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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Red, White and Blue!

July 11th, 2016 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

There’s red wine, white wine, even pink wine. But now thanks to six young Spanish entrepreneurs, in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and Azti Tecnalia (the food research department of the Basque Government), blue wine—which targets millennial drinkers—is about to hit European markets. Created by Iñigo Alday, Imanol López, Jen Besga, Gorka Maiztegi, Aritz López, and Taig Mac Marthy in Spain’s Basque region, Gik—which fits into the chilled, sweet white wine category—is made from an undisclosed blend of red and white grapes predominantly sourced from vineyards in La Rioja, Zaragoza, León (all located about three hours north of Madrid), and Castilla-La Mancha (about two hours south of Madrid). The 11.5 percent ABV juice is hued neon blue with anthocyanin (a pigment found in grape skin) and indigo (a dye extracted from the Isatis tinctoria plant), and a non-caloric sweetener is added as well. A 750ml bottle retails for 10 euros, or about $11 USD.After two years of research and development, Gik soft launched last year in Spain when the wine was sold via the company’s website. But in the next couple of months, Gik will expand retail sales to France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany. And after that, founders are eyeing the U.S. Co-founder Aritz López explains that neither he nor his partners had prior winemaking experience, but that they “wanted to create something really innovative.” The team collectively felt that Spain’s wine industry was “missing a little revolution.” He continues, “We were raised in a country with a strong wine culture, but wine has always been a beverage put on a pedestal. So we thought about how it would be to have real people making wine for real people, not a wine made by experts for pseudo-connoisseurs”. Making wine? Check out the full line of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels here.

International Wine Conference to be held in Sonoma

June 14th, 2016 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The organizers of Wine Vision, the international wine industry conference, plan to hold the event in Sonoma County in December 2016. Founded in 2013 by William Reed Business Media, the event took place in London for its first two years and was held in Bilbao, Spain, in 2015. The conference is intended to bring together executives and other leaders from the global wine business to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Dec. 5-7 event is tentatively scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in downtown Santa Rosa. Sonoma County Winegrowers president Karissa Kruse was a speaker at the 2015 conference, where she discussed the Winegrowers’ initiative to have all Sonoma County vineyards certified as sustainable by 2019. Kruse’s participation in the event started a discussion with World Vision organizers about bringing the show to California. The winegrowers cooperated with Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Vintners and a few winery and grower families to help ensure the event came to Sonoma County this year. “We look forward to welcoming the global industry to Sonoma County,” Kruse said in a news release. In announcing its decision to come to Sonoma County this year, World Vision called the region “one of North America’s most progressive wine producing areas” and noted Winegrowers’ goal of achieving sustainable certification for all of its vineyards. Wine Vision is planning to take the conference to a new location each year to bring the “debate about the wine industry’s future to its centers of production” and create “a showcase for regional innovation and ingenuity.” Andrew Reed, managing director of events for William Reed, said in a statement that the show in Spain proved quite popular, and two thirds of the attendees said they planned to participate in the next conference. “They told us they relish the opportunity to see great wine-producing regions up close and urged us to take them even further afield in 2016, so we look forward to welcoming them to Sonoma.” Speakers at previous Wine Vision events include Jean-Guillaume Prats, president and CEO of Moët-Hennessy Estate & Wines; Piero Antinori, president of Antinori; Adrian Bridge, managing director of Taylor’s Port, and Christopher Salin, president and CEO of Domaines Barons de Rothschild. While the speakers for this year’s show have not been confirmed, some of the topics for the conference include consumer engagement, the role of retailers and routes to market. Other events scheduled for the conference include a Repeal Day party at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, networking events at area wineries and opportunities to see some of the county’s sustainable projects firsthand. Don’t forget to check out the full line of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels here.

It Is Time to Embrace Oak Alternatives

May 12th, 2016 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

At the recent second annual Wines & Vines Oak Conference, Celia Welch, a wine maker for more that 30 years, said it is time to embrace oak alternatives such as stainless steel wine barrels.

