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Monday, June 25, 2012

Wine Professional's Notes - It is easy to become one with a bit of study.

Selection of my Italian wine collection.
It's not just Red or White.
It is not the first time, that I happen to be entertaing guests at a restaurant, or giving advice to someone about wine selections for a private occasion, and even sometimes when one happens to strike a conversation with a restaurateur, that as far as they know wine falls just under two categories. It's either Red or White (or in more incongruous and daft situations, someone might also add another category - Rose D'Anjou - yes that's correct not just Rose', but you read well, Rose D'Anjou!). One has to sympathise with such a mentality or lack of knowledge, because the subject of wine is a vast and intricate one, but also one that has its rewards in the enjoyment of this exquisite beverage, especially if one knows what he is on about, what he is selecting and what pairs well with certain foods, the important varietals, and of course what quality one will be paying for.

The appreciation of wine is an acquired taste. It takes no special skill to drink a wine and know that you like it, even if you are not always able to tell why. Liking or not liking a particular wine or a particular varietal, is subjective, as not everyone has the same palate.
To understand wine, one should read and study about it, think about it and above all -  drink it.

A selection of some excellent
Maltese wines.
One of the best ways of acquiring an undestanding of wine is to taste it blind, without knowing what is in the glass. Tasting wine blind forces discipline and concentration of our senses, that we otherwise take for granted. Not knowing what is in the glass causes us to become more sensitive to what it might be.

In judging or evaluating wines, there are three main, distinct, but also inter-related evaluation keys that allow us to distinguish one wine from another. These are: Colour; Smell (often referred to as bouquet or aroma) and the most important Taste.



So how would one distinguish between one wine and another?

More from the Maltese
wines cellar.
Well let's take White Wine to start with. White wine can be produced from numerous grape varieties, the most notable of which are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, which although these grape varieties originated in France, Burgundy and the Upper Loire Valley respectively to be exact, these two varieties are grown, cultivated and harvested in numerous "New World" wine producing countries from American rootstock and selected varietal clones.





Chardonnay Champagne
Grape.
Chardonnay is the grape used to produce the famous Blanc de Blanc Champagne; the exquisite Chablis and Pouilly-Fuisse; whereas Sauvignon Blanc is the grape variety of the fabulous Sancerre and the Pouilly-Fume' of France as well as the Fume Blanc of California. Of note is the fact that the very best Sauvignon Blanc varietal wines come form New Zealand.





Then we have other famous grape varieties such as Riesling; Chenin Blanc; Gewurztraminer; Muscat; Semilon; Viogner;  Marsanne and Rousanne both of which are blended to produce the unique Hermitage. Muscadet; Pinot Blanc; Pinot Gris; Pinot Grigio; Cortese for Gavi di Gavi; Malvasia and Trebiano for Frascati; and Trebiano alone for the Orvieto; Garganega and again Trebiano for the Soave; Vedicchio; Vermentino; Fiano di Avellino; Greco di Tufo; Vernacchia; Falanghina; and maybe the lesser known Grillo and Catarretto from Sicily. Airen and Macabeo varietals from Spain.

Ripe Chenin Blanc grape
cluster.
So as wine consumers, do we really have to remember the varietal characteristics of all these varieties in way of colour, smell and taste, before we can decide what each of us like in as far as white wine is concerned? No, I would not venture to say yes. One has to keep in mind that a varietal wine from one country can vary immensely from the same varietal wine produced from grapes harvested in another country. Even wine from the same country, but from different regions, show recognisable differences as well as from one maker to the next, even from the same geographical locations would show differences.  The winemaking method have a tendency to change some of the varietal characteristic, as well as the yeast used in fermentation, fermentation in oak; fermentation in stainless steel vats; aging in oak; etc, etc.

Smell and Taste of white wine:

Let's take Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines as the classic examples.

White wine of Malta.
To be served well chilled.
Chardonnay's bouquet can have aromas, smells of:  citrus; hazelnuts; apples; green apples; lemons; tropical fruit and vanilla. The smell can be oaky, buttery and toasty. Whereas the palate, that is the taste in the mouth, may be: rich; dry; medium or light bodied; with citric hints of lemon and grapefruit; green apples; with a good, refreshing acidity, sometimes spicy with a crisp aftertaste.




