HWC News

Bon Appetit & Cheers!

By: Henry Jansen

Did you know Food & Wine Pairing is completely subjective? For instance, people who eat spicy food experience wine in a completely different way than someone who eats steak and potatoes!

The TONGUE

Each section of the tongue has taste buds of different intensities.
–The tip senses sweetness = fruit, alcohol, sugar
–The front sides sense salt
–The back sides sense acid
–And very back is very bitter

The palate is located at top of mouth close to throat, this area is sensitive and connects to the nasal cavity…

The NOSE

The nose is very sensitive in picking out minute differences in aroma. Aromas are triggered by nose and brain connecting to memory and more senses you sense in a day the more you build up in memory bank!

AROMA is very important.

What we perceive as tastes are really aromas: floral, fruits, nuts, vegetables, spice, herbs, roasted flavors, animal and alcohol are all actually aromas.

THE SENSES

Sweet, Bitter, Sour senses are found in both food and wine whereas the sensations that are hot and salty come from food,

The 6th sense-UNAMI! (found in food and wine)

UNAMI: “Delicious” or “Savory”
Found in foods with high protein such as aged meats, shitake mushrooms, dried seaweed, shellfish, raw seafood, soy sauce & tomatoes.

Unami is related to spiritual sense: “feeling of perfect quality in a taste or some special emotional circumstance”.

Sweet and Unami are the only senses that are perceived as pleasant.These senses can have adverse affects on wine, making wines more tannic, bitter or metallic tasting.

A HISTORY LESSON
Food and wine goes back centuries, in modern times it has become much trendier.
1928 – Escoffer wrote that red meat and Burgundy should be paired, as Champagne with entremets.
1931 – Micheline Guide recommended wines with dishes.
1939 – A systematic approach by Pierre Andrieu paired wine with the evolution of the meal
Old Systematic Approach: Red Wine with red Meat and White Wine with Fish.

MARRIAGES MADE IN HEAVEN
“The marriages between two exceptional beings are as
rare in gastronomy as they are in life.”
-Marc Meneau

Modern Approach

Enter the Lateral Approach!

Wine-Dish combinations regardless of sequence aka much cooler!

Today there are so many subtle foods and cuisines where matching food and wine takes more into consideration that the old school approach with stodgy rules.

Tip: Use an intermezzo or water as a palate cleanser when there is a change in coursing.

WHAT IF THE FOOD IS…

Acidic

A dish with citrus or vinegar should be paired with a acidic wine. For example, Duck with oranges needs a more acidic red wine than Duck with olives

Salty

Dishes with saltiness, such as soy sauce or seaweed will make wines with tannins more tannic and bitter.

Sweet

If the food is sweeter than wine then the wine will taste thin and tart. FYI, Ice cream is almost impossible to pair.

Highly Seasoned or Spicy

These foods can fatigue and numb the palate and the wine can get lost. Wines with low tannins and low alcohol levels are best and Sweet wines contrast well.

Rich and Fatty Foods

Foods with cream sauces, fatty steaks or rich fowl. Full bodied wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot or Syrah are recommended

SYNERGY

Neither a wine nor food should overpower the other!

Base Ingredients are the main portion of the dish (the Protein) and Bridge Ingredients are those extras on a dish that add to the flavor such as mushrooms, berries, beans and herbs such as ginger, tarragon, cinnamon, cloves.

Cooking Methods

Grilling, Roasting, Sautéing and braising are preferred methods to pair with wine. However, Poaching, Steaming or smoking limit the wine choices.

When it is all said and done, Food and Wine should enhance each other and every one has different tastes and preferences.

A simple “rule of thumb” to remember is the 3 C’s…

  • Compare-Weight of the wine should match the weight of the dish.

  • Contrast – Opposites attract! Sweet and Sour, Intense and Rich!

  • Complete – Think of wine as a condiment for the food being eaten; simple enough, right?

 

 

The Soul Of The Soil

MattOvington

By: Matt Ovington


As students of the grape, we love to dissect every single element of a particular vintage; Palate, Aroma, Region, Appellation, Body, Finish, Acidity…the list goes on and on.

