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MONDAY MANIFESTOS
12/12/2011
Monday Manifestos
The Truth About The Wine News

By Charles Olken

Last week was a pretty gloomy wine time for wine, but it turns out that there are rays of sunshine beneath the dark clouds and I have found them.

People and wineries may fade from our presence, grapes have gone unpicked and Syrah remains hard to sell, but there is always progress, always a new big thing, always improvement on the horizon. We tend to focus on our losses, scandals, disasters. Let us today, look on the other side.

HEADLINE: Cows Fed With Wine Dregs Emit Less Methane
You may think that this item is one of those pseudo-scientific maunderings that will have no useful purpose in real life. Cows produce so much methane that they are one of the single largest identifiable contributors to green house gasses—right after folks like you and me. Now, I am not pooh-poohing any reduction in the level of flatulence in this world, but I have a better idea. It seems to me that we need to feed wine dregs to young boys, dogs and great grandparents. Now there is some flatulence whose reduction will really benefit mankind.

HEADLINE: Shanghai, Lodi Meet
I sometimes think I am alone in championing the cause of Lodi wines. Not all, mind you, but then again, I don’t champion all West Rutherford Bench Cabernets or Santa Maria Valley Pinots or Dry Creek Zinfandels. Lodi wine is not a dirty word to me. Their all kinds of interesting wines coming out of Lodi and its overlapping sub-appellations whose varied soils, exposures and elevations do give Lodi more variation in style than is sometimes recognized. Still, I was a bit dismayed by this headline. I mean, has Lodi abandoned us? Have the Chinese bought yet another American enterprise—this time a whole town? I know some places they are welcome to take off our hands, but not Lodi. Please, not Lodi.

HEADLINE: Orange Wine Is Sommelier’s Newest Tipple
I know home winemakers who have been making orange wine for years. The recipe is not all that difficult. Orange juice, a bag of sugar to boost the potential alcohol and bring it into balance and some yeast. But, these tricky sommeliers are going the amateurs one better. They are actually encouraging some would-be professional winemakers to oxidize the hell out of their wines in order to achieve this whole new category of tipple. I have only had a few of these creations, and in my line of work, I have learned not to pooh-pooh (how did we get back to methane?) anything—just judge what is in the glass of each wine that comes down the pike. But there are times when caution needs to be thrown to the wind. So, here goes. Please, winemakers, feed some wine dregs to your orange wine so it smells better.

HEADLINE: Manipulative Winemaking Declared A Fault
Okay, I get it. My salad is being destroyed by oil and vinegar. My steak is being destroyed by heat, salt, pepper and a rub of garlic. My leg of lamb is being ruined by rosemary. My Chardonnay actually has yeast added to it rather than being fermented with whatever is out there in the ether.

Why don’t these folks get it? Short of engaging in processes that will harm human life or cattle or the planet, the best practices in winemaking are those that are good for the wine. A chef does not forego technique and seasoning and neither should winemakers. Wine is just the half life of vinegar. Don’t these folks understand that they are manipulating fermented grape juice just to stop it from following its natural course?


 

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Comments

"Man"ipulative
by Sherman
Posted on:12/12/2011 2:57:36 PM

There is no such thing as "natural" wine -- there may be spontaneously fermented grape juice (on its way to becoming vinegar) but anything we would care to identify as wine and drink with our dinner is the result of man's intervention.

Thus, all wine making is manipulation of some form and thus we can't truly call any fermented product made by people as "natural wine."

Some of us geek out over how the manipulations give (hopefully) consistent results but that level of geek-dom should remain behind the curtain. Let's not scare off the everyday wine drinkers who care for nothing more than a tasty product to go with whatever is on the dinner table (as long as it's made with practices that "do no harm").

Orange Wines...
by TomHill
Posted on:12/14/2011 9:41:15 AM

Charlie,

   Because of me interest in Friulian wines, I've been following the trend in Calif of skin-contact white and gris wines and orange wines. I tend to lump these wines all together, but prefer to save the term "orange" for wines that are made in an oxidative style.

   First, there is nothing "wrong" with oxidation in a wine, per se. Many people view oxidation in a wine as a fault. But they accept it in  a sherry/madeira/tokaji/vin jaune/Gravner/Radikon/Georgian  because they're "supposed" to show oxidation. But they don't need to "oxidize the hell" out of them. In fact, I seldom find any of the orange wines that I'd describe as such.

   But it does make for a whole new category of wine....and an interesting one at that. I find that some/many of the skin-contact white/gris wines have a definite phenolic streak. It's kinda weird to taste a white wine and note that it's on the tannic side. This character can be easily ameliorated by serving the wine at a red wine/room temperature.

   A good case in point is the JimCowan/CowanCllrs Isa white. Made from LakeCounty SauvBlanc grapes. Fifteen days of fermentation, entirely on the skins. It has no (to my palate's recognition) LakeCnty Sauv Blanc character (which..to my palate...is a good thing). Quite a bit of phenolic content, so you need to serve it like a red wine...room temperature. But it was made in a reductive manner and shows no oxidative character that I can discern. But, for those who worship at the altar of varietal typicity or the altar of terroir, this wine is rejected because it lacks those characteristics. I find it an unusual,/fascinating/tasty and, yes, delicious wine.

   So this is a movement I'm following with keen interest. It will be interesting to see where it leads. But these wines are definitely not for everyone. You have to, as we've been admonished by certain Monktown attourneys, "think outside the box".

Tom

 

Wine dregs
by Tom
Posted on:3/29/2012 8:20:06 AM

Cows fed with wine dregs is our human hope!! Woo hoo!! Let's prevent global warming together!!

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