Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Aurelio Montes Jr., the head winemaker at Kaiken Wines in Mendoza, Argentina. Kaiken is a branch of Montes Wines. Some of our readers may recall that we have interviewed the chairman of Montes Wines, Aurelio Montes, who is this week’s interviewee’s father. This interview provides an important insight into a significant winemaking family. Below, we ask Aurelio Jr. about the influence of his father on his winemaking. Aurelio Jr. is not, however, a home-grown winemaker. Instead, he traveled across the country to work at many wineries not affiliated with Montes Wines before he returned to the family business in 2007. It’ll be interesting to observe the next generation of wines from the Montes family. Check out the interview below the fold! Let’s start from the beginning. Where were you born? My family comes from different places around the world. […]
Posts tagged ‘Wine’
The type of soil in which the vine is cultivated affects the organoleptic qualities of wine. Minerality, frequently associated to the soil, has no connection with it
Soil represents one of the fundamental elements of viticulture. It is not by chance, in fact, grape varieties to be planted in a vineyard, and – in particular – their rootstock, are chosen in function of this factor. It is commonly known that, after the devastation of phylloxera – which brought up concrete risks for viticulture in Europe – all the grape varieties are grafted to a rootstock capable of resisting to the attack of this aphid. This also allowed varieties to adapt to different environmental conditions, by significantly interacting with the capability of the vine in absorbing minerals and nutrients, as well as ensuring a good supply of water. This factor, in addition to the geological characteristics of the soil, allows the vine to generate different expressions, sometimes even distant, however according to soil and environment.
To the soil is recognized, frequently and mistakenly, the capacity of giving the wine organoleptic qualities which are generally defined as mineral. The concept of minerality in wine, although this is well defined and perceivable to the senses of a taster, has no concrete and scientific explanation which can clear the origin of this sensation. Before defining, at a sensorial level, what is minerality in wine, let’s try to clear the reason why it has no connection with the soil in which a vine is cultivated. It should however be noticed the sensation of minerality is sometimes perceived in wines produced from grapes of vineyards cultivated in particular soils, such as volcanic soils, for example. If for “mineral” we consider a sensation produced by a mineral salt or elements, and supposing they are absorbed from the soil by the vine and reach berries, it should be noticed the quantity contained in grape juice is pretty negligible.
The concept of minerality in wine is generally defined by the olfactory sensations associated to some stones and minerals – such as flint – as well as some metals. Some support the idea minerals and metals do not have a proper smell, indeed this theory can be easily denied by facts, for example by the smell produced by scratching flints. Also stones heated by the sun, or wet by water, generate their characteristic smell. Finally, some tasters classify as mineral the aromas of sulphur, tar, smoke and burnt rubber, sensation we believe should be classified differently. Some also believe minerality is associated to the gustatory sensation of salinity, typical in certain wines produced from vineyards cultivated along the sea or however affected by the strong influence of sea breeze. It must be noticed the salty sensation produced by certain wines – and of disputable association to the concept of minerality – does not correspond, as believed by some, to the sapidity of wine.
The term minerality, referred to wine tasting, is however associated to many olfactory and gustatory stimuli, frequently of purely subjective attribution, and get different and subjective meaning also among wine tasters. For some, minerality is associated to the crispness of a wine, for others it corresponds to wine’s finesse, other, finally, associate minerality to the so called taste of terroir, that is the overall organoleptic sensations expressed by a wine of a specific territory. Science does not help to explain the concept of “minerality”, as there are no tangible proofs about the relation of wine components and the perception of this sensation. It should however be noticed the most reliable scientific hypothesis supports the idea minerality is produced by some sulfur compounds in their reduced form and developing according to variety and aging.
|Vines meeting soil. From this union it will be determined the personality and character of their wines|
If it is true minerality has no connection with the soil and the qualities this can give the wine, it is however undeniable its composition affects organoleptic characteristics, from appearance to taste. It is not the only factor capable of giving wine its personality and its peculiar characteristics, it however represents one of the fundamental factors. Not all the soils are the same, not all grape varieties are the same. There are grapes making better wines in specific type of soils, whereas in others the make, not only ordinary results, but also disappointing wines. The variability of the result, besides the conditions of the soil and environment, are strongly conditioned by vine’s rootstock which – like already said – it is chosen also according to the composition of soil.
