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Published by American Wine Society, 2019-12-18 11:58:22

AWS Wine Journal Winter 2019

AWS Wine Journal Winter 2019

Keywords: Switzerland,hybrid grapes,wine,Baco Noir,Lebanon,argentina,New Zealand,New Jersey

Are those Winter 2019

iDn yiaoumr oglnasds?s Switzerland

The Hard Truth A Productive
On Minerality Wine Country

New Jersey Wine Gems
Bets on Future
in Argentina

Crème de Marrons
A tasty winter treat

Mostly Merlot
New breeding program creates wine grapes
that are vinifera with a touch of hybrid

2017

Northwest
Winery of the

Year

NORTHWEST

CONTENTS

WINEMAKING FEATURE

6 Wine Diamonds 20 Mostly Merlot 6
-Michael Schafer -Patrick Murad 8
Potassium bitartrate, when it crystallizes in A new breeding program creates wine 14
cold temperatures, makes “wine diamonds.” grapes that are vinifera with a touch
of hybrid. 20
22
FOOD&WINE SIPTALK
3
8 Crème de Marrons 22 Swiss Wine
-Madeleine Vedel -Gene Spaziani
How fresh chestnuts and Killing Eve The wines of Switzerland reflect the
evolved into a tasty, versatile holiday treat. diversity of the country’s landscapes
in a rich gamut of tastes.

RESEARCH 26 New Jersey Bets on Future
-Danny Klein and Frances Denmark
New Jersey is known for Springsteen,
diners, salt-water taffy and now
also wine?

11 Baco Noir INDUSTRYNEWS
-Stephen Casscles
Baco Noir, also known as Baco No.1, is a 28 New or Noteworthy
small-berried, thin-skinned black grape that -Jim Rink
is hardy in cool climate regions. Jim Rink delivers the latest happenings
from the wine industry.

TRAVEL

14 Wines of Lebanon PERSPECTIVE
-Mike Botwin
The history of wine in Lebanon goes back 31 Hard Truth on Minerality
at least 4,000 years. -Neil D. Hulkower
Describing a wine’s smell or flavor as
18 Wine Gems in Argentina minerally has been around at least
-Eric Miller since the mid twentieth century.
There’s rubies of Pinot Noir in Patagonia,
diamonds of Torrontés in Salta, and Malbec On the Cover
gold in them thar hills of Mendoza.
Winter Vineyard, Chateau Grand Traverse.
AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG (photo credit: Chateau Grand Traverse, Ltd )

Above (6)

Wine Tartrates on Cork
(photo credit: vinepair.com )

EDITOR’SLETTER VOLUME 51 NO.4 WINTER 2019

JIM RINK Published by

Anew breeding program which originated in northeast Italy 20 years ago is now The American Wine Society
being championed in northwest Michigan as a solution against downy mildew a non-profit corporation,
and powdery mildew, while providing earlier maturity and cold hardiness. Rather
than producing vines that are hybrid in nature, this program produces vinifera with PO Box 889, Scranton, PA 18501
a touch of hybrid. Read all about it in our cover story, Mostly Merlot.
Single copies $5.00
Longtime contributor Gene Spaziani will tell you that Switzerland is a little-known,
but productive wine country with local wines of superb distinction. Gene provides a Copyright© 2019 by AWS,Inc.
brief history of Swiss grapes and terroir in this issue. Reproduction or use of the editorial
or pictorial content without written
On the travel front, Mike Botwin visits Lebanon, a seemingly unlikely wine growing
region, with a 4,000-year history of growing wine grapes! A small country, only 45 permission is prohibited.
by 140 miles, Lebanon wines are very, very big.
Library of Congress Class Number:
New Zealand is well known for its iconic Sauvignon Blancs. In this issue, preeminent TP544 A46A3 LC Card 76-647900
wine scholar Roger Morris examines the country’s other white wine: Chardonnay.
Publisher
For those looking to add a new hybrid to their winemaking stable, Stephen Casscles
has the backstory on Baco Noir, a winter hardy variety that has deep color, lots of berry David Falchek
and plum fruit, and relatively high-acid levels that stand up well to barbecued meats.
Editor
Winemaker extraordinaire Eric Miller spent some time drilling for gold in Argentina
and has some recommendations for those looking for South American wine gems. AWS Jim Rink
Regional Vice President Danny Klein and his co-author Frances Denmark bring us
up-to-date with a fascinating piece on the state of winemaking in the Garden State, Contributing Writers
New Jersey. Also in this issue, Michigan Francophile Madeleine Vedel shares with
us how fresh chestnuts and Killing Eve evolved into a tasty and versatile holiday treat. Mike Botwin, Stephen Casscles,
Frances Denmark, Neil D. Hulkower,
Last, but not least, Michael Schafer, aka The Wine Counselor®, talks to us about Danny Klein, Eric Miller, Roger Morris,
tartrate crystals, aka wine diamonds, aka snowflakes, aka wine shards. Most sommeliers,
winemakers and wine critics consider wine diamonds to be a sign of quality, attesting Patrick Murad, Michael Schafer,
to the fact that the wine was not over-processed. Gene Spaziani, Madeleine Vedel

Stay thirsty, Editorial Office

Jim Rink
2800 S. Lake Leelanau Drive

Lake Leelanau, MI 49653
[email protected]

Unsolicited manuscripts or other
information will not be returned unless

accompanied by return postage.

Advertising Office

PO Box 889
Scranton, PA 18501

888-AWS-9070
fax: 570-344-4825
[email protected]

Creative/Production

Briana Fedorko
Blue Flower Graphic Design

570-852-0744
[email protected]

blueflowergd.com

4 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

ABOUTAWS Founder

The AWS is the largest consumer based wine education organization in the U.S. A Konstantin Frank
non-profit group, the AWS is devoted to educating people on all aspects of wine. Its
members include wine novices, experts, grape growers, amateur and professional AWS National Officers and Board of Directors
wine-makers, chefs, wine appreciators, wine educators, restaurateurs, and anyone
wanting to learn more about wine. President Vice President Secretary
Joseph Broski Joann Degaglia Leanne Wheeler
AWS ACTIVITIES
Chapters: Local community groups of AWS members sponsor programs, usually Treasurer Director of Director of
monthly. Activities include: tastings, dinners, lectures, picnics, winery tours, wine- Thomas Wallman Educational Services Competitions
making and cooking demonstrations, viticulture conferences, amateur wine-judging Rex Bambling
events, and other wine-related social events. Guests are welcome and novices have Aaron Mandel
nothing to fear. Chapters are self-supporting, so expect a nominal charge to attend
a tasting, dinner, etc. If a local chapter does not exist in your area, the national office Director of Executive Member Services
will be glad to assist in forming a chapter. All that is needed are a few interested wine Member Services Director Manager
lovers. Meeting can be informal and held in member homes or in other settings, David Falchek
such as restaurants and wineries. Jay Bileti Katherine Kearney
Regional Events: Organized by regional vice-presidents, include statewide wine
judging, contests, special tastings, regional wine conferences, regional picnics and 1967-1970 Past Presidents 1973-1974
special dinners. Albert W. Carol W. Damoth
Laubengayer 1971-1972
National Conference: Held each fall—a two and one-half day national conference Robert A. Dickmann 1979-1980
and extravaganza of wine. Attendees become part of a tradition that has drawn wine- 1975-1976 Joseph P. Nardone
lovers, wine-makers and gastronomes together every November for over 45 years. Jerry S. Miller 1977-1978
Prominent American and international speakers conduct seminars and lectures Kathryn Froelich 1985-1986
on all aspects of wine appreciation, wine production, grape growing and cuisine. 1981-1982 Lewis H. France, Jr.
Members experience fine food at connoisseur luncheons and dinners, tastings of John M. Hasson 1983-1984
hundreds of wines and royal treatment by the finest American hotels and resorts. Michael A. Farren 1991
The annual conference brings professionals, serious amateurs and novices together 1987-1988 Stephen R. Kampers
to discover what is new in wine. Thomas C. Iezzi, Jr. 1989-1990
Alton A. Long 1994
1992 George E. Wilson
J. Randy Hurteau 1993
Alcide L.Porrell 1997
1995 Eugene J. Spaziani
Kenneth P. Brewer 1996
Raymond A. Hartung, 2000
1998 Charles E. Hastings
Gary C. Pavlis Jr.
2003
2001 1999 Frank C. Aquilino
Pamela J. Davey Gayle M. Darugh
2006
2004 2002 Janice Cobett
Willis L. Parker William H. Eisberg
2010-2011
2007 2005 Willis L. Parker
Albert L. Guber, Jr. Tom Castronovo
2017-2018
2012-2014 2008-2009 Kristin Kraft
Jane M. Duralia Raymond A. Hartung,

Jr.

2015-2016
Frank C. Aquilino

JOINAWS AWS MEMBER BENEFITS INCLUDE:

Join on-line at americanwinesociety.org or mail in the form below • Participation in local chapter • AWS vintage charts
activities and events • Wine Judge Certification Program
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• AWS Bimonthly Newsletter
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AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 5

DiamondsAre Those
In Your Glass?
By Michael Schafer

6

WINEMAKING

If you’ve ever noticed “diamonds” in the bottom of the balance of the wine and the way it feels on our palate. There are
your wine glass you’re certainly not alone. Also so many components in a glass of wine that all coalesce to provide us
known as wine snowflakes or wine shards, pleasure and enjoyment when we taste it!
these crystals are totally harmless and
are a naturally occurring part of For white wine, these Weinsteins (wine stones) as they are known in
the winemaking process. Let’s Germany, are viewed as an indication of a high quality wine! Many
explore what they are and Europeans think the crystals show the wine has been slowly and
where they originate. properly fermented from fully ripe grapes—all very positive qualities!
These crystals are Sommeliers, winemakers and wine critics consider wine diamonds a
perceived by some sign of quality, attesting to the fact that the wine was not over-processed.
as a benefit and by
others as a detriment For those who consider the crystals unsightly and off-putting, it’s
to the wine. Tartrates comforting to know that many wineries, particularly American wineries,
are natural products of cold stabilize their wine to minimize the presence of those pesky
winemaking. Their scientific crystals. What is cold stabilization? It sounds like part of a NASA space
name is potassium bitartrate. Wine probe! It’s actually a relatively simple process. For many wineries, the
diamonds are simply tiny deposits that wine is cooled down to almost freezing for a minimum of 14 days. Other
occur when tartaric acid and potassium, winemakers stabilize their wine for 10-14 days at 38-40° F. The crystals
natural products of grapes, fuse together to adhere to the sides of the fermentation tank due to the temperature. The
wine is the pumped out and filtered, removing any crystals that remain.
form a crystal. “Back in the day” the standard was to keep the wine at 28°F for ten
days. That is no longer the standard because that temperature robs the
Wine has numerous organic acids that occur naturally. wine of its character, aromas and flavors.
The main acids are tartaric and malic acid. Let’s explore malic

