Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Vineyards

King Family Vineyards during January
Although the leaves are gone and the harvest is long complete and it appears quiet with little activity, the vineyards of Virginia are busy places during the winter

Although it may not look like it, this vineyard is being pruned in preparation for the coming growing season. The piles of wood, as it is called, on the ground are the evidence of the activity that continues even with snow on the ground.

Chris took this picture during our Charlottesville wine weekend. The white snow provided contrast against the dark mountains in the background. And the vines, the stars of the show, are shown just after the pruning that prepares them for the growing season ahead.  

Although there isn't a lot of growing going on, vineyards are busy places during the winter.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Consensus Blending at Keswick

The Consensus Team
George, Sue, Peggy, Chris, Mark
Consensus Blending at Keswick Vineyards near Charlottesville, Virginia, is an awesome way to spend a day. I have written about the Consensus blending before--an event sponsored by the vineyard that brings the wine club members together to blend a winning wine that the winery will bottle and sell.

Our team was ready for the challenge of taking four wines with defects and making a good tasting wine that people would buy. It was tough. We were presented with four wines: Touriga, Norton, Syrah, and Chambourcin; all grown on the estate and ready to be blended into a great wine.
The Consensus Tools:
Four wines, graduated cylinder, and a wine glass

Blending a winning wine takes a lot of patience, the ability to find ways to blend imperfect wines into a masterpiece, and a lot of luck. There is science involved, but as the winemakers says every year, we are being asked to do in two and a half hours what takes him six months to achieve. And we do fairly well. 

This year we had a lot of fun, enjoyed some really imperfect wines, and blended what we thought was a great wine (until we tasted it later) all while spending another awesome weekend in Charlottesville. Our wine did not do as well as we had hoped, but when we tasted it later during the blind judging portion of the day, I felt that it got what it deserved. I rated for the winning wine very high and it was a very nice blend. Our wine, was mediocre by comparison and we rated it as such. 

Although we felt bad that our blend didn't do well this year--we learned a lot and I know that I am already looking forward to next year's event.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Overcomplexifying Wine

I decided to explore this word for one more day.

It seems that I have moved down the road in my enjoyment of wine into the realm of overcomplexifying. Yup, no longer is it enough for me to just like a wine.  

Gone are the good old days when I just considered whether I liked the wine or not. Now, whether I like it or not, I am pulling the wine apart and deciding why I like it or what could be improved in the wine to make me like it.

Is is balanced? Is there a complex flavor and aroma presentation? How does the wine feel? How are the tannins? The acidity? The minerality? What aromas are present? Currants or grapefruit or flowers or cherries or leather to whatever flavor you can imagine. I tasted a wine once where the winemaker described hints of bubblegum. 

And I look at how the wine appears in the glass. Is the color good--be it red or white. Does the color go with the kind of grape? 

I have overcomplexified wine drinking and enjoyment.

Even when someone asks what my favorite wine is I find myself unable to give a straight answer? Do you mean for drinking with cheese? Or sitting around the pool on a hot summer afternoon? Or enjoying with pizza, or hamburgers, or salmon, or a hunk of beef? Red or White? 

It used to be so simple--my favorite wine was an Australian shiraz.  But now it comes out something like a 2005 Axios Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. I can't afford to drink it very often, but it is my favorite. On the other hand  depending upon the day, my favorite wine might be an Americana Vineyard Apparition, if I'm in the mood. 

Perhaps that is why life is all about. We take simple things and overcomplexify them, just to make ourselves feel better.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD