A co-worker has shown a new interest in wine and has asked me for alot of advice.
Thinking about what makes wine good I have to say that terroir has the largest impact on how the wine tastes.
Well what is terroir? To me its all the things that the winemaker/vineyard cannot control. It’s the soil, the weather, the rainfall, the slope of the land and all that good stuff.
Even if the land is perfect the weather has to be within a certain range. Grapes do not like cold and do not like to hot either. Some grapes do better in the heat than others and some just do not do cold.
Lets look at the current fav grape: Cabernet Sauvignon. It comes from Bordeaux, and is a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Both also Bordeaux grapes.
Just an aside, in Bordeaux, there are 4 main red grapes which are blended: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Depending where you are there are more or less of each grape but rarely are there single grape wines. Quite different from the new world.
Bordeaux is basically on our latitude and is a cool climate area. Not hot, not cold but the area definitely is not hot.
That s why a Bordeaux is so different from an Aussie or California wine.
Lets look to Australia. Most of Australia is hot (ok there are some cool regions, but go with me here). The wines are big and jammy and high alcohol.
California is everything, cooler, hot perfect. A Napa is a Napa because Napa is perfect for Cab. But they are bigger more luxurious wines than Bordeaux.
Why is this? Well three things happen to a grape when it ripens. At veraison, the grape starts to change color and the acid reduces and the sugar increases.
In a cooler area, this is later, and the acid/sugar tetter-totter stays in the acid camp. The acid is still there and the brix (sugar level) is lower and as a result the alcohol is around 12.5%. The third leg is the ripeness of the grape. The grape must mature and be ready to harvest, It may have enough sugar, but if it is not mature the wine will be awful. This is the “green pepper” taste. This is why they do not do Cabernets in Germany, the grapes couldn’t mature. When you hear the term “hanging” they are waiting for the grapes to be ready.
I unhappily remember a Cab I bought from a very respected Niagara producer. I partnered it with a great local steak and oi, the wine was green, not ripe and the steak was tough…a twofer of badness. And the wine was $28 so it should have been good. It wasn’t faulted but he used non mature grapes…oi…btw I forgive him and now avoid the Cab and drink the Riesling and Pinot….goood
In a hot climate, the Brix climb, the acid falls and the grapes are not mature yet, so the acid falls too low and the burnt fruit tastes come forward in the extreme event. These are the famous “Fruit Bombs”. High alcohol. big wines which tend to be fruit forward and heavily oaked.
Ah oak…why heavy, well in the hot areas the acid becomes too low and acid must be added to the wine. If done right you really don’t notice, but there are big flavors, so heavy oak. Bombs, not subtle but they have their place.
In cooler areas there may not be enough sugar so sugar is added. This is called chaptilization and is legally controlled. Ok alot of people cheat so they get high alcohol
So cool climate wines tend to be more delicate and complex. The subtle flavours haven’t been burnt out by the sun and they are not as big.
Its all what you like. Me I like delicate reds, and big whites…ok I am crazy…but i really like the subtle flavours that come from the cool climates versus the fruit bombs.
I think they go better with food (it may be the natural acid which cleans the palate). But Sir Rod likes his BIG ZINS….the are too big for me.
All I can say is drink what you like. you are right for you.
Yesterday, Terry and I went to two new wineries and am glad to say that both were very nice.
Our first stop was Oxley Estates. Hans-Peter, the winemaker taught me in my certification and Anne and Murray, the owners were in my class.
The winery officially opened in the summer and is housed in a renovated barn and they did a very good job. Airy bright and inviting, the atmosphere is very good. Staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and really made the visit pleasant. My only complaint is the walk up which is gravel and not too comfy…not a real problem but I bet it will get concrete soon.
Wines: Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Regent and Cab Franc.
Rose: dry and crisp….nice change
Chardonnay: unoaked and refreshing
Pinot Noir: wonderful nose and I really want to taste a whole bottle before I comment cos this will be a review wine. I liked it
Regent: a German red wine grape. It is very interesting and I will review some..