"Sommeliers, winemakers and wine critics consider wine diamonds a sign of quality,
attesting to the fact that the wine was not over-processed. "

acid first. Malic acid (malum is apple in Latin) is frequently converted to How can you avoid serving a wine with wine snowflakes? It’s best to
lactic acid through bacterial fermentation, aka malolactic fermentation. store your wine between 55°F-60°F at 58% humidity. If you’re really
Malolactic fermentation, commonly known as MLF, is used for almost concerned about having crystals in your glass, chill the wine between
all red wines and for a few white wines, primarily Chardonnay and just between 45°F-48°F before serving.
Viognier. MLF converts tart malic acid into creamier, softer lactic acid.
A special bacteria (not yeast) converts the malic acid into the preferred How can you serve a wine if it does have tartrate crystals when you
lactic acid. MLF typically occurs when the wine is aging in oak barrels. pull it from your cellar? If the diamonds are on the cork simply wipe
MLF is used to create a creamy, buttery element in wine. When used in them off with a dry cloth. If the diamonds are in the bottle, stand it
white wines, particularly Chardonnay, usually only a very small amount upright so they drop to the bottom of the bottle. You may decant the
of the finished wine undergoes MLF. wine, leaving the unwanted particles in the bottle. Another option is
to strain the wine through a cheesecloth or a coffee filter!
Getting back to those diamonds, if you cook, you know this is cream of
tartar! Cream of tartar is used for a few different functions in cooking. Whether you find tartrate crystals repulsive and repugnant or
The most common purpose is to stabilize egg whites while whipping appreciate them as indicators of quality, unfiltered wine, please keep
them for meringue pies. When combined with baking soda the final in mind they are completely harmless and should in absolutely no way
product is baking powder. distract you from enjoying your “diamond wine”.

Wine diamonds are found in both red and white wine but much more About the Author
frequently in white wine. In red wine, they are usually seen on the cork
or at the bottom of the bottle. They form less in red wine and, when Michael is a distinguished wine and spirits educator holding the Sommelier (Court
they do, usually fall to the bottom of the barrel during the longer aging of Master Sommeliers), Specialist of Wine and Specialist of Spirits (both from The
process. The primary acid we taste in wine is tartaric acid. It’s key to Society of Wine Educators) designations. In addition, he has been widely featured
across leading networks and publications about a wide range of wine and spirits topics
including Michigan wines.

Crème de
How Fresh Chestnuts and Killing Eve Evolved

Chestnuts, Crème de Marrons. They go together back where I lived in
France. Though there are not a lot of chestnut orchards in Michigan,
my friends have one planted just below their vineyards. Where in
France these trees might line a driveway to the home, here they
are a grove unto themselves.

“How do you get the nuts out of the spindly outer case?”
asked a local winemaker as we took a look at the grove
during harvest this fall. “Back in France we would
just smash them with the heel of our boots.” I replied.

But, these were not French chestnuts, and a single
smash with my boot did not suffice. When I went

over to the grove the other day, in late October
after a number of days alternating between
sunshine and rain with temperatures dropping
to the low 40s, I discovered I needed to adjust
my technique. I had the most success using both
my feet, (I was wearing heavy soled clogs, but
muck boots would work as well). I gently pressed
and pulled apart the spikey shell with my shoes
to reveal the dark red brown chestnuts inside.
I was then able to reach in with my fingers and
pluck out the nut, without stabbing myself with
any stray spikes.

It is a time consuming process, filling a bag with
chestnuts, particularly if you’re alone. But the
peaceful sounds of the breeze coming through the
leaves, the occasional plop of a chestnut sac falling to
the ground, and a bird squawking overhead nourished
me as I collected my bounty, as did the yellows, golds and
reds of the autumn all about me.

About thirty minutes of careful splitting of the shells to reveal
sometimes two nicely sized chestnuts, sometimes just one
surrounded by its far smaller brethren, had netted me about two
pounds, plenty for my evening’s project.

I was on a mission to prepare Crème de Marrons, or chestnut cream, or
chestnut jam – depending on your preferred definition – as I used to make
with friends back in Provence.

Photo credit : www.delscookingtwist.com AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Marrons FOOD&WINE
into a Tasty and Versatile Holiday Treat

By Madeleine Vedel

The first step of the process accomplished, once home I moved onto Back when I ran a cooking school in Provence I prepared a dessert

the second, scoring each and every chestnut and then plunking combining other favorite fall notes: pears, walnut praline, and a

them into a pot of water, which I then brought to a boil. crunchy puff pastry crust. The recipe is below.

Step three is removing the starchy flesh from inside, not just the Making Chestnut Cream is a labor of love, best done with a friend,
dense outer shell, but the papery thin layer just atop the beige or a willing family member, so that good conversation around the
flesh as well. This is best done while the chestnut is still quite hot, work table helps pass the time, and lightens the work.
directly from your pot of water. And it is a long and slow process.
I watched three episodes of Killing Eve, reheating the water after Alternatively, you could just score the chestnuts, toss them with
each episode to re-soften the shells, using a small paring knife a bit of oil and roast them in a very hot oven for 10 minutes or till
to split the shell, and gently remove that papery skin. I collected just darkened. Toss with salt, add a few napkins and serve. Either
the chestnuts in a bowl, and tossed the discarded shells into my way, they are a fall fruit to be enjoyed and shared.
compost bucket. With the hardest part accomplished, I proceeded
to make the chestnut cream. For this, I double checked proportions
with my chef friend across the ocean.

Chestnut Cream

For 1 kg of shelled chestnuts (2.2 lbs):

600g sugar (3 cups)
3 cups water
Bring to a boil

Add seeds from a vanilla pod
Blend syrup and shelled chestnuts together using

a Cuisinart or an Immersion blender

*If a less electric option is preferred, you can puree the freshly shelled
chestnuts with a hand-mill, such as you might use for applesauce or removing

the seeds from blackberry jam.

Depending on how you’d like to use the chestnut cream, you can P
extend it with more syrup, or keep it dense and pasty. It is delicious Flip for Full Recipe
spread on toast, or mixed into yogurt. There’s a classic French
dessert called the Mont Blanc that combines sweet and crunchy 9
meringue with a simple brisée crust, a dollop of sweetened whipped
cream, all topped by a piped-on swirl of chestnut cream puree. I
love this dessert with a cup of hot chocolate in early winter: a most
seasonal and decadent afternoon snack.

PPear & Chestnut
Cream Tart
Perfect for a
Ingredients: winter evening. 
Pairs beautifully with a
A sheet of puff pastry like Pepperidge Farm Michigan Ice Wine

For the filling:  PhotAoMcrEedRiItC: AwNwwW.dINelEscSoOoCkiInEgTtYw.OistR.cGom

2/3 cup plus 1/8 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon butter
A pinch of salt (fleur de sel if possible)
1 cup walnuts or pecans
A jar of Crème de Marrons (Chestnut Cream) 
2-3 Pears pealed, cored and sliced (can be replaced with apples)
Freshly grated nutmeg

Pre-Bake the Crust:

Set the oven to 375°F. Poke all over the dough to release steam and
prevent it from puffing. Bake till nicely browned. FYI – you don’t need
much of a rim to the pie crust. You could even bake it flat on a cookie
sheet, and forgo the pie tin completely.

Prepare the walnut praline to top the tart:

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt 2/3 cup of sugar, butter and salt.  
Stir with a wooden spoon or a high-heat silicon spatula.  
When the caramel begins to color, toss in the walnuts and coat evenly.  
Let bubble and darken till the caramel JUST STARTS TO SMOKE. 
Pour out on a silpat baking mat or on a buttered cookie sheet. Let cool.  
Once cold, chop coarsely with a rocking chopper/mezza-luna. Put aside.

Put it together:

Spread a half inch layer of chestnut cream on your tart. 
Layer the pear slices in a decorative rounded pattern.
Sprinkle with the 1/8 cup sugar.
Grate the nutmeg over the top (no more than 1/4 teaspoon).  
Bake till the fruit is lightly browned, about 20-45 minutes
Let cool till just warm, sprinkle with the praline and serve.

About the Author

Madeleine Vedel was initiated into the world of wine by her wine-loving parents
who had a prized — if small — wine cellar to be shared only with those who knew
the difference. While married to a French chef in Provence she ran food and wine
tours for nearly 20 years. She is currently based in Traverse City, Mich., honing
her cheese and pastry skills and happily consuming both local and international
wines within her budget.

10

RESEARCH

Photo credit: hvwinemag.com

Baco Noir
By J. Stephen Casscles
BBaco Noir, also known as Baco No.1, is a small
berried, thin-skinned black grape that is wet or swampy for long periods of time. Further, locating vineyards
hardy to very winter hardy in the cool climate on relatively heavy soils for grapes can help to suppress Baco Noir’s
regions of North America. It was bred in 1902 wild growth, encourage the growth of quality grapes, and allow for
by François Baco of Armagnac, France. It is better hardening off of canes to avoid winter injury.
a cross of Folle Blanche (a traditional grape
variety used to make brandy in Armagnac) by As Lucie Morton Garrett and I believe that there are two clones of
a mix of pollen of a riparia grape called Grand Léon Millot, the Foster’s Nursery clone, also known as the Millot
Glabre and V. riparia ordinaire. Rouge, and the Boordy Nursery clone, also known as Millot Noir , I
believe the same to be the case with Baco Noir. Many Baco Noir vines
Like many other riparia hybrids, the vine buds out early, so it is subject in the Hudson Valley, initially came from Middle Hope, New York and
to late spring frost damage, but it does produce a much reduced Benmarl Vineyards of nearby Marlboro. These Baco Noir clones were
secondary crop. Similar to other riparias, the vine is ultra-vigorous smuggled from France into the United States via Canada by Philip
and big, with lush vegetative growth that produces long substantial Wagner, one of the founding members of the American Wine Society,
canes. Its growth habit is horizontal and then trailing. Some experts in the chaotic 1940s. These Middle Hope Baco clones are very Pinot
suggest that it needs to be long cane pruned to obtain satisfactory Noir like in their color, flavor profile, and tannin structure. The other
yields because the clusters are relatively light in weight. However, I Baco clone that I have made has come from the Finger Lakes, Foster’s
find that top wire spur pruning works well in producing an ample Nursery, and Double A Nursery. The wine made from the Baco Noir
crop of quality fruit. clone is much deeper in body, ripens about five to six days after the
Middle Hope Baco Noir clone, and is much darker in body and flavor
Baco Noir is moderately susceptible to black rot and powdery mildew, profile, chocolate being more predominate in the Finger Lakes Bacos.
but is more resistant to'? downy mildew. It is susceptible to botrytis, While this is just a theory, at the Hudson-Chatham Winery, we have
especially if it rains during harvest time, in which case the berries two blocks of Baco Noir, the Middle Hope and Finger Lakes clones.
readily crack and botrytis and bunch rot set in rapidly. In wet vineyards, The wines that come from these adjacent blocks of Baco Noir clones
crown gall can be a problem. The plant is not sensitive to sulfur, so it are completely different in many ways as described above.
can be used in a fungus treatment program. Baco Noir can be grown
on moderately heavy clay soils. Since Baco is genetically a riparia hybrid Baco Noir is a productive and slightly above-average producing
variety, it tolerates excessive soil moisture, but the ground cannot be variety. It ripens consistently by mid-season around the third week
of September with sugars of between 20˚ and 23˚ Brix. Two weeks or