The composition of soil, as well as environmental and climate conditions, directly affects the organoleptic qualities of wine and interacts with the biologic cycle of vine. The influence of soil in wine affects all of its sensorial aspects. Wine appearance and its color, as well as the development of certain aromas and specific gustatory qualities, have a direct connection with the characteristics of soil. We will in fact see later, every type of soil – having proper geological characteristics – substantially affects the wine which can be obtained from the same variety, producing, in most of the cases, results even distant one from each other. By considering the specific types of soil and their effects on wine, it should be noticed the result is also in function of vine’s rootstock. The same vine, grafted to different rootstocks, in fact gives different wines also when planted in the same soil and in the same vineyard.
We will not discuss about the agronomic effects and consequences of the soil in vine cultivation, although we will discuss some fundamental elements, we will mainly talk about the influence of soil in wine’s organoleptic qualities. From an agronomic point of view, soil is the fundamental support of a vine, in which the plant sets it roots, in order to ensure a proper support as well as for the supply of nutrients, mineral and water. Like already said, mineral substances absorbed by the vine from the soil – which some believe to be responsible for the minerality of a wine – do not have a connection with this organoleptic descriptor. If it is true part of the mineral elements absorbed from the soil reaches berries, and therefore the juice, the quantity found in wine is quite negligible to the sensorial perception.
Vintners usually say vine, in order to give a quality wine, must suffer, that is it must be favored a condition in which it is forced to dig the roots in the deep of the soil in order to search for water and nutrients. This hypothesis has a concrete foundation, as wines produced in vineyards cultivated in very fertile soils have light organoleptic qualities, from appearance to taste. Vintners are always contrary to the irrigation of vine, except when drought is a serious concern and could be a risk for vine’s life, in order to “force” the vine to search for water in the deep of soil. On this regard it should be noticed DOC and DOCG production disciplinary of Italy expressly forbid the irrigation of vineyards. This is mainly forbidden in order to avoid a quantitative production of grapes, a factor that, unavoidably, is detrimental to wine quality.
A soil suited to viticulture should have, among its main qualities, a good draining of water. Not only for the fact this forces the vine to search for water in the deep of the soil, but also for the fact it avoids roots to stay wet for a long time. We will not discuss about the physical and geological aspects of soil composition, however it should be noticed it is essentially made from skeleton, sand, clay and silt. Skeleton is made from elements of big size and having a scarce agronomic effects. Sand, clay and silt are made from very small particles and play important agronomic roles, both in terms of draining and absorption of water, as well as for soil porosity and its fertile characteristics. Types of soil differentiates one from each other by the variable presence of these elements, giving each of them proper agronomic and physical properties which will affect cultivation, yield and quality of vine and grapes.
Clay is the most frequently found element in soil composition, also in terms of quantity. It has the property of absorbing water and of keeping organic substances, therefore making the soil pretty fertile. Grapes cultivated in soils rich in clay, give tannic wines, with intense color and low transparency, with good possibilities of long aging, pretty high content in alcohol, remarkable structure, good aromas and roundness. Lands rich in sand give the soil remarkable draining properties. Wines produced from grapes cultivated in this type of soil are characterized by pale colors and high transparency, good crispness, short potentials of aging, generally having a good elegance and fragrance of aromas, light body. In any case, excessively wet soils give wines with a pale color, lack of aromas and structure, short longevity and accentuated crispness.
The same qualities, like already said, are found in wines produced in very fertile soils. Soil is not made by clay, silt and sand only. Also skeleton, therefore elements having a bigger size, interacts with the biological cycle of the vine and give wines specific qualities. Soils rich is schist, gravel, marl and slate, offer a good heat retention and reflect sun rays upwards. These characteristics are therefore useful to late ripening varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and favor the development of fruit and flower aromas. A soil rich in chalk – a classic example is the one in Champagne – reflects sun rays upwards to the vine, it is very soft and therefore roots can easily dig in the deep of soil. Moreover, chalk gives grapes a pretty evident acidity, an important quality for the production of sparkling wines.
