W neJournalThe American Wine Society
Plant Pests The
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WINE101 FEATURE 6
6 Phylloxera 20 The Rothschild Empire 14
-Gene Spaziani -Roger Morris
Phylloxera vastatrix is native to North The three branches of France’s first 20
America. It is a plant pest of the louse family of winemaking have w iner ies 26
family that lives on the sweet, soft roots scattered on all the continents – with
of the grapevine. even an outpost in China. 3
8 Minerals & Microbes 26 Low Alcohol Wine
-Madeleine Vedel -Michael Schafer, Esq.
Where does minerality as a flavor note Low alcohol and no-alcohol wines are
come from? Can roots absorb minute bits a trend that is on the rise throughout
of granite? Or limestone? Or, as some the globe. Many consumers are choosing
experts propose, maybe some soils are low alcohol wines for a variety of reasons.
particularly conducive to a certain family
of microorganisms. INDUSTRYNEWS
28 New or Noteworthy
10 Pinot Pairings Jim Rink delivers the latest happenings
-Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro from the wine industry.
Pinot is truly a terroir tuning fork,
delivering what the French refer to as
“the taste of a place” more than any
14 Suisun Valley 31 Describing Wines
-Jessica Zimmer -Neal D. Hulkower
The Suisun Valley American Viticultural In this issue's Perspectives piece, Neal
Area (AVA) in northern California Hulkower argues for gender descriptors
produces some of the highest-quality wine in wine.
grapes available to amateur winemakers.
Front Cover: Lisa Tebrink Howard
Photo credit: Heather Carollo Photography
Back Cover: Harvest grapes at Wooden
Valley Winery & Lanza Vineyards Winery
Photo credit: Ron Lanza
EDITOR’SLETTER VOLUME 53 NO.3 FALL 2021
JIM RINK Published by
“Excellent wine generates enthusiasm. And whatever you do The American Wine Society
with enthusiasm is generally successful.” a non-profit corporation,
-Philippe de Rothschild
PO Box 889, Scranton, PA 18501
In this issue of the Journal, Roger Morris gives an enthusiastic account of the Rothschild
winemaking empire. The three branches of France’s first family of wine have wineries scattered Single copies $5.00
on all the continents — with even an outpost in China.
Also, addressing an issue that France would rather forget, Gene Spaziani provides an in-depth Copyright 2021 AWS Inc. © All rights
look at the dreaded Phylloxera louse — native to North America, it is a plant pest that thrives reserved. Reproduction or use of
on the sweet, soft roots of the grapevine. Jessica Zimmer takes us to Suisun Valley in northern
California, which produces some of the highest quality wine grapes used by amateur winemakers, editorial or pictorial content without
many in the eastern U.S. Madeleine Vedel digs in to her subject— minerals and microbes. Can written permission is prohibited.
grapevine roots absorb minute bits of granite directly or, as some experts propose, are some
soils conducive to microorganisms. Library of Congress Class Number:
How low can it go? Low-alcohol wines are the latest trend, along with sparkling wines, hard TP544 A46A3 LC Card 76-647900
cider and seltzers. Michael Schafer, Esq. takes a look at what’s driving this trend.
The Journal welcomes new contributor Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, who provides some Publisher
Pinot Noir background and food pairing ideas. As Anna explains: “Pinot is truly a terroir tuning
fork, delivering what the French refer to as ‘the taste of a place’ more than any other varietal.” David Falchek
Stay thirsty, Editor
Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro,
Roger Morris, Jim Rink,
Michael Schafer, Esq., Gene Spaziani,
Madeleine Vedel, and Jessica Zimmer
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T he reasons for the miserable failure of the first eastern attempt that the loss to France alone amounted to $2 billion, or twice the indemnity
to grow Vitis vinifera grapes were many, but the most immediate paid to Germany in 1871 after the French-Prussian War. Phylloxera subsists
cause was the presence of native fungus diseases, such as powdery on the sap of the vine, which it obtains by piercing the bark of the root with
mildew (oidium), downy mildew, black rot and Pierce’s Disease. its sharp proboscis. One solitary louse can do very little damage, but each
After those came the scourge of the grapevine, Phylloxera vastatrix. lays many eggs that hatch in six to ten days. When only a few days old, the
young attach themselves to the root and within three weeks they become
Phylloxera vastatrix is, to the best of our knowledge, native to North adults that lay more eggs. It has been estimated that a single female that lays
America. It is a plant pest of the louse family that lives on the sweet, soft a batch of eggs in March and then dies would have 25 million descendants
roots of the grapevine. Phylloxera attacks the roots very slowly, over a by October.
period of years, and the results are always ruinous. This dreaded plant louse
probably did not actually do much damage to the early American plantings THE GRAFT
of vinifera, since those were destroyed by disease before they would have
been killed by Phylloxera. Every known method of combating diseases of the vine was employed but
with little success. It was not until the European viticulturists discovered
THE SPREAD that the native American rootstocks were hardier — and immune to
Phylloxera — that they found the solution to their problem and began
Sometime between 1858 and 1863, Europe imported many American vines grafting their vines onto American rootstock. Even then, it took many
for experimental purposes. It is practically certain that the deadly Phylloxera years of viticultural research to find the best rootstocks that were suitably
was brought in on these American rootstocks, which also carried native resistant, yet compatible with European vines.
American fungal diseases. The proximity of the European vineyards to
one another facilitated the spread of Phylloxera. Within a few years, it had During the frantic search for a solution to the problem, many nurseries and
become a true scourge, and from 1865 to 1890 it devastated the vineyards grape specialists worldwide started an intensive program of hybridization
of Europe eastward from France to Russia and northward from Spain to between vinifera varieties and native American varieties to produce new
Germany. Eventually the pest even appeared in Australia. In the United selections with the Phylloxera resistance of the American parents and wine
States, it seriously damaged most of the vineyards in California in 1880, characteristics of the vinifera parents.
when, ironically, it was brought in on contaminated European rootstocks.
It is impossible today to estimate the actual pecuniary loss, but in 1888 M. The United States has rapidly and vitally influenced European and world
Lalande, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Bordeaux, calculated viticulture and wine. Yet even though American rootstocks are in fairly
by Gene Spaziani
general use in Europe, there has been no significant change in the basic varieties, and many of
character of the various grape varieties that have been grafted onto them the new, inexperienced
and form the vines themselves. The wines made from these grapes are winemakers did not
essentially the same as before grafting. know enough to buy
better grapes. As a
To the best of our knowledge, Chilean vineyards have hardly been infested result, wine grapes were
by Phylloxera. There are also certain scattered vineyard areas with sandy replaced by the less
soil, such as Colares in Portugal, that are Phylloxera-free. But every other useful table varieties that the amateurs demanded. By the end of Prohibition,
non-American vineyard region of the world has been invaded and devastated amateur winemakers were producing 90 million gallons of wine per year,
by this louse, and all have had to graft their vinifera vines onto American and the grape acreage was close to 35 percent greater than that in 1919. Only
Phylloxera-resistant rootstocks. in 1975 did California acreage return to Prohibition levels.
