Thursday, November 20, 2014

LOIRE VALLEY WINES - HISTORY OF WINE MAKING

Vines already existed when Romans invaded the Loire Valley.
The legend says that Saint Martin was the first to make wine in the Loire region. It was in 380.
The wine production then grew fast. In both river banks, wine makers made white wine. On the hills, they went for red wine.
Such as in Burgundy, most of the vineyards belong to monasteries and monks had developed the wine production in the whole region.



LOIRE WINES - GEOGRAPHY

The Valley of the Loire, in the Centre West of France, is often considered as the most beautiful French wine region.
The region is wide and follow the river, starting in the Auvergne and Massif Central and finishing in the Atlantic coast around Nantes city.
The Loire River is wide and deep. The landscape is quiet and undulated.
It is probably more accurate to say that the Loire Valley is made of several different regions, which have one thing in common: the river.


Loire Region Information:
Location:
From the Massif Central mountains to the Atlantic coast and Nantes cities. The Loire wine region follows the Loire river in its valley and the rivers flowing into (Cher, Loir, Layon, etc)
Weather: Atlantic weather in the West (mild winter and summer)
Continental in the East (cold winter, warm summer)
Main Cities: Nantes , Tours, Bourges
Places of Interest: Châteaux de la Loire (Chambord, Azay le Rideau, Amboise, etc)
Loire Valley wine road (the most beautiful in France !)
Angers (heritage city)
Atlantic Coast (salt production)

LOIRE VALLEY WINES

The Loire Valley is famous for its white wines. None of them use Chardonnay as a main grape variety. Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon are widely used. About 75% of the production is made of white wine. Although Loire is a land of white wine, some red wines are very interesting. They are fruity and pleasant. The Loire Valley is probably the most beautiful wine region in France and in the world.

The most basic information on the wines of Loire are:
Location:
From the Massif Central to the Atlantic coast around Nantes. The Loire wine region follows the Loire river in its valley

Loire region information

Size of the vineyards: 30,000 hectares
Grapes in Loire: Chenin Blanc Sauvignon
Production: 400 million bottles
Loire wine making

Type of Wine: Dry white wine
Sweet white wine
Semi-dry white wine
Sparkling white wine
Fruity red wine
Rosé wine




Friday, November 14, 2014

STORAGE OF WINES: STORING AFTER OPENING

Storage after opening: 
This is storage for bottles of table wine that have been opened but not completely consumed. There are many methods for prolonging the life of opened table wines but even the best can only slow the degradation of the wine. These methods are for still table wines. Sparkling wines and fortified dessert wines have different characteristics and requirements. 

Gas Systems: Sparging the bottle with a gas (nitrogen or argon) can be very effective but it is expensive and I've never known anyone who actually used a gas system over a long period of time. They just seem to ultimately be more trouble than they are worth. If you do elect to try such a system, stay away from carbon dioxide since it will mix into solution with the wine. 

Vacu-vin: An item came on the market a few years ago called a Vacu-vin. This consists of rubber bottle stoppers that hold a weak vacuum created by a hand pump that comes with the system. While some people swear by them, there is a consistent complaint that wines treated with a Vacu-vin seem 'stripped' of aromas and flavor. They actually create a lower pressure environment instead of an actual vacuum. This means they don't remove all the oxygen and oxidation of the wine will still occur.

Half bottles, marbles and progressive carafes: These are all ways of limiting the amount of air in contact with the wine. The concept is good if you move quickly and refrigerate the remaining wine.

STORAGE OF WINES - II

For any wine lover, storing wine well is very important. There are a few simple principles that need to be understood in order to select proper wine storage conditions. We can logically break down the process into just 3 categories: storing wine for the short haul, storing wine for long term aging and storing (or saving) wines that have already been opened.

Short Term Storage: 
This is wine you will consume within 6 months. These may be bottles that are just home from the store and destined to be consumed shortly or bottles that have been pulled from longer storage to be accessible for spur of the moment consumption. 

The closer you can duplicate the conditions required for long term storage, the better. However, in many situations, keeping the wines in a box in an interior closet is a satisfactory solution. 

