend from California and I spent a marvelous few days during the 2005 harvest in Burgundy at the delightful family owned Premier Cru "Domaine
in Pommard. Needless to say we were treated to some of Thierry's finest. What a welcome relief to sit back, taste and just enjoy without someone's, ultimately subjective opinion, about this, that or the other wine. And I guess"my point" is, perhaps we are spending too much time analyzing and not enough time just appreciating "the fruit of the vine".

"The spirit of wine sang in my glass, and I listened with love to his sonorous music, his flushed and magnificent song" William Ernest Henley

Sunday, August 05, 2007

No need to shiver...but try a Naked Chardonnay!

Never say never! When I started this blog I promised myself not to ever review any wines and post an entry on them. My feeling was and still is that any wines I may review are not necessarily available to readers of my blog and therefore not really useful. But much has been in the news both local and internationally about BC's new Wine Authority. Well Fed Network did a good summation on the subject. At the same time Wine Blogging Wednesday now has its own blog. So that is where the never say never comes in because I have decided to review a couple of BC's Naked Chardonnays. But before I do, you may very well ask if British Columbia makes any chardonnays of note. You bet it does! In 1994 the Grand Reserve Barrel Select Chardonnay from Mission Hill Family Estate Winery won the coveted International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) for Best Chardonnay. Mission Hill, under wine maker John Simes also went on to bring home North America's only gold medal from the 2001 Chardonnay du Monde Competition.
Both of the unoaked chardonnays I reviewed happen to match up perfectly with grilled seafood. How often do you get a chance to use two of the links on your blog? Well for one, my friend from California was up in this neck of the woods and with his favorite fishing guide, went out and caught his limit of beautiful Pacific Salmon. Couldn't keep them of the hooks. I was the beneficiary of that bountiful catch. So what do you do with fabulous fresh Pacific salmon? You go to another favorite link of mine and use the marvelous recipe for grilled salmon David , over at Cooking Chat, put out there. David, matched his salmon with the Dutton Estate Sauvignon Blanc and I am sure it was a great match but the two wines I am about to describe worked magically well with his recipe.
One of my favorite BC wineries is Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery. It is BC's largest family owned and operated winery. An outstanding young
winemaker, Graham Pierce makes award winning wines.
A fine example of his talents is the :

Estate Collection Chardonnay 2005 (unoaked)
The grapes for this clean, crisp, fresh Chardonnay came from the estates' southern Okanagan vineyards. Stainless steel fermentation only, with no malolactic fermentation, it clocks in at 2g/L residual sugar and 7.8 g/L total acid. Lush lively aromas of green apple, pear and lemon lift up to greet you, followed with rich flavours of ripe tree fruit the Okanagan valley is known to produce. On the palate a mingling of apple, pear and citrus flavours lead to a well balanced lingering finish. A perfect summer sipper wine for those long warm summer days, but oh so delicious to match up with those grilled fish or chicken dishes we all love to enjoy at this time of the year. Sells at $13.90 Can.
This wine is ready for consumption now but could develop some nice complexity if cellared for 2 to 3 years.

My second choice was the: Gray Monk Twenty Fifth Anniversary 2006 Chardonnay Unwooded.
Gray Monk's unoaked chardonnay has been a very popular
wine at any time of the year but it is an extremely pleasant patio summer sipper. It is medium
dry with a residual sugar of 8.6o g/L and a total acidity of 6.90 g/L.

Grey Monk was established in 1972 by George and Trudy Heiss. George Heiss Jr. the winemaker, spent four years in Germany
learning the art of wine making and became the chief winemaker beginning with the 1984 harvest. Countless medals have been
awarded to his wines at major International competitions.
Again like the Mt. Boucherie chardonnay this wine was
fermented entirely in stainless steel and without malolactic
fermentation. Showing off a brilliant yellow green in the glass,
layers of tropical fruit enticingly greet the nose. A mouth filling
rush of melons, tangerine and lush tropical fruit greet the palate.
A long lingering finish of sweet fruit lets you know that
you are savoring a definite summer sipper.
Should be served well chilled if matched
with grilled seafood or chicken. This wine retails at $16.49 Can. So there you have it. My two entries for the
Wine Blogging Wednesday's naked Chardonnays.