Cab Franc: nicely done.
They really seem to have done things right and with defined plans. Nothing is cheaply done nor without a long term plan. They will improve and get better. I am expecting quite alot from them and they are adventurous and free thinkers.
North 42 is another winery I was looking forward to. I had met Martin several years ago and he talked of his plan and since then I have waited as patiently as I could.
I hoped the wines would be different and the two that they are offering are…and they are quite good.
Open for only a few weeks they are getting their sea legs and only problem is the size of the tasting bar….its not too big, but I figure that will change.
Wines: Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir
Gewürztraminer: dry, just like I like them. Not too floral and I am waiting to taste a full bottle. This one could be wonderful.
Pinot Noir: nice and dry, not over the top again just like I like. Opened a bottle and Terry and I really liked it….this will be a review soon.
Alot of promise and I am waiting for more wines in the spring.
So 2 new wineries and both are making very good wine and both are thinking out of the box, which I think is great and I wish them both the best
Its funny, sometimes a wine just hits you in the wheelhouse and gets you back in gear. This wine did it for me last night.
I was at the lickbo a week ago and wanted Riesling for Thanksgiving dinner so I bought a few then saw the Chateau St Jean Chard… It beckham-ed ( even though he was Man U scum…I worship David , he is one hell of a footballer)…and I bought 2 for dinner.
In the basket was a nice Riesling from Prince Edward County. The terroir there is great for Riesling….rocky, cool…just what it likes. I really, really like the winery so hey, I bought two, we opened one yesterday as we waited for the rouladen to cook.
The wine is Trumpour’s Mill 09 Riesling….low alcohol 9.5% which is about where good Riesling should be. I opened it and it just made me happy. Complexity, flavour, minerality,and acid balance with sweetness, tho not sweet, it had enuff fruitiness to balance alot of acid.
Visual: The colour is Pale straw. There aren’t alot of legs as there isn’t alot of alcohol and oh yes, m glass wasn’t fresh.
Aroma: bright and strong, but no where near overpowering….it mineral and some citrus
Taste: oh so nice…tart tart tart, tart green apples with a dash of sweetness, then mineral with a really strong acid backbone.
The mineral finishes, but it is so nicely balanced and all the parts play against each other….This wine is really good and a steal.
This is a happy wine so I would pair it with something like Yael Naim, or Alison Krause…something happy or Great Big Sea….this wine isn’t simple but it yells…I’m fun and want to make you smile
Food…seafood like musssels, or trout, roast chicken…yum
Congratulation to Carolyn and her minnions for this really wonderful wine
Its been a while. The summer was a bear and well fall hasn’t been much better.
I stopped writing as it became a chore and not fun. I think I want to write again.
Mitch Albom had Tuesday’s with Maury, well I am having Tuesdays with Mumsy. She wasn’t getting out so I took it upon myself to get her out. We go to dinner and have a few drinks and talk. It is so wonderful to talk with an older person. The have experience and just different priorities. No computers, no cellphones just tv. Life is and was so much simpler, but it is good to talk to someone who is simply different from my reality.
I recommend that everyone reconnects with their parents or grandparents and enjoy it while you can.
What have I been doing? Work…it is really tough and has not been fun.
Wine: a wonderful bottle last night got my juices rolling again.
Beer: craft beer is where its at, Its fun creative and cheap enuff that one can try odd things and if they don’t work …oh well
Fav Beer right now: Final Absolution from Dragonmeade
Fav kinda normal beer: draft Pilsner Urquel
Cider: made cider…more on that later….cool fun area…went to the Great Lakes Cider fest and had so much fun…there are so many great ones out there…In North America we have lost so man of the old cider varieties, but the are coming back and what is being done with what we have is wonderful.