Sauvignon Blanc
Served at 10 to 12 Deg. C
An excellent pairing with
fish dishes.
Sauvignon Blanc aromas range from having hints of: asparagus; gun-flint; herbs; cut-grass; lemon; thyme; melon and even figs. On the palate, Sauvignon Blanc wine may have a taste and flavours of: spice; it might feel medium or light-bodied; with hints of liquorice and vanilla. It could be harbaceous with a crisp and tangy, dry aftertaste of lemons. Very refreshing acidity when served at the correct temperature.




Samples of two very different Chenin Blanc
wines, different origin and age. The lighter
sample is a young 2007 vintage wine from
South Africa,
 whereas the amber coloured sample is made
from late harvested grapes 2001 vintage
from the Loire Valley in France and
is more aged.
Colour of white wine vary from pale gold, straw yellow colour, golden yellow, greenish tinged, pale (whitish), even sometimes to light amber (which would indicate some age). For normal white wine, I would suggest that such wines are to be drunk young up to a maximum of three years from the vintage date for a good wine, two years for most others. Of course there are exceptions, if we are considering expensive, specially produced white wines of an excellent vintage. Easy drinking, everyday, quafing white wines should be consumed within the first year from the vintage (harvest) date.




Most other white wine varietals fall somewhere in between these two main varietals in both taste and smell, but then again, the "taster's" own imagination, expertise, and taste buds come into play and which can make the final results very subjective and individualistic.



Bonterra 2005 Chardonnay
California.
Montana 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.
Marlborough, New Zealand.



The Red Wine Varieties:


Maltese Red wine.
The red wine varieties fall under a vastly different category in all aspects of smell, taste and of course colour, body, texture and complexity. The production of red wine (that is, the way red wine is made), is also very different from that of white wine.

The international red grape varieties can be categorsied mainly as those originating from France, namely: Cabernet Sauvgnon; Merlot; Syrah/Shiraz; Pinot Noir; Cabernet Franc; Petit Verdot which are grown also in nearly all of the "New World" wine producing countries.



Italian Premium wine.
Then we have the Italian red grape vareties which seem to grow best in their own indegenious region in Italy viz: Nebbiolo of Piedmont; Sangiovese of Tuscany; Corvina of Veneto/Verona; Rondinella, Molinara and Corvina which three varieties form the blend basis of the famous Amarone and Valpolicella; Aglianico from Campania; Primitivo of Apuglia; Nero D'Avola and Insolia of Sicily. There is also the unique Sagrantino di Montefalco and the Monica grape varietal from Sardegna. Bardolino, Dolcetto, Barbera, etc.



Tempranillo grape clusters.
From Spain we have the Tempranillo from the Rioja region; and from South Africa we have the Pinotage; Malbec of Argentina and Carmenere from Chile.

These grape varieties are produced into wines which may bear the name of the actual grape variety, togther with the winemaker's name and vintage date, or they can be produced under such prestigious product names that are protected by law in the country of origin; for example:


Wine Name..................Grape Variety.

Barolo.........................................  Nebbiolo........Italy.
Barbaresco.................................. Nebbiolo.
Chianti.........................................Sangiovese.
Brunello Di Montalcino..............Brunello strain of Sangiovese.
Vino Nobile de Montepulciano...Prugnolio stain of Sangiovese.
Amarone/Valpolicella.................Rondinella, Molinara and Corvina.
Taurasi.........................................Aglianico.

Cote Rotie...................................  Syrah............France.
Hermitage....................................Syrah.
Beaujolais....................................Gamay.
Burgundy.....................................Pinot Noir.
Graves..........................................Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend.
Medoc..........................................Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend.
Pomerol........................................Merlot.
St. Emilion...................................Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend.

Rioja Riserva................................Tempranillo..........Spain.

A rich Carmenere from Chile.
Serve at 17/18Deg.C
A full-bodied, rich, red
wine. See the stains on the glass.










Premium wines.
Quality red wines can be medium to full-bodied, with smooth, strong or astringent tannins. Colours vary from red to ruby red to purple to very dark ruby to brown for aged wines.

