[As promised we're doing something new today. I'm pleased to introduce Jason Baker, Winemaker at Corda Wines of Marin County, California. Jason will answer user questions and will give us updates on the growing conditions out in sunny California. Please mail in any more questions and we'll do our best to have them answered (By Philip)]
Q: How have this year's growing conditions in California been?
A: This year has been nice in Napa: the weather was cool throughout the growing season, with the exception of one heat wave after Véraison, the vines have had a good time out there. As the whites grapes finish up, the hardy red grapes are ready to be crushed into wine.
Things are warming up around Napa too. All of the winemakers are hoping that their vineyards will withstand this new heat wave for a little while longer (two weeks). We got some pinot from the coast (cooler region), merlot from near lake Baryessa (warmer region), and tons of sauvignon blanc. In the next few days we should see some more red wine grapes.
Q: How can i tell the difference between American and French oak? What other types are there?
A: American, French, Hungarian, amongst others. American oak is most notable for its vanillan content. it also has some baking spice notes depending on the cooper. You will most likely find American oak in any Bordeaux variety, chardonnay, cabernet, syrah, zinfandel and others.
French Oak, There are many types of French oak. for starters there are Burgundy and Bordeaux shapes. The Burgundy barrel is slightly fatter. There are varying stave thickness: from really thick, to very thin. The stave thickness will contribute to the amount of evaporation that takes place. French oak will often contribute a caramel flavor, and baking spices. There are other subtle variations dependent on the forest: Nevers, Cheinne, etc, as well as the cooper.
Q: Apart from grapes, what fruits are commonly used to make icewines, and how to they prevent the fruit from rotting if they leave it on the vine until that late in the year?
A: Grapes make the only common ice wine that I know of. Muscat is a grape with a tough skin, and is often used in an ice wine. Unlike other sweet wines (stickys), ice wine can only be made in an area with a really cold winter. Californian "ice wines" are made in gigantic freezers. As the grapes get ripe, the chill winds of Fall will freeze the clusters. A layer of ice will actually form around the grapes. Later on the grapes will be semi preserved in the ice, at the same time they are very sweet. The harvesting and crush of such a grape is said to be quite a chore. I heard that it sounds like rocks bouncing around the equipment.
About Jason: Marin County is sandwiched between wine country and San Francisco. It wasn't by accident that he walked into a vineyard in his home town. I told the owner that I was looking for some grapes. After meeting more Marin grape growers, I became the winemaker for Corda. Teaching myself has always been fun but, it is my formal Education at UC Davis that will allow my future self to expand the boundaries of current winemaking practice. I worked at places big and small, Woodbridge, two Carneros wineries, and a Napa production facility. In addition to making the family wine for Corda, I will take my place as assistant winemaker at Domenico Winery .
Ask a winemaker
- Reply by amour, Mar 29, 2010.
A good plug for UC Davis...why not? !!!!
- Reply by amour, Mar 31, 2010.
Winemakers....this is what dmckewr is talking about.
Quite frankly, I do think that the ice-wine details could have been much better explained......I would say no more.
- Reply by amour, Mar 31, 2010.
dmcker...we all know dmcker....my atrocious typing...sorry!
- Reply by zufrieden, Apr 1, 2010.
Yes, we do know dmcker and he is a very knowledgeable, clubbable chap. Emulation would be, in this case, the greatest flattery...
Once again, is there some point to resurrecting this desiccated, antediluvian thread?