domenica 23 marzo 2014

The use of sulphur in winemaking.

The use of high and low levels of sulphur dioxide, my opinion: 
Sulphur is an organic element, naturally created with a key role in the growing of grapes and in the making of wine. The primary purpose of sulphur dioxide addition is to prevent something going wrong in the life of wine. This is based around a desire to keep oxygen away from the wine, because without this use it can oxidize components in the wine, create reduction in fresh aroma, change in colour but can also encourage the growth of spoilage bacteria such as the various lactic acid bacteria and others, as well as wild yeast that can grow in wine and turn into stinky compounds. The effects of sulphur dioxide can be grouped into four categories: antioxidant, stabilizer, solvent and modifier of taste. In must and wine, there are several substances that tend to oxidize, changing both the look and the taste.

There are different benefits related to postfermentation. One can be the style of wine that the winemaker wishes to create; for example the adding of sulphur dioxide after the postfermentation destroys or blocks the development of bacteria responsible for malolactic fermentation (generally avoided in white wines) in order to avoid it and to keep the natural acidity of the wine. In this case the level of sulphur needs to be higher, if the purpose is to undergo malolactic fermentation the use of SO2 becomes lower. Sulphur dioxide also plays a positive effect on the taste and aromas of the wine, to eliminate and reduce the tastes of rot and mould. To obtain these positive effects, sulphur dioxide must be added when the alcoholic fermentation is finished completely. The level of pH is an important role of using SO2 to provide adequate protection from microbes and oxidation. A lower pH solution will require less sulphur dioxide in order to maintain the proper level molecular SO2. Since the conservation of wine is always a critical factor, a wine properly stored will always have a certain amount of free sulphur dioxide and that's sometimes a factor in the decision of whether to use a high or low level of sulphur dioxide. An important time for the addition of SO2 is when you do racking and that's to avoid oxidation to maintain the correct use of the oak or the container you choose for aging the wine. In this case the level of sulphur can be determined in the quantity to apply, the higher - the wine is less exposed to oxygen and avoid the possibility to have more sediment in the wine. The adding of SO2 removes as much of the sediment as possible, so the process of clarification is further a goal. However with a high level of sulphur you are going to lose the integrity of the wine, such a bouquet and tipicity of grape varieties; thus the less you use you are going to respect the concept of terroir even if in the final bottling there is a small amount of sediment in the wine. Once again, if there is malolactic ferment involved and/or you are going to do bottle ferment later, for example in regards to champagne, you want to keep the SO2 down. Since under these conditions, the pH is going to be low, you are probably okay adding a very low sulphur dioxide.  In sweet wine making, the level of sulphur dioxide added is normally the highest and also in postfermentation, dessert wine contains a lot of sugar, and active free sulphur will combine with this sugar. So a Winemaker will have to keep adding more free sulphur until the wines natural sugar and oxygen have been used up. It needs to reach saturation point, then the additional free sulphur will remain free and be able to protect the wine. Therefore the total sulphur content of the end wine will be very high. Reasonable if the grapes are in perfect shape and the pH is low enough this can help even in postfermentation to do less with the addition of sulphur dioxide; you are going to work with a good product and the intervention can be very minimal.
The alternatives of sulphur dioxide are in experimentation in the study of process of winemaking, since from the first commercial of wine from the English and Dutch to help to preserve their wines during transport. The barrels before filling with wine, sulfur candies were burnt inside to protect the wine.  It was a trick that they learnt from the Romans who conducted the same practice over millennia before. However a study to try to replace the use of sulphur dioxide has shown a possible alternative especially in postfermentation can be the use of lysozyme which is a protein derived from egg whites it can help to delay or block the malolactic fermentation, prevent unwanted bacterial growth during storage or ageing and inhibit further bacterial spoilage in the case of stuck fermentation. Since sanitation play a critical role in winemaking, like cleaning barrel and tank to kill undesirable spectrum bacteria, fungus, moulds and yeast which can affect the wine especially in postfermentation; the use of Ozone an organic sanitizer, helps to clean and sterilize the environment and containers where the wine aging and give perhaps the possibility to avoid the use of SO2 in the winemaking. Although sulphur dioxide is free produce in small amount by wine yeast during alcoholic fermentation, thus to avoid the use of Sulphur dioxide the fermentation in maceration with the skin needs to be as long as possible to allow the yeast with the help of anthocyanins and polyphenol to protect the wine.
To my point of view exceptional healthy grapes require less intervention of treatment, for example aging the wine on the lees, left at the bottom of the oak protect the wine from oxidation, act as a stabilizer and preservative for the wine; which in this way become naturally elegant. The wine must be accompanied by frequent tasting to monitor the integrity and maturity in order to decide the time of bottling. At this point you decant the wine, assemble the various barrels and proceed to bottling. If you have good body, good value of volatile acidity and low in general other values (pH, residual sugar, dry extract) are in equilibrium with each other, a wine-grower-winemaker, brave, can and should bottle without adding sulphur.