Aromas vary for the top red wines from a combination of black fruits black currants, cassis, strawberries, rasberries, liquorice, with flavours of rich fruits, chocolate, black cherries, marascino cherries, black currants, tropical fruits, etc. Red fruits, rhubarb, cinamon, nutmeg, plum and blackberries. Together or in combinations of.



In a wine cellar for
aged wine.
This list is not exhaustive, as there are hundreds of different wine grape varieties grown all over the world, which are used to produce wines as single varietals on their own or in blends. The subject of wine is vast and requires constant study and reading to keep up-to-date. Vintage quality vary from year to year, region to region and country to country. Vintage quality is greatly affected by terroir, climatic conditions appartaining for any particular year i.e. rainfall, droughts, frost, winds, etc.; by the expertise of the viticulturist responsible for the vineyards;  as well as by the handling and winemaking techniques of every individual oenologist (winemaker). All this happens well before the wine is finally bottled and released for consumption.


So what about a chilled glass of Rose' wine?

Francis Ford Coppola
Winery  California-
Sofia Rose 2011,
Syrah/Grenache blend.
There are various, good quality Rose' wines on the market produced  either by local winemakers as well as imported selections. Rose' wines are perhaps the most  versatile fruit friendly wines around, and most offer good value for money. Rose wines can be produced from any red grape variety, the most popular being: Syrah; Grenache; Gamay; blends of  Mourvedre', Grenache and Counoise; Zinfandel (mainly from California);  I have even tasted a 100% Malbec derived  rose' from Argentina which was delicious.

A top class rose' wine offers an alluring nose with rich, red berries, citrus and even a bit of herbal tang. Dynamic fruit - wild strawberries, sweet cherry and ripe raspberry engage the palate with well balanced acidity could make this very versatile summertime wine a delight. But alas, having said this, there are many cheap rose's on the market so consumers have to be wary of quality rather than just price.



Rose' wine sample.
Must be serve chilled.
Chenin Blanc - excellent with
Summer light food.
Serve at 11 deg.C. Chilled.












A little nearer to home.
A selection from VitiMalta.
Once we have read this feature, I would assume that we would have come a long way from the reasoning made in the first paragraph, in that wine is not just red or white (forget the Rose D'Anjou please), but a vast selection of quality categories, made from vastly different grapes, with vastly different smells, tastes, colours and flavours, created by winemakers for us to enjoy.

The VitiMalta selection on the left shows a marvelous 100% Gozo Syrah rose; a crispy unoaked Chardonnay also produced from 100% Gozo grown grapes; a unique blended red wine; and a 100% Merlot also from Gozo grown grapes. These are wines of a very high standard which offer excellent value for money and a great accopaniment to any type of food.




So now we all know that there are wines beyond just Red or White or a Rose'.


A very refreshing Syrah-Merlot
blend Maltese rose' for Summer.
So how do we go about choosing the correct wine to pair with that exclusive dinner in a good restaurant, or in the enjoyment of a sumptuous lunch or dinner with family and friends at home?

One of the main purposes of this website is information and education about wine related topics, so I have obtained a copy of this very informative food and wine pairing chart which in some ways make our lives much easier to pick that special wine with our cuisine and food choices.




Food and wine pairing chart.




Reno Spiteri,
Certified Wine Professional.







 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eagle's Cliff Entry level wines for Summer.


Eagle's Cliff Entry Level Wines for those Summer BBQ's.


The Eagle’s Cliff Cellar with it’s spectacular views over the vineyards and sunset over the picturesque mountains, lies in the heart of the Breede River Valley, between Worcester and Villiersdorp, South Africa.

Christiaan Groenewald, wine exporter and wine maker, founded the New Cape Wines company in 2000. Wines are bottled under the following labels:
Eagle's Cliff range, Eagle's Cliff Reserve range, Dwyka Hills range and the Arendskloof range.

Eagle's Cliff Entry level range.
The range of Eagle's Cliff entry wines have been taste tested and found that they are reasonably good, easy drinking, everyday wines for Summer especially to complement fish and seafood as well as meat BBQ's. Good value wines at Eur5.50 a bottle.