All of these factors are obviously essential in tasting notes that are thorough and comprehensive. However, I want to talk about a variable that is always mentioned, read at a glance, and without full understanding: Soil.

The mention of soil isn’t entirely shocking, or shocking at all for that matter. Soil is the very element that is present from the very inception of the grape. Not to wax poetic, but the wine we drink is literally born from the soil in which it grows…


 

Okay, let’s dig in the dirt!

In general, most vineyard topsoil’s are not homogenous; often a blend of different soils, and both the rocks within and the texture of the topsoil influence a region’s vines. Soils help regulate climate fluctuations, retain heat, and can even help in dispersing water.

Depth and composition of a soil (nutrients, drainage, water retention, pH) all have their effects on the wines we drink.
  • Wine Vocab: “Minerality” — the perceived aroma and flavor of a soil in the wine itself
  • Fun Fact: There is no scientific evidence that proves that grapevines can extract chemical compounds directly from the soils!
While certain soil characteristics are suited to different regions, generally vineyard soils should not be too fertile. The general ‘rule of thumb’ is that truly good wine soils should retain water, while still draining it away from the surface.  

Buckle up, We’ve got a lot of ground to cover!

(14 different types of ground to be specific)
Soil Wheel

Igneous Soils

Made From The Cooling And Solidification Of Magma/Lava


We start this party off with a BOOM!
Volcanic 
Volcanic soil is 1 of the 2 Igneous soil types. Volcanic Soil starts out as Basalt rock.
It’s fined grained, holds water but also drains well, retains heat as well as reflecting it!
Famous Regions- Sicily, Canary Islands, Soave, Santorini

Granite
The Hard Truth
Granite forms under the Earth’s crust and mixes with Magma and Quartz. If the Ph in the soil is elevated, there will be higher acidity in the soil.
This soil is porous which solid for deep-rooted vines.
Famous Regions: Cornas, Rais Baixas

Metamorphic Soils

Much like a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly, these soils have also transformed from another type of rock through heat and pressure over millions of years!


Gneiss
Pronounced like “Nice, France” which is spelled the same way as “Nice”
as in “good”…sadly this soil is not…
Since the mineral composition of Gneiss is often similar to granite and weathering rates are slow, gneiss tends to lead to acidic, poorly developed soils.
Famous* Regions: Wachau and Kamptal
*we’re using this word loosely in this case

The gist of Schist
Schist is a hard, crystalline rock which is denser than slate. It has layers of minerals that can flake off easily and also retains heat well.
This soil produces BIG powerful wines with rich minerality.
Famous Regions: Douro Valley, Ribeira Sacra

Slate’s Traits
Slate begins its’ journey as a deposit subjected to great pressure and heat. It is chemically unmotivated and impervious to weathering.
Delicate grapes valued for pure varietal characteristics and that are made in stainless steel tanks are grown in these soils.
Famous Region: Mosel

Sedimentary Soils

Comprised Of Solidified Mineral Or Organic Deposits From The Earth,

Often Left By Bodies Of Water


Life is a beach and I’m just playin’ in the
Sand…stone
Sandstone is comprised of sedimentary rock, sand-sized particles that have been compacted together over time by pressure and it can be comprised of different rock and create assorted colors.

Famous Wine Regions: Chianti Classico


Limestone
Living Up To The Namesake
Limestone is exalted as one of the best soils for wine production. It is formed from decomposed bodies of organic material in ancient sea beds and reefs aka fossilized sea shells. The soil drains well but also holds water for vines to absorb when needed.
Wines grown in Limestone soil tend to be long-lived and have bright, linear acidity.
Famous Wine Regions: Burgundy, Champagne

Flint/Silex
Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Flint/Silex is hard and metal-like and formed from Silicon Dioxide. This soil stores and reflects heat and provides a great environment for ripening, especially in areas typically too cold for grape growing.
These elements give wine a rich, flinty minerality.
Famous Wine Regions: Sancerre, Pouilly Fume

