Wine Enthusiast: ‘We Are All Part of the Same Cycle’: Winemakers Embrace Agroforestry Amid Climate Change

Many vineyards are monocultures, or plots devoted to one crop, and, as such, they face extreme weather conditions and climate change with a limited set of biodiverse levers to pull. Agroforestry, the cultivation and preservation of trees and their ecosystems, presents a range of solutions to these types of viticultural issues, maintaining vineyard production while reducing negative impact on the environment. 

Here’s how wineries around the world have embraced agroforestry for the betterment of their surroundings and their products. READ MORE

Wine Spectator: Northern Rhône’s E. Guigal Expands in the South, Buying Tavel’s Château d’Aquéria

Philippe Guigal believes there is great potential for Tavel’s deeply colored rosés

E. Guigal, the prominent Northern Rhône Valley producer, has expanded its holdings in the Southern Rhône with the purchase of Château d’Aquéria in Tavel from the de Bez family. The estate totals 242 acres with 168 under vine. Approximately 100 of those acres are in Tavel while the remaining vines are in the neighboring Lirac appellation.

The move comes just a few years after Guigal’s purchase of Domaine de Nalys (since renamed Château Nalys) giving the Guigal family a solid presence in the south after three generations of purchasing grapes there for its négociant operation. The purchase price was not disclosed. READ MORE

Sonoma Index Tribune:

Sonoma Index Tribune: Let Sonoma cannabis grow like a weed

We’ve seen what happens when global conglomerates take over businesses that used to be local and it’s rarely good. Staying local has never been more important as we witness mergers and acquisitions in everything from breweries to restaurants to grocery stores to retail outlets and pharmacies, losing special qualities of life and regional characteristics with each change.

But one thing has always remained, the quality of Sonoma’s agriculture. Where once we grew vast quantities of wheat and barley, as well as hops, corn, flax, and cotton — today our land is renowned for the quality of its wine grapes and the talent of its vintners, and rightly so. Soon, I predict it will also be renowned for the quality of our cannabis. READ MORE

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

Trink Magazine: Returning Historic Varieties to Germany’s Vineyards

This is a story for the wine romantics among us who dream of bygone varieties, who hunker down to listen to the old stone terraces telling stories of yesteryear, of those with a weak spot for growers and wines committed to character. It is in this world of nostalgia and nerds that this story is set.

Enter Ulrich “Uli” Martin, a viticulturist from Gundheim in Rheinhessen. “Such a reliable companion!” he says. “Honest, direct, and amiable. You sense it immediately.” This high praise, however, is not aimed at his best friend, at least not in the traditional sense. Rather, at a grape variety, and specifically: the historic Fränkischer Burgunder. Martin has worked with plants all his life. And he talks of them with a familiarity most of us reserve for our dearest companions. While the acquaintance between this man and this centuries-old variety is quite recent, the two are already fast friends. READ MORE

Science & Wine: Explaining the influence of the ecosystem/viticulture in the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon quality

Chile is a very long and narrow country with the Andes Mountains to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west. This unique geographical morphology encompasses a wide range of wine-growing conditions influenced by the coastal range, offering a diverse climatic characteristic for viticulture. Most of the vineyards are placed between 30°S to 36°S, where is possible find diverse climatic conditions from semi-arid according to elevation in the north central zone, to dominant Mediterranean-type in the central zone, where it is possible to identify important differences in climatic conditions in a single wine region [Montes et al 2012]. Chilean winemakers take advantage of soil and climate variability to produce wines with different signatures and styles, even if they start from the same grape cultivar. 35% of Chilean wine production with origin appellation are Cabernet Sauvignon, which  correspond to the 40% of cultivated red grape production area, and more of 90% of this cultivar are placed between Maipo and Maule Valleys in the central zone (Figure 1) [SAG]. Such a huge diversity in viticultural characteristics and conditions led to the production of numerous quality and character wines, from Super Premium to Standard quality wines. However, there is a lack of knowledge concerning the metabolites that are responsible for this diversity and therefore a lack of tools to improve and promote the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: Regenerative viticulture is a dirty subject

We tend to think about soil as an inert, static substance, a never-ending abiotic resource at our disposal, to build on, drive on, cover up with paving or tarmac, extract from, exploit and profit from. We’ve mined it, moved it, dumped it, reshaped it, lost it to wind and flood. Soil is something to be washed from our cars, scrubbed off our shoes, wiped with admonishments from the hands and mouths of children, viewed with disgust when it’s on our clothes. ‘Who brought mud in?!’, most of us have probably heard bellowed by an exasperated parent, viewing a trail of footprints in the hallway. ‘Soiled’, even today, is a word associated with shame, disgrace and moral ruin.

The irony is that good, healthy soil (in its natural state) is not only dynamic and teeming with life, and is, together with plants, crucial for life on earth, but it is cleaner than the most well-scrubbed home, and is more effective at maintaining the health of living organisms than the most sophisticated medical science we have access to today. With all respect to the clean freaks and the virtuous, our everyday lives need to be soiled, and richly so.