venerdì 14 marzo 2014

Crozes - Hermitage

In the north part of Rhone Valley just before the Amazing Cornas appellation there is an amazing district called Crozes - Hermitage. The town of Tain - L'Hermitage divide the appellation in two diverse terroir; north of the town on the right bak of the Rhone river, the soil are granite based on hill terrace. South of the town the soil are more alluvial and sandy with varying percentage of clay and stone in the surface; climatically there is also a contrast, the north are hilly and cooler and the south are flat and relative warm.
The area under vine is almost 1,525 hectares
92% are shiraz based the rest 8% are two white grapes varieties Marsanne and Rousanne.
Natacha Chave she is a young winemaker start in 2004 in St. Joseph and in 2007 added 5,5 hectare on Crozes Hermitage.
The Aleofane from 2010 is a meaty black fruit with salty licorice and prune. Palate lots of red and black fruit, spicy and peppery, coarse tannins, tar and charcoal with great granitic minerality, all regulated with a balance acidity.

giovedì 13 marzo 2014

Pfalz Mosel Riesling

Okonomierat Rebholz is one the most important producers in Pfalz they farms some very special sites that show the amazing minerality the German riesling have got.
The soil of the Palatine combine with volcanic, chalky and sandstone,,, spice and vivacious wine with enriched mineral content.
2011 spatlese from the Grosses Gewachs Rebholz was pale yellow green, offering floral, white peach and citrus with flinty and limestone notes. The palate was off-dry and clean, elderflower and ripe orchard fruit. Complex and unforgettable.

Zilliken has a deepest cellar on the Saar river in the Mosel region in Germany the wine aging and maturing in optimum conditions in German oak. The Saarburger Rausch is the vineyard where Zilliken work on his wines. It lies right on the edge of the town. His another Grosses Gewachs producer of the VDP member which means they will make a wine from their top sites as the picking can be Kabinet/Spatlese/Auslese but the sugar must be fermented through dry.
The 95 had an incredible clean aroma, mangoes and peach an intense mouthfeel; thick and rich. Long age ability the acidity was very high mask very well by the residual sugar.
Another interesting wine from Mosel is Schloss Lieser from Thomas Haag a wine made in one of the best site of the Mosel Niederberg Helden a monstrous vineyard in a very steep slope with slate soil almost very white to reheat and reflect the sun during nights and days.
This vineyard receive a good amount of water and is very resistant to drought and the wine producing tend to be fuller and richer.
The wine was ripe and exotic with green apple and pear with a big bone structure and incredible minerality.
Mosel Steep slopes 
Niederberg Helden Vineyard Mosel

lunedì 10 marzo 2014

Kremstal DAC

Geologically similar to is neighbor, the Wachau, primary rock soil with steep slopes with the Danube river still acting as fan or a warming up the austere climate of the long growing season.
Mainly Gruner Veltiner and Riesling this small sub region producing elegant and mineral wines.
Kremstal have got two denomination
Kremstal DAC with alcohol should be not more than 12,5% with light pure aroma and great minerality.
Kremstal DAC RESERVE the addition "reserve" display ripe aromas, density on the palate with a long and smooth finish, with a minimum of 13% alcohol.

Stadt Krems is a winery with century of history one of the oldest producer of Austria. The team is direct by Fritz Miesbauer with 90% of the production is Gruner Veltiner and Riesling. 31 hectare of vines exclusively in the best terrace of the city of Krems, loess, slate and gneiss (quartz and mica) are the composition of the soil.
The 2008 Riesling Steinterrassen has a typically mineral content, slate, and quartz. Apricot and peaches trough nose and palate. Very fruity and easy to drink, well structure and great price.

domenica 9 marzo 2014

Wachau wine

North of Wien there is a wine region called Niederosterreich with different DCA (Districtus Austria Controllatus) very similar to the AOC in France or the DOC system in Italy.
One of DAC is Wachau on the narrow Danube valley between Melk and Krems. Vineyards are in steep terrace mainly focus on Riesling and Gruner veltiner with hot a dry summer and cold winter are mitigate by the Danube river which contra balance the excess of temperature, that conditions generate a complexity aroma in the grapes. The soil are very various sandy, gravel and stony with altitude they  converge with the western Atlantic stream and the Pannonian conditions (compaction of sediment on one hand and structural movement on the other).
Wachau is a small DAC with 3 different categories Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are used respectively for light, medium and full body wines with natural alcohol.
Steinfeder maximun alcool content 11,5%
Federspiel with an alcohol content between 11,5% to 12,5% by volume.
Smaragd is the name for the best and complex wine with alcohol up to 12,5% by volume.
Emmerich Knoll 2007 Smaragd "Kellerberg"
The riesling from the famous terrace of Kellerberg in Durnstein is one of the most truly best site for Riesling in Wachau. Quite lemon gold with straw yellow rim, nose very exotic mango and pineapple peach and a touch of honey and orange zest. The wine is still very young with incredible concentration and powerful palate, ripe citrus and spice on the palate with an invigorating acidity with great depth and luscious mineral content.
An other best site to try from Knoll is the Scutt vineyard more complex and mineral.