 The “Big 6” Soil Textures


Alluvium
A True Amalgamation
Alluvium is blend of soils typically clay, silt, sand, and gravel. It is deposited by many years of running water usually contains a lot of organic material, making it more fertile.
Alluvial soils are present in many wine regions around the world.
Famous Wine Regions: Napa Valley Floor

Clay 
Messiah Of Parched Vines
Clay soil retains precipitation and minerals and the savior to vines in dry times. It also helps  vines stay cooler in warmer growing regions (think Spain) and imparts flavors intuitive to clay itself—thick, round, and generous.
These wines are Muscular with high extract and color
Famous Wine Regions: Pomerol, Rioja, Ribeira Del Duero

Gravel 
My Soil Is Big and Boozy
Gravel soil has a wide range in size (pebble to fist size) which is helpful in absorbing heat to reflect back to grapes.
These factors allow the region to make wines bigger and more alcoholic than they typically would be able to in that climate.
Famous Wine Regions: Left Bank Bordeaux, Châteauneuf du Pape

Sand 
The fairest soil in all the land
Sand is any rock that has been pulverized into small particles. It also works well with wet climates and drains easily. In warm climate regions, sandy soils make wines that are ‘softer’ with less color, lighter acidity and tannin.
In cooler climate regions, sandy soils benefit vineyards by retaining heat and draining well to produce highly aromatic wines
Sandy soil produces Elegant wines with high aromatics, pale color and low tannin-trés chic indeed!
Famous wine regions: Barolo, Swartland (South Africa), Graves

Silt 
Change the “l” to an “h” and put it after the “s”;
that sums up your chances for planting roots
Silt soils are more finely textured than sand; think ultra-pulverized glitter minus the sparkle. This soil retains much water and usually has some limestone mixed in.
Silt soil is so fine that it makes growing anything, much less grapes, VERY challenging.
These wines are smooth and round wines with slightly less acidity.
Famous Wine Regions: Neiderosterreich, Austria, for Gruner Veltliner, Washington State

Loam
Think the “Aphrodite” of Soils
Loam soils are a warm, soft, crumbly mix of sand, silt, and clay.
These soils can be too fertile for good wine, but when in right combo of soil textures, can make powerful, voluptuous wines.
Loamy wines are gifted with a pleasant, sweet, earthy aroma. Some say that those with the flair of a “green thumb” truly appreciate these notes because they are synonymous with gardening.
Famous Wine Regions: Barossa Valley

Well there you have it!  All (14) soil types that are imperative to your understanding of where the wine you drink came from. I am certain that this information will provide endless witty anecdotes and great stories to tell at parties! Well maybe not all of that, but you can at least school the pretentious boob who is claiming “Gneiss soil lacks acidity and produces excellent wine”! Pssht.

The Science Of The Palate

DavidSarrett

By: David Sarrett

The Moment:

January, 1974. Virginia Collings, University of Pittsburgh, debunks the taste zones on the tongue!

In the 1900’s, D.P. Hanig was a German scientist who discovered that different zones of the tongue were more sensitive. This was further misinterpreted by Edwin G. Boring from Harvard, when trying to translate the papers. This lead to the classic zones most of us grew up with learning. In 1974, Virginia Collings published a paper debunking those zones.

Mouth

For a thorough, scientific breakdown of how we taste (perceive) wine, I highly recommended reading “I Taste Red” (or anything) by Jamie Goode.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

Many human traits are determined by a single pair of alleles. An allele is an alternative form of a gene, located at a specific position on a specific chromosome. These DNA codings determine distinct traits that can be passed on from parents to offspring.

There are tons of fun, easy studies you can do for various genetic traits, like tongue rolling, attached earlobes, interlocking fingers, dimpled cheeks, and a widow’s peak, but our favorite is the taste test.

PTC Taste Test

PTC is the most common taste test, and we’re here to tell you that our PTC test paper is absolutely harmless. We would never tell you to put an unsafe test strip in your mouth. But if you still question its safety, you can put your worries at ease here:

PTC tastes bland, bitter or even vile depending on your genes. There is a single gene that codes for a protein found in our tongues. PTC will bind with the protein if it’s present, and you will certainly be able to taste it. However, if the protein is not present, the PTC will not bind and you won’t taste anything.