Even in California, where European varieties of grapes are grown almost The legacy of Prohibition, however, was a country almost bereft of fine wine
exclusively, it is usually necessary to use certain resistant American rootstocks grapes and a few scattered wineries that could still produce quality wine.
as a defense against the ever present Phylloxera, so truly named vastatrix The country had to rebuild its reputation for quality while it suffered from
(devastating). Some plantings, notably in Monterey County, have been made the added disadvantage of supplying quantity for a thirsty public. At the time
with European on their own rootstock. The growers took this calculated risk of repeal, American winemakers faced many problems. During Prohibition,
(which saved time and money), since Phylloxera requires heavy soil, and the nearly all their vineyards had been replanted with other crops or with table
soil in Monterey County in granite, very light, and sandy. The risk was also and raising grapes. Repeal came suddenly, ipso facto, on December 5, 1933.
reduced because grapes had never been planted there before. Winemakers were expected to have wine ready even though until then it
was illegal to make wine commercially. Regardless of what cold storage
Near the end of the 19th century, the U.S. wine industry was producing grapes were used, it still took time to crush the grapes, ferment the must,
wines fine enough to win some medals and gain recognition in expositions and allow the wine to develop.
in France. In fact, there are many strong indications that American wines
were well on their way to becoming firmly established when another and The first few post-Repeal years were very difficult for American wine
more fatal blight was visited upon the vineyards — national Prohibition. producers, but they diligently set about resolving their production
bottlenecks. New methods were tried. Some were discarded, but many
THE OTHER P WORD were adopted and have become standard practice, not only in the United
States, but in most wine regions of the world today.
There was consternation among the winemakers in 1919. What were they
going to do with the grapes, which were only good for making wine? Smaller ABOUT THE AUTHOR
and less sweet than table or raisin grapes, they were poor travelers because of
their thin, easily bruised skins. The inevitable happened — many vineyards Gene Spaziani is the author of The Home Winemaker’s
were uprooted and planted with more salable types of grapes, and in some Companion, a retired college educator, and an award-winning
cases, with other fruits. home winemaker. He can be reached a [email protected]
Amateur winemaking — perfectly legal during Prohibition — flourished
during this period. The true wine grapes from California, in addition to not
shipping well, did not look as plump as some of the raisin and table grape
by Madeleine Vedel
Where does minerality as a flavor note come from? Can roots absorb minute bits of granite? Or limestone? Or,
as some experts propose, maybe some soils are particularly conducive to a certain family of microorganisms.
raditionally, those mineral notes of flint, petrichor and learned to their Leelanau County vineyards. Nathaniel, having tasted
Michigan wines grown in sandy soils with unexpected and unanticipated
Tgunpowder have been found in wines, both red and white, minerality, wonders about the role of the actual microbial populations
grown in cooler climates, in chalky fields and granite rich in the soil, as opposed to or in connection with, the specific terroir of a
hillsides in such areas as Champagne, Campania, and the vineyard, as responsible for at least a few flavor notes in a wine.
upper Rhône valley. And yet, the experts cannot agree on
their true origins. It remains a mystery. In a blog post by Vinfolio in 2015, A conversation with Tom Cariano sent me looking up the following
concerning earthiness and minerality in wine, the author writes of the definitions, as shared in research paper abstracts on the National Library
opposing views between a small number of scientists who believe that root of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information (nih.gov)
systems are capable of absorbing crushed minerals directly; and, what he web site. I share these here:
defines as a “vast majority” of scientists and geologists who rebut this
theory with the belief that it is “the superior drainage that rocky soils Rhyzophagy:
offer that allows vines to grow more fruit, [producing] a brighter, more
acidic character that takes on mineral-like flavors.” The degradation of symbiotic microbes within root cells;
rhizophagy symbiosis or rhizophagy cycle is a cyclic process
In an online article published on Vivino.com concerning minerality in whereby plants obtain nutrients from symbiotic bacteria that
wine, Dr. Kevin Pogue of VinTerra Consulting in Walla Walla, Washington, alternate between a root intracellular endophytic phase and
shares that “what most people describe as minerality is the result of acidity a free living soil phase.
interacting with phenolic components to provide flavors that seem like
part of the mineral, rather than biological world." Elaborating further, he Endophytic Microbes:
says that "to my knowledge, no one has isolated the specific compounds
that account for the 'minerality' sensation, but we do know that it does Mostly bacteria and fungi, present asymptomatically in plants.
not derive from the translocation of minerals in the soil to our taste buds Endophytic microbes are often functional in that they may
via grapes." carry nutrients from the soil into plants, modulate plant
development, increase stress tolerance of plants, suppress
Dr. Laura Catena, founder of the Catena Institute of Wine and also virulence in pathogens, increase disease resistance in plants,
managing director of Argentina based Bodega Catena Zapata, in the May and suppress development of competitor plant species.
18, 2021 article in Wine Enthusiast is “convinced that soil has an impact,
possibly related to microbes and yeasts that vary according to altitude and Trichoderma:
soil type. But [our researchers] are still in the process of studying this.”
Fungi present in nearly all soils. In addition to colonizing
Vintner and winery owner Nathaniel Rose and his vineyard manager Tom roots, they attack, parasitize and otherwise gain nutrition
Cariano are keeping abreast of recent research and applying what they’ve from other fungi, enhancing plant and root growth. Current
experiments are looking to understand their role – potential
8 and actual – in aiding plants to compete for nutrients and space,
tolerate stress, solubilize and sequester inorganic nutrients,
resist and/or inactivate pathogens.
“Our goal in the vineyard RESEARCH
is to increase plant health
to allow the ultimate
expression of a plant. A
soil that is most natural
does that. We’re trying to
cultivate a soil that is self-
sustainable. But how do you
do that under a commercial
SYMBIOSIS penetrated. And if those deep roots are also communicating and sharing
amongst themselves under and through those many layers? Do older vines
“We’re discovering new relationships, symbiotic relationships in the root nourish the young? Which of the fungi and bacteria inhabiting those soils
zone, on an exponential level now.” Tom says, his voice bubbling with are particular and inherent to the resulting fruit and wine? How have
enthusiasm. “We’re discovering what these relationships have, and it’s we harmed the natural balance of these micro-organisms over the years
really an interesting basis to consider how does it translate to the flavor of in using chemical insecticides, herbicides and fungicides? What if the
the wine? Plants are actually not vegetarian. That plants in the rhizosphere vintner farmer could assist his vineyards by introducing bacteria blends
... plants actually consume bacteria. They deteriorate and use parts of the that could enhance the plant’s own defense mechanisms, and create the
bacteria, and release other parts. In some instances I’ve been told they conditions of balance and health that would improve the complexity of
consume all the bacteria. I go back to what I learned in biology in high his wine over time? Nathaniel swears by a blend of 30 known bacteria,
school. How do flavor compounds, minerality enters into the vine? A plant trichoderma conceived in the Northwestern United States that he applies
can consume a bacteria that has preformed amino acids that can be used through trenching to the top layer of his soil.
in the formation of flavor compounds.”