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 11

more before Baco becomes fully making dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). If Baco is left on its skins for

ripe and is ready for harvest, the more than ten to fourteen days as it ferments, it can, with age, have

birds will descend upon the many big Bordeaux-like qualities. It can be a deeply colored red wine

vineyard. Hence, bird netting that is robust with aromatic flavor elements such as cedar, tobacco,

is necessary to protect the leather, and chocolate. It can have complex fruit flavors of black- and

crop before its harvest date. chokecherries, blackberries, and prunes. As it ages for ten to twenty

years, Baco Noir can become a complex, medium to full bodied wine

Ideally, the grapes should that accompanies red meats very well.

hang longer to reduce their

excessively harsh acids, but the risk/ Baco Noir can also be made into a slightly lighter wine style reminiscent

danger is that these thin-skinned grapes of a Burgundian Pinot Noir. When made in this style, it has a rich nose

will easily crack if they are subjected to similar to raspberries, black raspberries, plums, blueberries, cherries,

heavy rains at harvest time. Because of its mid-season and strawberry jam. The herbal notes remain, but include more muted

ripening date, Baco Noir is suitable for the shorter growing flavors of lavender, black pepper, mint, and licorice. Several twenty- to

season regions of North America. thirty year-old Baco Noirs I have tasted have reminded me of some

better quality red Burgundy and Bordeaux wines of the same age

Overall, while Baco Noir has some issues in the field, particularly for that retain their bright fruit, but which melds with a luscious and

commercial growers, it is great in the cellar. It ferments easily, finishes an integrated “barnyard” bouquet, middle, and finish. As Baco Noir

rapidly, and is bright and clear within one month of fermenting. To matures, they can also take on a toasty, burnt-sugar flavor profile.

make quality wines from Baco Noir, the grapes need to be mature Baco Noir has a varietal flavor that is easily distinguished from other

to reduce the naturally high malic and tartaric acids commonly French-American hybrids. The wines have a soft tannin structure

found in Baco Noir, as is the case with most riparia hybrids. If that needs to be enhanced to produce superior wines. Further, it can

picked before maturity, benefit from a malolactic

it produces noticeably fermentation to reduce its

thin and acidic wines "Over the years, Baco Noir has been identified as one of high malic acids, which
in a “riparian” fashion. are firm but manageable.

This can be a challenge the signature red grape varieties of the Hudson Valley." To increase complexity
for both the grower and and give the wines body

winemaker because birds and tannin structure, it is

also like Baco Noir, so the highly recommended to

recommendation is to allow the birds to feast as the grapes ripen to barrel age these wines for at least six to eighteen months.

their proper maturity for wine production.

A rosé can also be made from Baco Noir, however, its acid levels tend

Today, Baco Noir is still grown to a very limited extent in greater to be very high, so some blending is recommended. It is also capable

Burgundy and more so in the Loire Valley, but it was extensively of being made into rich ports due to its heavy pigment, rich flavors,

cultivated in France before 1968. Baco Noir is now widely grown in and high acids, as long as it is finished semi-sweet. When fermented,

New York, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada. Over the years, Baco Noir it does so quickly and cleanly to become a bright purple wine, so it

has been identified as one of the signature red grape varieties of the lends itself well as a Nouveau or fall wine.

Hudson Valley. The grape grows well in the Valley and makes a wide

range of quality wines similar to Burgundian Pinot Noirs, Bordeaux- If not made properly, Baco wines can be herbaceous and weedy.

like Cabernet Sauvignons, light young fall wines or Nouveaus, and Baco, especially if picked too early and then made into a varietal

even rosés. wine, can be relatively austere and herbaceous, and can develop

muscle without completely filling out into a big wine. This is why it

Baco Noir wines can have deep color, lots of berry and plum fruit, and is critical to blend it with at least some other French-American hybrid

relatively high-acid levels that stand up well to barbecued meats or or vinifera wines to minimize its somewhat bitter edge and make it

other heavy dishes. If picked ripe, it can develop into a big muscle wine, into a complete and interesting wine.

but due to its insufficient tannins when compared to its relatively high

middle acids of tartaric and malic acid, it does not fill out adequately. Baco Noir is a great grape to be used in blending. It is clean and brings

Hence, to round out the wine, it should be blended with between quality to any blend, but does not dominate. It brings to blends a nice

ten to twenty-five percent of other quality grape varieties such big berry nose and a long clean finish. With that said, Baco Noir made in

as, Chelois, Cabernet Franc, Maréchal Foch, Léon Millot, Burdin, many cool climate areas of North America can truly be of exceptional

or Chambourcin. Baco Noir has great aging potential and brings quality. Below is a short biography of the creator of Baco Noir.

presence to red wine blends. Further, its large leaves are suitable for

12 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

FrAabnit açboouits

François Baco was a teacher from the Commune of Belus, François Baco (middle) with his students (1896)
Department of Landes, in what was the Armagnac Province of
France. This area is along the Atlantic Ocean just south of Bordeaux Photo credit: centrecultureldupaysdorthe.com
and north of Spain. After 1898, Monsieur Baco began his work to
hybridize grapes to minimize their susceptibility to black rot and 09/21/1952. A monument of François Baco in
to improve on the American grape variety Noah in Armagnac. Bélus, France is inaugurated by Minister Guy Petit.
Out of the approximately 7,000 hybrids that he created, only Baco
Noir (Baco 1) and Baco Blanc (also known as Maurice Baco or Baco Photo credit: centrecultureldupaysdorthe.com
22A) remain commercially important in Europe, the United States,
Canada, and New Zealand. About the Author

Many of Monsieur Baco’s categorized hybrid selections used Noah, Stephen Casscles, is author of "Grapes of the Hudson Valley" (2015), and
Couderc 201, Couderc 4401, and other Couderc hybrids as pollen a frequent guest lecturer in the Hudson Valley at colleges, historical
parents, and vinifera varieties such as Folle Blanche, Tannat, and societies, and botanical gardens in New York City, Boston, and the
Chasselas as the genetic pool for his hybridization program. It Hudson Valley. He writes for wine/agricultural/local history journals
seems that much of Monsieur Baco’s work was dedicated to creating on grapes, winemaking, and on horticultural subjects and local
hybrid grape varieties that could be used for distillation into brandy history, and is associated with the SUNY at Cobleskill Fermentation
that were less sensitive to fungus diseases. He extensively used Sciences Program. He can be reached at [email protected]
riparia grapes in his breeding program to bolster their fungus
disease resistance. None of Baco’s work after the mid-1920s was 13
commercially successful. Also, unlike other more sophisticated
breeding programs, he relied almost exclusively on the same early,
not very genetically complex varieties. He did little cross-breeding
of his later hybrids with each other and did not incorporate much
new genetic material into his hybrids. The seed parents he used
were primarily vinifera grape varieties, of which he relied on only
a few, such as Folle Blanche, Tannat, and Baroque.

Looking to François Baco’s other hybrids may give the reader a
glimpse into his grape-breeding philosophy and goals. Baco Blanc is
still very extensively grown in Baco’s home region of Armagnac. It
makes a low-alcohol, high-acid wine that is perfect for distillation
and the production of Armagnac style brandies. Surprisingly, it also
makes a simple, but refreshingly delightful white wine.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

WINES OF

aroline and I continued our Fall 2018 adventure upon both Roman and Eastern Orthodox slants, and 54% Muslim — equally
leaving Cyprus (see Wines of Cyprus, Fall 2019 Journal) split between Sunni and Shi'ite. This diversity is enshrined in their
and making the 40-minute flight to Beirut with the political system. By law, the President must be from the Maronite
intent of digging firsthand into both the wines and Catholic sect, the Prime Minister must be a Sunni Muslim and the
culture of Lebanon. Of course you're scratching your President of the Parliament a Shi'ite. The 128-member Parliament is
head and thinking: A viable wine industry in an Arab country?  Isn't divided equally between Christians and Muslims.
personal safety an issue? Answers: Yes to the first and no to the
second question. BEKAA VALLEY

While Lebanon is an Arab country, it is not an Islamic one, consequently, Lebanon is a small, roughly rectangular-shaped country, approximately
there is no official restriction of alcohol consumption. In fact, it's by 45 by 140 miles, bordered on both the north and east by Syria and
far the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East with 18 with Israel in the south. To the west is the Mediterranean Sea. It's an
different officially recognized religions. Over 40% of the population extremely mountainous country with two serious and wooded (yes,
is comprised of Christians from various sects — mostly Catholic of the Cedars of Lebanon) ranges. Rising up from the narrow coastal
plain is the Lebanon Mountain range, averaging 8,300 feet in elevation

14 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

TRAVEL

LEBANON
BY MIKE BOTWIN

with peaks of over 10,000 feet (and numerous ski resorts). The eastern The image and reports of danger and  terrorism from the 15-

Anti-Lebanon range separates Lebanon from Syria with elevations year Lebanese civil war may  continue to resonate with many of us

from 2,800 feet to 9,200 feet.  but the war is long over, ending in 1990. Caroline and I walked through

many parts of Beirut in both daylight and dark with absolutely no

Framed by these two ranges is the fertile and agriculturally rich concern for our personal safety. Sure, there is occasional violence,

Bekaa Valley, home to the lion's share of the country's vineyards.  mostly political or sectarian related, but tourists are not targeted.

