Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wine, Women and a Cardinal Rule of Tasting.....!!

It is good to see more and more women involved in the wine industry as writers, wine makers and on the sales side of the industry.
There are also some great web pages and blogs written by women.  
Women for Wine Sense is an organization that has recently celebrated its 21st birthday.
As well on the consumer side, women outnumber men significantly in the purchase of wine.
Women  buy 77 percent and consume 60 percent of the wine in the United States.  
It is generally known that women can smell and taste wine better than men. In my own experience I have observed this time and again. I write an email wine newsletter in which I review wines. I have a panel of 8 tasters, 4 women and 4 men ( not always the same tasters ) and we blind taste the wines. The ladies give me better descriptors both of aromas and flavor profiles. As an added bonus, I can read their notes better. I hasten to add that I have a couple of gents who are regularly on my panel and who are outstanding tasters.
My annual sparkling wine tasting just before the holiday season starts is usually more ladies than men and they have a blast.
 Six ladies and two men. I am taking the picture and therefore not visible. 
Given all this, why in the world does a marketing firm come up with what I consider a put down of women's wine sense and knowledge by creating a wine and  bottling  it in a perfume shaped bottle?

 One of the cardinal rules when tasting wine is not to wear perfume or any other scents. Obviously the marketers and makers of this product show their lack of knowledge and sense. At least that is the way I see it!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Is That Isinglass in my Wineglass??

The backroom beurocrats are at it once again. If you need a make work project, pick on wine labels. This time it is the ever vigilant crew at Health Canada. 
And isinglass is one of the culprits the unsuspecting public must be protected against. Isinglass is a derivative of swim bladders in fish and most often sturgeons are used in its production.

Living on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, home to our beautiful salmon, naturally I show you a picture of a Sockeye salmon swim bladder. What a magnificent piece of equipment to have on board.The air in the bladder provides buoyancy and thus allowing them to float. The amount of air can be adjusted so they can hover at different levels in the water.
But I am straying away from the point of my blog entry. The point being that this new label requirement is another bit of idiocy foisted upon the wine industry. 
I won't go into details because in his usual right on style   
BEPPI CROSARIOL  of the Globe and Mail
has written an article that says it all and is well worth reading. The most telling fact of all is that between 2000 and 2011 there were 700,000 bottles returned to the LCBO and of that number 380 were investigated for causing alleged illnesses and only 'one' was related to an allergic reaction and this was due to quinine found in an Italian bitter. 
What insanity and what an incredible waste of taxpayers money.

I smell something fishy here or is it the belch of a powerful beer lobby?                                                       

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Blend or not to Blend....that is the question!!

A short while ago I read an article by a well known wine writer proclaiming that in a few years all wines will be blended wines.
I had just tasted a blended wine made up of and get this... Pinot Noir..Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay Noir. Really now?
I chose to ignore this off the cuff remark. Then I read it again by another wine writer. Had these two gents attended the same wine conference? 

Now,as we have seen it reported over and over again, the US total yearly consumption of wine is now greater than in France. But those figures are like comparing apples and oranges. On a per person basis consumption, the US is still far behind France. But this statistic is based on a total population figure.
The significance however lies in the fact that wine is finally becoming much more a part of our culture.
Along with this new found thirst comes an eager search for more knowledge about wine. And thus statements such as the above might be taken seriously by our new wine loving friends and should not be made by responsible wine writers. There is just too much nonsense out there. At least that is my opinion. 
So I thought I would check with a couple of people who I respect highly and get their opinion.
First I checked with Alice Feiring. I take you to a post I did on her a couple of years ago. I loved reading her very interesting  book.
So here is what she had to say as per quotation.

"I have been in the blend camp for quite some time. I sort of feel it's the salvation of California as well as other regions that might have spotty 'great' terroir". 

Yes of course. Bordeaux, the 'King of Wines' producing some of the best blended wines in the world. 

Since I had used Burgundy's Pinot Noir and Germany's Rieslings as examples of single variety wines her response was as follows.

"The comparison to Burgundy or the Mosel is pretty unfair as those regions have been one grape grape one bottle for quite a while, but they spent 100s of years fine tuning which grapes grow best on the soils"
Ah, yes..Burgundy Pinot Noir ..the 'Queen of Wines"
Along comes modern day science and technology to help us out and it is now possible to determine which grape variety is most suited to a specific vineyards plot.
Dr. Pat Bowen has done extensive research in this field and by means of the GIS or Geographical Imaging System, site specific grape varieties can be determined. 
Poof.... hundreds of years can be bypassed by modern science.
Read the highlights of that research here. 
Going back to my archived blog entry on Alice Feiring, I realized that I had written about one of my favorite German vintners as well on that same blog entry. 
 Why are we smiling so much? Me ...because I had just tasted some wonderful Mosels and Johannes Selbach.... because he is justifiably proud of his single variety wines.
So I contacted him and again as per quote.

"We do NOT blend our Selbach-Oster Rieslings with anything else and have no intention to do so.
There are grapes that are suitable for blending and there are grapes with little flavour that benefit from blending but good, genuine Riesling certainly doesn't need it.
I firmly believe in the future of handcrafted, authentic varietal wines if they are grown in suitable climate and soil because they will offer the wine drinker a sense of place, terroir, as well as the pleasures of varietal character.
That being said, if the individual components don't have enough character to make a distinctive wine or if the blend is better than its components, blending makes sense. Blending also makes sense where the married components together enhance complexity and typicity ( and here Bordeaux certainly is a classic example for successful blends )."
So there you have it.
Let me finish with an image of my family blend of wine which consists of 55% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Noir and just to add a touch of complexity... 5% Pinot Noir. 
 I raise my glass of blended wine, straight from the above bottle, to you my dear readers!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Global Cooling in Wine Country.....!!