Taking a break from receiving guests at his vineyard, Nathaniel shares,
As the curious go further and further down the rabbit hole, perusing “One of the really big questions – for those who are winemakers and
scientific articles on current research published through the nih.gov vineyard people – not scientists, not experts. But paying attention to the
website : pub/med.ncbi.nim.nih.gov, thoughts turn towards what it would experts – is this: If this theory of the micro-biology of a place is more
take to bring back natural balance to the soil beneath our feet. A profound important than the mineral content of the soil, there are two ways that
respect is born for the complexity of the soil universe, and the ignorance that could come about: on the grape skins themselves there are all sorts
of even the most advanced biologist where it is concerned. of yeasts, fungal micro-organisms and bacteria; and there are yeasts living
and active in the cellar. Both populations are particular to a certain spot.
“It’s all cutting edge. We’re still learning, and still trying to understand, There is also a unique population living in the soil affecting not just the
primarily through observation. But we don’t yet understand the science nutrient uptake but also producing hormones affecting the plants to
behind it, how these relationships are coming about.” Tom continues, produce different compounds themselves.” And then he had to run. A
“Our goal in the vineyard is to increase plant health to allow the ultimate conversation to be continued.
expression of a plant. A soil that is most natural does that. We’re trying
to cultivate a soil that is self-sustainable. [But] how do you do that under ABOUT THE AUTHOR
a commercial production scale? A lot of what we thought were ways in
the past, have been proved by recent science to actually, truly inhibit that Madeleine Vedel was initiated into the world of wine by her wine-
from happening.” loving parents who had a prized — if small — wine cellar to be
shared only with those who knew the difference. While married
How far does a nutrient travel to get to its destination? How important is to a French chef in Provence she ran food and wine tours for
the immediate soil surrounding a vine? In the old vineyards of Southern nearly 20 years. She is currently based in Bellaire, Mich., honing
France, vintners proudly describe how deep their roots have dug, how her cheese and pastry skills and happily consuming both local
many meters – 10, 50 - , and the layers of soil/gravel/clay/sand they have and international wines within her budget.
By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro
In 2005, the film Sideways shone a light on Pinot Noir thanks to its crabby in their facilities, so as to limit noise and vibrations around their precious
oenophile protagonist, Miles Raymond, played by Paul Giamatti. You may resting juice. I like to refer to Pinot as the “princess and the pea” of wine
recall his proclamation: “It's not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just varietals.
grow anywhere and thrive, even when it's neglected. No, Pinot needs
constant care and attention.” Since the film’s release, California’s Pinot I recently asked Vince Anter, founder and host of “V is for Vino,” America's
Noir production has increased by 170 percent. #1 Wine Show, to weigh in on persnickety Pinot. He shared “Pinot Noir
is the end-all-be-all of wine grapes. It’s hedonistic while light and fresh.
As a wine writer in California, I can attest that all these years later, the It’s such a good representation of the place it comes from. And it is the
so-called “Sideways Effect” still leaves a mark. For example, many Golden perfect food pairing wine; its acidity cuts through fatty dishes, matches
State winemakers tore up their Merlot vines after a noticeable drop in acidic dishes, and its light body doesn’t overwhelm food.”
sales thanks to Giamatti’s other famed line, “If anyone orders Merlot, I'm
leaving. I am not drinking any f**king Merlot.” As a big, bold, red wine lover, I only began to explore the charming realm of
Pinot Noir in recent years. In bygone days, if someone so much as offered
But back to our finicky, late-ripening, thin-skinned friend. Also known me a glass of a light-bodied red—or even worse—white wine, I’d turn
as Spatburgunder, Franc Pineau, and Pineau de Bourgoyne, its name and run the other way. Living in New England, holed up with pepperoni
translates to “black pine cone” due to its conical shape and deep, dark pizza during many a blizzard, Cab Francs, Petit Verdot, super Tuscans,
coloring. Notoriously one of the most difficult varietals, Pinot’s tight and Bordeaux blends became my go-to bottles. Later on, working as a
clusters are super sensitive to soil composition, climate, light, and even steward at one of the oldest wineries in the U.S. helped expand my palate
sound. Vintners in Burgundy have been known to install soundproofing and I acquired my oenophile sea legs. Needless to say, I’m now afflicted
with an expensive Pinot appreciation.
About Pinot Noir How to Pair
Considered to be more than 2,000 years old, Pinot Noir is a great Pair Fruity-Acidic Pinot's With:
grandparent of other grapes such as Aligoté, Gamay, Chardonnay, and Creamy Risotto
Corvina. It’s one of the few red grapes that’s used to make sparkling, rosé,
white, and red wines. It thrives in climates with extended cool growing Pasta Dishes Explore!
seasons proximal to large bodies of water, oftentimes nestled in fertile Salmon
valleys. Pinot’s versatility allows
Pinot’s history goes way back to its first written record in 1345, where it Halibut you to explore
was referred to as “Plant Fin.” One of the oldest vines, it’s named for its everything from
pinecone-shaped fruit bunches. Legend has it that the Gallic Aedui tribe
dwelling in modern Burgundy as far back as the Iron Age introduced the Pair Tannic/Earthy Pinot's With: herbal, earthy flavors,
Roman Republic to Pinot Noir. Later on, monks and nuns in the region BBQ Dishes to Umami-rich foods
nurtured Pinot in vineyards throughout the region, striving for proximity
to God via ardent perfecting of their vines. During the French revolution, Bacon
church-owned vineyards were seized and distributed to individuals under
the Napoleonic Code. Grilled Chicken
Stateside, European grapevines were planted (rather unsuccessfully, thanks Duck
to their susceptibility to phylloxera and other diseases) as early as 1619. By
1767 Spanish missionaries brought European varietals to California, but Turkey
the first mention of Pinot Noir was when French immigrants imported
it in 1850. Outside France, Northern Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, it Stir-fried Veggies/Soy Sauce/Asian Dishes
now thrives in Washington, New York, and Michigan.
Pair Traditional Pinot's With:
Cheeses like Swiss, Provolone, Brie, and Gruyère
About the Author
Anna Maria is a copywriter based in Santa Barbara County,
California. She draws from her experience as a beauty and
wellness professional, plant-based cook, and graphic artist to
create approachable, educational content. Anna Maria is also
a wine writer with WSET Level 2 with distinction certification.
BAoMttleEshRotICphAotoNcoWurtIeNsyEofS: fOolkCtaIlEewTinYeg.OrouRp.Gcom/trade 11
Wine & Dine
Pinot Noir Style
All photos and recipes by platingsandpairings.com
Sheet Pan Salmon with
Pickled Ginger Butter Sauce
• 4 6-ounce salmon fillets • Preheatovento450°.Heatalargerimmed bakingsheet for 15 minutes.
• 3/4 pound baby bok choy (halved) •Seasonsalmonwithsaltand pepper.