The average elevation in the wine region is 3,500 feet. While daytime Saying that, there are touchy spots. Along the southern border with

temperatures during the growing season are usually high, the high Israel a U.N. Interim Force is stationed to maintain peace between

elevation results in very cool nights which, in turn, lends itself to acid Israel and Hezbollah. 

retention in the fruit. The snow runoff from the mountains into the

valley and the Litani River alleviates what would normally be a dry It should be noted that Lebanon was not a combatant in any of the

Mediterranean climate.  As land prices climb in the Bekaa Valley due three Arab-Israel wars, however, that does not mean that the two

to general agricultural interests grape growers and winemakers are countries are friendly. Passport holders with Israeli stamps are not

seeking out other regions.  permitted into Lebanon and vice-versa. But as a result of these wars

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 15

Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, Lebanon Vineyard Kefraya of Chateau Ksara. Photo courtesy of chateauksara.com

close to 500,000 Palestinian refugees — some from the 1948 war — Muslim religious orders to made wine and many monasteries did. After
are housed in the 12 camps situated throughout Lebanon, including the Ottoman defeat in World War I, the French were granted mandate
urban Beirut. An additional 1.6 million or so Syrian refugees have status over Lebanon. This lasted until Lebanese independence in 1943. 
found some sort of sanctuary in Lebanon. Many of their camps are With the French came new production techniques and, of course,
in the  Bekaa Valley. These Syrian refugees exacerbate the already French grape varieties. As far as wine was concerned all was well until
strained Lebanese-Syrian relationship. The Lebanese still remember civil war broke out in 1975. After the war's end in 1990, a new industry
the Syrian meddling into the Lebanese civil war. The Syrian forces was established with the founding of over 40, mostly small, family
invaded Lebanon in 1976 and didn't leave until 1991. Beirut, which run wineries. Currently the country's production is around 300,000
was heavily bombed during the civil war, has once again found its cases with 50% being exported, mostly to France, U.K. and the U.S.
place as a beautiful, vital and fun-loving city in a muddled and chaotic
Middle East. Blending is the style for Lebanese wines. For reds and rosés the
blending is usually lead with Rhone varieties and with the Bordeaux
4,000-YEAR WINE HISTORY varieties in the minor role: Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre
and Syrah from the Rhone and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from
The history of wine in Lebanon goes back at least 4,000 years.  Bordeaux. One winemaker told me that it makes more sense to him to
Viticulture and winemaking reached the Levant, which includes make an excellent Lebanese blend than to make a good varietal wine
Lebanon, from the Caucasus Mountains (modern day Georgia and that must then compete with the host of other varietals on the world
Armenia) via  eastern Turkey. The Phoenicians, the great seafaring scene. Whites usually combine two or three of the popular French
traders with home ports in Tyre, Byblos (both UNESCO World varieties—Chardonnay, the Bordelais varieties Sauvignon Blanc
Heritage Sites), Beirut and Sidon along the present Lebanese coast, and Semillon and from the Rhone region Viognier and Grenache Blanc. 
can be credited for bringing wines and vines to the Mediterranean
areas  of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Northern Africa, Spain and southern Add to this complexity the indigenous varieties of Obeideh and
France. During the Roman times the Bekaa Valley was a major source Merweh. Merweh is thought, at least by the Lebanese, to be the original
of wines for their empire. The Romans gave tribute to wine by Semillon  that was brought to France by the Phoenicians. If one
building the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, another UNESCO Site, in encounters varietal wines they will most likely be Cabernet Sauvignons,
the Bekaa Valley and one of the largest and most impressive Roman Syrahs and Chardonnays. Many of the local wineries produce several
ruins in the world. blends with proprietary names to distinguish one from the other
but the labels lend little insight into the blend's composition. From
In 1517, Lebanon was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, all but shutting my perspective the Lebanese reds are firmly structured, fresh and
down wine consumption and production. During the long Ottoman concentrated with balancing acidity and integrated tannins. The
reign, table grapes replaced the area's  many indigenous wine grapes, lighter and fruitier red blends lean on Cinsault, Carignan and Grenache
varieties now lost to history. The Ottomans did, however, allow non- while the medium-and heavy-bodied reds integrate more Cabernet,

16 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Syrah or and/or Merlot. The whites tend to be fresh and crisp, again, Photo courtesy of blog.chateauksara.com
with good acid levels. The wines of all shades are built to accompany
the Lebanese cuisine, a wonderful cuisine that reflects both Middle
Eastern and French influences.

LOCAL PRODUCERS

The two largest producers in Lebanon, and whose wines are most likely
to be seen in Lebanese restaurants in the U.S., are Chateau Ksara and
Chateau Kefraya. Both produce around 200,000 cases per year of
well-made, balanced wines. Chateau Ksara is also the oldest winery in
the country being established by Jesuit monks in 1857. In the '70s when
the Vatican pushed monasteries to divest themselves of commercial
interests, Ksara was sold to a group of Lebanese investors.  Chateau
Ksara's beautiful grounds and Roman caves add  to their reputation.

If there is one winery that put Lebanon on the world wine map it is

Chateau Musar (founded in 1930; 60,000 cases produced annually).

Over 40 years ago the late winemaker/owner, Serge Hochar, brought

his wines to a British wine show and wowed the judges. However,

Musar's wines are, indeed, an anomaly in Lebanon, decidedly "old

school,” with extensive barrel and bottle aging before release. Lovers

of the wines find them silky and supple while others see them as tired

and rustic with excessive amounts of volatile acidity and unacceptable

levels of brettanomyces. During the civil war battles in the Bekaa

Valley, Serge Hochar, as the story goes, continued to harvest fruit while Harvesting grapes on Chateau Ksara. Photo courtesy of blog.chateauksara.com
dodging bullets and then trucked the grapes over the mountains — a

6-8-hour drive due to road blocks — to his winery north of Beirut.  interest. Their winery dates to post civil war 1997 and more stable

As is said, “To sell wine you need a story.” times. With a 50,000 case production this high-profile winery falls in

the moderate size range. I found their varietal Obeideh very crisp

All four of the wineries we visited are  family-owned and run; and refreshing — the best Obeideh I've ever tasted (also the first and

all  welcomed us with characteristic Middle East warmth and only varietal Obeideh I've tasted).

hospitality. Domaine des Tourelles was founded by a Frenchman

in 1868 making it the second oldest facility in Lebanon. The historic Heritage Winery dates to 1995 and is run by another member of the

grounds and buildings belie the up-to-date wines they make. They Touma family of Clos St. Thomas fame. Their full line of wines is

came to fame with arak but their table wines are, indeed, impressive dominated by well balanced red blends: blends that don't shy away from

as well. Arak is a distilled product (using, here, Cinsault and Obeideh tannin. A few other well regarded Lebanese wineries that ship to the

for base wines) that is infused with anise seeds, similar to the Greek U.S. include Massaya, IXSIR, Chateau Wardy and Cave Karoum. Their

Ouzo. It turns cloudy when cut with water which is how it is usually wines are worth searching for.

seen on the Lebanese dinner table.

If a trip to Lebanon is not in your future plans may I suggest seeking

In 2004, the Khoury family established, high up in the foothills above out a Lebanese restaurant and treating yourself to a good meal and

the valley floor, their vineyard and namesake Chateau Khoury The bottle or two of Lebanese wines.

high altitude and, consequently, cool climate allows their son and

Reims-trained winemaker, Jean-Pierre, to make a clean and crisp About the Author
Pinot Gris, an usual wine for Lebanon, and an homage to his mother's

Alsatian heritage. He finds that he must delay harvest for most of his Mike Botwin is a longtime AWS member and is the Director of the San
Luis Obispo Chapter. He's been a wine appreciation instructor since 1973. 
grapes on this site in order for the acids to drop. His line of red and His wine travels have taken him to all U.S. states as well as 50 countries —
white blends is first-class. Lebanon being the latest. He can be reached at [email protected]

The Touma family of Clos St. Thomas has been in the alcohol beverage
business since 1888 but at that time arak was their only commercial

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 17

drilling for

gold
in Argentina
by eric miller

The secret is out about thereof. Although Zuccardi (the family biz) conditions in Mendoza, 1,054 kilometers
Argentine wines. There’s also owns Santa Julia Winery, Sebastián is west of Buenos Aires in the foothills of the
rubies of Pinot Noir in committing the company to the study of Andes Mountains. Here the desert is too dry
Patagonia, diamonds of one valley, Valle de Uca, one grape variety, to support large pest populations. It has clear
Torrontés in Salta, and Malbec, on four sites with subtly different sky and plenty of sun during the growing
Malbec gold in them soils. That’s mighty serious! season. To the west, the Andes Mountains
thar hills of Mendoza. It’s not news that block and catch most of the rain blowing in
Argentine wines from these grape varieties, Seven years after graduating with a degree from the Pacific and over Chile. Here an
and more, are respected internationally. in agriculture Sebastián had done fourteen indigenous population irrigated their crops
I recently toured several state-of-the- vintages; seven in the southern hemisphere of corn and legumes via hand-dug ditches
art Argentine wineries complete with at his family’s wineries and seven in flowing with endless summer-melt from
dazzling contemporary architecture, the northern hemisphere. He selected the Andes. Beneficial to grapes, Mendoza
ranks of stainless steel tanks and rows of wineries where winemaking was focused experiences some rain during the growing
costly French oak. The wines had achieved on grape varieties traditional to their areas season, but not in spring when it would over-
international standards. And in their own rather than following the trend toward stimulate berry development; and not in fall
ways some winemakers are going further international varieties. For example he when it might dilute the grapes.
to set an even higher bar. pursued how a Rioja winery unlocked the
secrets of Tempranillo, how a Portuguese According to the Book of Zuccardi,
Sebastián Zuccardi, third generation winemaker made Touriga Nacional and how Malbec is just a commodity; but given an
winemaker for his family’s Familia Zuccardi the Seghesio family in Sonoma brought forth understanding and response to climate
Winery, is one of them. He feels that the essence of Zinfandel. and soil, Malbec can take center stage
technology in the cellar has outstripped the as both refined and unique. At a recent
understanding of terroir; he is narrowing Sebastián’s search is grounded in history. presentation/tasting in Philadelphia,
his focus and drilling down to essentials: Argentina was first planted by Europeans Sebastián showed me soil maps of
climate, soil and human touch–or lack in the 1750s where they found ideal vineyard Mendoza’s five sub-appellations. Plumes of

18 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

a tasting

Zuccardi Q, 2015, a blend of Paraje Altamira and Vista Zuccardi Finca Canal 2013, Altamira appellation
Flores appellations Deep blue red, slight red fruit, most austere Malbec in the
Very deep blue red color, big fresh boysenberry nose, grouping but refined and satisfying in its enduring finish.
full in mouth, and a long lingering finish with an almost
imperceptible acidity. Tasting notes

Zuccardi Concreto (you guessed it, 100% aged in concrete!) In my opinion Sebastián Zuccardi has achieved a robust,
2016, Finca Infinita and Paraje Altimira appellations sophisticated and identifiable style of Malbec that is consistent
Deep blue red, less prominent fruit in nose, refined balance with his observations about his terroir. His wines have good
of body (velvety fine tannins), long finish. color, more red than black fruit, the tannins are lighter but more
noticeable in those wines he grew and vinified.
Zuccardi Aluvional La Consulta Village 2012, the vintage
preceding Sebastián’s regime, picked as very ripe fruit and My guess is that these wines will develop complexity in the cellar
aged in new French Oak and gracefully age longer than the fruit bombs that brought
Very dark blue red, super ripe, smooth, massive in mouth Mendoza into the spotlight a couple decades ago.
with sweet vanillans.