Light, greenish, straw colour, and
very clear white wine for Summer.

Chenin Blanc 2011 - 12.5% alcohol: This wine shows fresh floral and tropical fruit flavours that lingers well on the pallet, a good companion to fish, seafood, salads, pasta, pizza, vegetable dishes. To be served well chilled.




A very refreshing 10%
Shiraz Rose'
Shiraz Rose 2011 - 13% alcohol: Round fruity wine, shows fresh berry fruit with a velvety aftertaste that lingers well on the pallet, a good companion to most food and is made from 100% Shiraz grapes. Very good as a social and refreshing  drink or as accompaniment to white meats, fish, shellfish and seafood, light meals, salads, pizza and pasta. To be served well chilled.






Easy drinking, everyday
wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend 2019 - 14% alcohol: An attractive classical blend with berry fruit flavours and well-integrated soft oak matured flavours. Food: Ideally served with red meat and pasta dishes. Serve at about 17deg. C.





Deep red ruby Shiraz/Pinotage.
Shiraz/Pinotage 2011 - 14% Alcohol: The wine is ruby red in colour. An elegant wine with lovely fruity flavours. An integrated, smooth mouth-filling taste. Excellent for Summer meat BBQ's, steaks, roast beef, traditional rabbit, pasta with rich red sauces. To be served at about 17deg.C.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cono Sur Premium Wine from Chile.

CONO SUR although at first glance one would  connect this name instantly with the word connoisseur, these two words actually mean Southern Cone, for the fact that these wines are produced in the most southern region of Chile known as the Southern Cone. Once these wines are tasted of course, one can also immediately associate them with the connoisseur label as they are excellent wines in  all respects.

Wine Valleys -Colchagua.
Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery was founded in 1993, with the vision of producing premium, expressive and innovative wines conveying the spirit of the New World. The company's name refers to the company’s geographic position; it represents wines proudly made in South America’s Southern Cone, on whose western edge lies Chile and its gifted wine valleys. Cono Sur applied new ideas and technology to winemaking traditional methods right from the start, so that wines produced would be the best or among the very best coming from Chile. The company's chief winemaker is Adolfo Hurtado who is also the General Manager, who states that the success of Cono Sur lies in understanding the origin of New World wines: expression of soil and climate melded with intense aromas of the fruit, yielding the elegance and concentration of full, fresh and well-balanced flavours.”


Typical vineyard.
This winemaker produce several wine brands from different grape varieties which come under brand names such as: their top of the range OCIO which is their icon wine and Chile's first ultra-premium Pinot Noir; 20 Barrels which is produced in various varietals; Vision; Riserva; Organic and Sparkling.



Riserva Carmenere 2009.
and Sauvignon Blanc 2010
As a wine taster and reviewer I have been given the opportunity to taste-test a selection of these wines which are new to Malta, and sample bottles of the following wines were submitted, and are illustrated herewith with our findings:










Cono Sur 20 Barrels
Merlot 2008.
1. CONO SUR 20 BARRELS MERLOT 2008 - COLCHAGUA VALLEY LIMITED EDITION:

This wine has won the "Five Nations Wine Challenge 2011" trophy for the best wine in its class and is produced from 85% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah and 1% A. Bouchet, harvested in the Colchagua Valley from the Peralillo Estate. Grapes hand-picked and carefully selected.

This wine has a deep, dark ruby red colour, is full-bodied and which leaves thick stains and tears all over the test glass. Aromas and flavours of black fruit, black currants and spice with hints of liquorice and dark chocolate. Full-bodied on the palate with a well defined structure and strong-round tannins, vanilla and oak. Finish is long and lingering.



Sampling glass showing
the wine body and tears
on the glass.
This wine is aged for 12 months in barrels, 1 month in stainless steel. Alcohol content 14% by volume.

Rating: This is a premium class Merlot which deserves RS92 points - Luxury grade premium wine.

Price range in wine shops and enotecas: Eur16 per bottle.









Cono Sur Carmenere Riserva 2009.
2. The second wine that I tasted was a superb, extremely good value
     CARMENERE RISERVA 2009 - Colchagua Valley.