• 2 cups packed finely shredded green cabbage (6 ounces) •Placebokchoy,cabbage,and mushroomsinalarge bowl.
• 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (stemmed, sliced if large) • Drizzle with oil and add half of ginger and garlic. Toss to coat; season with
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper.
• 1 2- inch piece ginger (peeled, finely grated (divided)) • Scatter vegetables across one side of baking sheet. Arrange salmon on
• 2 large garlic cloves (finely grated (divided)) other side. Roast, stirring vegetables occasionally, until salmon is cooked
• 1 cup dry vermouth (or white wine) through, 12–15 minutes.
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar • Meanwhile, add wine, vinegar, shallots, remaining ginger and garlic and
• 2 whole shallots (minced) pickled ginger to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Reduce
• 4 Tablespoons pickled ginger heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in the butter. Strain the sauce and
• 1 cup butter (sliced) seasonwithsaltand pepper,totaste.
• Kosher salt and pepper • Divide vegetables among plates; top with salmon and drizzle with the
pickled ginger butter sauce.
Gnocchi with Blue Cheese
and Frizzled Prosciutto
• 1 pound gnocchi
• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 4 ounces prosciutto (thinly sliced)
• 6 ounces spinach
• 1 shallot (minced)
• ½ cup milk
• 4 ounces blue cheese (crumbled)
• 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• Bringa potof saltedwatertoa boil.
• Meanwhile, heat theoliveoil in askillet overmedium-highheat.
• Add the prosciutto, and cook until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted
spoon and allow to drain on papertowels.
• To the same pan, add the shallot and sauté on medium heat, until
softened. Add the spinach to the pan with the softened shallots, and allow
• Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes, until the
gnocchi float to thetop. Drain.
• Add the gnocchi to the skillet with the spinach and shallot. Add the milk,
blue cheese, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted and the
gnocchi arecoated. Serveimmediately.
1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large
Sprig of mint (to garnish) bowl, gently combine blackberries with
Ice Cream (for serving) sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla
and 2 tbsp. flour. Add additional flour if
Filling: the mixture is very wet.
2 full cups blackberries Gently unfold and lay out pie crust on
3 Tablespoons coarse sugar a baking sheet lined with parchment
Zest from ½ small lemon paper.
Juice of ½ small lemon Pour the blackberry mixture in the
1 teaspoon vanilla extract center of the unfolded pie crust leaving
2-3 Tablespoons flour a 2-inch border. Fold up the uncovered
border over the edge of the fruit and
Dough Topping: pinch into pleats.
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds Whisk egg and, using a pastry brush,
1 egg brush the egg onto the crust and
1 teaspoon coarse sugar sprinkle with almonds and sugar.
Bake until juices are bubbling and the
crust is golden, 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from oven, let sit for 5-10 minutes,
servewithascoop of ice cream on top.
Photo by: Lisa Tenbrink Howard.
learn from the pros
by Jessica Zimmer
"A friendly place
for the small guys"
APhMotoEbyR: TICakAakoNOWshiImNa ESOCIETY.ORG 135
Photo by: Heather Carollo Photography Map photo courtesy of: svgga.com
Lisa Tenbrink Howard and daughter
The Suisun Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) in northern Gina Richmond, winemaker at Mangels Vineyards in Fairfield, said other
California produces some of the highest-quality wine grapes notable grapes grown in the AVA include Sauvignon Blanc, “with grapes
available to amateur winemakers. The region stretches for so aromatic people think our dry wines are sweet,” Pinot Grigio, “with
approximately eight miles down the valley floor, just east of Napa and a crispness and green apple and red apple aromatics,” and Syrah, “more
across from the San Francisco Bay. robust, with notes of dark plum and a full mouthfeel.”
“In many ways, the Suisun Valley mimics the Napa Valley. It’s about Richmond said the Suisun Valley also offers excellent Tempranillo grapes.
one third the size of the Napa Valley. It too has a hot, dry upper valley, “They’re on the softer side, not as robust as in other regions. When they’re
good for growing Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. In the temperate mid valley fermented, they have a spicy character, creating notes of cloves, nutmeg,
area, it’s possible to grow a wide variety of wines, from Tempranillo to and turmeric. The tannins are very low key,” said Richmond.
Sauvignon Blanc. The lower valley is closer to the Suisun Bay and gets
the coastal influence. It has the cooler temperatures perfect for growing Ron Lanza (left) and Ken Lanza (second from left)
Pinot Noir,” said Lisa Tenbrink Howard, co-owner and winemaker at
Tolenas Winery in Fairfield.
Tenbrink Howard said most Suisun Valley vineyards are small, family-run
operations.“We’re part of a community that is very tight-knit and knows
our grapes are high-quality. We still grow more than we use locally. Many
growers look to sell outside the region. The Suisun Valley is particularly
known for its Petite Sirah with softer tannins,” said Tenbrink Howard.
Petite Sirahs from other regions can be harsh, dry, and bitter, but
not here. “Here the days are long and the soil is rich, a little on the
heavier side. The grapes hang on the vine. Our Petite Sirahs are
structured yet supple,” said Tenbrink Howard.
Photo by: Ron Lanza
How the grapes came east local wineries. We have about 400 acres of grapes. We use less than 10
percent to make our own wines,” said Lanza. Fah Sathirapongsasuti,
Ron Lanza, co-owner of Wooden Valley Winery & Lanza Vineyards, assistant winemaker and co-owner of Sunset Cellars, said there are
said friendship was the key to Suisun Valley grapes and juice being Suisun Valley wineries that do not sell grapes. “Sunset Cellars is a
offered on the East Coast. member of the Suisun Valley Wine Co-op. We have one tiny vineyard
in the Solano County Green Valley AVA, just west of the Suisun Valley.
“In 2007, I went to the Eastern Winery Exposition, representing the Otherwise we source grapes from the Suisun Valley and other regions
Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association. It was held in King in the North Coast,” said Sathirapongsasuti.
of Prussia, Pennsylvania that year. There, I talked and developed close
relationships with three distributors in the Northeast. They still carry our Sathirapongsasuti said the Suisun Valley AVA is small. Most winemakers
grapes and juices. Since then, I’ve made more contacts, with American are very familiar with the soil types, creeks, and elevations. “For example,
Wine Society chapters and amateur winemakers in Connecticut and Suisun Valley Road runs parallel to the old Suisun Creek. Some vineyards
Pennsylvania,” said Lanza. along that route can be dry farmed. Many other vineyards here are
irrigated. Grapes that are dry farmed tend to have a more intense flavor,”
Besides selling his family’s grapes and juices to East Coast brokers, said Sathirapongsasuti.
Lanza has also been able to help other members of the Suisun Valley
Vintners and Growers Association. “Suisun Valley growers started Sathirapongsasuti’s suggestions for amateur winemakers include
shipping grapes to the East Coast over 100 years ago. Yet the secret understanding the style of wines particular grapes can yield and
of how good our grapes are has been hidden for too long. Sharing our the winemaking decisions that will best support it. “For example, a
grapes with amateur winemakers and wineries has been the shot in the typical Petite Sirah may require careful temperature control and gentle
arm our region needed,” said Lanza. punching down and pumping over during fermentation. Suisun Valley's
Petite Sirah is able to take higher temperature(s) and more aggressive
Lanza said as of summer 2021, Wooden Valley Winery and Lanza fermentation,” said Sathirapongsasuti.