Zuccardi Aluvional Gualtallary 2013, Gualtallary appellation Faced with these options my plan is to lay down some of his
Deep blue red with slightly yeasty nose, medium to full 2013’s and drink as many bottles of 2012 as I can possibly get
body with slight astringency, all things suggesting it will my hands on!
benefit with age.

boulders, rocks and fine gravel spread east Sebastián Zuccardi is making changes in are less sweet vanillans extracted by the
from the Andes, washed down over millions the vineyard! A true rebel, he calls the black wine from exposure to new oak.
of years. The further from the Andes, the fruit flavor in Malbec “over-ripe” and is
lower the elevation. At lower elevations looking for a fresher red fruit taste, so Consistent with his Low-Tech point of view
temperatures are warmer. Here topsoil he picks when there is sufficient sugar to grapes are gently crushed by foot rather
washed from the mountain sides are deep, produce alcohol of 12.5 to 14%, but before than the rougher handling of mechanical
rich and fine sandy gravel. This is where the any hint of raisining. equipment. And, he also relies on
best vegetables are grown, but not grapes. indigenous yeast populations that come
The closer to the Andes, the higher the He feels some current winemaking in on the skins of the grapes rather than
elevation, the larger the rocks and the practices overwhelm Malbec’s most adding commercial strains.
more sparse soils. It is these elevated sites subtle, attractive features. Once grapes are
that have days with warm sunny ripening crushed and fermenting on their skins he is About the Author
days. Up into the mountains cool nights careful to not “over-extract” by extended
slow the ripening and extend the season, maceration – contending that this does Eric Miller has been an east coast American
preserve fresh acidity and retain the most not reduce the intense deep red-blue color winemaker for more than 40 years, first
delicate fruit smells. Like other high plains of his wines. Sebastian also avoids “over- at his family’s Benmarl Vineyards in New
grape districts (think Rattlesnake Hills and oaking” by using only concrete tanks or York State and then at Chaddsford Winery
Lake Chelan, WA) this diurnal variation older, less flavorful small French oak and in Pennsylvania, which he founded and
is ideal. Continuing his presentation, some larger 265 gallon oak foeders. The co-owned from 1982 through 2012. He has
Sebastián overlaid those maps with close- concrete, sand and stone in his tanks come spent all of his adult life growing, conceiving
ups identifying vineyard soil types within from Valle de Uca. Local, baby, local. Also, and producing wines, learning and teaching
Valle de Uca, then overlaid these with he does not paint or line his concrete tanks about wine, traveling to wine regions around
temperature and moisture studies. so the wine is able to absorb some oxygen the world, and, most importantly, tasting
via the container. It also comes in contact and drinking wine. He can be reached at
It is a bit of an understatement to say that exclusively with local materials. Thus there [email protected]

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 19

ostly A new breeding program
creates wine grapes that
Merlot are vinifera with a touch
of hybrid

By Patrick Murad

R egional names were the dominant method to identify productive) and making pleasant everyday wines. That was acceptable
wine until the 1960s when Charles Krug introduced until a false smear campaign questioned their human health status at
varietal labeling on wine bottles. Before varietal labeling, the same time as post-war regulators targeted the over supply of wine
purchasing wine revolved around stocking your cellar production and grapes by banning the these vines and thus the wines

with Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and other distinct wines from with American genetics.

localities with centuries of noted quality. Anti-Hybrid Bias

Another big change occurred when I was 16 working in my cousin’s Shades of eugenics, historical racism, ethnocentrism and the Nazi

store. While stocking the wine shelves and reading about wine, he Aryanpuritybeliefsarestill apparenttodayasanexisting“anti-hybrid

brought home a Krug (Napa Valley) Chenin Blanc. My first WOW grape world” exists where, for example, only “pure” Pinot Noir is

moment in wine and I was smitten. Since that time, the worthy of adulation. The first break in the armor of this wine

world’s new wine regions have opened up and built their grape bias was the introduction of the red wine grape

reputation on varietal names. Other than high alcohol "Shades “Regent” from the Geilweilerhof breeding program
of eugenics, historical
“wino” products the majority relied on borrowing racism, ethnocentrism in Germany. Due to its high disease resistance (from
regional names like Port, Rhine, Chablis and many and purity beliefs are no spray to maximum of 3 treatments a season)
others to market generic jugs and bottles of wine still apparent today as and its high wine quality, it forced regulators to
that probably were blends without any grapes even an existing “anti-hybrid allow the planting and selling of wine with less
associated with the regional name on the label. than 100% vinifera genetics. The dam was broken
grape world” exists and a movement called PIWI (the acronym for a
where only “pure”
Pinot Noir is worthy of

adulation. "

InMichigan,as inmostofthenewerwineregionsaround long German word) emerged for a class of vines that

the globe, the drive to build the industry tends to focus on can be grown with minimal use of fungus fighting sprays

the Vitis vinifera family of grapes like Riesling, Chardonnay and compared to that used on V. vinifera vines.

Pinot Noir. The early middle United States history of V. labruscas like

Concord, Catawba and others did not meet the standards of fine wine Most of these new varieties have been crossed using traditional

other than being a pleasant beverage with a kick. Later on in Europe, breeding techniques with selections made after growing the seeds out

after phyloxera’s destruction of the traditional old world vineyards in the field then selecting and testing for good plants. Significantly, in

and the solution of grafting onto American rootstock, a diverse group eachofthePolarVortexyearsattheSouthwestMichiganResearchand

of European breeders started hybridizing vines now referred to as Extension Center in Benton Harbor, two numbered varietals from the

“resistant direct producers.” Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute in Germany breeding program

produced full crops each year while pureV.viniferavinesexperienced

These vines, as the name implies, could be grown on their own roots total crop losses and required a full retraining of trunks and cordons.

doing away with the need for grafting. The other consequence of That little bit of extra hardiness and was enough to get them through

adding American genes to the mix was different levels of resistance to the winter extremes while growing five miles from the moderating

thenewly introduceddiseasesof powderymildew,downymildewand effects of Lake Michigan. These early attempts at vine improvement

other maladies brought over with plants from the new worlds. These all have varying positive traits and a few negative traits. These older

French-American hybrids found favor throughout Europe as growers crosses were done before the advent of marker assisted breeding.

and the rural population adopted them as easier to grow (thus more

20 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Gabriele FEATURE
Di Gaspero
Resistance and Increased Sustainability” — a daylong symposium in
photo courtesy of ilfriuli.com Leelanau, introducing these new vines and wines with a question: Why
have all other agricultural and horticulture crops shown improvement,
Mostly Merlot both through breeding and selection, while in the world of wine grapes,
we insist on remaining with the same varieties and actually demanding
Twenty years ago at the University of Udine in northeast Italy a that vineyard yields go down to a time earlier in the past century? No
molecular biologist named Gabriele Di Gaspero first started to use doubt the first question one asks before a new vineyard is planted is
this science to identify genetic markers for traits necessary for the who will buy my grapes? Or, what grapes do wineries need? The variety
improvement of wine grapes and to make viticulture truly sustainable. that the customer asks for in the tasting room is always the best seller.
He identified markers for resistance to downy mildew and powdery But the varietal naming convention is already 50 years old and may be
mildew, earlier maturity and cold hardiness. With these new tools, he nearing the end of its usefulness. How can we move forward with new
took great varietals —Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, varieties? I think the sustainability factor built into this new generation
Friulano and Pinot Noir— and crossed them with his refined selections of grapes is the way of the future. Organic (called Biological in Europe) is
with all the best traits. This allowed for the quick selection through now mainstream and growing quickly. Eastern Europe has experience,
classical breeding (hand pollination of male pollen to a female flower) the highest planting of these new wine grapes, both because of cold
that produced seeds and seedlings with the required traits, while hardiness and disease resistance and the lack of an historical reliance
eliminating the majority of the seeds lacking those markers, keeping on the traditional Mediterranean influenced Vitis vinifera vines.
only those with all of the desired traits.
Back to the Future?
With back-crossing, the vine remains mostly (90-95%) say Merlot
with the extra traits for resistance to downy mildew and the other Michigan’s love affair with vinifera started with Riesling, luckily the
positive traits. While not 100% vinifera, the wine quality is outstanding most cold hardy of the bunch. I remember an interview with a mature
compared to most of the vines created previously. While the vine is blues singer named Ruth Brown. In her youth, while singing on stage
not strictly “Merlot,” the regulators in Brussels are using a naming in a nightclub, she saw Billy Holiday walk in and did her best rendition
convention using two words combining the original vine’s name with of Billy’s song. Later in the dressing room Billy walked in and gave her
an historical name, e.g., “Merlot Kanthus.” some advice. When people hear you doing my songs they will remember
me not you. Do your own work and people will know you and support
T he Polar Vortex you. When a Michigan Riesling wins an international competition are
we still giving a share of our awards to the ancestral home of Riesling
Before the onset of climate change, Michigan’s predominant AVAs in Germany while still fighting an uphill battle for recognition?
(American Viticultural Areas)—Lake Michigan Shore, Leelanau
Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula—experienced winters with Is there a change coming? With these new grapes in our arsenal, the
damage to vinifera vines only one in twenty years (Lake Michigan Shore) economics of grape and wine production will change. The wine quality
or one in ten years (Leelanau and Old Mission). With the arrival of the is outstanding. The cold hardiness makes the economics of crop failure
Polar Vortex however, an unexpected sinister twist on the idea of global years a thing of the past. The reduction of multiple sprays per year is
warming occurred and we now can claim 3 crop losses in just the last 6 another plus with the growth potential of marketing organic wines.
years. Luckily, the slightly hardier, somewhat less-than-vinifera vines Today the “genetically improved,” “mostly Merlot” vines are available
first developed by di Gaspero could be extremely valuable to Michigan’s in California at Novavines, the sole importer and licensee. The nursery
extreme cold climate viticulture. Not to mention the similarity of our paid to import and put them through the certification process at the
wet-humid climate to Northern Italy where it is necessary to apply 16 Foundation Plant Services. They are now being grown in increased
fungicide sprays in a Pinot Grigio vineyard to produce a crop suitable blocks and will slowly be available over the next few years.
for wine making. Most of the promising new breeding programs are
located in hot and dry regions unlike the weather in Northeast Italy. About the Author

In August 2018, Dr Paolo Sabbatini, Associate Professor of Viticulture After two decades of retail and selling wine, Patrick Murad studied Enology
at Michigan State University, led off the “New Cultivars for Disease and Viticulture at Michigan State University under industry icon Dr. G.
Stanley Howell. After a couple vineyard management jobs in the Northwest
AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG Michigan region, he spent a few years working throughout the state while at
MSU as a research technician for Dr Paolo Sabbatini, Professor of Viticulture
in the Department of Horticulture.