The ability to taste PTC is a dominant trait, so you’re in the majority if you’ve got it. Congrats to all of you supertasters out there who taste these bitter compounds even more intensely. As for the rest of you, your bitter blindness isn’t debilitating; it just means you can’t taste certain bitter flavors. Supertasters are more likely to find green vegetables bitter. Don’t you wish you had known this as a kid?! “Sorry mom, I’m a supertaster, this broccoli just won’t do.” Oh how different life could’ve been.

A different pair of alleles determines the ability to taste : Sodium Benzoate and Thiourea

Sodium Benzoate so t he taste results are different from PTC. Sodium Benzoate can taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter, or tasteless. Sodium Benzoate test strips can be used in conjunction with PTC to divide PTC tasters and non-tasters into subgroups. 

Thiourea  is another taste test you can perform, and like PTC, it is a bitter compound. The ability to taste PTC and Thiourea are genetically linked because they’re similar chemicals, however, this doesn’t mean you will have the same reaction to both. PTC and Thiourea are not identical, so some people may taste PTC but not Thiourea, or vice versa.

What does it all mean?

So, what does it mean if you’re a taster or a non-taster? Well, we already learned that tasters dislike green veggies a little more than non-tasters. That seems like a given.

Different studies claim to link various traits and habits to tasters and non-tasters. For example, some studies suggest that people who can taste PTC are more likely to be non-smokers, and are less likely to be coffee/tea drinkers. Women, Asians, and African-Americans are more likely to be super-tasters. Other studies suggest that non-tasters are more likely to have certain thyroid problems, while tasters are at a higher risk for heart disease and cancer.

Whether or not these studies are true, it’s great incentive to come up with a study of your own. Taste testing with a diverse group of participants can yield some interesting results, and you can create your own set of conclusions based on your data.

Repeal Day

 

Alexandra

By: Alexandra Duriavich

It’s almost impossible to think about Prohibition without the obvious connotations; Gangsters, Speakeasy’s, Organized Crime. This list goes on and on. But what about other industries under the umbrella of outlawed alcohol? Examining the impact and aftermath of Prohibition helps to paint a vivid picture of progress within an industry that we love deeply.

Let’s take a look back…

In 1933, the damage from the dark days of the temperance movement could be seen throughout beloved wine country. Soil quality was degraded and grapes of any merit had been replaced with sturdier varieties suitable for making ever-popular “grape bricks”.

America’s taste for wine had also changed. Wine was a booming industry prior to Prohibition but 13 years had taken a toll on the public’s perception. What was once a staple became barely palatable homemade swill. That being said, the end of Prohibition sparked a grass-roots Renaissance in the wine industry.

A man named André Tchelistcheff, redefined the way in which wine was made. Credited as the most innovative post-prohibition winemaker, André took great measures to establish a style and standard for wine making as well as spending his career consulting with other estates and mentoring budding winemakers.

With this huge contribution, it would take nearly three decades to rebuild from a vinticulture standpoint, but it was this rebirth that contributed to the bustling California, Oregon and Washington wine industry we know today. Numerous industry giants emerged and US wine would never be the same.

Today, The US Wine Industry is BOOMING and growing; Holding the ranking as the 4th largest producer of wine! It’s safe to say it was a long road of innovation, passion and perseverance but quite obviously worth it!

So pour yourself a glass of your favorite libation (it’s legal!) and celebrate Repeal Day! Cheers!

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Moment In Wine History-Valdeorras

Dave McCormack

By: Dave McCormack; V.P. Director Key Accounts

With so many growing regions, how do you choose just one?

Valdeorras could quite frankly be the most unique growing region in the world. The combination of slate and quartz soils, the 2 climates that collide creating something so unique it’s almost impossible to duplicate. Overcoming the phylloxera epidemic where vineyards where abandoned for over 200 years. Bringing back the indigenous varietals planted by the Romans, pre-Christians and the Celts long ago completes the circle of what it used to be.