Vineyards ship approximately 500 tons of wine grapes to amateur
winemakers. “Most of the orders are beautifully packed in teeny
36-pound boxes. We also sell about 500 tons of our grapes to other
AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG Photo by: Heather Carollo Photography Photo by: Kyosuke Inoue
"If you haven’t made wines from
our grapes before, we are here to
show you the best we have to offer"
Photo courtesy of: King Andrews Vineyards
Visiting the Suisun Valley Photo by: Ron Lanza
Photo by: Heather Carollo Photography
Amateur winemakers can learn more about the Suisun Valley AVA by purchasing wine grapes
Roger Kingfrom different sellers in the region. They can also ask questions about the winemaking process.
In addition, they can attend virtual events and tastings related to the Suisun Valley, and tour
the region in person. “For visitors and potential wine grape buyers, Suisun’s small enough to Photo courtesy of: Mangels Vineyards 179
do in a day. Consider going to two to three wineries. Get to know the winemakers and growers,
and take in the rustic wine country.” said Tenbrink Howard.
Tenbrink Howard said a visitor who wants to identify Suisun Valley’s different microclimates
should get up early to see which areas retain the thick fog in the morning. Other areas see
sunshine right away. “Also, let people know you’re a winemaker. Share that you’ve bought
grapes from the valley and who you bought them from. I suggest coming early in the season
before you buy your grapes. Taste wine from the grapes that you are looking to buy and
talk to the growers,” said Tenbrink Howard.
Tenbrink Howard said three good times to come are veraison, in late July, when
red grapes start to turn red and white grapes become translucent, a month
before harvest, typically in August or September, and harvest time, in early
to mid September.
Roger King, co-owner and winemaker of King Andrews Vineyards in
Fairfield, said amateur winemakers can look into buying alternate
varieties to create specialty wines.“l have turned my back on
grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in favor of
things like Albariño, Assyrtiko, Grenache Blanc, Chenin
Blanc, Vermentino, Trousseau, and MencÍa,” said King. King
sells most of these grapes to professional winemakers
in northern California. “That opportunity is there
for other buyers as well. I am also always keen to
locate old vineyards. What I am after is alternative
varieties, those that are very obscure and not well
planted,” said King. King said old vines usually
produce concentrated fruit, but the fruit has to be
quality to even consider.
Whatever stage an amateur winemaker is at, Suisun
Valley winemakers and growers are ready to share their
tips and ideas. They want to help amateur winemakers move
up to the next level. Sathirapongsasuti said Suisun Valley is a
friendly place “for the small guys.” “If you are already buying
grapes from Suisun Valley, you can learn more from the winemakers
here by visiting the tasting rooms of the small family-run wineries in
the Valley. If you haven’t made wines from our grapes before, we are here
to show you the best we have to offer,” said Sathirapongsasuti.
About the Author
Jessica Zimmer is a news reporter, attorney, and
educator based in northern California. She has worked in
journalism for over 20 years. She covers a wide variety
of industries, including alcoholic beverage production,
transportation, law, and the arts.
ARCTIC OCEAN ARCTIC O
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CANARY ISLANDS ALGERIA
MEXICO THE BAHAMAS WESTERN
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REUNION NEW CALEDON
BOTSWANA On The OCEANSWAZILAND (FRANCE)
S O U T HLESOTHO AUSTRALIA
AFRICA Rothschild Empire
The three branches of France’s first family of
winemaking have wineries scattered
on all the continents – with even anFRENCH SOUTHERN AND NEW
ANTARTIC LANDS (FRANCE) ZELAN
outpost in China.
By Roger Morris(AUSTRALIA)
TPhoto courtesy of: wikipedia Photo courtesy of: wikipedia
“The Sun Never Sets on the Union Jack.” Readers of a certain
age, as well as some younger students of world history, may in Champagne and the Languedoc. And across the border in Spain, put
have a nostalgic flashback regarding that remark – the British- the lone European sticker outside of France in Rioja. Now spin the globe
boastful slogan quoted at a time when that island nation was east to Asia and place a marker in northeast China. We’re almost, put not
still one of the last of the Euro-centric empires holding onto quite, finished. Now, look way down again until you reach New Zealand
enclaves around the world. And the boast remained true until Britain’s in the Southern Hemisphere. Put the final sticker on the northern tip of
colonies and footholds across all the world’s continents gradually began to South Island, and we have completed our tour.
fall to national movements and armed revolutions in the years following
World War II. Now, of course, the country has Brexited itself back to its Each of our pins or stickers represents an outpost of one of the wine
original North Sea lair, no longer even a part of Europe proper. companies owned by the Rothschild family of France. And, as you can
see by our map, today – and tonight and tomorrow – the sun never sets on
Yet other global empires still live, at least in the wine world. If you have the Rothschild Wine Empire. Somewhere on some continent, at any one
at your disposal a large map of the world or a revolving globe of Planet time, Rothschild vines are being pruned, plowed, pampered, positioned,
Earth, grab a handful of bright stickers or pins, and let’s play a game. leaf-plucked or picked of their bunches for harvest.
Begin with the United States, and stick a gold star or a pin there – about
where California would be. Then drop your gaze below the Equator and Not surprisingly, as a wine writer I have visited several of the enclaves
put a sticker on Chile and one on Argentina. of the Rothschild Empire, especially its most famous ones in Bordeaux,
which serves as headquarters for the three primary branches of the
Still staying in the Southern Hemisphere, go east and pin down South famous banking and business family when they aren’t residing in Paris.
Africa before heading back north to Europe. We could put several pins Although to some extent the various wine-making companies of the
in France, but let’s be content with a big one in Bordeaux and one each family are integrated – they even jointly produce the Barons de Rothschild
Champagne – they also operate the wine business separately through
22 three major branches.
Château Lafite Rothschild
All three are represented in Bordeaux, where the Rothschilds own two wine siblings are collected under the family branch, Baron Philippe de
of the five first growths, or premier cru classés, that were designated in Rothschild SA. For years, Baroness Philippine would host en primeur
the famous 1855 classifications that the wine world still observes. In past events at the château, and now, after her death in 2014, her three grown
years during the annual en primeur barrel tastings each spring (except children, two sons and a daughter, head the business. Not every year, but
for the Covid-cancelled 2020 event), I would make appointments to taste when time permitted, I would also visit Château Clarke in Listrac, one
the young wines of the previous vintage at all the first growths of the of the lesser-known communes located between St. Julien and Margaux.
