Corporate Malbec

October 9, 2007

The moon this morning was just a little sliver, and the sky was clear.  Everybody’s talking about the rain that’s supposed to be coming tomorrow night.


The crop maybe ruined.  (not really, don’t worry, the thin-skinned varieties are all in and just the thick cabernets and Syrahs are out there but fine and will be, really.  I swear.)

So it was a day to pick, and to pick as much as possible.  We started with Malbec, and, listen, I eat a lot of grapes and am learning what’s good and what’s not so good.  Overcropped, little canopy management, the poor little vines could have grown tastier fruit, but the corporation that runs the place had other plans.  Whoever decided that they wouldn’t pay to try hard on the Malbec.

It made me think about what my ladyfriend was saying about me this weekend, that I care more about the politics behind a wine than how it tastes.  I think that by that she meant that when I taste wine I will speak of the company behind it before I say something.  After a few years doing this, I generally know a little something about the entity, corporate or otherwise, who made the wine.  So when I talk about the wine I’m tasting, I explain what I’m tasting by explaining what I know about them, and how I disagree with everything they do and stand for.  I can’t help it.

I just don’t think that the corporate structure is the best mechanism for the creation of good wine.   I also don’t think that the type of people who would decide to use something like, say, Roundup, are the type that have a feeling for nature and thus, don’t — can’t — make a great wine.  They’ve already shown that they’ll cut corners.  They’ve already shown that they don’t understand nature, the universe, the things that are more important than profit.

I know, I know.

I know that there’s all sorts of wine growers in America that get great ratings and make good wines that also use Roundup in the vineyard.  There’s a lot of good wines made by corporations who pay their cellar staff poorly.  And there’s plenty of hairy-faced organic vintners who make a lousy wine.

I just think that the goal should always be to do the best possible, make the best possible whatever.  I know that in the here and now, profit is more important than philosophy.

I drank a wine last week.  It tasted like it was overcropped, the vines were unhealthy and didn’t produce a lot pf phenols.  The aromatics, the mouthfeel, were oak-related.  I could taste that they had it wrong.  They could have spent more money in the vineyards, saved money on barrels, and made a better wine.  It was a $17 burgundy whose name I forgot.  I forgot everything about it but that it tasted like they knew the wine would be lousy and threw in some of those big fucking teabags full of burnt oak chips while they fermented it.


The acorns

September 28, 2007

When we talk about the correlation between oak and the vine, we often speak of the use of oak as a barrel, or maybe that its from an oak tree that natural corks come.  The marriage between oak trees and the grapevine has a longer history than that, began before we were on the scene, and continues to in ways that most people don’t understand well.

For instance, one of the major problems in newer vineyards is Armillaria Melea, the oak root fungus otherwise known as the honey mushroom or foxfire.  It’s edible and tastey, but when vineyards are cleared from the wilderness and planted, often oak tree roots persist deep below any ripper can reach.  There, they fester with oak root fungus that then spreads to the young new roots of the newly planted vineyard.  In a place where once an old oak tree grew deeply and was removed, it’s likely that its ghost will haunt forever the vines planted in its stead.  They will be weak, unproductive, and die young before they get a chance at glory.

This year there’s a lot more acorns than normal, and they’re falling earlier and often green.  Most of the conventional old-timey wisdom is that it means it will be an early, wet and cold winter.  A year of heavy acorns is known as a “mast year.”

Today its cloudy and cold, just he 50s so far, overcas with gray cold clouds the block out the sun but don’t yet threaten anything more than a bit of a drizzle. A acorns fall and the clouds thicken, it ems like the conventional old-timey wisdom is going to hold true.

The grape acids are acting topsy turvy this year, as I mentioned in my previous post.  The deer are in rut early this year and acting strange.  I think that its likely this year’s winter is  going to be a nasty and wet mess.