Switzerland
A Productive Wine Country
by Gene Spaziani

photo credit: swisswine.ch

“So rare are Swiss wines outside their own country that it is easy to assume that they fall

short of international standards, but the Swiss are a critical, wine-conscious people. To

justify inevitably high prices there is every pressure on them to concentrate on high quality.”

— Hugh Johnson

Switzerland is not one and the same. It has four the first flare of spring, while skiing continues at a higher altitude. An
languages and 23 cantons, a wealth of variety abundant family of grape varieties prospers on the slopes that hang
that finds expression in its customs, ways of between heaven and earth, clinging to the rocks, lodged precariously
life, eating and drinking. Of course, our image on dizzying escarpments. The character of the Valais is in its wines:
of Switzerland is colored by the rustic traditions spirited, pugnacious, fiercely proud of their abundance.
of the ancestral kitchen: stews, cheese fondue
and dried meats. Less well-known abroad, the The Valais boasts numerous specialities: among the most renowned
wines of Switzerland owe their discretion to whites are: Dole Blance (Pinot Noir and Gamay vinified as a white),
the modest level of production. They reflect the Ermitage (Marsanne), Amigne (native variety), Petite Arvine (native
diversity of the country’s landscapes in a rich gamut of tastes. To variety), Malvoise (Pinot Gris) and Riesling. Red specialities include:
know them better is to savor the originality of their soils and flavors. Gamay, Humagne Rouge (native variety), Syrah and Cornalin. The
The grape may give the key but the soil makes the song. Chasselas or appellation Oeil-de-Perdrix is reserved for Swiss rosé wines made
Pinot Noir, for example, play in subtle nuances or striking contrasts exclusively from Pinot Noir.
depending on the location and climate of each vineyard.
THE VAUD
THE VALAIS
Terraced vineyards scale the heights around Lake Geneva presenting
The Rhone marks its domain, gouging a relief that rages from the a magnificent spectacle. Blessed by the Gods, this locality produces
glacial heights of the Matterhorn to the sun-warm embrace of the the prince of Chasselas wines: Dezaley. A grape sensitive to variations
valley. A country of contrasts, where the almond trees blossom at in the soil, Chasselas responds with grace and elegance to the prodigal
offerings of the five vine-growing districts of Vaud. The region is

22 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

shaped by this diversity of expression: the Alps and the Jura form SIPTALK
its frontiers north and south. Which best reflects its spirit of finesse
and mischief — the people and the wine. Among the appellations
d’origine are also wines made from Pinot Noir, Gamay, as well as,
most notably, Müller-Thurgau, Sylvaner and Pinot Gris.

GENEVA photo credit: swisswine.ch

Cleaving the city of Geneva, the Rhone maintains its thrust to the NEUCHATEL, LES TROIS LACS
borders of the canton. On the right bank, we are enjoined to explore
the amiable slopes that rest of the foothills of the Jura. On the left Tagging the banks of the lakes of Neuchatel, Bienne and Morat, the
bank, the vineyards are scattered plantings, framed by the Arve and vineyards follow the contours, drawing back and returning in gentle
the Rhone. To the southeast, a third district between the Arve and undulations or bristling slopes. Together they form the smallest
the Rhone prolongs the tranquil pleasures of visiting wine lovers. wine district of French Switzerland. The Chasselas whites have a
seductive, appetizing, refreshing lightness. Their bouquet is redolent
The white grapes Chasselas, Chardonnay and Aligote, as well as of the secret aromas of reseda, lily of the valley or woodruff. Proud
the red grapes Gamay Tand Pinot Noir are ideally suited to the of their Pinot Noir heritage, the reds impress with their frankness,
different soils of Geneva, allowing them to develop their distinct dignity and nobility. The wines reflect the delicate light of the lake
and elegant characters. and pale yellow shores.

In 1988, the canton of Geneva introduced the appellations d’origine Grown from the same varieties of Chasselas and Pinot Noir, the white
controlees (AOC), giving the consumer a guarantee of the origin and red wines made on the shores on the Lac de Bienne (Twann,
and specific quality of a wine. These appellations are reserved for Schafis, Ligerz, Tuscherz, Vingelz, La Neuveville, Le Landeron) and
growths from strictly defined localities. Vully (Fribourg) bear a family resemblance. Worthy of mention too
are some parcels of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Müller-Thurgau in
TICINO the same districts which do great credit to the growers. L’Oeil-de-
Perdrix de Neuchâtel deserves a special mention. A free-run rosé
The climate and hilly terrain of the most southerly of the cantons made from Pinto Noir, it is a wine of superb distinction.
provide perfect conditions for vines to prosper. Merlot, a Bordeaux
grape perfectly adapted to the Ticino, is asserting itself in increasingly EASTERN SWITZERLAND
famous selections. White wines made from the Chasselas, Sauvignon, On the banks of the Rhine or the shores of Lake
Semillon and Chardonnay grapes, though still very rare, are becoming Zurich, on sheltered slopes carefully exposed
more popular. Merlot also produces excellent rosés. to the sun, the vines of German Switzerland
are legion. The painstaking devotion of the
growers makes for wines that can surprise
and enchant the connoisseur. The constraints
imposed by the climate are more than offset by
a concern for quality. The professionalism of
the producers, their determination to produce
only the very best, are worthy of the highest
praise. And the same is due to their wines.

About the Author

Gene Spaziani is the author of The Home
Winemaker’s Companion, a retired college
professor and administrator and an award-
winning home winemaker. He can be reached
via email at: [email protected]

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG Photo credit: Switzerland Guild of Sommeliers

23

ew Zealand wine producer Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon perhaps convincing the outside world that New Zealand farmers
Blanc and Pinot Noir may be the winery’s bread and could grow something other than sheep.
butter, but Chardonnay is also its piece of cake.
The famous grower, which has vineyards in both It is important for drinkers in the northern hemisphere to remember
that not only are there switches in the seasons – with New Zealand
N its Marlborough homeland on the South Island
and at Hawke’s Bay on the North Island, makes 1.1 grapes being harvested in the early spring – but also that growing

million cases of Sauvignon and only 22,000 cases of grapes in the north and south also mean a different orientation. In

Chardonnay. New Zealand, generally speaking, the farther south on the South

Island a vineyard is located, the better the area is for growing

“There are a lot of new clones of Chardonnay being grown, cool-weather grapes, adjusting for ocean exposure and elevation.

and we are quite excited by their flavors,” Anthony Walkenhorst, The northern part of the North Island, by contrast, is closer to the

head winemaker for Kim Crawford, said at a recent luncheon in tropics, and thus the place to grow warmer-climate grapes. Yet with

Philadelphia. “A lot of producers are beginning the exception of a few places such as Hawke’s Bay’s

to make Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc. "Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels, where Syrah can flourish, New
There is increased interest, particularly in the accounts for 7,825 Zealand grows primarily cool-weather grapes such
Hawke’s Bay area.” And American consumers as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
are beginning to take note that the wine press, acres or about
sommeliers and shop owners, none normally 10% of all white To illustrate Sauvignon’s dominance, of the
enthusiastic about yet another New World grapes grown in 95,580 acres of New Zealand vineyards, 76,407
Chardonnay, have become very impressed with New Zealand" are in white grapes, and 78% of that number is
this varietal as grown (Way) Down Under. Sauvignon Blanc – about 60,000 acres in total.
Chardonnay accounts for 7,825 acres or about
While Chardonnay is queen of the white grapes in 10% of all white grapes grown. Pinot Grigio makes

Europe, the U.S. and, indeed, around the world, in up about 8%. Although Chardonnay is grown

New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc will most likely always remain that throughout both islands, only in the two most northern regions

country’s iconic, go-to grape for white wines. The wine industry – Northland and Auckland – and Gisborne on the northeast coast

there is remarkably less than a century old, so it’s still figuring is Chardonnay the dominant grape grown. While acreage planted

out the best proportions of what grapes to grow where and which to Chardonnay has not significantly increased, plantings have

wines to make with them. Nevertheless, Chardonnay has risen grown steadily. Not surprisingly, there are regional variations in

in stature, both for everyday wines as well as wines judged to be how Chardonnay tastes. “Chardonnays grown in the Hawke’s Bay

among the greatest in the world. area are more tropical or taste like ripe peaches,” Walkenhorst

says, “while those grown in Marlborough tend to be more citrusy.”