Medoc and Graves as well as their Right Bank equivalents in Pomerol Clarke has a mere cru bourgeois pedigree. In spite of that, since it was
and Saint-Émilion. purchased in 1973 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Clarke and the other
wine business of this third branch of the family have grown in reputation
I like to start early in the week at Château Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac, and importance as part of Edmond de Rothschild Holdings SA. The
purchased by the family in 1868 and today owned by the Domaines Barons business had been run since 1997 by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, who
de Rothschild (Lafite) or DBR branch, because Lafite can uniformly set died suddenly this January at 57 of a heart attack.
the bar for everyone else both in its greatness and the characteristics of
the vintage. Today, that château and the branch’s other operations (which The house of Rothschild itself was founded as a banking concern in
will be detailed shortly) are run by young Saskia Rothschild, who recently Frankfort, Germany, in the late 1700s by Mayer Amschel Rothschild and
succeeded her outgoing, avuncular father, Baron Eric, whom I had the his five sons, and it soon had branches in other European cities. Through
occasion to meet a few times. the years, the various parts of the family have ventured into many
industrial concerns, including mining, and have had a wine presence
Later during the week of barrel tastings, just up the road I would stop now for about 170 years. Biographers or the Rothschilds often complain
at Château Mouton-Rothschild, also in Pauillac and also a first-growth of the difficulties in charting an accurate story of the prosperous family
today (though not originally). It was purchased in 1853, 15 years earlier and how it grew.
than Lafite, by another member of the Rothschilds. That château and its
Brands Owned by DBR Properties Bottle Shots courtesy of: lafite.com/en/
Brands Owned by
Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Duhart-Milon in Pauillac
Rieussec in Sauternes In Bordeaux:
L'Évangile in Pomerol
Regional wines under the “Légende", Châteaux Mouton-Rothschild
“Saga”, and “Réserve” labels Clerc Milon in Pauillac
D’Armailhac in Pauillac
The Domaines: Mouton Cadet
Domaine d'Aussières in the Languedoc South France:
Viña Los Vascos in Chile
Bodegas Caro in Argentina Domaine de Baronarques near Limoux
Domaine de Long Dai in China Regional Brand, Mouton d’Oc
According to Diane Flammand, who has
been in charge of producing the Légende California:
wines for the past 15 years, DBR totally
produces about 12 million cases of wine Opus One (Baron Philippe himself (he
annually and farms or owns 4,500 acres of died in 1988) created Opus One in Napa
vines. While Lafite is famous for its bottles Valley along with Robert Mondavi in
which are sold on the auction market for 1978. When Constellation Brands took
thousands of dollars, Légende is meant to over Robert Mondavi in 2004, Opus One
be affordable to most wine lovers, according became a 50/50 partner in the venture.
to Flammand, “and drinkable with food,
fresh and fruity.” Chile:
Bottle Shots courtesy of: bestofwines.com Vina Almaviva (a joint venture with brand
24 Concha y Toro)
No discussion of the Mouton empire would be complete
without a few words about Baron Philippe de Rothschild,
who I did not have the opportunity to meet in person. As
a very young man, in the 1920s, he was a one of the daring
new breed of European race car drivers before he gave his
attention to wine. He was also a patron of the arts and a
connoisseur of artistes.
Baron Philippe was the first winery owner in Bordeaux to Photo courtesy of: pixels.com. Photo by W & D McINTYRE.
bottle wine at the château (1924) rather than have it sent in
barrels to the negoçiants in Bordeaux city to age and bottle,
which obviously made the wine taste differently according
to which negociant bottled it. He started Mouton Cadet
in 1932 as a second label to Mouton and later as a regional
wine. In 1924, he made the first of the famous artist labels
at Mouton-Rothschild, a practice he re-instituted in 1945
with a painting done by Philippe Julian. Every vintage
since, there has been a new painting each year – most of the
great names from Picasso to Warhol to Bacon are included
– and the originals are all displayed in a museum at the
château. But Baron Philippe is most famous for getting
Mouton elevated from its second growth 1855 classification
to first growth status in 1973. And, of course, he was the
first of the Bordelais producers to have an outpost in
California with Opus One in 1978.
Of course, there are many great wine families of the
world. Some, such as the Antinoris in Italy,
date back to the 1300s. But for geographic
reach and diversity of terroirs, none
c a n compete with the Rothschilds.
And, if the sun never sets on the
Rothschild wine empire, Photo courtesy of: chateau-mouton-rothschild.com
that must mean that Brands Owned by
another slogan is
true – “It must be
5 p.m. somewhere
in the world” – and In Bordeaux:
thus time to open a Châteaux Clarke in Medoc
bottle of your favorite Malmaison in Medoc
Rothschild wine. des Laurets in St-Émilion
Flechas de los Andes (joint venture with the
Rupert and Rothschild Vignerons
(partnership with the Rupert family)
Baron photo courtesy of: chateau-mouton-rothschild.com Spain:
Bottle shots courtesy of: vivino.com
Mácan in Rioja (in conjunction with the
family that owns Vega Sicilia) 25
Can They Go?
Low and no-alcohol wines are here to stay
by Michael A. Schafer, Esq.
Photo courtesy of: townandcountrymag.com
26 AMPEhRotIoCcAoNurWteIsNyEoSfO: fCreIwETinYe.Os.cRoGm
Photo courtesy of: frewines.com
The trend of low alcohol and no-alcohol wines rises throughout the Lower alcohol wines attract younger consumers, particularly Gen Z (born
globe. Many consumers choose low alcohol wines for a variety of between 1997 and 2015). This group focuses on a healthy lifestyle, including
reasons, including health, stricter enforcement of drunk driving their beverage choices. Pregnant woman and those monitoring their caloric
laws and simply a greater choice of beverage options. Competition intake lean toward non- alcohol and low alcohol wines.
with other adult beverages such as low alcohol beer and seltzers is
significant. Tastes evolve continually; Let’s review why and how low Wellness factors greatly in the trend for low alcohol wines. As a friend in the
and no alcohol wines grow in popularity. business remarked: “Gen X drinks less alcohol than Boomers, Millennials
consume less than Gen X and Gen Z drinks even less than Millennials!”
Past People seek beverages to enjoy after a long day that has no repercussions,
whether physical or social. As Joan, a member of Gen Z, puts it, “I want
We’ve seen alcohol levels in wine have rise steadily over the last couple something I can drink a good quantity of that doesn’t have a big kick.”
of decades. The reasons for this development are many. First, the sugar
levels in many wine grapes increased to an average level greater than wine You can make no alcohol wines two ways. Reverse osmosis pumps the
alcohol used to be. Grape sugar determes the level of alcohol in a wine. wine through an extremely fine filter. The alcohol separates from the
As a result of climate change, grapes ripen faster with higher sugar levels water by distilling it. You add water back to the wine concentrate left at
that results in higher alcohol wine. the filter. Re-filter to remove all the alcohol. Vacuum distillation applies
heat to wine containing alcohol evaporating the alcohol from the wine.
Another reason is that winemakers have been making “bigger” wines with This works because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than the other
more oak and higher levels of alcohol. While this direction has recently parts of the wine.
slowed, it helped foster the movement to lower alcohol wines.