Welch said that, “the environmental and cost benefits of alternative products should be enough for winemakers to take them seriously. Chips, staves and other barrel alternatives use more of the oak trees harvested for wine aging and also cost far less than new barrels.” Today, winemakers have more options to use oak in a variety of ways rather than just traditional barrels. “We’re missing an opportunity. These alternative products we’re hearing about are really, really good,” she said. Welch’s remarks are notable in that most winemakers for wineries producing high-priced, premium wines rarely talk about their use of alternatives publicly and will typically only say they use them sparingly. It’s common for those in the trade and consumer wine press to describe the use of oak alternatives in a disparaging way such as a mark of poor winemaking or as a way to cover up the flaws of wine made with low-quality fruit. She also recalled how barrel cellars used to be much quieter before they housed the noisy machinery that now provides climate control and other equipment typically accompanied by the blare of music from cellar workers’ radios. Barrel topping often only was marked by the quiet tapping of hammers used to gently loosen wooden bungs from bungholes. “I just remember the sound…there was a romantic quietude to a day of topping in a quiet cellar,” Welch said. The winemaker also remembered reaching into the darkness of barrel racks trying to find those wooden bungs that sometimes became saturated with wine and started to rot, providing a comfy home to fruit fly larvae. “I don’t remember sterilizing those bungs or anyone saying we needed to soak those bungs in really hot water to get them clean,” she said. Welch also asked the audience not to forget the lessons of the 2014 Napa earthquake that toppled barrel stacks at many wineries in the southern half of Napa County. One of those hardest hit was Laird Family Estate, where Welch stores many of her barrels. The earthquake struck at 3:20 a.m., and Welch said if it had come at a different hour, the scene would have been much more devastating than just toppled barrels. “No one would have made it out of that chai alive,” she said. She said winemakers can stack barrels lower, use the latest seismically secure racks or strap the top barrels to their racks so they don’t bounce off and cause other racks to topple. “I don’t want any of us to lose sight of the earthquake we had two years ago,” she said. “Hopefully the point has been hit home well, but we owe it to our colleagues to do everything we can do to keep ourselves, our product and coworkers safe.

Check out the complete line of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels.

Stick A Cork In It

April 12th, 2016 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Oxygen can be the enemy of wine, too much and you get vinegar. Skolnik’s stainless steel wine barrels are considered to be hermetic, meaning oxygen cannot pass through them. But once wine goes into the bottle, if the cork is bad, too much oxygen can enter the bottle and ruin the wine. In a recent article on Wine Folly, we learn why corks matter. One aspect of aging has to do with the reaction of fruit acids with the alcohol. This process reduces sourness in the wine, but it’s really only important for very tart wines, the ones coming from cold climates. The complex oxidation process is the second aspect of aging. When oxygen interacts with a wine, it produces many changes — ultimately yielding an oxidized wine that has a nutty aroma. This is a desired taste for sherry styles, but quickly compromises the aromas in fresh white wines. However the oxidation process provides benefits along the way to that unwanted endpoint. Many wines develop undesirable aromas under anaerobic —no oxygen— conditions; a small amount of oxygen will eliminate those trace thiol compounds responsible for the aroma of rotten eggs or burnt rubber. Oxidation products also react with the red anthocyanin molecules from the grapes to create stable pigments in red wine. The way a bottle is sealed will directly affect how much oxygen passes into the wine each year. That will directly affect the aging trajectory and determine when that wine will be at its "best." Glass is a hermetic material. But all wine bottle closures admit at least a smidgen of oxygen. The actual amount is the key to a closure’s performance. A typical cork will let in about one milligram of oxygen per year. This sounds like a tiny bit, but after two or three years, the cumulative amount can be enough to break down the sulfites that winemakers add to protect the wine from oxidation. A small fraction of corks, 1–2% today, end up tainting the wine with a moldy smelling substance, trichloroanisole (TCA). This TCA is created via a series of chemical reactions in the bottle: chlorine from the environment reacts with the natural lignin molecules in the woody cork to make trichlorophenol, which is in turn methylated by mold. TCA has one of the most potent aromas in the world — some people can smell as little as 2 parts per trillion in wine. So, in every eight cases of wine, one or two bottles will smell like wet cardboard or simply not taste their best. This is why restaurants let you taste the wine before pouring — to let you judge if the wine is tainted. A 1% failure rate seems high in today’s world. Check out the full range of Skolnik’s stainless steel wine barrels here.