Research by Deep Life scientists estimates that 70% of earth’s microorganisms live in the subsurface and that there is as much, if not more, genetic diversity of life below the surface of the earth as above it. They believe that the biomass of carbon-based life in the darkness of the soil and rocks below us ‘utterly dwarfs’ that of surface life. Not only that, but almost 25% of living plant matter, mostly in the form of roots, is below ground (quite literally holding it together): 67% of living grasses, 47% of shrubs and 22% of trees exist underground. The Natural History Museum website says that ‘one teaspoon of soil can contain more organisms than there are humans on earth’. READ MORE

Jamie Goode: Taking Pinotage seriously: a vertical of Kanonkop’s Black Label Pinotage

Pinotage is a grape variety that has struggled to be taken seriously. It has wrestled with a reputation of making wines with a certain flavour – one that not everyone finds agreeable. Bad Pinotage often has a distinctive sweet and sour character, often with some bitterness. Of late, though, its reputation has improved quite a bit, and a lot of the thanks have to go to one producer: Kanonkop. They’ve taken it seriously for decades, and the Kanonkop Pinotage is a banker for cellaring. Their previous winemaker, Beyers Truter, became known as Mr Pinotage. Current winemaker Abrie Beeslaar came to Kanonkop as an understudy to Truter in 2002, and took over in 2003 – and he’s kept this focus. A big step was when he began making an ‘icon’ level Pinotage, the Black Label, in 2006.

Abrie is keen to change people’s minds about Pinotage as a variety. It’s a relatively recent one, as grape varieties go. In 1924. Professor Itzak Perold took pollen from Pinot Noir and flowers of Cinsault and made a cross. In 1925 the first seeds taken from this crossing. READ MORE

Young Gun of Wine: AU’s Riesling Renaissance

“In Australia, the identity crisis brought about in the ’70s and ’80s where riesling was a more of a style rather than a varietal claim, led an entire generation of consumers to associate riesling with cheap bag-in-box wines that were often cloyingly sweet and rarely actually made from riesling,” says Belinda Hughes of Rieslingfreak. “The stigma of this unfortunate association is finally fading, and a new generation of consumers are discovering the joys of riesling.”

Australian riesling plantings declined by over 30 per cent between 2009 and ’15, even dropping below 2001 levels by about 10 per cent. But there is still a meaningful amount of the grape planted, and it Australia sits third on the global plantings, well back from Germany but not dissimilar to France’s hectarage, which is almost exclusively in Alsace.

In Australia, the Clare and Eden Valleys are the historic homelands of the grape, and they still account for about a third of the country’s plantings. And while total plantings may have declined a bit, riesling is getting a foothold, albeit modest, in more regions, which will no doubt result in greater variety and choice for drinkers. READ MORE

BC Wine Trends: Okanagan Crush Pad First Canadian Winery to Join International Wineries for Climate Action

Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad Winery is pleased to announce that it is the first Canadian winery to join the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA). IWCA is open to any winery, from any country, and employs a three-tiered membership system that allows a diversity of wineries to join. Okanagan Crush Pad has been accepted as an applicant member having committed to an ISO-14064 audited baseline greenhouse gas inventory. The winery team now has one year to meet IWCA membership requirements and become a silver or gold level member. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Dry good shortage is driving up bottled wine prices

Supply chain jam and rising production costs triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine War are crippling dry goods supplies and adding pressure to the wine industry and end consumers.

The global pandemic over the past two years have triggered a chain of disruptions to the wine industry including backlog of shipments, lack of containers, rising costs and port disruptions, as we have reported.

While the world is now entering a post-pandemic era with relaxed restrictions in most western countries, Russian invasion of Ukraine since February this year has threatened the world’s economy with soaring gas prices. READ MORE

Vinography: PURE Lies—Winemaker Adam Lee Puts a ‘Clean Wine’ to the Test

In some recent columns here, Alder has very appropriately weighed in on the issues associated with the various claims put forth by several different wineries, such as Dry Farm Wines.

Recently the TTB has started to take notice of these claims as well, issuing guidelines for wineries who attempt to advertise their wines as “clean wines.”

While the TTB is putting producers on notice regarding these claims and advertisements, it seems obvious to me that this isn’t enough. I approached Alder with this column a couple of months ago but never got around to finishing it. Now, with the TTB sitting up and taking notice, I finally found the inspiration and Alder has been kind enough to allow me to publish it on Vinography. READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

Great British Wine: IEWA 2022 Results

It’s hard to believe that the Independent English Wine Awards is already enjoying its sixth year. The competition has grown in scope and stature since its inauguration in 2017 – and while I, unfortunately, had to bow out of judging this year due to other commitments – I was hugely excited to hear the results of this year’s judges’ work.

A total of 12 wines were awarded Gold Medals, just under 10% of the total entries, which is indicative of the judges’ typically high standards. Taking the top steps of the still and sparkling wine results were both an entirely new name and a very well-established producer. On the still side, The Wharie Experience took the Still Trophy for their Pinot Gris 2020. This wine’s rose-gold hue captivated the judges, as did its its sumptuous toasty richness and plush ripe stone fruit character. The IEWA has a habit of being a platform for emerging talent in England – and this year, it feels like it’s Wharie’s year; they also took a second Gold Medal for their Orange Bacchus.

On the sparkling side, something a little less maverick in style but equally engrossing was the Bride Valley Blanc de Blancs 2018. The late Steven Spurrier’s estate is no stranger to followers of the English Wine Industry. Having had their first harvest in 2011, Bride Valley have already celebrated many cherished awards. But this 2018 wine feels like a real ‘coming of age’ for the vineyard, and is one not to be missed with its racy freshness and accomplished elegance. READ MORE

Ciatti: Ciatti California Report May 2022


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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.

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