2008 Smaragd Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Setzberg
Franz Hirtzberger is situated in Spitz in the most part of the Wachau, an area strongly influenced by the chilly winds blowing from the mountain to the north. All the Hirtzberger wines are fermented in stainless steel and aged in classic 30-50 hectoliter wooden barrels. His most celebrated vineyard site is the "Singerriedel". Honivogl is the most important Gruner Veltiner by this awesome Weingut. The Setzeberg riesling I had from 2008 was almost outstanding; gold color with  ripe sweet fruit on the nose. Pear and grapefruit with blossom and mineral note. Palate delicate fruit flavors of green apples, honey dried flower and great length with wet stone character. A remarkable Riesling with juicy acidity and great complexity.

martedì 4 marzo 2014

New world Pinot noir Victoria Australia.

Patrick Sullivan is a young winemaker based in Yarra Valley. He is also the assistant winemaker to William Downie on his Thousand Candles project. Sullivan wines are a tiny production and sit in the lazy winemaking of the natural wine movement. Patrick uses wild ferments to transform his grape juice into wine, apparently it doesn't touch it all.
Jumpin juice is a blend of Pinot noir, shiraz and sauvignon blanc from 2013
Sour fruit raspberry and strawberry, vivid color mostly metallic and electric. Straight on the palate is dry, with a real freshness acidity which is the key of the wine. Good balance mostly focus on the perception of tannin and acid structure. The sourness in the palate with the high perception of the acidity reminds me of some Priere Rouch from Nuits Saint George. This wine is not built to be complex and artifact  is just a pure expression of the grapes with great drinkability. A pure expression of the mostly know region in Victoria Yarra Valley.
 Basil Farm is a Pinot noir from Bellarine Pennisula located on the Swan Bay in Victoria. Under the guide of this wine there is another winery from Yarra Valley Kiltynane. The project of Basil Farm is managed by Kate Kirkhope, the founder of Kiltynane estate wines. In 2007 began to improve the vineyard at Basil Farm. She introduced the fashion of biodynamic farming with wonderful results on the final wines with pretty aromatic aroma, more structure and complexity. The inoculation of the soil with biodynamic preparation populated the soil with beneficial micro bacteria and remarkable biodiversity give strongness to the vines. The bushfire of 2009 raged across Victoria especially in Yarra Valley, made Kate to sell the property in Yarra and moved her winemaking operation to Basil Farm. Subsequently the two wine businesses now have one only house, Basil farm.
The pinot noir from 2010 was brilliant in color ruby garnet. Aromas of red berry, cherry, raspberry, rhubarb and cassis. Dried rose petal hints of sweet spice. Fine smooth tannin. Acid youthful and soft. Nice length and roundness.

Byrne wines in Ballarat another small district wine region in Victoria state. Under this project there is the name of Alex Byrne's former winemaker trained at Dominique Portet and also some vintage in Gevrey Chambertin and back to Gelong with Lethbridge.
The Pinot I had was from 2012 a dense nose of savory red fruit, earthy mushroom along sour cherry with ripe elegant tannin lovely driving acidity. Great potential aging. 

lunedì 3 marzo 2014

Barbera cepage

One of my prefer grape varieties is called Barbera an indigenous grapes varieties mostly planted in the Piedimonte region. Naturally is a grapes varieties with a very fine acid structure with mellow tannin.
There is diversity soil and denomination where is can be adaptable and makeup her structure.

Barbera D'Asti D.O.C.G. with 3 subzone Nizza, Tinella and Colli Astiani
Minimum 85% Barbera max 15% Freisa or Grignolino or Dolcetto
The time of aging start on the 1st of November after the harvest and need to be 4 months without oak aging. For the mention Superiore need to be 14 months with at least 6 in oak.

Barbera de Monferrato superiore D.O.C.G.
Minimum 85% Barbera max 15% Freisa or Grignolino or Dolcetto
after the harvest need to be aging for 14 months with 6 months on barrel

Iuli is a small cooperative set up at least 30 years ago, the wine is a distinctive pure expression of this amazing grape varieties in Monferrato
However the wine is simple delicious:
deeply ruby red with purple rim, compact aroma of dark cherries, balsamic with herbaceous hints; dried red flowers. Spice, juice and great structure with Kernel finish. Very classy and great drinkability.

Barbera D'Alba D.O.C.
minimun 85% Barbera and 15% need to be Nebbiolo
for the mention Superiore need to aging for 12 months at least 4 in oak
Vajra is a dedicated producer in Barolo subzone famous for the cru Bricco Viole, the barbera they produce is extremely good, with an incredible reasonable price. 2010 was a lovely vintage for this grape varieties. The vineyard are on tortonian soil mostly calcareous with an incredible bed rock blue tinted dark in color, mixed with sand  give a the wine high acidity and berry character. Great minerality with firm tannin, the juice fermented two weeks in stainless steel with regular pumping over. Aging in barrel and stainless steel for some months 14 to 16.

The greatest producer of BAROLO is Mr. Conterno produce an incredible Barbera almost an impressive wine.
Cascina Francia is a cru in Serralunga. Helvetain soil which means chalky, lighter in color with high level of iron and phosphorous.
dense and complex, minty lots of herbs with raspberry jam and flowers. Generous structure with freshness and persistence. Off course aging only in large barrel.