This wine is produced from 85% Carmenere; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah, grown and harvested from the Peralillo Estate in the Colchagua Valley. Hand-picked grapes.

This wine has a deep dark red colour, with a ruby top ring around the glass. it is full-bodied which also leave deep stains on the glass with long tears flowing down slowly. Aromas and flavours of cassis, red cherries with hints of coffee and dark rich chocolate. On the palate this wine is concentrated , well structured with strong mature tannins, and a very long finish.

This wine is matured and aged 80% in oak barrels and 20% in stainless steel over a period of 11 months prior to bottling. Alcohol content is 14% by volume.


Carmenere Risreva
sample glass.
This wine has been awarded the Mundis Vini Silver Medal and is rated by us at RS91 points - Premium wine.

An excellent wine that pairs well with rich red meats and strong cheeses.

Price range from wine shops and enotecas: Eur8.20 an excelllent value for a top quality Carmenere varietal.





Cono Sur Sauvignon
Blanc 2010 Riserva.
3. SAUVIGNON BLANC RISERVA 2010- CASABLANCA VALLEY.

This wine is produced from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, grown and harvested from the El Centinella estate in the Casablanca Valley. Hand-picked grapes..

Pale yellow-green in colour, with a bouquet of green apples and peaches, flowery; on the palate it is pure citrus with strong notes of grapefruit. It is fresh and elegant even delicate in the mouth, with refreshing minerals notes. Smooth and crisp acidity, well balanced.

Pairs well with fish, seafood, chicken, veal, most cheeses, pasta, pizza and vegetable dishes.


Cono Sur Riserva
Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Casablanca Valley
Alcohol content 13% by volume. Price Range Eur8.20 giving and excellent value for a rich white wine. After fermenting this wine is aged for 4 months in stainless steel tanks.

Rating: RS90 points excellent Easy Drinking.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Syrah Du Monde 2012 Results


Syrah du Monde 2012 results.


Ampuis Castle, Ampuis, France - 2nd to 4th May,2012.
The 6th edition of the Syrah du Monde international competition, which was held at Ampuis Castle, in Ampuis, France between the 2nd and 4th of May, 2012, has just come to an end. Syrah du Monde 2012 brought together 24 countries, making this competition one of the world's top events for Syrah/Shiraz wines.
Over the course of three days, international experts tasted 445 Syrah/Shiraz wines.

Syrah du Monde occupies a special place amongst international competitions thanks to its worldwide scope and its rigorous method. Strict quality standards and optimal tasting conditions enabled the international judges to award 149 medals that are recognised as a reliable criterion for selection.

The Top Ten ranking has a strong international diversity. Five countries appear among the world’s best Syrah/Shiraz wines 2012. South Africa, Australia and France occupy the first three places with Chili and Portugal following. France obtained six Gold Medals.
A South African Shiraz has this year been classifid at the top of the top ten Shiraz wines.


There were 100 International expert judges.   24 countries have participated  fielding 445 wines  out of which 149 were awarded medals: 30 Gold, 119 Silver.

Official Awards and Results of the 2012 Top Ten Syrah/Shiraz International Wines. The Top Ten Gold Medallists out of thirty that made it to the Gold Medal, denoting the best of the very best Syrah/Shiraz varietal wines in the World.
South Africa  Hartenberg The  Stock Shiraz 2008. 
HHaartenberg The Stork Shiraz 2008
  Hartenberg Farm

Australia  Gatt Shiraz - Barossa Valley 2010.
Gatt Shiraz - Barossa Valley 2010
Gatt Wines

France  Luberon Grand Deffand 2009.
Luberon Grand Deffand 2009
Château la Verrerie

France  Cotes de Provence Habillage "noir et Or" 2006.
Côtes de Provence - Habillage "Noir et Or" 2006
Château La Tour de l'Évêque

Chile  El Olivar Alta Syrah 2009.
El Olivar Alta Syrah 2009
Viu Manent y Cia

France  Hermitage Cuvee Emilie 2010.
Hermitage Cuvée Emilie 2010
Desmeure / Domaine des Remizieres