Other important elements of the soil are limestone and calcium carbonate. These elements generally give the wine intense aromatic qualities, with fine and elegant aromas, a moderate acidity and they are not always suited for a long aging. An excessively acidic soil makes wine with pale colors and the aromatic profile usually develops quite ordinary aromas, whereas to the taste it has a good crispness, as well as a lack of body and alcohol. The diversity of soil composition – therefore varying the presence of skeleton, clay, silt and sand – directly affects the organoleptic qualities of wine, appearance, smell and taste. Soil is integral and essential part of the terroir concept and, associated to all of the other characteristics making the environment and climate, allow the making of unique wines, unrepeatable elsewhere. Finally, the intervention of man can frequently change this balance. Soil can in fact be altered by changing its composition and, with that, the wine which can be obtained.
© Fotolia/Tim Hanni |
Master of Wine Tim Hanni
© Erik KastnerHanni’s four types are Tolerant, Sensitive, Hyper Sensitive, and Sweet.
© Tim Hanni | * “Why You Like the Wines You Like,” by Tim Hanni, is published by New Wine Fundamentals at $24.95.
© The Collection-http://www.wine-searcher.com
“Champagne today is the best wine to pair with food created by the world’s leading gourmet restaurants. No other wine can so perfectly accompany and accentuate the subtle nuances that the multifaceted dishes made from locally produced delicacies have. In France, they unfortunately usually drink champagne for dessert, whereas the rest of the world drinks it as an aperitif. Admittedly, champagne is the perfect aperitif, with its mouth-watering acidity and fast-acting, refreshing effect, but with the right foods, one can get even more out of their drinking experience.
The right balance of food and drink
When it comes to pairing food and wine, the old rule is that the heavier and stronger the dish, the heavier and fuller the wine should be, and vice versa.
Whichever way you choose to compose your meal, it is important to consider the balance between food and drink. It can be achieved so that the wine adds something that the food lacks, or by choosing a wine with similar flavors that are already found in the food. A wild game dish, for example, can be complemented by champagne’s animal tones, or a nutty caviar dish with an equally nutty champagne.
The aroma’s significance is usually forgotten when wine and food are paired. The wine’s combination with umami can often be negative, with a metallic and bitter flavor. This is avoided primarily by creating taste bridges by adding any suitable ingredients that neutralize the effect. Salt and acid are often useful ingredients in these flavor bridges.
Today’s fashion is entirely based on creating harmony between food and wine, so that no flavors are arguing with each other. I think, however, that I have noticed that many fine wines lose in definition and purity when combined with food in this way.
According to these principles, if I bought a Billecart-Salmon Cuvée NF [Nicolas François],the wine would balance with a dish rich in acidity and salt, and I would get a nice and smooth harmonic taste in the mouth, but the small nuanced tones of the vintage made by the producer would be smoothed out. It is similar to the way you work in the music studio world, which I previously did. It is popular to treat the sound image with a compressor and cut off all the tops and bottoms for a polished, impersonal, and slightly flattened sound. Personally, I am much more careful that my food does not have an overabundance of any of the basic tastes that otherwise would numb my taste buds. I always start with the wine and choose a gentle dish as a companion.
© Skyhorse Publishing/Greg Gorman
What to avoid combining with Champagne
What are the wine’s worst enemies? The most critical ingredients are vinegar, raw onions, citrus, tropical fruits, grapes, lingonberries, sorrel, artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb, and fiery spices. Although these conflicts can be balanced when cooked right, flavor bridges and wine selection can circumvent the problems.
Eggs are interesting because they are not only rich in umami and sulfur, but also have such a fatty texture that the taste buds get covered and prevent you from tasting the wine. The fun part is that the high acidity in champagne neutralizes the sulfur, and the mousse cleans the tongue, so that even the raw egg yolk and champagne can be a good contrasting marriage. Bacon and eggs is my most common budget-tight suggestion with non-vintage champagne.
Many believe that you can drink champagne with all kinds of food, and it does not fit any better with a particular dish. It is true that champagne fits with most types of food, but the wine can also be elevated to heavenly heights in combination with the right dishes. The bubbles and the acidity cut like a knife through cream or butter sauces, purées, eggs, and other greasy, mild dishes. Vegetable dishes, fish, and shellfish are lifted by the elegant champagne, and the beverage in other cases can refresh the mouth after stronger flavors.
