HWC News

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.

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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

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wedge of Life

By Keogh Hepp, Sales Representative

We would love to help you pair the perfect wine!
Reach out to your sales representative or call our office to start the conversation.

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Dalla Terra Spring Wine Tasting 2017

We had the opportunity to explore many of our wonderful Italian wine producers at the Dalla Terra Spring Wine Tasting!

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Thank you to all of our participating producers from Dalla Terra Winery Direct and to all of our customers that were able to join us! Additional photos from the event can be found on our Trade Events page.

Valentine’s Day Wines

Wine is constant proof that God loves us and likes to see us happy.
(Benjamin Franklin)

Valentine’s Day quickly approaches and we invite you to explore the Heritage Wine Cellars Valentine’s Day Wine offerings. We are proud to share our incredible diversity of producers. Please take a look at our Valentine’s Day offerings and celebrate the day of romance with one of our exclusive offerings. Wine your Valentine, spoil you loved ones with one of our Sparkling Wines!

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Letters to Santa 2016

‘Tis the season for sharing and coming together to help others in need! This year marks the seventh year that Heritage Wine Cellars has participated in the “Letters to Santa” program sponsored by the Chicago Sun Times.
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Many of the children come from low-income families and would otherwise not receive any gifts during the holidays. As a company we have all come together to hopefully make this a holiday season to remember for those children. HWC Employees and their families have “answered” over 80 letters this year and granted their wishes. All of us at Heritage Wine Cellars hope you have a very Happy Holiday season!
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