Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Sunday, January 27, 2013
A group of local chefs, growers, residents and local government officials (including the Napa County Agricultural Commissioner, Dave Whitmer) have banded together to form a Local Food Advisory Council whose goal is to advance a more sustainable approach to the local food system. I'm all for promoting local produce, for me it means fresher and tastier food on my plate. But let's also continue to promote wine-grapes, those precious little berries that bring in a whole lot of revenue.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Well, I'm always up for carnitas, but the tequila? I think I'll pass. Besides, there was plenty of great wine on offer at the 'Carnitas and Tequila' event at Mi Sueño Winery this afternoon. Dead pig - with tortillas, frijoles, pico de gallo and spicy sauce - was available in abundance, as was a plethora of Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, Pinot noirs and red blends. Rolando Herrera is not only the proprietor of Mi Sueño, but he also is the winemaker for a butt-load (technical term) of other wineries, amongst them Baldacci, Coho, Longfellow and Spotted Owl.
What a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny, January afternoon. Olé!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
My latest find is another fungus, which is growing under some sort of pine tree just outside the gates to a neighbourhood vineyard. When I first spotted these somewhat homely 'shrooms a few weeks ago, I initially thought they were dollops of deer poop. However, I noticed that the dark, repellent looking mounds were coming up from beneath the pine litter, not deposited upon the surface. It was only when I got closer that I realised that the rather unprepossessing heaps were indeed plant life. My eureka moment was confirmed by a total lack of interest on the Vinodogs behalf: the Vinodogs know and love their cervine excrement, in fact, my beloved dogs are experts in all kinds of scat.
Back in Vinoland, a quick search on the internet revealed the identity of the mystery mushroom, the Black Elfin Saddle. Helvella lacunosa is the most common of all Helvella species in North America and is usually found, just where I found it, growing under Pinus trees. And apparently, unlike the Common Roll-rim, the Black Elfin saddle is edible (when cooked). Personally, having first identified this particular organism as animal fecal matter, I don't think I'm inclined to want to consume them - I'll stick with store bought, thank you very much. Besides, even the Vinodogs turned their noses up at them, so they must taste like they look, ugly.
Monday, January 21, 2013
The easiest way to assess whether or not MLF is complete is to perform a paper chromatography (PC) test. PC is a relatively simple test which is done by placing tiny drops of wine, (and control samples of tartaric, malic and lactic acids), onto chromotography paper which is then placed in an eluting solution. The solute, which is rather smelly, wicks up through the paper separating out the acids from the wine samples by virtue of their differing molecular weights. Each acid will move a characteristic distance up the chromatography paper thus making it fairly easy to identify the presence one of the aforementioned acids.
One could, of course, send samples of wine to a laboratory which specialises in these types of things for an enzymatic assay. But where's the fun in that? This is winemaking and having physical evidence of a small natural wonder, albeit in the form of a tie-dyed piece of blotting paper, is one of the more entertaining aspects of turning grape juice into wine.
Friday, January 18, 2013
The Traza, 2006, Graciano has a very informative label, so I'm not totally in the dark as to this wine's origin. For instance, I know the name of the winemaker, David Sampedro. I know it's 100% made from the Graciano grape and it's from the La Rioja region in Spain. And that's just the front label: the back label is chock-a-block with info like, for example, this wine has seen "no oak".
In my Wines of the World class, I learned that the Graciano grape, of unknown origin (here we go again), only accounts for 1-2% of the total grape acreage in Rioja, where it usually blended with Tempranillo and Carignane. Interestingly, Graciano has a slightly unusual growth cycle with a late bud break, so late ripening, and it's leaves turn red and drop off late in the season - which would have me thinking, virus!
Initially, the wine tasted a little metallic, but showed splendidly with food; nice colour extraction; nice tannin structure; nice fruity aroma; could have done with a bit more acid. On the whole, rather enjoyable. I'm left wondering if there is another bottle of this particular wine downstairs that I also don't know about.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Not much happening with me. Not at work, not in the vineyard - except some of my favourite weeds are starting to bloom. Field marigolds have been blooming up in Oakville for over two weeks and I have enjoyed spotting them in various vineyards on my drive to, and from, TWWIAGE. Here in Coombsville, 15 miles to the south, it is much cooler and these sunny little flowers are just thinking about making an appearance. Infact, this is the one, solitary bloom thus far in Vinoland. C'mon little Calendula.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Monday, January 7, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
As Vinoland's Cabernet Sauvignon vines mature my job becomes simpler. Of course, it has taken me several years of pruning to convince the young vines' canes and spurs to go exactly where I'd like them to go. And now, on the most part, each vine is beginning to exhibit the ideal model, or at least how the ideal vine exists in this pruners mind. Thanks little buddies.
A happy, healthy and fruit of the vine filled New Year to everyone.