Keep the bottles stored so that:
the cork stays moist 
the wines are at the lowest stable temperature possible 
the location is free of vibration 
the location is not a storage area for other items that have a strong odor 
Stay away from those little 9 bottle racks that end up on top of the refrigerator; it's hot, close to the light and vibrates from the refrigerator compressor.
Long Term Storage: 
This is wine that you will keep for more than 6 months before consumption. A good storage location for wine is generally dark, is free of vibration, has high humidity and has a low stable temperature. 

Generally accepted 'ideal' conditions are 50 to 55 degrees farenheight and 70 percent humidity or higher. The high humidity is important because it keeps the corks from drying and minimizes evaporation. The only problem with even higher levels of humidity is that it brings on growth of mold on the labels or the loosening of labels that have water soluble glue. 

Temperatures lower than 55 degrees only slow the aging of the wines. There have been wines found in very cold cellars of castles in Scotland that are perfectly sound and are much less developed that those kept at 'normal' cellar temperature. A near constant temperature is preferable to one that fluctuates. 

With regard to light, most modern bottles have ultraviolet filters built into the glass that help protect the contents from most of the effects of UV rays. Despite the filters in the glass, long term storage can still allow enough rays in to create a condition in the wine that is referred to as 'light struck'. The result is that the wine picks up the taste and smell of wet cardboard. This is especially noticeable in delicate white wines and sparkling wines. The condition can be created by putting a bottle of champagne near a fluorescent light for a month. 

Regular or constant vibrations from pumps, motors or generators should be avoided since the vibrations they cause are thought to negatively affect the evolution of the wines. One additional factor to avoid is storing other items with very strong odors near the wine. There have been many reports of wines picking up the aromas of items stored nearby. 

If you do not have a suitable wine cellar, there are many types of 'wine refrigerators' that will work as well. They differ from common refrigerators in that they work at higher temperatures (50-65 degree range) and they do not remove humidity from the air. There are kits available that will convert regular refrigerators into suitable wine storage units.

AGEING & STORING WINE

Whether or not to bottle age your wine after you have purchased it is a very personal and somewhat complex decision. While most white wines are designed to be enjoyed within two to three years after their vintage date, many robust red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon such as William Hill Winery's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Aura, will continue to evolve and improve with additional aging in proper storage conditions. 
Under the proper storage conditions, the components of red wines will interact and evolve. During bottle aging, the wine's varietal aromas and flavors, as well as tannins and pigment, interact with oak compounds imparted during fermentation and barrel aging. Tannins and pigment compounds will link together to form longer, smoother polymer chains, softening the tannic impression of the wine. This integration can help to develop increasingly complex flavors and aromas, and deepen the wine's color from purplish to a deep, brick red.
However, the primary caveat of a fine red wine improving through additional aging is the quality of its storage conditions. The ideal storage environment for wine mirrors the conditions of many wineries' storage caves: 

Cool Temperature:
55-65°F. Cool temperatures slow the aging process and help to develop complex varietal character.
Consistent Temperature:
Less than 10°F fluctuation throughout the year. Temperature fluctuations can cause the wine to expand and contract, possibly causing damage to the cork.
Humidity:
Between 60-80%. Humidity over 80% can encourage mold, while dry conditions can cause evaporation and oxidation.
Darkness:
Excessive light exposure can cause proteins in wine to become hazy, and can create "off" aromas and flavors.

Vibration-free:
Vibration (from appliances or motors) can travel through wine and be detrimental to its development.
Odor-free: 
The storage area should be free from chemical odors, such as cleaners, household paints, etc. 

Basements are usually wonderful for storing wine because they meet many of the above criteria. Other options include a little-used, interior closet in an air-conditioned home. Wine storage systems are available that provide optimum temperature and humidity conditions for serious wine collecting.



STORAGE OF WINES - Q&A

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:

Should I be storing the wine I drink everyday in a special way or place? 
Simply keep your bottles of wine in a cool place away from direct sunlight until you’re ready to drink them. If you are going to store them for more than a few weeks, it is best to store them on their side rather than upright. This will keep the cork moist and therefore airtight.
There is no need to store white wines or Champagne/sparkling wines in the refrigerator if you are not planning on drinking them soon. Simply chill them before serving. 