Dave MIWH Infographic

The subsequent wine is splendid. Imagine multifaceted, timeless wines unlike anything else in north-eastern Spain! Praise and critical approval have been nothing short of wide spread when it comes to wine from this region. This notoriety has allowed this wine to find a huge fan base of wine enthusiasts all over the world. Valdeorras produces some of the most exquisite wine in all of Spain making this region a tried and true gem.

Moment In Wine History-The Origin of the Wine Bottle

Sam Klingberg

By: Sam Klingberg

You are going to a BBQ this Saturday, and since you’re the resident wine expert, you know what you’re gonna bring. Maybe the company is family, maybe it’s friends, maybe it’s the new neighbors you don’t really know too well, but you want to drink something good either way. You surely have a wine in mind, if not a “go-to” already for these moments.

But, what is this wine packaged in?

Chances are this is a weird question, because, was there a question anyway? It’s gonna be a 750mL bottle, maybe magnum if you’re looking to impress, because wine and the glass bottle are virtually synonymous. But it hasn’t always been this way.

When wine was first making its way toward slaking human thirst and angst on a regular basis in the Caucasus, what is now the state of Georgia, some 8,000 years ago, qvevri where the mode for making and storing wine. About 2,000 years later the Egyptians would invent the amphora, which would not only be the mode for wine, but for all kinds of international transport of foods and goods into almost the middle ages.

The Romans expanded their empire into the West around the 1st century C.E., and as they encountered the Celts in battle, they’d also encounter a new technology the Celts had invented, the wooden barrel. The amphora had already reigned supreme for some four or five millennia, but it’d be just a couple hundred years before the barrel would replace it as the main transport for wine, food, and goods.

However as the the qvevri and amphora before, wooden barrels are large and not suitable for service from source to table. Askos, decanters, and growlers of pottery, and glass with its invention in the 1st century C.E., were always necessary.

In the 17th century things would begin to change. In Britain coal-fired forges would allow glass to be kilned strong enough to be shipped to and fro as a container for wine. As with the barrel, it’d take just a couple hundred years for a massive shift in wine logistics.

And here we are again, just a moment in an 8,000 year arc of wine technology, yet I think we are on another precipice of change. The single-serve economy we live in, this culture that holds mobility and ease of use to a premium, demands it.

Bag in box (BIB), or cask wines, famous with frat parties and half-in-the-bag aunts, were invented in the 70’s, and have been able to shed their laissez-faire attitude recently enough to be taken seriously in the market. According to the Silicon Valley Bank’s annual wine report in 2017, the major varietal wines in BIB have increased more than 20%, outpacing the average market growth.

Wine in aluminum cans were first invented by Aussies Greg Stokes and Steve Barics in the early
2000’s for their Barokes label, and although wineries like Sofia Coppola would find a niche in the U.S., it’d take until the last few years for canned wine to really take hold in the marketplace. According to Nielsen, wine in cans have bourgeoned from around seven million in 2015 to an estimated 28 million in 2017.

Tetra paks and PET plastic bottles, both pioneered by Jean Charles Boisset of the Boisset Collection in the mid-2000’s, have also played a major part in the market. While PET bottles have a very distinct niche, Tetra paks, wine pouches, single serving plastic glasses and bottles, and other alternative containers, including cans and BIB, are expected to contribute $3 billion to the $60 bilIlion U.S. wine industry in the next few years according to a study by Freedonia.

Format defines user experience. The wine bottle will always have the romance, the “je ne sais quoi”, and the fine wine sector will never change format. But the industry, especially the under $15 drink now category, has a lot of room to grow into the modern “anyway you want it” attitude. Alternative packaging is the way of the future.

Moment In Wine History – Tablas Creek

Scot Website

Presented By: Scot Cohen

There are many influential individuals that have made their mark in the bustling wine industry, but few have been dubbed an “American Icon” by Wine Enthusiast. The Haas family has played a leading role in the American wine industry for over half a century but to understand this epic narrative, one must start from the beginning…

After graduating from Yale in 1950, Robert Haas joined his father’s firm, M. Lehmann, Inc., a retailer of fine wines and spirits in Manhattan. As a buyer for the company and its import arm, Leeds Import Company, Haas traveled through the cellars of France, establishing a formidable reputation as a wine taster while forging lifelong relationships with premier wine producers.