On February 2, 2011 Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and thus according to tradition an early spring was predicted. Within a week, I was snowed in and could not get out of my driveway. I finally managed to get out but on the way back in, I ended up teetering on the edge of the ditch and had to get a tow truck to help me out. Ended up parking my car at the start of my driveway and carry two big bags of groceries for about a 1/2 kilometer stretch down my driveway to get home. Miserable unseasonably cold weather. Fortunately I had plenty of wine on hand and a raging fire in my fireplace to keep me warm.

On the 26th of February, I received an e-mail from my dear friend, Jan in California with a series of pictures, including the Myers lemon tree in her garden. The subject title was 'It never snows in Scotts Valley????'

California Wine Country was in for sub freezing temperatures on that day.

On Tuesday January 13th 2009, featured speaker Kim Cahill, a viticulture associate at UC Davis, spoke to the concerned Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group and detailed a predicted warming trend due to climate change for Napa vineyards.

Now hold on a minute and fast forward to February 7, 2011. Forget about that warming trend because now a new in depth study carried out for the Napa Valley Vintners Association suggests that climate change may cool the Napa Valley.

Of course these days it is no longer called 'Global Warming'. There is no money to be made with such a scary concept and terminology. 'Climate Change' is the in thing and there are plenty of greenbacks to be made. 

Why not attend the III World Congress on Climate Change and Wine? For a mere 575 Euros you can get your VIP ticket and hear Kofi Annan speak. But you better hurry because after April 1st, the ticket price goes to 675 Euros.

The one that really gets me is the Carbon Credit concept. If you want to really understand what that is all about, look at this article on Carbon Credits.
This informative article was written back in 2008 and a mere $60 billion had already been traded worldwide. What are the figures for today?
Imagine trading and making money on Hot Air??

I think, I must do my part and trade my car in for a much more fuel efficient green car.                                                                                                 

And I cannot get the lyrics of Johnny Rivers' song "Green Green" out of my mind.
So sing along with me while we join the New Christy Minstrels.

I do hope that our Vancouver Island and surrounding Islands vineyards see a much warmer 2011 year. Most did not see their grape crops reach maturity because of the cold and wet weather. We want to see a return of Global warming!
Lets all drink to that!!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dieting?... Check Your New Wine Label!

 Once again wine label requirements are under attack. This time it is the US and Australia. I did a post in January last year when Brussels was rattling its chains. Here is the link to that entry.

 It seems bureaucrats everywhere feel they must protect the dumb public by forcing wineries to print the number of calories in their wines on their wine labels. This would change of course with each vintage and thus creating additional costs for the wineries.
Australia is moving ahead on this requirement 
Now the US is also considering label changes. Now I ask you would anyone seriously look at a back label and do calorie comparisons between two or three wines?
'Look at this one  dear, it has 20 calories less than the one you are looking at'. 
When you buy your bacon do you for one minute think that it is not high in calories, but you better check all the bacon labels to see if you can shave off a few calories? How utterly ridiculous. 
We buy wines because we thoroughly enjoy them and we know they are good for our health.
How about equal opportunities and allow statements of wine being good for your health to be displayed as well?
Latest research has just discovered that red wine contains chemicals used in the treatment of diabetes.
Doctors are loath to tell patients that wine maybe good for their health for fear of turning their patients into alcoholics. But the use of wine in treating various ailments has been with us for centuries. 
I am in possession of a book called 'Healing Wines' by Manfred Kohnlechner  tracing the use of wines in medicine from antiquity to modern times. Fascinating reading. It was published and printed by Autumn Press in 1981, so its not likely too many copies are still around. But Roger Corder's The Red Wine Diet is readily available. It is a well written and thoroughly researched book. Decanter states " Quite possibly the most useful wine book published this year"
Roger's opening sentence in the first chapter is as follows:  "Wine drinkers generally are healthier and often live longer than people who don't drink wine on a regular basis"
I say Amen to that and raise my glass in a toast to all you wine lovers out there!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Good Hearted... and Drink Red Wine!!

 It never ceases to amaze me how much research is deemed necessary before we finally come to the conclusion and accept the fact that drinking wine, especially red wine, is good for our hearts. And here is the latest as reported in BMJ..helping doctors make better decisions. The research paper is titled "Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myorcardial Infarction"

It is worth reading but you probably should have a glass of wine or two while consuming this information and if you proceed to glass number three, try saying the above title real fast three times.
Now here is some research that has just been reported. It has come to light that humans were drinking wine over 6000 years ago.
And we are still around doing our best to convince Neo-Prohibitionists and other anti-drinking groups that drinking wine is good for their health and we are going to be around for a long time.
My good friend Keith Watt over on Pender Island, owner of
Morning Bay Estate Winery and Vineyards, wrote a nice  sensible, summing it all up article on wine and health.
Good wines, good friends, laughter and love. How can we go wrong? Of course drinking too much wine may be bad for your health. Everything in moderation. I love crisp bacon and could eat it all day and every day but that would not be good for my health, would it now?
So let us make sure that when they dig around an archaeological site 6000 years from now, they will say that in the year of 2011,they sure knew how to live the good live.
 May you have a happy heart this year and every year and enjoy your wine in peace and in good company!