Whites Get Deeper, Reds Lighten Up

It’s a wine oddity. As white wine ages it deepens in color, while reds actually lighten up. Here’s a brief explanation:

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Q and A: Balanced Wine

Sarah wrote in because she’s noticed that the term “well balanced” turns up often in wine descriptions. She’s not quite sure what it means. Here’s a brief explanation:

Maybe you chemists and microbiologists can weigh in and enlighten us with other possible causes? Cheers!

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Cluster Thinning in the Vineyard

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Napa Valley came through flowering quite nicely this year, thank you very much, and the crop is looking good.

Vineyard managers should have finished up with springtime shoot thinning by now – a way of keeping the vine in balance. And, now that we have cute little baby grape clusters hanging, it’s time to take a close look.

Believe it or not, part of managing a crop destined for fine wine production (as opposed to most wine) is counting the clusters. Yes, literally.

After the lovely weather we had during flowering (rain, hail, high winds and extreme heat can cause problems) there’s a very good chance that there are bonus, unexpected clusters out there. Unfortunately, for fine wine, more isn’t better.

If there are far more than expected there’s a chance those grapes will never get ripe, but in our climate, that’s rarely the concern. It’s just that if you add a few extra clusters per vine, the flavors can become diluted. This stuff isn’t regulated but It’s really hard to get $40.00+ for a bottle of Cab that’s kind of thin and lackluster.

Or, it could be that you see a kind of short, wimpy looking shoot in there with 3 clusters on it. There’s no way there are enough leaves on that shoot to bring three clusters to maturity. Better to go with one or two clusters, depending upon just how wimpy…

So it’s quite common to see tiny little clusters scattered on the ground around the vine rows this time of year in Napa Valley.

Shoot, leaf and cluster thinning are ongoing activities that begin in April and can continue almost up to harvest time, depending upon how things shape up. Vineyard management has become almost like gardening!

Next big event: veraison – when the grapes turn color, probably late next month.

Anybody out there making plans to visit wine country and see any of this stuff up close and personal?

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Malbec is French!

At a tasting the other day, when the host referred to Malbec as a Bordeaux variety the guy sitting  next to me said “I thought Malbec is from Argentina.” And, well you might think, since Argentina has truly made this grape their own. Here’s the story in brief:

What’s your favorite Malbec? Got any great values for us to try? C’mon! Let us know!

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Grape Flowering 2013 in Napa Valley

Grapeflower_chard

Flowering’s wrapping up here in Napa Valley. See those tiny white, protrusions? They represent the potential crop yield this year for the 2013 vintage.

Perhaps you’re underwhelmed by the beauty of the grape flower. True, true – they’re not exactly roses, are they? You have to get up very close to even see or smell them. From a distance they just look kind of fuzzy.

Nevertheless, even as we speak the last of the flower petals are shedding their delicate caps to open up, liberating the pollen to fertilize the waiting ovules! Good, gracious me – I think I need a sip of wine!

And, all of that happens without the help of bees or other insects. Believe it or not, those little bitty things contain the pollen-bearing stamen and the ovaries. How convenient! All we have to worry about is the weather. Everything else is taken care of as long as the weather’s good. You could put a paper bag over those flower clusters and they’d still produce a crop! Continue reading

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Time to Thin the Vines

I hear lots of high-spirited chatter and singing as I walk by the vineyards these days. And I see lots of perfectly healthy shoots on the ground. Are these men joyfully tearing the vineyards apart?

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Is 2013 a Good Year?

Carol wrote in to ask if this will be a good year. It’s a little early to tell, but here’s a vintage update:

Have you made plans to visit wine country this year?

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Micro-Oxygenation for Wine

Have you heard of “micro-ox?” Many believe it’s a viable replacement for barrel aging the wine.

How do you feel about new innovations replacing the traditional methods?

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Barrel Aging: It’s More Than Oak Flavor

Did you know that using new barrels, which contribute oak flavor to the wine is a relatively recent practice? Here’s the story:

How much oak flavor do you like on your wine?

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What is a Meritage Wine?

Dear readers,

Once again, I have to ask you to bear with me. The good new is that my husband is doing much better. Yipee!

The bad news is that I need to move this blog away from Posterous to WordPress and I’m not very good at it. Posterous was founded by my friend Sachin Agarwal. About a year ago Twitter acquired Posterous – how about that for an exciting event in one’s life??!! Way to go, Sachin!

Twitter has decided to close down Posterous and this is why I’m moving my blog. Please pardon me if it takes me awhile to make the move and get well situated on WordPress.

In the meantime, how do you say Meritage? And what is it?

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