In the mid-1960s he set out on his own to import fine estate wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley, where he met the Perrins of Château de Beaucastel and became the exclusive American importer for Château de Beaucastel.  He founded importer Vineyard Brands and as his company grew, it introduced the American market to brands such as La Vieille Ferme, Marqués de Cáceres, Warre’s Port, Girardin, Alsace Domaine Weinbach, and Burgundy Domaines Gouges, Sauzet, Ponsot, Mongeard-Mugneret, Dauvissat, Matrot, Carillon, and Michel among others.  The company also served as a representative for newly emerging California wineries in the early seventies, including Chappellet, Freemark Abbey, Clos du Val, Joseph Phelps, Rutherford Hill, Hanzell, Kistler, and later Sonoma-Cutrer.  He founded the symposium “Focus on Chardonnay” in 1984 to promote dialogue between producers in Burgundy and California and he also created the first ever French-American Rhône Symposium, which was held at the Meadowood Club in the Napa Valley in 1990.

Haas is one of four American members of the Académie Internationale du Vin. In recognition of his contributions to the international wine community as an importer, a vintner, and an advocate for quality, he was elected as the AIV president in 2000.  He was recognized by the Paso Robles Wine Community as 2007 Wine Industry Person of the Year, and in 2014 received a lifetime achievement award from Rhone Rangers for his contributions to the American Rhone movement.

Robert’s legacy did not stop there though. His son Jason has already made monumental contributions to the esteemed brand that is Tablas Creek. Jason Haas, the son of Tablas Creek Vineyard founder and renowned importer Robert Haas, learned the wine business at an early age, accompanying his family on yearly European wine-buying trips and spending two summers working at Château de Beaucastel.

After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Archaeology from Cornell and spending a four-year stint managing a tech company in Washington, DC, Jason moved to California to join Tablas Creek in April of 2002.  At Tablas Creek, he oversees the business, winemaking, and sales and marketing operations.

In addition to his work at Tablas Creek, Jason is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, a past president of the Rhone Rangers, and a former board member of the Family Winemakers of California. His writing has been published in Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, Decanter, Wine Industry Network and Zester Daily, and he is the principal author of the Tablas Creek blog, which has been a finalist at the Wine Blog Awards for Best Winery Blog eight times since 2008, winning in 2008 and 2011.

As General Manager of Tablas Creek since 2006, Jason has consistently spoken in favor of organic viticulture, wines of place, the potential of Paso Robles, and the quality of Rhone grape varieties. He has spoken on wine and winemaking topics to audiences around the country, including the Unified Grape & Wine Symposium, Central Coast Insights, American Wine Society, California Wine Summit, Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Hospice du Rhône, Central Coast Wine Classic and many others.

In recognition of his contributions to the Paso Robles wine community, he was voted by his peers 2015 Paso Robles Wine Country Wine Industry Person of the Year and 2017 San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Person of the Year.  He manages the day to day operations at Tablas Creek.

It is our great pleasure, at Heritage Wine Cellars, to represent this emblematic brand and our great honor to be acquainted with this extraordinary family. Their story is nothing short of inspirational in the business we all love; Wine.

 

A Moment In Wine History-Concrete

Picture7

By: Max Wolod

“Wait…Did you say concrete?!” “Yes! Concrete!”

As many wine aficionados know, concrete and wine have gone hand in hand since time immemorial. Well, maybe not quite that long but ancient enough that it is an age-old vessel of wine fermentation!

When many think about how wine was made in ancient times, we like to believe that the Greeks were stomping around gleefully in their flowing togas. However, this was not always so.

Concrete as a fermentation and aging vessel for wines goes waaaaay back…

  • Ancient Greece (amphorae/ceramic vessels)
  • Historical French wine-making in Bordeaux and the Rhone; also Spain, etc.

The tradition continued in Europe but was shunned in the US during the “new wave” of American winemaking starting a few decades ago.