A century ago, the dominant grape varieties for wine in New

Zealand’s small wine industry were hybrids and the somewhat dull- I first visited the region myself about 15 years ago for a Christmas

tasting Muller-Thurgau (although Northern Italy can do wonders dinner (in the middle of summer) being hosted by a group of New

with the grape). It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that outside Zealand producers called the Family of 12 and being held at Kumeu

investment, primarily from neighboring Australia and from the River winery, one of the members. The drive from Auckland to the

United States, that the country’s wine industry began to prosper, winery went through rolling hills, a countryside that reminded me

New Zealand’s
Chardonnay plantings are still

"Chardonnays grown in the Hawke’s Bay area are more tropical or taste like ripe peaches, while those grown in
Marlborough tend to be more citrusy.”

very much of the English Midlands. But even then the city’s suburbs After seven months of resting on the lees to increase mouthfeel,
were encroaching on the farmland. the components are then blended and lightly fined before bottling.
Another Marlborough icon, Cloudy Bay, begins by gently pressing
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to again meet up with Paul the grapes, allowing the juice to settle, then racking it before
Brajkovich, the marketing director of the family-owned Kumeu transferring to French barrels, only 15% of which are new. As with
River, at a tasting in New York which featured several back vintages Babich, only about one-fourth of the wine go through malolactic,
of its estate and single-vineyard Chardonnays. “Remember, we are but its wine stays longer in the barrels – about eleven months.
surrounded by the ocean,” Brajkovich said. “And even that far north,
it still gets frosty, but with no snow” – it is the perfect weather for One of New Zealand’s most-famous winemakers, a native
growing Chardonnay. of Australia, is Steve Smith, a Master of Wine who directed
winemaking at Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay from its startup
Of the 40 or so of his Chardonnays we tasted going back to a dozen until a few years ago when he decided to look for new adventures.
years ago, the hallmarks of Kumeu River Chardonnays are that they Today, he is co-owner along with American entrepreneur Brian
are elegant, well-structured with good acidity in the finish, have Sheth of a new Hawke’s Bay winery, Smith & Sheth. Smith made
the ability to age and, yes, are loaded with minerality – “Chablis some of the most complex, richest-tasting wines in the world at
without the chalk.” As we were tasting these beautiful, crisp whites, Craggy, so his many fans are waiting until his “Cru” brand of
Brajkovich interrupted to say, “You may be surprised that all these wines are imported into the U.S. Among these wines are a couple
wines went through 100% malolactic fermentation,” a process that of Cru Chardonnays, whose grapes are crushed with the stems still
normally softens and enrichens the wines. attached and then are transferred, unsettled, directly into French
oak barrels, a whopping two-thirds of which are new wood, and
The winemaking process followed by Paul’s brother, Michael, begins allowed to begin fermentation without being induced. Eventually,
with whole-bunch pressing of the harvested fruit into barrels, where the juice will proceed naturally through malolactic fermentation.
wild fermentation is allowed to take place, as Kumeu River has The wines then remain in the barrels for almost a year.
conducted several studies on winemaking without use commercial
yeast and without induced fermentation. After fermentation, the Finally, New Zealand Chardonnay has three things going for it:
wines remain in barrels on their lees in order to lessen the buttery 1. Chardonnay is the varietal that remains most in demand
flavors that malo can impart. worldwide, and especially in the U.S. 2. New Zealand Sauvignon
Blanc is no longer a new discovery and is generating less buzz, thus
Of course, the protocol for making New Zealand Chardonnay giving producers there something else talk about 3. At the end of the
varies from winery to winery and from region to region. Babich, day, New Zealand Chardonnays are just too damn good to ignore!
which makes a Chardonnay with organically grown grapes coming
from Marlborough region, is more eclectic than Kumeu River in About the Author
its approach. After the juice is cold-stabilized, it goes into either
new French oak barrels, old French oak barrels or stainless-steel Roger Morris is a Pennsylvania-based writer who contributes articles to
vats for fermentation using a blend of native and cultured yeasts. several publications, including Wine Enthusiast, Town & Country, The
Drinks Business, Beverage Media and TheDailyMeal.com. Roger can be
reached at [email protected]

other white wine
small, but the results can be huge

by Roger Morris

New Jersey
is known for
Springsteen, Diners,
Salt-water taffy,

and now Wine?

by Danny Klein &
Frances Denmark

MDefying the odds, New Jersey winemakers are betting on the futureany times, I have poured a glass of wine
for someone in the wine industry… While serendipity may have inspired Heritage to make wine, it is
After a sip, their face lights up and going to take grit and determination for New Jersey winemakers
they ask me where the wine is from. to grow their presence outside state lines, as have their New York,
I reply, “New Jersey” and their lit-up Michigan, Texas and Virginia counterparts. For starters, there
face goes into puzzlement. “NJ? Yes, is the need for action by the state legislature to amp up the state
really NJ.” I’ve had this experience promotion budget, as well as the quest for a state varietal. Despite
these and other obstacles, Garden State winemakers are charging

with many wine “Rock Stars” such ahead, undaunted.

as Peter Mondavi Jr, Chuck Wagner

and Joel Peterson as well as many others deep in the wine industry. With its longtime moniker, NJ is known as the Garden State,

Once the puzzled look leaves their face, they turn to a “well how indigenous home of the blueberry and its boast of having the

about that” look as if they thought about it and it makes sense. second oldest continuously operating winery in the nation (Renault

Winery). What is stopping state winemakers from crafting great

Bill Heritage was first struck by the wine bug at a 1997 apple and wines? After all, there are four AVAs, a similar temperature and

peach convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. A fourth generation climate to Bordeaux and a location right between such advancing

New Jersey fruit farmer, Heritage decided to check out the wine AVAs as the New York Finger Lakes and Virginia. A quick look at

grapes program on the last day of the event. One session was all it New Jersey’s wine history sheds light on its complicated story.

took; he was hooked on the grape.

New Jersey wine grapes were first planted before the Revolutionary

“We went home and planted an acre of Chardonnay and Cabernet War following the British Royal Society’s 1758 challenge to the

Franc grapes,” he explains about his early dream of becoming a colonies to grow quality vinifera. A sum of £200 was finally awarded

grower. “We were going to baby step our way in.” But Heritage’s to each of two New Jersey farmers, one of whom became a general

wife Penni had another idea. Following a trip to the New York under George Washington, explains Tom Cosentino, executive

Finger Lakes region to explore the art of winemaking, the couple director of the New Jersey Grape Growers Association.

decided to launch Heritage Winery.

By the 19th century, New Jersey grapes had begun to flourish.

In 2002, after a rave review by a local radio station the new Heritage In 1864, Louis Nicolas Renault emigrated from Reims, France to

winery sold its first 500 bottles of 2001 Chardonnay. Nearly twenty start his winery. In 1870 Renault released the first “New Jersey

years later, now William Heritage Sparkling Brut walked away with Champagne,” and became the largest U.S. distributor. His base,

the Best in Show award at this year’s Garden State Wine Challenge. the shore town of Egg Harbor, garnered the nickname “Wine City”.

26 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Judges rating the wine Wine Competition. In addition, Beneduce Vineyards' score of 93
from James Suckling topped all other U.S. Pinot Noirs other than
California and Oregon.

Today, Chardonnay is the number one varietal in a state that is
also growing a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and the
hybrids Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc and Traminette. With over 50
wineries, some are diversifying into Spanish, French and Italian
varietals. Vinifera do better down south,” explains Cosentino,
“while hybrids and native grapes flourish up north.”

Award winning new jersey wines It will take continued experimentation and promotion – with a
“dosage” of serendipity thrown in - to surface the best grapes to
But the 20th century brought several blows to the burgeoning grow in New Jersey soil. Just ask Bill Heritage.
New Jersey wine industry. These included the devastating pest
Phylloxera, the nationwide Prohibition on alcoholic beverages When Heritage first tried to grow Pinot Noir grapes, he discovered
and in addition, a restrictive NJ law that only allowed one winery that the nights were too hot for a successful product. After over
license for every one million residents. a decade of trying, he was ready to pull out all the vines when his
winemaker, Sean Comninos, suggested making sparkling wine.
It was not until 1981, with the passage of the New Jersey Farm
Winery Act, that small growers were permitted to open new The first 2014 vintage was a revelation. “Ever since then we’ve been
wineries. With the door open to developing the modern New Jersey all about sparkling,” Heritage explains. “I tell my kids; this is the
wine industry, there are still further impediments to success, says future.” Cosentino, who is betting on the next generation, agrees.
Cosentino. For example, the relatively small state budget for wine “More and more young people from Rutgers and Cornell are taking
promotion, when compared to advancing AVAs like New York and New Jersey wine to the next level,” he reports.
Virginia. There has been some help in partnering with the Atlantic
Seaboard Wine Association that promotes other East Coast wines. Now almost 150 years since Renault’s NJ Sparkling swept across
the nation, William Heritage takes the Best of Show award at the
Despite these struggles, New Jersey wines were showing especially Garden State Wine Challenge with his Estate Reserve Vintage
well when, on a hot sunny day in late July, twenty American Wine Brut, a blend of 71% Chardonnay and 29% Pinot Noir from the
Society-certified wine judges from around the U.S., convened at the Outer Coastal Plain AVA. Cheers, the future of NJ wine making
New Jersey State Fairgrounds to participate in the annual Garden once again looks bright!
State Wine Challenge. The tasting, which has upped its game in
the past nine years since partnering with the AWS, included both About the Author
amateur and commercial categories. Nine winners, including the
2016 William Heritage Estate Reserve Sparkling Brut were selected Danny Klein is a regional vice president of the American Wine Society and has judged
from among 150 entrants. for nationwide wine competitions. He holds Specialist of Wine (SWE), WSET and
other wine judge certifications. Additionally, he is the Chairman of the NJ State Fair
Outside of their home state, New Jersey wine has also begun to Garden State Wine Challenge. Over the past few years, he has been the assistant
win international medals including a Best in Class for Bellview organizer/coordinator for such world-renowned events such as Robert Parker’s “A
Winery’s 2017 Gruner Veltliner in the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Matter of Taste” and Wine Riot, as well as the moderator for the Eastern Winery
Expo, Wineries Unlimited and the American Wine Society National Conference.
He is also an award-winning winemaker and owner of multiple wine trademarks.
He has been featured in such magazines as Beverage Media, Kiplinger’s, Princeton
Business Review, Smart Money and the OSHA Compliance Advisor.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 27

NEW OR

NOTEWORTHY
BY JIM RINK

WINE INDUSTRY BOOSTS NAPA HARVEST OUTLOOK
NY ECONOMY BY $13.8 BILLION
With approximately 75% of total winegrapes harvested throughout
The production, distribution, sales, and consumption Napa Valley, consensus among growers who spoke at the Napa
of wine in New York benefits many sectors of the Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) annual press conference in October
state’s economy and generates close to $13.8 billion has been a smooth, balanced growing season and that the fruit
in total economic activity, according to a 2017 shows superb flavors.  The 15th annual press conference, held
Economic Report on Wine prepared by John Dunham at Cliff Lede Vineyards, was moderated by NVG CEO Jennifer
& Associates, New York. This ultimate value-added Putnam and featured three dynamic industry leaders.
product preserves agricultural land, provides American jobs, attracts
tourists, generates taxes, and enhances the quality of life. Jon Ruel, CEO of Trefethen Family Vineyards, said that he tasted
the active red fermentations with Trefethen’s winemaker yesterday
The broader economic impact flows throughout the state, and the “concentrated flavors” of the 2019 vintage are emerging.
generating business for firms seemingly unrelated to the wine
industry. Real people, with real jobs, working in industries as “The growing season was quite nice, with a lot of warmth, and
varied as farming, banking, accounting, manufacturing, packaging, that helped us catch up from what was a little bit of a cold, wet
transportation, printing, and marketing depend on the wine start,” said Ruel. “That nice, beautiful sunshine got us back on
industry for their livelihoods. schedule with some pretty tasty grapes.  The pace of harvest has
been calm.”
The New York wine industry includes a total of 450 wine
producers as well as 11,684 acres of vineyards. The New York wine Ruel also added that August was the warmest August since 2003,
industry directly employs as many as 62,450 people, and generates due to warmer evenings overall.  This led to lower acidity in the
an additional 14,359 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries which grapes. “We pay attention to the chemistry of the grapes,” added
supply goods and services to the industry, and whose sales depend Ruel. “We want to make sure we capture the natural acidity and
on the wine industry’s economic activity. Ultimately, 101,806 jobs get it into the bottle.”
are created and supported by the wine industry.
AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG
The New York wine industry is a major magnet for tourists and
tourism-driven expenses. New York’s “wine country” regions
generates 4.5 million tourist visits and $1.8 billion in annual tourism
expenditures, benefiting local economies and tax bases.