France   Crozes-Hermitage Immanence 2009.
Crozes-Hermitage Immanence 2009
Cave des Clairmonts

Portugal   Alentejano-Homeenagem a Hans Christina Andersen 2009.
Alentejano - Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen 2009
Cortes de Cima

South Africa   Saronsberg Shiraz 2010.
Saronsberg Shiraz 2010
Saronsberg Cellar

France   Costieres de Nimes Les Marquises 2009.
Costières de Nîmes Les Marquises 2009
Lamargue

South Africa   Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2009
Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2009
Rust en Vrede

Australia  Anthropology Shiraz 2010.
Anthropology Shiraz 2010
Cumulus Wines

Chile    Tamaya Winemakers' Gran Riserva Syrah 2010.
Tamaya Winemaker's Gran Reserva Syrah 2010
Vina Casa Tamaya del Limari

France   Saint Joseph Esprit de Granit 2010.
Saint Joseph Esprit de Granit 2010
Cave de Tain l'Hermitage
* Some wines were considered to be equal thus the TOP 10 2012 includes 14 wines.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Viticulture Notes.

Viticulture Notes by Reno Spiteri.

A top quality grape cluster.
Aglianico from Campania, Italy.
It is a sacrosant fact, that is advocated by most wine professionals that high quality wine can only be produced from high quality fruit. This means that great wines and top quality wines are made in the vineyard, in fact 80 per cent of quality winemaking happens in the vineyard. There ar a host of factors, both in the vineyard as well as in the winery that can effect the final product as it goes through the various procedures and is finally bottled and sealed. Even so, some wines require further aging in the bottle, in some cases even for years rather than months, in adequate and temperature controlled cellars before they are released for sale to the consumer.



Prime grapes for fine white wine.
Fiano di Avellino.
Many believe that the whole character of wine can be achieved in the winery, through modern equipment and new techniques, or through age-old traditional winemaking practices. Others including myself, believe that professional viticulture, terroir, and the climatic conditions during a specific year are of the utmost importance to obtain a prime, end-finished product. It is impossible to produce a top quality product from sub-standard raw material, and as was already stated, and for the sake of repeating myself, good quality wine can only be made with, and from good quality fruit, this is in our case the grape.


Typical vineyard.
The production of good quality grapes depend on many factors. The terroir and how the vines are grown and maintained through the season are vital issues. Viticulture, otherwise known as the growing and cultivation of vines for winemaking, is strongly affected by the terroir or the environement in which the vines are grown. Terroir involves the soil; the climatic conditions of the country, region, and vineyard location, that is, the macro and micro climate elements are of vital importance; the vineyard location and aspect.

A perfect vine growing season for the production of the finest grape yield would invariable involve, and necessitate:
- Cool, wet winters to provide plenty of ground water when the vines are dormant;
- Lack of rain or frost after the first warm days of Spring and lack of strong winds that would play havoc with the canopies and the flowering season;
- Fruit yield reduced from the vines to ensure only a moderate crop yield of the best grape bunches;
- Mild days and cool nights all Summer, with long hours of sunlight,  no rain or heat waves;
- Vines minimally irrigated and moderately stressed. Adequate green pruning of stalks, excessive leaf growth, and sub-standard grape clusters;
-Warm dry days preceeding and during harvest.

Prime Merlot Clusters.
Also of importance are:
- the application of organic amendments to the soil in the vineyards. A soil amendment is any material added to a soil to improve its physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots
- and the adequate and timely use of pesticides.


The final quality of the grapes are greatly influenced by the combination of all these elements, which invariably are responsible for the total natural and human environement in which the vines grow.

Chardonnay Grape Clusters.
It is a well known fact among viticulturists that certain grape varieties produce their best fruit when planted in certain specific soils. For example Chardonnay enjoys calcrous, chalky or limestone soils; Merlot grows and thrives best on clay soil; whilst Cabernet Sauvignon produce its best fruit on sandy and gravely soil.



Barolo terraced vineyards.
Well drained soils are essential, hence the reason why the best vineyards are planted on terraced plantations or along the sloping sides of valleys, but nevertheless the vines require water to thrive, therefore the water retention quality of the soil and the underlying ground structure is also of the utmost importance when one chooses the location for the planting of vineyards.