Lastly, American wine drinkers control a greater share of the worldwide Future
wine market and have, until recently, clamored for that lush, fruit-forward
style of wine. Wineries have responded by producing the “American” The future looks extremely bright for both low and no alcohol wines. As
style of wine. market share grows steadily, the variety and quality of both styles of wines
and wine-based beverages grows, and vintners become more imaginative
Way back in the early 1980s, low alcohol wine coolers were “all the rage.” with their creations. No alcohol wines constitute a very small part of the
In 1985, they comprised about 10 percent of wine consumption in the United States wine landscape, approximately 5 percent of the market.
United States. One brand, Bartles & Jaymes (a made-up name) had a Of that market, Ariel Vineyards and Fre’ remain the two most popular
loyal following due to a folksy and funny TV commercial. (This brand brands. Fre’ uses “the spinning cone” technique. This technique spins the
just introduced new flavors). A change in the tax law, quintupling the tax wine at high-speed using a cone to remove the alcohol. Alcohol not only
on wine-based drinks reduced that trend rather quickly. But, it’s back! accounts for an intoxicating effect, it contributes to the texture and body
of wine. The challenges of producing low alcohol or non-alcohol wines
Present will be overcome by the ever-rising demand for these wines.
At a very practical level, one can enjoy a larger amount of low alcohol wine About the Author
than a higher alcohol wine. A bottle of German Riesling with a 9-percent
level goes down much easier than a bottle of Port at almost 20-percent Michael A. Schafer Esq. is a sommelier, Certified
alcohol! Even the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon with 15-percent Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits. He
alcohol and a rosé. with 10-percent alcohol is significant, especially enjoying edutains consumers and trains hospitality teams about all
a few bottles with friends over the course of a fun evening. wine and spirits. He may be reached at TheWineCounselor.
com or [email protected]
BY JIM RINK
DAY DRINKING HITS HIGH NOTE Each 375 ml can is equal to half a standard bottle of wine
and has a SRP of $6.99. "We continue to be overwhelmed
In under a year, Day Drinking by Little Big Town has taken by response to Day Drinking by Little Big Town. The
the can wine category by storm. It is the fastest growing collaboration with the band and their genuine passion
375 ml can wine brand out of Top 10 brands and the for every aspect of the project has guided us to create
second largest flavored can wine brand. Flavored Wine a product that resonates well with consumers. Day
Cans make up 35 percent of the can wine category and Drinking's delicious flavors and iconic packaging have
are on a strong growth trajectory. provided the ingredients for an ownable segment within
can wine and makes innovating line extensions a blast,"
Day Drinking is a delicious and refreshing canned wine said Alex Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at Precept
from three-time Grammy Award winning country Wine, which produces the brand in collaboration with
band, Little Big Town. Born out of the band's passion the band.
for celebrating life and its special moments with wine,
Day Drinking is ideal to pair with friends, family, and
Photo courtesy of:daydrinkingwine.com
NEW YORK WORLD WINE & SPIRITS COMPETITION
Led by James Beard Award-winner and Executive Director Anthony Dias Blue, the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition is now
officially open for entries for their 10th annual judging, taking place from August 30th through September 3rd, 2021.
Entrants can submit their products online or download entry materials from the Competition's website at www.nywscomp.com. The deadline
to submit is Friday, August 6th, 2021. The deadline to contact their import partner, Park Street Imports for help with importing products
into the United States is Monday, July 5th, 2021.
This year's new trade, marketing and writing awards celebrate the talented trade people whose efforts have influenced growth and trends
in the wine and spirits industry — especially small and mid-sized producers. Winners will be announced throughout the year.
Evenstad Estates' winemaking and viticulture vice president Michael
Fay, left, owner and founder Grace Evenstad and CEO/President Ryan
Harris stand in Burgundy's Bonnes Mares vineyard.
Photo courtesy of:www.winespectator.com and Evenstad Estates
OREGON WINEMAKERS EXPAND CÔTE D’OR HOLDINGS
Evenstad Estates, home to Domaine Serene, Château de la Crée and customers and wine club members." said Ryan Harris, President &
Maison Evenstad, has expanded its Burgundian vineyard holdings by CEO of Evenstad Estates. "The opportunity to offer small production
taking control of the renowned Domaine Christian Confuron et fils Burgundian wines of iconic quality exclusively to our most dedicated
estate. This 15-acre expansion increases Evenstad Estates' vineyard customers fits perfectly with that goal."
footprint in the Côte d'Or by roughly 60 percent, adding vineyards in
the Côte de Nuits to current holdings in the Côte de Beaune. While Burgundian vintners have been adding Oregon vineyards and
wineries to their repertoire for decades, Evenstad Estates flipped the
The estate is comprised of prestigious Grand Cru vineyard blocks in trend in 2015 with the acquisition of Château de la Crée and 25 acres
Bonnes Mares and Clos de Vougeot, Premier Cru parcels in Chambolle- of prime vineyard blocks in Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Puligny-
Musigny and Nuits-Saint-Georges, and village blocks in Comblanchien, Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay, and Maranges. The first
Gilly-lès-Cîteaux, and Premeaux-Prissey. Oregon-based winemakers to produce a range of wines from Burgundy,
Evenstad Estates offers these French wines for tastings and purchase
"This expansion is a natural next step for us. We constantly seek at Domaine Serene locations and to its French wine club members,
the best terroir and vineyard sites in the world to fulfill our mission one of the only wine club programs in the world with a membership
of providing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to our valued devoted solely to the wines of Burgundy.
WINEAMERICA MARKET TRENDS
Photo courtesy of:wineamerica.com According to Jim Trezise of WineAmerica, the Covid era has thrown a lot
of things for a loop, including wine market trends and the tracking of them.
A year ago, off-premise and Direct-to-Consumer shipments were booming
because on-premise and tasting room sales were dead. In the last two weeks
(after Covid restrictions were eased), New York restaurant sales were up
203 percent over the same period last year, when take-out was basically the
only option. Bottom line: We did surprisingly well during the pandemic, but
as the dust settles there are some emerging concerns.
Nielsen’s data for the two weeks ending June 5 for all alcohol beverages
showed a 3-percent drop from the same period last year, but a 17-percent
increase over 2019. Wine was down from last year, but up 14 percent from
2019 (sparking wine a whopping 98 percent). But a broader look at the total
alcohol beverage category shows that wine lost the most from 2020 levels,
down 11 percent, while beer lost 7 percent and spirits 5 percent. So now that
we’re no longer focused on surviving, it will be worth stepping back to take
a look at how the demand for wine can be increased.