But you should beware of dishes with too much acidity. Citrus fruits with champagne or strong vinaigrette sauces give an acidic overall impression, and hot spicy dishes can be devastating for most wines.
Sure, you can combine champagne with relatively simple and cheap meals, but I think you can treat yourself with more fancy food on the occasions when you open a bottle of champagne. Oysters and champagne are, of course, a classic as well as champagne with Russian or Iranian caviar. However, it is important to choose a young, dry, and light Chardonnay-based champagne to withstand the salty sea flavor. Oysters have a milder taste if they are baked in the oven and come with a cream sauce or mild cheese. All shellfish except crab and shrimp go well with champagne, but the question is whether or not scallops or lobster with champagne is the best combination.
Salmon and flat fish with white wine sauce and middle-aged cuvée champagne is another successful gastronomic marriage. The sauces that are to meet champagne should be made with light broths, especially fish stock or chicken stock that are either assembled or cooked with butter, crème fraîche, or cream.
Mushrooms – and more preferably truffles – taste wonderful together with a pinot-based champagne characterized by gentle animal and vegetal notes. Asparagus is generally considered to be difficult to bring together with wine, but champagne is a great exception. Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce or Parmesan accompanied by delicate cuvée champagne can be like drinking spring. The timid flavors of Japanese cuisine are very well suited for the bubbling beverage, but beware of Asian dishes containing wasabi, soy sauce, or hot spices.
A blanc de noirs suits game excellently. Personally, I think the most perfe
ct combination of all is old champagne and foie gras. The sweet, crunchy flavors of fully mature champagne are a much more refined option to liver than Sauternes. The acidity of champagne prevents the fatty liver from becoming too powerful an experience.
© Skyhorse Publishing |
A simple Champagne menu
Because champagne has proven to be the most flexible of beverages, there are endless variations of food pairings. I work frequently with the top chefs and know that you can reach heavenly heights when everything is correct. To help you simplify it all, I have selected a small cheat sheet that you can always follow successfully unless you have the time and inclination to experiment yourself. My simple champagne menu contains many dishes, but it is only an attempt to make the dinner feel more luxurious without being too difficult to cook. That way, you can also serve more champagne and showcase the district’s entire records easily. This template can always be followed whether canapés are made from tin bread and caviar or Russian blinis and exclusive beluga caviar.
1. Canapés & Blanc de Blancs
2. Salad & Non-Vintage Champagne
3. Fish & Vintage Champagne
4. Game & Pinot Champagne
5. Coffee & Chocolate
Finish with coffee or tea and some good dark chocolate, but skip the champagne for dessert.”
* “The Scent of Champagne,” by Richard Juhlin, is published by Skyhorse Publishing at $75. It will be published in the U.K. in January 2014 at 46.31 pounds.
Μείνατε στο σπίτι, είτε από επιλογή, είτε από ανάγκη… Λαμπιόνια στο δέντρο, στολίδια και μπάλες, κεριά αναμμένα. Ήρθαν και φίλοι; Ακόμη καλύτερα.
Ετοιμάστε μια συνταγή για ζεστό κρασί που έρχεται από το Βορρά. Εκεί, που στις χριστουγεννιάτικες αγορές πίνουν Glühwein σε κούπες και τυλίγουν τα γόνατά τους με κουβερτούλες, χαζεύοντας τους περαστικούς. Θα ζεστάνει την καρδιά και την παρέα σας…
1 λίτρο κρασί
½ λίτρο πυκνό μαύρο τσάι
2-3 κουταλιές καστανή ζάχαρη
Λίγο λικέρ ή μπράντι
Φτιάχνουμε το τσάι και προσθέτουμε τη ζάχαρη και τα ξυλάκια της κανέλλας.
Κόβουμε το πορτοκάλι σε φέτες και καρφώνουμε πάνω του τα γαρύφαλλα.
Σε βαθιά κατσαρόλα βάζουμε το κρασί σε σιγανή φωτιά να ζεσταθεί καλά, όχι να βράσει. Προσθέτουμε τις φέτες του πορτοκαλιού και το τσάι με τις κανέλλες. Αφήνουμε για 20 λεπτά στη φωτιά. Δοκιμάζουμε και προσθέτουμε ζάχαρη, αν χρειάζεται.
