Saturday, October 30, 2004

Making our own wine!

With a group of wine enthusiasts, we decided to make our own wine with the help and support of Crushpad, a San Francisco based winery providing the complete materials, facility and services for new (or experienced) winemakers to create their own wines.

Our winemaker Scott Shapley.

First, we needed to define which wine we wanted to make and choose a varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon was not available anymore so we chose Syrah. The type of wine you want usually determines the vineyard selection. We wanted a Syrah in the Northern Rhône Valley style, spicy and complex but not too big and fruit-forward. With that goal in mind, Crushpad selected fruits from the Clary Ranch Vineyard, a cool area in the Sonoma Coast appellation, just a few miles west of Petaluma, California.

We decided to remove the stems before starting fermentation but keep the whole berries to give the wine a fruitier character.
Luckily, we did not need to add any cultured yeast to the must as it startedits fermentationn process with its own native yeast. We came during the fermentation time to punch down the "cap" which is the solid mass of grape skins, stems, and seeds that floats to the top of the fermenting vessel.
Punching down is important because it helps mix the yeast into the must, ensures that color, flavor and tannins and other phenolic compounds are added to the wine, helps dissipate heat that naturally occurs during fermentation and keeps harmful bacteria from forming.
It is usually done two times a day.

Brix is a measurement of the amount of sugar in a liquid. The sugar converts to alcohol during fermentation. As Brix numbers decrease, the amount of alcohol in the liquid increases

Then, we measured the amount of sugar remaining in the wine. This is measured in Brix with a refractometer. As the sugar converts into alcohol during fermentation, the Brix number decreases. Our goal was to reach a desired Brix number of -1 or -2 for an optimum dryness.

Measuring the Brix.

We tasted the wine of course. The juice had a deep purple/garnet color and was deliciously simple but good. There was still some sweetness in this baby wine and also some lively acidity.

We are now waiting for the fermentation to complete and plan to come next week for the pressing.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The 12 predictions of Robert Parker

Robert Parker, the famous wine guru is predicting the future of wine in the October 2004 issue of Food & Wine.

1. Distribution will be revolutionized: I believe this one will eventually happened but latter than sooner.

2. The wine Web will go mainstream: easy, this has already started.

3. World biding wars will begin for top wines: I've read China is now a strong market for fine wines. It is going to be harder to find/buy collectors wines and they will be reserved for speculative wine investors.

4. France will feel a squeeze: easy, this has already started.

5. Corks will come out: I am not so sure that corks will completely disappear. Screw cap closures usage will increase for sure. It could eventually be used for the 95% of the wine production that does not need aging. But I also read somewhere that the cork industry is working on new techniques to prevent cork contamination.

6. Spain will be the start: Spain is definitively enjoying a new birth. But also Southern Italy, Southern France, South Africa, etc.

7: Malbec will make it big: again Malbec in Argentina but also Carmenère in Chile, Nero d'Avola in Sicily, etc.

8. California's Central Coast will rule America: that's the Sideways effect!

9. Southern Italy will ascend: see #6 and #7

10. Unoaked wine will find a wider audience: the popularity of the new Morgan Metallico Chardonnay is an example of a new trend looking for fresher wines showing their fruit and terroir. There is also a worldwide trend to grow grapes in cooler sites.

11. Value will be valued: I believe that wine consumers are getting increasingly educated and are looking for better wines at better prices. But I am also surprised to see prices to continue going up.

12. Diversity will be the word: I think that we'll see more and more wines made of local varietals on the market. Do you know Vernaccia, Torrontés, Counoise or Frappato?

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