Agriculturally poor soils ar often considered to be best for vine cultivation as the vines will be forced to grow their roots long and to send them further deep into the ground in search of moisture. Consequently they find and  absorb different minerals, trace elemenets and nutrients which are not available further up.

Deeper roots make the vines to be less likely to be adversely affected by severe cold winters, as well as they enable the vines to withstand long dry spells and hot Summers.

Indegenious grape varieties grown in hotter climates require less water than grape varieties that thrive in cooler climates. Rootstocks and clones are developed and chosen to suit the soil and environement where the grapes are to be grown.

SO WHAT WOULD A YEAR IN THE VINEYARD ENTAIL: After all the above aspects of viticulture are studied, researched and taken into account, what remains is to discover what a year in the vineyard with the viticulturist would entail:

WINTER: Winter, when the vines are dormant entail the professional and skilled pruning of the vines.There are four basic choices of pruning: Cane pruning the most skilled; Spur-pruning easier and quicker; Machine pruning - effectively spur pruning but done by pruning machines and which is followed by a certain amount of further hand-pruning; and Minimal pruning - effectively no pruning at all during winter, which is not recommended or encouraged as this will give inferior bud growth.

SPRING: Planting - the optimum time for planting is early spring as the ground is starting to warm up yet still retains good moisture; Foliage Sprays - lime sprays are applied to guard against fungal desease; Working the soil - to avoid excessive use of herbicides to control unwanted weed or excessive grass growth; Canopy trimming and training - directing the new growth to establish the balance of the vine and to expose adequately the grape bunches to sunlight.

SUMMER: Irrigation - this period of flowering and fruit-set is a critical time in which the vine needs warm and calm weather, and in which the itrevention of the grower is limited. Irrigation will begin at this time in dry regions. Vine Maintenance - foliage spray by the Bordeaux mixture or other approved substances; Trimming the vine - canes to be trimmd and foliage raised and attached to the trellis wires to allow maximum sunlight to reach the leaves and grapes. Working the soil - the area under the vines is not to be disturbed, but the soil between the rows of vines is sometimes lightly plowed to prevent runoff and to conserve moisture. Pest Control - caterpillars. moths, snails, and toward ripeing, birds have to be controlled.

AUTUMN: Harvest - machine harvesting or the gentler, slower, more controllable hand-picking of quality grapes will be carried out as decided by the viticulturist and the oenologist at this time. Application of Post-harvest sprays - at about 50% leave fall, sprays are applied to kill mildew spores that would otherwise establish themselves on the vine during winter. Working the soils and application of the fertilizers - manure and fertlizers are worked into the soil and the soil is banked up under the vines to protect them from frost. Vineyard Maintenance - between the end of harvest and the commencement of pruning much vineyard maintenance is required, to keep the vineyard in tip-top condition, clean and neat, with all cuttings removed and disposed of or chopped and incorprated into the soil; trellising is checked and repaired; broken wiring renewed. etc.

Vines have been found to grow best between the latitudes of 30 to 50 degrees North and 30 to 50 degrees South. The average yearly temperature must not be  below 10deg C, and the ideal is an average of 14Deg C. Too much heat will result in small grapes with toigh skins and high potential alcohol with low acidity. Too little heat will rsult in grapes high in acidity and short on sugar and flavour.

Climate change is having an effect on vine growing worldwide. Australia in the Southern Hemisphere and countries in the Northern hemispher like for example Spain  have been subjected to droughts with the resultant lack of water for irrigation purposes.This has meant that rootstock varietals and viticultural methods shall have to be looked at and re-assessed in the present traditional growing areas. Climate change have also had its benefits in northern countries which traditionally lacked the required sunshine and temperatrures, and which are now seeing a massive improvement in their vine growth and grape quality. Such countries are England, Switzerland, Germany.

Of all the climatic conditions frost is the  most feared. Frost in late Spring will damage new shoots, thus reducing the size of the crop at harvest.


