8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On 1:16 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine   No comments
Hi Everyone,
Here is another look in on our in house staff education process. . . my notes as a teacher for this weeks class.

Staff Education Notes: Ben Wood Instructor Wednesday 08/24/10

Reading: World Atlas of Wine 6th Edition, Beazley, Johnson, Robinson
Pages 28-29 The Wine Growers Year
Pages 68-70 Cote Chalonaise and the Maconnais

The Wine Growers Year

Harvest is the most important part of the year for any winery or vineyard. This time and the weeks following it are bar far the most critical time for anyone involved in the production side of the wine business. This time of year is so important that I am surprised the book started this section in January!

January Vineyard Tasks: Pruning. Cutting the shoots to allow them to produce the best fruit, this also allows for training the vines properly for the vineyard according to the training plan. This needs to be done while the sap is as low in the plant as possible. January Winery Tasks: Malolactic fermentation. This is the process by which the higly acidic green apple flavors of malic acid are transformed (through bacteria) into the less acidic higher Ph Lactic acid with flavors of milk, or butter and a rounder mouthfeel. Usually by this point in the year this is well underway.

February Vineyard Tasks: Pruning and Mending. At this point in the year (usually after the hard freezes have stopped) the posts, wires and stakes in the trellis system are usually repaired. Most Vineyards try to wait until after freezes to cut down on “motion” while installing these (the contraction from freezing to non frozen soil can move a post a few inches). February Winery Tasks: Topping Up. This is done to keep oxidation to a minimum in the barrels or tanks- and frankly most wineries keep a eye on this right up until bottling.

March Vineyard Tasks: Ploughing the soil to control weeds. This is often done several ways. . . many estates use tractors, but the amount of animals used for this task are growing. See the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSJ-GbngymI. March Winery Tasks: Bottling. Usually wineries will bottle the wines that are intended to be drunk young. This also includes batch testing to make sure there are no bacterial infections, or other problems in the wines (done before or during the bottling process to ensure that the wines are stable).

April Vineyard Tasks: Desuckering. A simple trimming of the vines ensures that the vines are not to vigorous (removing leaves, and the several of the buds). This allows the vineyard to keep the correct amount of bunches on each vine. April Winery Tasks: Racking. Racking is the process of moving wines from one resting or fermentation container to another. This is often done to remove sediment, and lees that can cause bitter flavors and chemical problems in the wine.

May Vineyard Tasks: Frost Protection. This is a critical task, particularly after the buds have begun to show. There are all sorts of ways to accomplish this- from large flamethrowers to small smoke pots. A famous example is Domaine Leflaive hiring a helicopter to dry their holdings in Le Montrachet after a rain shower before a frost that could have damaged the harvest that year. May Winery Tasks: Order Fulfillment. Preparing and shipping the orders for the wines- labeling, boxing and shipping the wines to customers, stores and distributors.

June Vineyard Tasks: Shoot Positioning. Positioning the shoots to enable the vine to turn sun into grapes is one of the more important tasks performed during the growing season. This is done by taking the fruit bearing shoots and turning them so the grapes hang down and the leaves get great exposure to the sun. June Winery Tasks: More Racking. This task needs to be finished before the onset of summer heat.

July Vineyard Tasks: Spraying Vs. Pests. Pest control becomes very important at this point in the year. Spraying can be done using chemical pesticides and herbicides or can be attempted using other methods. A few biodynamic preparations can be used at this point in the year as well (a specific is the stinging nettle preparation which can be sprayed on leaves to ward of insects). Keep in mind that the “pests” can be birds, mice, or even fungus infections, not just bugs and parasitic plants. July Winery Tasks: Bottling “fine” Wines. This is the point of the year when most wineries dealing in ultra premium or premium wines (i.e. classified growth Bordeaux, and the like) bottle the wines. 2010 harvests will most likely be bottled in July of 2012 unless tradition or law require additional aging.

August Vineyard Tasks: Verasion. This is when red wine grapes turn from green in color to red. During this time some quality producers make a green harvest. Green harvesting is cutting bunches of grapes of the vines to concentrate the flavor into less grapes. August Winery Tasks: Prepare the Winery. Basically this is the point at which the winery needs an extremely thorough cleaning. These days that means sterilizing everything from tanks to barrels to tubes to bolts that attach the tubes . . . one of the biggest changes in winemaking in the last 70-50 years is the understanding that foreign chemicals cause lots of chemical problems in wine, and one simple way to avoid that is to clean well before harvest and before winemaking.

September Vineyard Tasks: Harvest! The most important decision that a winery can make is the exact date of harvest. It affects the flavor or success of the wine from that vintage. If harvested to early, the wines might be unripe and have green flavors, if harvested to late there is a serious risk of rain or hail or other weather damage. Rain will dilute the wine, and hail will destroy the grapes- drastically lowering the production. September Winery Tasks: Winemaking. Make the wine- frantically trying to get the grapes in, press and beginning fermentation. The winemakers and vineyard staff are often spending 24 hours a day in the winery working every few hours and sleeping when the can.

