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Fun with Wine Science…

Fun with Wine Science…

You love wine.

But maybe you never gave much thought to the science of wine?

Here is a post that reveals some science behind wine…

The preeminent magazine for wine professionals is Wine Business Monthly, headquartered in Sonoma. Last week, I attended their “Innovation and Quality” wine conference at Silverado Resort – which entertained and informed.

Click on this link to go the magazine’s home page: https://www.winebusiness.com

Several really exciting ‘wine tasting trials’ were presented. In this photo you can see the scale of the tasting about to start in the ballroom.

First up, famed Italian wine family Antinori presented a comprehensive Cabernet tasting from their vineyards from around the world. 

CEO Renzo Cotarella presented. I found him eminently entertaining. He commented “chemistry deconstructs, tasting reconstructs” – meaning chemistry can tell you a good deal about the fractional bits in wine, but only a human being can make the ultimate choice about wine quality. When asked who makes the final blending decisions, he answered, ‘winemaking is not a democracy, someone needs to own the wine’s identity.’

The Antinori tasting (seen below) included Tignanello, Col Solare, Antica, Guado al Tasso, and Haras:

Extensive laboratory testing and results were a major part of the conference. Cara Morrison from Sonoma-Cutrer introduced the audience of 200 wine industry professionals to the world of “phenolics” – what the rest of the world knows as ‘color’ and ‘tannins’. And if you insist on the deeper chemistry – compounds including phenolic acids, stilbenoids, flavonols, dihydroflavonols, anthocyanins, flavanol monomers (catechins) and flavanol polymers (proanthocyanidins)

This trial focusing on phenols included lab data from wines from Merryvale and Wente.

Greg Gambetta, Professor of viticulture at Bordeaux Sciences Agro (graduate school), provided a terrific presentation about phenolics, including this slide showing how a controlled deficit in Nitrogen at Chateau Haut-Brion lead to higher anthocyanin – meaning more color, tannin, and flavonoids.

In the third trial, we tasted wines from 4 different wineries from around the west – with the ONLY difference being hand picked versus machine harvested fruit. I have personally been a strong proponent of machine harvesting ever since witnessing the process in Clarksburg, Ca. over a decade ago. Since then, the machines have markedly improved resulting in exceptional fruit quality, very little broken stems and leaves, and a very speedy and cost effective way to get large amounts of fruit to winery fast and in good shape.

Click on this chart below to see the ‘side by side’ chemistry of hand harvested fruit vs. mechanically harvested fruit: 

There was also a presentation on smoke taint. Particularly following up from the October 2017 fires in Sonoma and Napa. The chemistry of smoke taint in wine is complicated. And so far, many have tried, but none have really found a way to remove the smoke once it has entered the vineyard and into the skins of the raw fruit.

See these links for more on the wines presented at the trials:

Sequoia Grove: http://www.sequoiagrove.com

Ramey: http://www.rameywine.com

Mondavi: https://www.robertmondaviwinery.com

Sonoma-Cutrer: https://www.sonomacutrer.com

Merryvale: https://www.merryvale.com

Wente: https://wentevineyards.com

Coppola: https://www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com

Chateau St. Michelle: https://www.ste-michelle.com

Montinore: https://www.montinore.com

 

Silverado Resort was, as always, perfect: https://www.silveradoresort.com

Hydeout clients release their first estate wine this week…

Hydeout clients release their first estate wine this week…

Congratulations to these three Hydeout Consulting clients – each of whom released their innaugural vintage this week. Each has a unique story to tell…

SOVARE 2016 Sonoma Valley red blend – This client spared no expense in the farming and winemaking to produce a unique ultra-premium inky red. It is a field blend of equal parts Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon from their rugged hillside vineyard on the flanks of Sonoma Mountain, just south of Kenwood. Aged in 50% new French oak and 50% one-year old American oak, it is a deep, dark, and spicy wine with evident body, offers superb balance between tannins and acidity, and will age to perfection over time. The name ‘Sovare’ deconstructed means ‘Sonoma Valley Red.’ This wine will be available only in the Bay Area and New York.

