Greg at the tasting table If you’ve ever wondered why so many wine “experts” consider Reisling the greatest wine grape, take a few minutes to watch Greg at a recent tasting with visiting winegrower, Jochen Ratzenberger. Here, Greg tells the story of how Riesling became so important, and proved its reputation.
Sophie, Maxime, and Geneviève Barmès in the Clos Sand (photo: Greg Moore) The late François Barmès wholeheartedly embraced the Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner’s belief in the interdependence of the forces of life, earth, and the cosmos. So in 1995, in order to undo the damage caused by decades of chemically dependent viticulture, he began the transformation of his vineyards to biodynamics. One of the first principles of biodynamics is the belief that the farm is a self-contained living entity, which gives rise to the rule that a biodynamic farmer may add no organic substance to a product of his farm; if that organic substance did not itself grow within the boundaries of the same biodynamic farm. Which means that the “Champagne Method” isn’t an option in producing biodynamic sparkling wine, because it requires the addition of sugar to a tank of dry wine just before bottling (needless to say, beets and sugar cane don’t grow on the chalk soils of Champagne, or pink sandstone
When climate change effects the replanting of vineyards Climate change plays a part in Germany. It used to be that the Ratzenbergers could count on frosts in winter, which help break up soils in the spring. It hasn't happened in a number of years now, so out comes the tractor. Jochen Sr. and Jochen Jr. explain to Greg what's happening.
Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. — Deuteronomy 25:4 A spring visit to Domaine-Barmès-Buecher where we come across Mathieu, Maxime Barmès' best friend who is plowing the domaine’s Hengst Grand Cru parcel. Later we return to the vineyard with Geneviève Barmès to see the results, and the difference careful farming can make. Spring déchaussage at Domaine Barmès-Buecher by “Ursus” (the horse), Mathieu (Maxime Barmès' best friend), and “Pikachu” (the dog).
So here's the deal. It is accepted wisdom that storing wine in oak barrels may in many cases be beneficial. Storing wine in barrels may add flavors and/or textures that add desirable complexity to wine. Myriad decisions regarding the quality (and/or “qualities") of the various types of barrels (French vs. American, vs. Slovenian oak etc., new barrels vs. used, or “neutral,” etc.) have to be made by any winery regardless of scale. Over 20 years ago, as “oaky” became a synonym for “high quality” (I'll reserve discussion about aesthetics for another time), large-scale producers were faced with a big challenge; how do you get “oaky” when you need to sell wine at supermarket prices? You see, barrels are expensive. The typical barrel holds 300 bottles. A new barrel that will impart that “oaky” flavor (a barrel used once, is considered neutral–incapable of imparting oak flavors), will cost anywhere from $250 to $1500 per barrel, depending on where the oak comes from, quality of the ba
Jochen Ratzenberger riddling his single-vineyard sparkling wine - Bacharacher Sekt This is about eight minutes long, and worth the watch. Here’s Greg explaining how hand-made Champagne Method sparkling wine is produced, whether in Champagne itself or in all the various areas that produce sparkling wine using this traditional technique.
polyoxyethylene 40 monostearate…looks appetizing… The following is offered without a whole lot of comment–well, here and there I may have added a comment. This is a by no means comprehensive list of ATF approved chemicals and processes allowed in U.S. "industrial" wine production: polyoxyethylene 40 monostearate (I think that's what the formula above is about. I'll have to ask Greg's daughter. She knows these things) dimethyldicarbonate diacetyl (gives your cheap Chardonnay its "buttery" flavor - and Orville Redenbacher popcorn its flavor) silicon dioxide dimethylpoly-siloxane sorbitan monostearategyceryl mono-oleategyceral dioleate (nothin' says "love" like an oleate, and a DI-OLEATE is even more special) copper sulfate calcium carbonate ascorbic acid erythorbic acid ammonium phosphate [mono- and dibasic] (I prefer the mono, but, you know, thats just "how I roll") gum arabic dimethyl dicarbonate catalase ce
Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Sec from Château Viella – and a perfect pairing It had been been a long time since we’d been able to bring in one of the great white wines of the Southwest of France. We missed them, but Alain Bortolussi at Château Viella finally had enough for us to bring in a small amount of his dry, (say it with me now), Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl. If you’ve never experienced wine like this, it’s a revelation. The most important indigenous white grapes of the Southwest in appellations such as Pacherenc, Irouleguy, and Jurançon include Gros Manseng, Arrufiat, and Petit Manseng, all grown to varying degrees depending on local preferences. They are a “Basque” tradition.
I’d just completed a two-hour drive from Orly (with a stick shift, mind you — that vehicle would never be the same) after an eight-hour flight from Philadelphia — my first trip to France. I was beat, but as I pulled up to the front gate at Philippe Poniatowski’s Clos Baudoin, and stepped out of the car, I was struck by the familiarity of the place. I’d opened hundreds bottles that grew on this estate, and had drunk quite a few myself. A deep breath was all it took to recognize the“Clos,” even though I’d never been there. Philippe (now, deceased), was in his 70s at the time, and I was a young “know-it-all” back then, but he did all he could to guide me to an understanding of wine in the “Old World.” He was patient with me — no simple task in those days…some might argue that hasn’t changed…but I digress. On the map above, you see many places carefully mapped out that show the boundaries between one wine region and another. The concept of wine as having a distinct, geographic