October Vineyard Tasks: Preparing For Dormancy. Hopefully at this point the vines are preparing to reach their resting state. The leaves are turning brown, and the sap is starting to fall. October Winery Tasks: Punching Down. This process keeps the fermentation going. There is a cap of semi solid material that forms on the top of the fermenting wine, and some of that material is active yeast which is needed to ferment the sugar into alcohol. The yeast will die if left exposed to oxygen and allowed no sugar. Some wines might need punching down – shoving the cap back into the fermenting juice. Some might need a pumping over- taking the fermenting juice and pumping it back on top of the cap (this also allows the wine a little more exposure to oxygen). Often this task is performed several times a week on each batch.

November Vineyard Tasks: Cover Crop. Planting the cover crop in between the rows is done at this time. Also the plant usually reached a dormant state during this month as well (at the time when the leaves fall off, and the sap reaches the root system). November Winery Tasks: Fining. Clarification of the wine is done at this point in the year, as hopefully the primary fermentation is done or nearing completion. Fining or clarification can be done using several substances, including egg whites, gelatin, clay, and isinglass (ground fish gills!).

December Vineyard Tasks: Pruning, and Vine Propagation. December, it is winter and the vines are fully dormant. Once this is the case, Pruning can begin and often this is when the cuttings removed to the greenhouse and turned in to new plantings to be planted in a few years. December Winery Tasks: Early tasting. The winemakers often start tasting the wine at this point and begin deciding what else each batch will need (2 years in oak, a month in steel; that sort of thing) and what blends will be. The malolactic fermentation begins usually at this point.

Cote Chalonaise

This southern region borders the south end of the Cote d’Or at chagny. Less hilly, more pastoral these areas actually have a higher elevation then most of the Cote d’Or. Mostly made up of slopes of limestone (often smaller then the great plates of it contained in the more famous areas to the north). Though it is further to the south, the higher altitude requires a longer growing season and a higher risk due to the need for a later harvest.

The most celebrated AC’s are from north to south are listed below, first the Cote Chalonaise. Bouzeron: This village is one of the few villages that only produces wine from one grape – not even the famed Burgundy Chardonnay- but instead the less known Aligote. The AC is a reward for perfectionist winemaking by some of the famous winemakers who live there (namely Aubert De Villaine – famed co owner of Domaine Romani Conti who grew up in this village and drinking and championing the crisp whites made there).

Rully: mostly a white wine producing village, but a few reds are made there. The style of the wine is lean and crisp for white, and austere but classy for reds.

Mercurey: The largest AC village in the Cote Chalonaise. This is a red wine village, with very few whites made; the style of wine is like the Cote de Beaune; rustic but age able. There is a lot of 1er cru “inflation” in the last 30 years the amount of 1er cru sites here went up from 5-over 30!!!

Givry: Smallest producing village in the Cote, this is also a red wine area. The wines are light, fresh and fruit driven and drink well quite a bit younger then Mercurey reds.

Montagny: Located 6-8 miles to the south of Givry, this large village produces mostly white wine. The AC area includes Buxy; and the local Buxy Co-op is one of the best in the Cote Chalonaise with a rich style Chardonnay that is delicious.

The Macon

The Macon is one of the largest regions in Burgundy. White wines are mostly Chardonnay. Red wine in the Macon is often made from Gamay which when grown here on the limestone soil takes on a more structured style then when grown slightly to the south in Beaujolais on the granite soil there. In the Macon the labeling system is pretty simple- the basic wines say Macon on the label, the Better wines say Macon-Villages on the label, and the best wines say either Macon followed by the name of the village or the name of the village alone. Here are the villages with descriptions of the wine.

St Veran is a white wine village with crisp, lean, high acid wines.

Pouilly-Vinzelles and Pouilly-Loche used to be great cheaper versions of Pouilly Fuisse, however they are now in the process of developing their own identities. Great wines are being made here by producers like the Bret Brothers.

Macon-Prisse, Lugny, Uchizy and Chardonnay (village- not grape!) are good well priced and plump white Burgundy with good value, but little to no oak.

Vire and Clesse are two villages producing great wine for very good values. Combined they make up the newest AC in the Macon (Vire-Clesse).

Overall these areas are making wines that have an enormous range in style from new world wines to clean crisp austere wine. Some of the wines come with a French accent and many in a full international style.


St Veran ‘La Grande Bruyere’ Domaine Roger Luquet 2008 Color: Pale Straw Nose: Lees, mineral and apples Palate: Crisp, mineral and high acid- a lean wine.

Macon Fuisse ‘Les Grandes Bruyeres’ Domaine Cheveau 2008 Color: Pale Gold Nose: Apple, quince, spice, earth, deep and rich Palate: Rich Fruit with nice weight and nice balance. Nice finish

Givry ‘Champlalot’ Domaine Faiveley 2006 Color: red/brown fades out at edges Nose: Cherries, Minerals, Pepper Palate: Tough, rustic Pinot fruit with peppery finish.

Macon Rouge ‘Terroir de Tournus’ P. Pauget 2008 Color: Purple Red Nose: Earthy, funky, juicy with just a hint of the Gamay grape’s candy apple flavor Palate: Nice rich wine with clove and red apple flavors and a nice savory finish.

Thanks For Reading.
Ben Wood


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