Little Gidding 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 100% estate Cabernet, an incredible hillside vineyard also flanking Sonoma Mountain, just 2 very special acres wrapping around a steep hillside with exposures to the east, south, and west, the wine was aged in 100% new French oak, and is a direct hit for what Sonoma Cabernet can be – austere, bright, cherry red, with smooth elegant tannins right out of the gate. Available only through Little Gidding in Sonoma.

Dysfunctional Family Winery 2016 red blend – purposefully irreverent, and intended to make light of all the ‘perfect families’ so often featured in the wine press, this client has a contrarium approach and loves wines that are bravely blended from multiple varieties and sources from widely varying sites around Sonoma Valley. This wine is 35% Syrah (from the valley floor), 25% Cabernet (Sonoma Mountain), 20% Merlot (Carneros), and 20% Zin (Kenwood).

For more info, see these links:

click here for more Hydeout Sonoma blog entries

Sonoma Mountain make singular wines

or here for world’s oldest man drinks a glass of red wine every day!

Sonoma Magazine’s top wine of 2017

Happy holidays to all our wonderful subscribers. See you in 2018!

Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2 – Analysis, Recovery, Celebration

Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2 – Analysis, Recovery, Celebration

With mother nature, life always follows death…

In my previous blog, you saw images of the terrible firestorm and resulting destruction in Sonoma.

In “Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2” we visit a fire-damaged vineyard near Kenwood springing back to life just one month later. And meet in the Sonoma town square to thank first responders.

But first, a reminder of where we came from just one month ago…

The continuing personal impact on some is hard to measure. These photos are from the Warm Springs Road area, close to many of my client vineyards…

Many vineyards were either spared from from the fire, or actually blocked the fires from advancing – by cutting off the fuel supply. However, some vineyards did burn, and here we see a vineyard a few days after being burned during the firestorm. Note that all of the ground cover and much of the leaf canopy is either burned or charred.

And the first few feet of vine trunk is quite scorched…

This fire also destroyed all of the drip irrigation system, including riser pipes, hoses, and drip emitters, leaving dripping plastic residue on the ground in its wake…

And destroyed every drip emitter…

And some very large trees burned and fell into the vineyard, including this epic California Bay Laurel…

We enlisted the help of the several agencies to help us assess the damage. The Sonoma Resource Conservation District helped us develop an erosion control recovery plan. Below, Project Manager Justin Bidell and Resource Planner Anya Starovoytov walk the damaged site collecting data, taking pictures, and advising on recovery plans and funding sources…

Justin and Anya point out that the fire even chased into plastic drainage culverts, burning underneath several access roads…

And looking at this close-up image of a charred grapevine trunk, you might think that this vineyard would be lost and need to be replanted…

But dig down to check the condition of the vine roots and we find in most cases no damage at all…

Amazingly, just one month later, we find everything is roaring back to life!…

And rain brings welcome moisture and renewed growth…

And the cover crop in between the vine rows explodes back to life, and the grapevines respond accordingly, soaking up moisture, swelling buds, and going into dormancy…

And the return of power at the winery allows us to get back to work. In this photo, wine that had been resting in stainless tanks has been moved into oak barrels where it will rest in the caves for the winter…

And one month later, although many friends are homeless, or know someone who lost a home, the vineyards and wineries and the town of Sonoma are bouncing back to life. And we can still find small things for which we can all be grateful…

The town of Sonoma celebrated on Saturday night, November 19th, with a Sonoma Town Hall holiday lighting ceremony, awards and standing ovations to the first responders, great music, and this wonderful tribute from Amy Miller, Artistic Director of Transcendence Theatre Company:

Video: Sonoma Square and Amy Miller from Transcendance Theatrer

Other links on this topic:

Ways to support those who need help

Did vineyards help save wine country?

A look at 22 wineries that sustained damage

Search and Rescue teams news

Tourists encouraged to come back!