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Terroir is so important to French viniculture that wine is identified by the name of a region— Champagne or Bordeaux —rather than by the name of the grape, as Pinot noir or Cabernet are in the United States.
But here in central California the French aesthetic has recently taken hold. Some local winemakers claim that rainfall, irrigation, the degree and direction of slope, the mineral and biological content of the soil, the agricultural history of the vineyard, the indigenous yeastseven the number and variety of worms in the soil all impart character to wine.
The new terroirists come in a range of ideologies. At the far left of the spectrum are those such as celebrity winemaker Andy Ericksonwho co-owns Favia wines and also makes wines for six top wineries.
They use no commercial yeasts, which convert the sugar in grapes to alcohol during fermentation, utterly trusting their vintages to the local soils and microbes. Whereas conventional winemakers buy commercial microbes, true terroirists use only local microorganisms in their fermentation tanks.
That reliance on nature introduces an element of risk, because the wrong kind of microbe can ruin a wine. In the presence of oxygen, several types of bacteria, along with a few species of yeast, convert glucose or alcohol to acetic acid ; too much of that and a winemaker is left with vinegar.
Because of this, winemakers need to control exposure of fermenting grapes to oxygen. It takes a winemaker to stop the process at wine.
Two days of exploring the techniques of this new breed of California winemaker will awaken me to tastes I never imagined. Then in the evenings, cool Pacific air sweeps over from San Pablo Bay. In the autumn this air brings thick fog to the southern half of Napa Valley. Helena Highway in Oakville, depends on this fog.
But when I ask how he uses that information, he explains that, once fermentation starts, his options are limited. The Far Niente wine tour should not be missed, if only because the place screams so loudly of fashion and heritage that I expect Alexis Carrington to greet our group.
Joan Collins in Dynasty. My tour ends with a tasting. We drink our Dolce with a light blue cheese. Let me be frank. Natural Vines, Divine Wine? Some of his vineyards are in Monterey, where microclimates range from cool to warm. Some are on a breezy coastal stretch of Mendocino County.
And some are in the Sierra foothills, which have a four-season climate and shallow soils known for producing low yields of high quality. Brandt makes natural wines—absolutely no chemical manipulation—and my limited experience with natural wines is that they taste of vinegar.
I think of it as the antimatter Far Niente: Filled with cranky technology, it screams of neither fashion nor heritage. And I think of Brandt as sitting philosophically on the left bank of the terroirist world.
He is the only winemaker I meet who has taken untested and, by industry standards, dicey steps to draw out terroir. Most grape growers prune their vines. Inhowever, Brandt let one vineyard grow wild. No pruning, watering, fertilizing, or weeding. The unfiltered, unclarified, and sharp-tasting UntendedAnderson Valley Chardonnay sold out fast.
Like most fully committed terroirists, Brandt uses no plastics, commercial yeasts, or bacteria, and no nutritional additives—although in a pinch he does use sulfur dioxide to control fermentation and bacteria. All that, and he crushes his grapes by foot.
And my friends love to stomp. On the acre ridgetop that is the Littorai Wines Estate, it is chilly and foggy when I meet with winemaker Ted Lemon.
In a new straw bale winery, Lemon makes wine from Chardonnay and Pinot noir grapes that originated in Burgundy.Winemaking – Art, Science, Magic or Technology? We recently received a new publication “Advances in Wine Science” – celebrating 50 years of the Australian Wine Research Institute.
Art and Science in Winemaking lausannecongress2018.com Art and science are commonly The recent trend in making red grape wines with a silky smooth.
Winemaking: a Combination of Science, Nature, Art, and Footwork Each glass tells you something about the wine's milieu as well as the vintner's approach. False dichotomy: winemaking, like a lot of things, is both art and science. Your basic rules for determining whether something is an art or science is this: .
Winemaking – Art, Science, Magic or Technology? We recently received a new publication “Advances in Wine Science” – celebrating 50 years of the Australian Wine Research Institute. The book reviews current knowledge of chemicals contributing to wine aroma, the nature of tannins, role of yeast and bacteria in modulating wine flavour.
Art and science are commonly misunderstood as enemies of each other in the wine world. This is an unfortunate interpretation since winemaking is both an art and a science. A more helpful standpoint is that science gives us the knowledge to understand the processes involved in winemaking and the factors affecting wine quality.