Sorts: suffering with Valverde but love those Tigers
Lions oh well I’m used to it
Liverpool….oi don’t get me going
so I am back and hopefully for a long while
Lat evening Terry and I had a wonderful meal made of all local food.
Meat: Lamb Loin Chops from EweDell
Veg: Peas from Preli’s, taters from Murray’s, bot in Cottam
Herbs: from my garden
Dessert: strawberries from Mimi’s (never got that far)
Wine: Pelee Island VQA Pelee Island
We made Herbes de Jim and coated the chops. Terry shucked peas while we sampled some Chardonnay for my presentation tomorrow, then she made some smashed taters with garlic scapes.
The lamb was grilled and yes we sampled more wine for my presentation.
The wine was Vinedresser’s Shiraz.
Music: well we were watching tv
The wine was oh so good. It simply tasted good. Rich and balanced, it played well with the lamb. As a cool climate wine there is acid and it just isn’t a fruit bomb. I like wines like that and I feel they go much better with food. This wine is very food friendly.
My point is, you really want to eat local. The food just goes better together and as it is fresh it just tastes better. The fact that its healthier is just a bonus.
So eat local, well and be happy. Bottling the last of my cider in minutes so
It appears that spring has resprung and I want to share some summerish ideas:
1) Fruit stands: they are opening and it is a great way to get fresh veg and fruit. I am on the search for salad greens as life is so much better with fresh, I mean hours old greens in the salad
Where: County Rd 34 in Cottam has 4+ good ones though Mimi’s is the only one really open as I write this.
2) Meat: here we are really lucky as we have several really good butchers who grind their own hamburger…therefore no pink slime….find your favourite and abolish the slime. I am amazed how much better a burger is when one gets fresh ground meat. Yes you pay more but it is so much better. The art of butchering seems to be making a comeback and find out what our local guy does best and get it. If it is pork chops, beef, chicken (all seem to be battery raised…thank you farm quotas) lamb or sausage. I find the county sausages too lean and some city ones to fatty…oi
Two places for excellent meat are: Ewe-dell for lamb and the Woodslee Mini Mart for beef…yes I said that…frozen mainly but oh so good
I am not going to name my favourite butcher shop as I have many and don’t get to some as much as I should. I tend to shop on my way home so I hit Shinkel’s in Essex most..Great stuff too, but it seems every tow has a good one.
Olive Oil: I can say Windsor produces my favourite Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Yes, I have not been drinking. I got some Rallis from the owner at the Greek Pavillion when they started. It was amazing…best I ever had…seems some famous Food Network Chef thought so too and made it his house oil…I thought I would never see it again….Welllllll Colonial Coffee sells it and I have yet to open it….need fresh salad greens.
Fish: I am still looking as I continue to get fish with improper cleaning…arrrrgghhhh!!!! need to go to Wheatley
Coffee: go to Colonial…good price and fresh coffee….so much better than old supermarket stuff
Wine: well we do do it here and as usual…pick your fav and enjoy
Beer: well no Windsor yet so I recommend Dragonmeade in Warren…odd place great beer…still local and Detroit has great craft brewers and……
Coney Dogs: Lafayette…wish they has beer though
OK my favourite Butcher Shops:
in no order other than what comes out of my head
1) Ray’s Taylor Mi….just great service…Amish Chicken
2) Cheeches Eastern Market: Amish Chicken, Butter, Duck, Turkey…
3) Giglio’s Windsor….Sausage..oi need some
4) Ade’s Windsor…me Grand Mum shoped there….great pork stuff and ground beef
5) Remark’s Windsor….wonderful meat counter
6) Schwab’s LaSalle…real butcher local meat
7) Schinkel’s Essex….ground beef ,steak and pork…
8) 4D Essex pork stuff
9) Cottam Cold Storage: always good and the ground is great
10) Butcher of Kingsville…don’t get there but always good
11) Sanson…BERKSHIRE PORK nuff said and the wine is not too shabby either
Only in Cali: from the Daily Beast