Benefits of Concrete

Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all

–    Wineries spend a RIDICULOUS amount of money on cooperage…

  • It’s a bit difficult to get specific costs associated with cooperage (for obvious reasons), but for standard 60g barrels…

–    New American Oak – around $400/barrel

–    Good/fancy/famous French Oak – $700-$1000

  • A big winery might spend $2M on cooperage per year!

–    Concrete is not as porous as barrels, so regardless of shape, evaporation loss is quite small compared with barrels.

–    The American concrete industry standard “NuBarrel” is 240G capacity; it’s approximately $2K more than the aggregate cost of 4 standard oak barrels ($6500), BUT…

  • ​Oak lasts 4-6 years – disregarding use after neutrality – concrete can last 40-60 years! à DURABILITY BABY!!!

Micro-oxygenation

“Sweet spot” between stainless and oak…

Concrete is porous on a microscopic scale, allowing for SLOW micro-oxygenation.

Wine fermented in concrete has the round mouthfeel of wine fermented in oak, but it has much greater purity of fruit flavor, even a greater intensity of fruit color, a la stainless.

​Noticeable differences in texture and perceived volume

”Reds come out more accessible, earlier, than wines from stainless fermentations.”

“Whites get the richness of barrel fermentation, which doesn’t happen in steel, without any oak character, while retaining the aromatic complexity that might be preserved in steel.”

Heat Neutrality

“It don’t get too hot, it don’t get too cold!”

  • Thermal Inertia

–    ​The sheer mass of concrete containers, with walls 4 inches or more thick (full of tiny, insulating air bubbles), moderates temperature changes and prevents sudden heat spikes (natural insulator).

–    If a winemaker needs a heating or cooling plate as an insert, that can be arranged.

–    ​The thermal properties of concrete create unique fermentation kinetics, naturally encouraging a kind of cold soak at the slow start of the fermentation cycle and holding temperatures constant for extended maceration afterward.

The Liechtenstein of Wine Vessels…

  • Concrete is entirely neutral, imparting no flavors of its own, thereby mimicking the advantage of steel over wood: the upsides of both methods without the downside of either (sweet spot y’all!).

–    “Concrete lets the terroir that shaped the grapes shine through, not shrouded in oak, not masked by reduction.”

  • That said…what if we want some oak up in thurrr?

–    Concrete GOT you…

  • Internal array of oak staves
  • Removable sleeve of oak chips
  • Blending with traditional oak-aged juice

How ‘bout some hippy-dippy stuff?

  • Michel Chapoutier (took over Maison M. Chapoutier in ‘77), top Hermitage producer for generations and SUPER advocate for bio-D, claimed the shape of the egg concentrated celestial energy.
  • He was hanging with a guy from Nomblot (big French stone/concrete manufacturer) at a funeral; “Yo, one of those nice little monuments would make a great fermentor.”
  • For a while, the sizes were apparently described as three-body, six-body and so on.
  • In an egg-shaped concrete fermentation tank, the juice motion is a swirl, circling from top to bottom, naturally stirring the sediment to provide complexity – it’s celestial baby…and it looks sooooo dope!
  • With no corners, the wine is free to circulate naturally during fermentation, and you can actually watch the wine move during this process of constant stirring.
  • The shape also forces more of the cap to remain submerged, gleaning the utmost in fruit flavor and color for your wine and reducing your need for punchdown.

Detriments of Concrete Does it suck? Why does it suck?

It’s heavy as hell (relative to stainless/wood)…

Shipping costs

Ease of movement on-site/modularity (need a big-ass forklift)

Upfront cost (bigger outlay than for oak or stainless)

Care/upkeep

​Concrete tanks need to be “cured” before by rinsing surfaces with a strong solution of tartaric acid to neutralize the surface.

Care must also be taken in cleaning concrete; it can handle scrubbing and cleaning agents better than barrel wood, but not hot water or steam, which will lead to cracks.

“Fakin’ the funk” (can staves/inserts really replicate true oak-aging?)

 

And there you have it Ladies and Gents. Concrete: the coolest way to make vino. Cheers!