Where should I store wine I don't plan to drink immediately? 
There are two types of wine you may not plan to drink immediately--wines you have purchased that are ready to drink, and wines designed to be aged. Most wines on the market today are designed to be ready to drink as soon as you purchase them. Therefore, the long-term storage conditions recommended for wines designed to be aged are not necessary. 

Keep these ready-to-drink wines away from direct sunlight and heat, any source of vibration, and lying on their sides. This will ensure that the cork will remain moist and therefore airtight.

There is no need to store white wines or Champagne/sparkling wines in the refrigerator if you are not planning to drink them soon. Simply chill them before serving.

If you do begin to accumulate wines designed to be aged, storage becomes more important. The key conditions to keep constant are temperature (needs to be about 55 degrees) and humidity (70% - 80%). To achieve this at home, you may need to convert a closet or buy a special unit designed. 


Where should I store wine after it is opened? 
A re-corked, leftover bottle of red or white wine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 — 5 days without compromising its flavor. Just take the red wine out of the refrigerator to let it come up to room temperature before drinking. A tightly corked leftover bottle of Champagne/sparkling wine can also be kept fresh in the refrigerator for 3 - 5 days.

How long will an open bottle of wine keep? 
Longer than you may think. Don’t throw it away! Re-cork the wine (if you’ve thrown away the cork use plastic wrap and a rubber band). An open bottle of red or white wine will keep in the refrigerator for 3 — 5 days. A bottle of Champagne/sparkling wine (tightly recorked) will also keep for 3 — 5 days in the refrigerator.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

STORAGE OF WINE - I

Most of the enjoyment that comes from drinking wine involves its aroma. Taste only has four aspects - sweet, sour, salty, acid. The nose does the rest. Vapors are created as wine warms up, so the wine needs to be a few degrees below its ideal drinking temperature for this to work. Room Temperature is rarely 'wine drinking temperature' - if you're in the Indian Ocean on a yacht, you hardly want 100° Chardonnay! How about Houston in July? Warmth makes white wines taste dull. Few homes are regulated to match wine-drinking temperatures. 
So throw out the old "refrigerate all whites, drink all reds at current room temperature" adage. Here is a chart to indicate in general best temperatures for drinking wine at. Remember, though, that you also want to keep in mind the temperature of the room relative to this 'idea temperature'. If your room is 60°F and you are serving a fine Burgundy, perhaps chill the Burgundy to 58°F to allow it a little warming up in the glass. Fridges do well for cooling a wine when necessary, but for warming I prefer to warm it with my hands, glass by glass. 
If you run into someone hooked on Room Temperature, have them imagine drinking a fine ice wine in Barrow, Alaska in February. At that temperature, even a wine meant 

Storage of Wine - Serving temperatures of Wine

Temp FTemp CNotes
 
100°39°Warm Bath
 
68°20°-
 
66°19°Vintage Port
 
64°18°Bordeaux, Shiraz
 
63°17°Red Burgundy, Cabernet
 
61°16°Rioja, Pinot Noir
 
59°15°Chianti, Zinfandel
 
57°14°Tawny/NV Port, Madeira
 
55°13°Ideal storage for all wines
 
54°12°Beaujolais, rose
 
52°11°Viognier, Sauternes
 
50°10°-
 
48°Chardonnay
 
47°Riesling
 
45°Champagne
 
43°Ice Wines
 
41°Asti Spumanti
 
39°-
 
37°-
 
35°Fridge Temperature
 
33°-
 
32°water freezes
 
-18°Freezer Temperature

STORAGE OF WINE



What's the big deal about storing a wine at a certain temperature? Simply put, wine is a perishable good. Storing a fine wine at 100° will cause it to lose its flavor, while storing it at 0° will cause as much damage.

The trick with wine is to store it at a stable, ideal temperature, and then to serve it at a temperature which best shows off its personal characteristics. If you serve a wine too cool, the flavors will all be hidden. It's like eating a frozen pizza while it's still frozen. If you serve a wine too hot, all you can taste is the alcohol.