Bellevue, WashingtonJoin usJionin tushinetshce secneniicc eevveregrregenrsetaetne state
Bellevue, WashingtonOctober 29-31, 2022
In Defense of Describing Wines as
Masculine, Feminine, and Sexy
By Neal D. Hulkower
Except for my own personal use, as a favor to a friend or colleague, This session elicited responses from two admittedly more notable wine
or to satisfy a requirement for a gig, I eschew writing wine tasting writers. In her article, “The evolving language of wine” 2, Jancis Robinson
notes. Consequently, I dismissed Vicki Denig’s rant against alleged sexist writes: “I guiltily did a quick search of the 200,000+ tasting notes published
terms on wine-searcher.com on 20 October 20201 as yet another misguided on JancisRobinson.com since 2000 and – sure enough – found 192 masculines,
lunge. But when it became the subject of an entire session entitled “Term 147 feminines and 37 sexys, although many of them were quotes from
Exploder” on the first day of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers producers, or were preceded by the get-out ‘stereotypically’.”
(WWS21, held via Zoom from 10 to 12 May 2021), my reverie was disrupted,
and I was rudely awakened. The cancel culture has seeped into the world of Without an ounce of guilt, I decided to scan through my 450 notes on wines
wine writing. In response, I took to the chat to offer a different perspective. I sampled between 1969 and 1979. I found three that contained “feminine”
I offer this rebuttal based on the position I put forth in that chat. and none with “masculine” or “sexy.” (More on how I’ve been making
up for this omission lately below.) Here is part of my description of a 1962
At the start of the session, the panelists were asked to “Explode this Tasting Château Margaux that I tasted on 2 October 1977: “…Flowery perfume …
Note”: “A wine of great breeding, the XXXX bursts from the glass with sweet with air – nose becomes better balanced – flowery, fruit, herbal. Delicate
smells of black currant, pain grille, and exotic spices. Masculine on the flavor – flowers and fruit fade rapidly into a lovely long finish. Very feminine.”
palate, with a sexy core of rich, dark fruit supported by a lingering acidity. My reaction to a 1967 Corton “Hospices de Beaune” consumed on 12 January
Has the potential for medium to long-term cellaring and would pair well 1976 concludes with “A very pretty, feminine burgundy.” And then there is
with almost any stewed meat dish. A serious wine for the collector set and a 1970 Gevrey Chambertin sampled on 7 November 1975: “…Light, elegant
a fine example of the varietal.” Almost every adjective and noun pushed well balanced taste – very feminine taste.” Decades after they were written,
someone’s buttons, with “masculine” and “sexy” singled out for extensive these records of wines help me recall the experience of drinking some truly
condemnation. Who knew the path from wines to lines could be so fraught? exceptional bottles. Gender terms are among those useful in stimulating
Photo courtesy of: thebacklabel.com/on-gendered-wine
W. Blake Gray blogged his reaction to WWS21 under the heading their feelings or the feelings of those they seem to want to represent. But
“Professional wine tasting notes are for the reader, not the writer” 3. Gray since “sexy” is used to describe a particularly alluring or seductive bottle
offered a two-part rant focusing on the purpose of describing a wine in without any reference to the various facets of the act like who, how many,
words. While I appreciate his complex and nuanced arguments, I take issue what, what kind, where, how often, and with which parts, the word should
with the following: “Nobody should call a wine ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ in remain in the lexicon of terms. One is free to ignore the term or use his or
2021 because nobody knows what that means anymore; half the women in her imagination to personalize its meaning.
San Francisco can kick my ass, and the other half say, ‘What do you mean,
only half?’” Like Denig, the same panelist who had problems with “sexy”
labeled “masculine” and “feminine” “lazy cliches,” and
I certainly have no trouble knowing what masculine was joined by his fellow scolds. But like all imprecise
and feminine mean in the biological sense and descriptors, really the preponderance of those
"have an unambiguous notion of what There are plenty of wine terms used for wine, they are merely suggestive
being used that have no universally and can elicit memories of similar
I mean when describing wines with recognized meaning. For example, wines. If you want to attack a term for
these terms. Also, there are plenty of consider the pervasive “minerality” being lazy, look no further than the
wine terms being used that have no which carries with it the additional afore mentioned “minerality.” It is
universally recognized meaning. also a term for which there is no
For example, consider the pervasive consensus definition. Everyone
“minerality” which carries with it seems to acknowledge, and science
the additional absurdity that rocks provides solid evidence that one’s
have taste or smell. Instead, what perception of wine is subjective.
we are doing here is using the absurdity that rocks have taste or Compound that with different
terms as metaphors which can cultural references and experiences
smell. Instead, what we are doing
evoke memories of similar tasting
experiences. They are certainly not here is using the terms as metaphors and no one can expect anyone else’s
intended to be offensive or to be in which can evoke memories of similar tasting note to precisely reflect his or
any way exclusionary. The latter was tasting experiences. her perception.
the justification given by the panelists
"some of us men and women feel.” I’m sorry, I simply don’t buy into this leaving the wine scene. What these verbal prohibitionists are advocating is a
for retiring these terms without any While free speech is a precious right, there
evidence, anecdotal or statistical, that folks are is no inalienable right not to be offended,
traumatized by their use. In an inane conflation, especially on behalf of unnamed others. As
Denig advises: “Next time you're tempted to use a such, I am not particularly interested if you find my
gender-focused tasting descriptor, think about how you would terminology lazy, inappropriate, non-inclusive, or dated. It
react if someone characterized a wine as ‘white/Black’, ‘gay’, or ‘elderly’ on works for me and likely others who use it or resonate with it. If you can’t
the palate. If you'd find any of these terms offensive, then imagine how stand the reference, take heart, many of us are boomers who are slowly
comparison and even find it offensive. one size fits all version that will certainly make tasting notes so diluted that
they become even more useless. Nevertheless, this free speech absolutist
I remain unchastened. In fact, I have since increased my use of these terms welcomes all voices in wine writing and believes that all should be heard…
and even found a way to acknowledge those who have not made up their including mine.
minds which sex they are. At one of the tasting rooms in which I pour, there 1 (https://www.winesearcher.com/m/2020/10/time-to-kill-gender-
is a wine that naturally lends itself to being described in gender terms. It stereotypes-in-wine)
is a lovely pour that starts masculine, i.e., rustic and funky, then gets in 2 (https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/evolving-language-wine)
touch with its feminine self, exuding floral and perfumed aromas, before
returning to show its more macho side. This single vineyard Pinot noir is 3(https://blog.wblakegray.com/).
a shining example of a gender fluid fluid! Far from offending visitors, my
characterization is appreciated, revelatory, and even endorsed. No one has (Disclaimer: This Perspectives article does not reflect the views of the AWS or the AWS Journal.)
pushed back. Denig made this offer to those who might be offended: “Next
time a winemaker, tasting room employee, or sommelier uses a gender-
focused descriptor, feel free to check them. Or send them my way.” I look About the Author
forward to her call.
Dr. Neal D. Hulkower is an applied mathematician, freelance
consultant and writer, and member of the Oregon wine industry.
“Sexy” also came under attack. One of the WWS21 panelists termed His areas of expertise include voting theory, decision analysis and
it awkward. But once again, these PC word police have arrogated the support, technical assessment, cost and schedule analysis, risk
responsibility to purge the language of descriptors that they deem assessment, business process improvement, quality assessment
and support, and executive management.
inappropriate without offering any evidence of the need to do so beyond
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