28

2020 AWS CONFERENCE INDUSTRYNEWS

COMES TO WASHINGTON Flawless and I Taste Red. Pre-conference tours explore Walla Walla
The American Wine Society will and Yakima, as well as Woodinville wineries.
hold its annual conference in “We’re thrilled that the American Wine Society has decided to
Washington state for the first time, bring this esteemed conference to Washington,” said Steve Warner,
when the event comes to Bellevue, President of Washington State Wine. “We look forward to attendees
Oct. 29 -31, 2020. discovering for themselves why Washington is the new epicenter
of wine.”
The conference features more than While the conference focuses on fun and exploration, it offers more
40 sessions with leading figures in the wine world, wine-paired in-depth opportunities, including Wine & Spirit Education Trust,
meals, walk-around tastings and certification programs. The Wines Certified Wine Judge Program and Super Tasting Series.
of Washington will be a highlight of the conference.
Photo by: Credit Colin Walker Bellevue Parks Community Services
“Washington wines have evolved quickly and to such exceptional
quality, they are impossible for wine lovers to overlook,” said American
Wine Society Executive Director David Falchek. “Our members are
thrilled at this opportunity to revisit long-time favorite wineries and
discover new ones in Washington’s dynamic, diverse wine landscape.”
Unique conference features include a Washington Wine Welcome
Reception, a meal paired with Wines of the Czech Republic, and a
keynote address from British wine writer Jamie Goode, author of

POPUP SPARKLER HAS A BOTTLE CAP

Charles Smith, award-winning  Washington “With POPUP, the goal was to make a delicious sparkling
State winemaker and founder of Wines of Substance, wine that was especially fresh, accessible and easy to
launches POPUP – a brand new sparkling wine perfect drink,” said Charles Smith. “With a pop-off bottle cap
for any holiday gathering, and so much more. POPUP is
designed to be enjoyed any day of the week regardless top, contemporary label and affordable price point,
of the occasion. POPUP is an unpretentious take on one of the world’s
most celebrated traditions: wine with bubbles.”
Inspired by the great sparkling wine regions of the
world, POPUP is the of-the-moment, approachable POPUP marks the latest innovation from Smith as he
and inclusive wine for everyone, featuring an celebrates his 20th anniversary in the wine industry
innovative pop-off bottle cap and a colorful pop- and the growth of Wines of Substance, which is now
art inspired label – the first-ever wine from Charles the 33rd largest wine company in the United States.
Smith to feature a full color label. Offering exceptional With roots in Washington state - the fastest growing
quality and value, POPUP will be available in wine region in the country – Smith’s wines are
November for a suggested retail price of $14.99 at distributed in all U.S. states and in multiple countries,
retailers nationwide. and his Seattle winery, Jet City, is the largest urban
winery on the West Coast.
AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG
29

American Wine Society 2019 Commercial Competition Conducted October 29-30

The American Wine Society held its 2019 Annual Commercial Wine Competition on October 29 and 30, 2019, at the Trade Winds
Hotel in St Pete Beach, Florida. The American Wine Society is the oldest and largest consumer-based wine organization in the
United States. The American Wine Society Commercial Competition is one of the longest running in the nation (over 40 years)
with participation from wineries across the United States and, in fact, from around world. All types of still and sparkling wines
were eligible for entry into the Competition, including ciders, meads, and fruit wines.

A panel of 24 certified judges scored approximately 480 wines divided into flight categories over the course of the two-day
judging. Medals were awarded at double-gold, gold, silver, and bronze levels and special recognition was given to eleven Best of
Category winners and a single overall Best of Show winner.

The 2019 American Wine Society Commercial Competition issued 73 gold/double-gold medals, 190 silver medals and 170 Bronze
medals. The Best of Category winners are listed below and the overall Best of Show winner was the 2018 Traminette from Seven
Mountains Wine Cellars, Spring Mills Pennsylvania. The AWS congratulates all of the 2019 Commercial Competition winners!

Best of Category Winners:

Best White Vinifera: Glenora Wine Cellars Semi-Dry Reserve Riesling
Best Red Vinifera: Bordeleau Winery Cabernet Franc

Best Hybrid: Seven Mountains Wine Cellars Traminette
Best Native: Holemans LLC: Holiday Heaven
Best Rose: Kevin O’Leary Reserve Rose

Best Sparkling: Lakeview Wine Cellars Cavitation
Best Dessert Wine: Ferrante Winery Vidal Ice Wine
Best Fruit Wine: Florida Orange Groves Winery Florida Fever

Best Mead: Deerfoot Vineyard Siren Song
Best Distilled Spirit: Lang Beverage Company Lang’s Gin
Best of the Southeastern US: Florida Orange Groves Winery Florida Fever
Overall Best of Show: Seven Mountains Wine Cellars Traminette

For more information, visit americanwinesociety.org

30 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

The Hard Truth About PERSPECTIVE

by: Neal D. Hulkower

hese days there seems to be a rule that a tasting note, “describing a wine as mineral or as possessing minerality should not

especially for a white wine, must include the word be referring to actual minerals – geologic or nutrient – but should

“mineral” or one of its forms. Describing a wine’s smell be recalling…some mental association.”

or flavor as minerally has been around at least since the

mid twentieth century. My notes on a 1967 Chablis Grand Cru Along with three collaborators, Maltman published a review of

Vaudésir from Domaine Mary Drouhin in March 1976 mention a studies performed to understand how and why minerality is

minerally finish. While we know that just because we can smell perceived. Early researchers solicited from professionals a definition

violets or taste blackberries doesn’t mean that these flowers or of minerality and asked which sense(s) detected it. No consensus

fruits are actually in the wine, many folks seem to think that they arose for a definition nor for the perception mode. Studies involving

are sensing real minerals in their glasses. This belief coincides with consumers revealed different interpretations of the word than those

the rise of “terroirism,” the idea that the land is a dominant influence of professionals.

on the taste of wine. Here, for example, is the description of a 2017

Saumur-Champigny “Les Mémoires” in the March 2019 Kermit So what is it that we all seem to be sensing? Research revealed a

Lynch Newsletter: “And not only raspberries, but blood orange, connection between aromatic white varieties such as Sauvignon

fine tannins, and incredible minerality. Blanc and Riesling and the perception

The stone that once built a château now “Describing a wine as mineral or as of minerality. But the evidence of the
fills bottles”…but notice, no mention of physicochemical drivers of this perception
the fruit being in there as well! possessing minerality should not be is still considered insufficient and even

referring to actual minerals – geologic contradictory. For example, the review
With a series of articles, Alex Maltman, paper cites five studies that support
a retired Professor of Earth Sciences at or nutrient – but should be recalling… acidity as a driver of perceived minerality
Aberystwyth University in Wales who some mental association.” and four that do not.

grows grapes and makes wine, became

the leading voice challenging the notion that there are rocks in The idea that you are not actually tasting minerals, either geologic

your wine. “Stones are inert…so scientifically it’s hard to see how or nutrient, may be hard to swallow. But look at it this way, isn’t it

they can imbue a wine with certain flavors,” he insists. His book, time that we replace this facile overused descriptor with something

Vineyard, Rocks, & Soils: The Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology, offers more specific, original or perhaps even impressionistic?

winemakers and wine enthusiasts a crash course in geology, the 1 Maltman, A. (2013a). Mineral taste in wine, minerals in the vineyard…Are they connected? Wines
science that includes minerals in its domain, with the hope that a & Vines, 94 (5), 63-70.

deeper understanding will dispel misconceptions. 2 Maltman, A. (2013b). Minerality in wine: a geological perspective. Journal of Wine Research, 24
(3), 169-181.

There are two classes of minerals, geologic, from which rocks are 3Parr, W., Maltman, A., Easton, S. and Ballester, J. (2018). Minerality in Wine: Towards the Reality behind
made, and nutrient, which typically come from humus in the soil. the Myths. Beverages, 4, 77. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/beverages4040077
Most nutrients have no smell and little taste. In addition, the process
of turning the grapes into wine alters the nutrient content in the About the Author
finished product. Moreover, the concentration of these nutrients
are measured in parts per million. It is the organic compounds in Neal Hulkower is a mathematician and an oenophile living in McMinnville,
wine that can be detected in even smaller quantities and generally Oregon. His wine writing has appeared in the Journal of Wine Research, the
overwhelm any impact the nutrients might have. Maltman concludes: Journal of Wine Economics, Oregon Wine Press, Practical Winery & Vineyard, Wine
Press Northwest, and The World of Fine Wine. He was also a field editor for Slow
Wine 2020. He can occasionally be found pouring some of Oregon’s finest in a
tasting room and wine bar in Newberg.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 31

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32

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NEXT ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL Ad Submission &
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A new signature grape for the Northeastern United States may be here.
Read all about it in the next issue of the Journal. Blue Flower Graphic Design

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The American Wine Society Wine Journal
is the official journal of the American
Wine Society, a non-profit educational

organization dedicated to the education of
its members and the general public on all

aspects of wine.

The Wine Journal is a quarterly publication
and is sent to all AWS members, either
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