Μπορούμε να «δυναμώσουμε» το κρασί με λίγο – ή λίγο παραπάνω- λικέρ ή μπράντι.
Μπορούμε επίσης να προσθέσουμε μερικά ξερά δαμάσκηνα ή κράνμπερις. Δίνουν ιδιαίτερη γεύση.
Σερβίρουμε σε κεραμικές χοντρές κούπες
Στην υγειά σας
© Welcome Books |
The combination of sex and wine proved irresistible to Wine-Searcher users. Under her real name, Natalie Oliveros, former on-screen sexpot Savanna Samson has morphed into a serious vintner. This story was the year’s favorite by a country mile, perhaps encouraged by a photograph of her lying naked on a bed of grapes. The former film star now owns La Fiorita, a winery in the Tuscan region where Brunello di Montalcino is produced. She makes several sangiovese-based wines, as well as some unusual indigenous blends, with the help of winemaker Roberto Cipresso.
This was Maureen Downey’s selection of her favorites from among the many counterfeit wines she has encountered. From melted crayons used to recreate the wax seal on a bottle of dodgy 1870 Lafite, to “1950s” capsules bearing today’s recyclable symbol, there were some audacious, almost comedic, shockers. Downing noted: “Every time I think I have seen ‘the worst,’ I run into something that is even more of a howler.”
Jane Anson took readers through the iconic wrought-iron gates of this historic estate. From religious ownership and expropriation during the French Revolution to today’s aristocratic proprietors, the Bordeaux estate has a colorful history. These days, it is often referred to as the sixth first growth.
The menu for the president’s inauguration luncheon was hastily changed after it stated that “Special Inaugural Cuvee Champagne, California” would be served with Hudson apple pie, sour-cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey. While fussing over the wording might seem like semantics, the U.S. Champagne Bureau protested that the Champagne name was being used incorrectly. With their tails between their legs, the organizing committee agreed to change the error in time for the lunch.
© Coravin/AFP | 5. How to Drink Wine Without Opening the Bottle
Only want a glass of wine but don’t want to open a bottle? Coravin – a new “wine access system” that was dubbed “a killer device” by Robert Parker – has the capacity to deliver. The device pierces the cork of a wine bottle with a needle and allows the user to pour out some wine without any oxygen getting in. Perfect for a single glass of wine on a week night or for trying fine wines one glass at a time.
It was our first story of 2013, and one of the most popular: Tyler Colman‘s take on the year ahead. His predictions included the demise of “point-spewing critics” and overly elaborate wine lists. Colman is currently polishing off his crystal ball for a look ahead to 2014.
A reflection on last year’s fine-wine scene from London-based exchange Liv-ex made gloomy reading for wine investors in January. The Eurozone crisis, sluggish Asian demand, and a weak U.K. economy shared the blame for falling prices. Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been much better: after a promising start, a “mispriced en primeur campaign” has given Left Bank investors little to smile about. And with the Bordeaux 2013 vintage being described as “shit” by leading consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, 2014 might be another gloomy year.
The bling Champagne brand with the ostentatious gold bottle and a price tag to match. Armand de Brignac, aka Ace of Spades, is one of the most expensive – and desired – brands on sale in night clubs around the world, no doubt helped by rapper Jay-Z’s public affection for the brand. Champagne specialist Peter Liem regards it as very well made, but not very exciting, although its lack of complexity apparently contributes to its commercial success.
© Jason Tinacci | 9. Parker’s Perfect Napa Dozen
While there are plenty of critics of Parker and his 100-point system, he still makes headlines. After Antonio Galloni‘s rather acrimonious departure from The Wine Advocate, Parker returned to his role as Napa reviewer this year. With a reputation for loving the bold wines of Napa, he could find no fault with 12 wines from the “gorgeous” 2010 vintage. Superlatives flew from his mouth: Shafer Vineyards’ Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon was “mindblowing,” while the 2010 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, was “utter perfection.”
Not surprisingly, some of the producers anointed by Parker also appeared in our list of U.S. wines with the biggest price tags. Are these eye-watering prices justified? Per Holmberg from Christie’s in New York says: “If you consider first-growth Bordeaux prices, then yeah, by all means.” Enjoy every sip if you are drinking one of these wines over the holidays!