Locations are of the utmost
importance.
Locations and aspects of vineyards are of the utmost importance as vines require the ultimate amount of available sunshine in any location. The best aspects are normally South facing slopes or terraced locations. This causes the vines to recieve more concentrated rays from the sun. Temperatures are important to the well being of the vine, but sunlight is also a vital factor. Warm daytime hours and cool or cold nights are beneficial and allow the vines to rest at night and consequentially raise the acid content of the grapes.

Winds can also cause problems for the vines. Too much wind can cause vines to close down thus halting the process of photosynthesis. Strong windscan damage the vines by breaking off stems and leaves. a little wind or slight breezesare sometimes needed and desired to dry out the vines and leaves when wet and thus reduce the danger of rot.

Other important factors that would affect the quality of the grapes are vine densities, vine training, canopy design and management, pruning, irrigation, yields, green picking of the grapesto reduce yield and vine green pruning.

Desease and pests are other variables which need to be addressd and watched for continuously.

The overriding attribute of a good terroir is balance. Balance in the soil; balance in the climate; and balance in its treatment.



Fine wine.
Making outstanding wine is not an easy matter. In the vineyard the selection of the most suitable varietal on the most suitable rootstock, for the prevailing conditions and the type of wine that is intended to be produced is of the greatest importance. Many varieties of grapes are used to produce wine. The majority are based on the grafting of scones of mainly European varieties of the species Vitis Vinifera on to American rootstock. Such grafting began in the nineteenth century after all vineyards in Europe and all over the vine growing world of the time were destroyed by the louse Phylloxera which was inadvertently imported into Europe from the United States of American  with American rootstock that was infested with this tiny bug. This practice has continued all over the world ever since to elimate another very costly outbreak.

Grafting is also used on existing vines, to replace varietals which may not be performing well in the prevailing conditions, and/or which might not be popular and in demand.

Viticulturists are well aware of the dangers imposed on their vineyards through various desease and pests, that appear in vine from time to time and which may attack vines as well as the grapes wiuth disastrious results. Some of these deseases and pests are named herewith for reference:


Botrytis Cinerea.
- Botrytis Cinerea or rot appears in avariety of forms, one of which is highly priced. This is called "Noble Rot", but if this becomes grey rot or black rot, the desease will be disastrious for the grapes.

- Leaf Roll Virus is spread by the mealy bug and through infected cuttings.

- Coulure is the non-proliferartion of some of the blossoms, causing the grapes either to fall off or never to develop.

- Eutype or Dead Arm Desease is a fungal desease which affects the trunk and canes of the vine and causes them to die slowly.

- Fanleaf Virus causes the leaves and shoots to be deformed with poor fruit set and serious reduction in yield.

- Millerandage is another result of cold, wet vweather at flowering, causing poor fruit set which prevent some of the berries from developing.

- Nematodes are minute round worms which feed on the roots of th vine.

- Powdery Mildew attacks the green parts of the vine and develop white spores which have a powdery appearance.

- Downy Mildew known as Peronospera also attackes the green parts of the vine in particular the leaves and cause them to fall off. This reduces the photosynthesis causing late ripeing, reducing yields and lower sugar content in the grapes.



Phylloxera Adults and eggs.
-Phylloxera Vastestrix is a small and very tiny louse-bug which originated in the USA and devastated the vineyards of Europe and the rest of the world other than the USA whose generic and indegenious vines were resistant to it. The existence and emergence of Phylloexera Vastetrix  in Europe was first recorded in 1863. This bug attacks the roots of the vine and is letal on Vitis Vinifera vines.


The Phylloxera bug.




- Pierce's Desease is a bacterial infection which kills vines affected by it. There is no known cure for it at the moment. It is mainly prevailent in the Napa and Sonoma valleys and in Southern California, but might find its way to other countries if careful attention is not given to imported rootstock and even other plants.

As was stated at the beginning of these notes, great wine is produced in the vineyard, and that fine wine can only be produced from great and high quality fruit. As can be seen from the above, this is not an easy matter as the work and expertise involved is considerable as well as very expensive. Great and fine wine come at a cost, but the investment must start in the vineyard. That is the only way that the oenologists can finally produce such wines in the winery for us to enjoy.


Harvested prime grapes.
One of the very finest and most
expensive wines in the world