Why Clones Matter – And Do they Trump Terroir? | Napa Valley Wine Academy



If you look closely at these bottles of wine, you’ll notice the labels don’t look like the ones you’ll find at a retailer. In fact, these bottles aren’t for sale. They were part of a specialized tasting sponsored by Gloria Ferrer featuring five different wine clones. Each of these Pinot Noirs were made from grapes grown in the vineyards planted near each other, but tasted wildly different. It was a perfect study in the importance of the individual vines.

Curious to know more? Or what I’m even talking about? Take a look at my latest piece for the Napa Valley Wine Academy’s Pouring Points blog.

Read it here: Why Clones Matter – And Do they Trump Terroir? | Napa Valley Wine Academy


Blame It On The Pyrazine!

I may have mentioned this already, but I have a hard time with Cabernet Sauvignons. As a California wine lover, who loves visiting Napa, this can be a bit frustrating. Even in blends, when it’s not the dominate grape, I can easily detect its presence.

The reason? I’m not a fan of green bell peppers, and whenever that flavor is present, it leaves behind a terrible bitter taste. No matter how lush the fruit and other flavors that may waft from the glass, just a tiny taste turns the entire experience sour for me. 

Fortunately, there have been a few exceptions. I recently had a glass of Stag’s Leap Hands of Time Napa Valley Red Blend, which I gladly accepted a second glass of; and I’ve been able to tolerate some Cabernets when paired well with food.

But it turns out, there’s a name for this flavor – and a reason it’s detected in certain wines. More importantly, I may not be the only one who’s sensitive to it (see this 2010 blog post on the subject). It’s a chemical compound called Pyrazine.

The chemical often appears in Sauvignon Blancs, too. But I’m much more likely to tolerate it there. In fact, I’ll actively order SBs and love the crisp mix of high acidity with citrus flavors and some light herbaceousness.  Given my choice, I’ve always enjoyed California SBs to those from New Zealand. And wouldn’t you know it: Pyrazine is more apparent in Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough than those from California (So why can’t winemakers do the same with their Cabernets?).

I’m guessing there are probably additional chemical reactions that happen in red wine, which make it less approachable for me. I hope to research this further and learn more about it. For now, however, I’m glad I can put a name to it.

(Photo by Manfred Moitzi via flickr and creative commons.)

How to Make Mass-Produced Wine Taste Great | Magazine | WIRED

Wired has a good piece today on Paul Draper’s quest to pressure other winemakers to list all the ingredients on their labels. Among other reasons, doing so, the industry fears, will take the romantic luster out of their products. But that’s not the link I’m posting on top of this page.

As much as I’ve been reading (and trying the wines) of the In Pursuit of Balance group – who avoid many of the ingredients that would appear on the labels of mass-produced wines – I’ve never really taken the time to study the logistics of making wine at bigger operations.

But Wired was smart and keyed to this piece I missed back in April that I’m now sharing with you. It’s a good infochart that breaks down the increasing wine consumption numbers, along with the additives and other tricks that go into wine making.

But as noted in the Draper article: 

“For thousands of years, wine has made itself with guidance by man, rather than being made by man,” says Draper. The greatness of a wine should be driven by the grapes and the earth they come from, not what a tinkerer can do with them in the lab.

History has his back. In Bordeaux, vigneron is the term for a grape cultivator, the man who works the fields and tends the vines. But, notes Draper, “In French, there is no word for winemaker.”

How to Make Mass-Produced Wine Taste Great | Magazine | WIRED