MLF and Brett

No, this is not the latest stage show from Las Vegas. 

Malolactic fermentation (MLF) describes the enzymatic conversion of tart malic acid to softer lactic acid. This secondary fermentation is primarily applied to red wines, but is also common for chardonnay. Besides reducing the acidity in a wine, MLF also can impart buttery or nutty aromas to a wine. 0.2 mg/L in chardonnay, 0.9 mg/L in Pinot Noir and 2.8 mg/L in Cabernet Sauvignon are detectable by people. Too much MLF and a wine is considered spoiled. MLF also produces esters in the wine, many of which are responsible for a pleasant “fruity” nose. The bacteria responsible for MLF is called “oenocuccus oeni”. So a buttery chardonnay, such as the Matua Gisborne Chardonnay “Judd Estate”, or the Marimar Estate, Acero Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, is a result of MLF.  As I mentioned it also softens reds giving you a more round mouth feel.  Two examples would be the Oyster Bay Merlot from New Zealand and the Kettle Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from BC.

Bretanomyces (Brett) is a common spoilage organism in wine making. While low levels of Brett are sometimes considered by some to be a good thing, adding complexity to some wines, others consider its presence a flaw. Common words describing the effect of Brett on wine are: barnyard, earthy, sweaty leather, and more. Brett appears much more often in red than in white wines. The wines of Burgundy tend to have Brett.  Locally you may try the Ross Andrew Winery Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA for a bit of Brett.

Bourgogne: Tour De Terroir tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest

March 30, 2009 08:04:21
Posted By Wine With Karl

Friday evening was a “tour” across Burgundy. We tasted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. Luckily only 9 wines this evening compared to 15 wines the previous evening.

First wine was Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurora Rose Brut, a cremant de Bourgogne. Cremant is a sparkling wine made in France outside of Champagne. 100% pinot noir. Light salmon colour, strawberry aroma and flavour. Cremant is usually less expensive than Champagne but uses the same methods so try some cremant.

Next was Domaine Christian Moreau Pere & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Los 2005. This is chardonnay from the northern Chablis region. Chablis is known for being steely and mineral, but with age comes complexity. This one had lemon, spice and mineral aroma. Light oak, apple, citrus flavour, and had a soft mouthfeel.

Chateau de Cordon Andre Pouilly Fuisse Les Vielle Pierres 2004. Pouilly Fuisse is the region just on the northern border of Beaujolais. The grapes for this wine are also chardonnay. Being further south, the grapes get more sun and heat and have more flavour and creaminess. Unfortunately the wine I had came from a tainted bottle so I can’t tell you about it. Approximately 1 in 12 bottles suffer cork taint world-wide.

Our fourth wine was the Bouchard Pere & Fils Mersault 2006. More chardonnay, this time from the Cote d’Or, the main part of Burgundy. I marked this wine as a star. Fermented in barrel, this wine was full bodied, rich, with apple, spice, citrus and hazelnut flavours with a toasty finish. Pair with lobster.

The fifth wine was the George Dubeouf Beaujolais Villages 2007. A “village” wine is a step up from a simple Beaujolais. It typically has riper fruit and at least 0.5% more alcohol. Gamay is the red grape in Beaujolais. This wine had cherry and banana aromas. Cherry and juicy fruit gum, flavours. The banana aroma and juicy fruit gum flavours come from the carbonic maceration fermentation (i’ll blog on that separately).

Next, the sixth wine was the Domaine Piron Chenas Quartz 2007. Chenas is the smallest Cru within Beaujolais, and has produced an excellent quality wine. This was medium reddish purple. Cherry aroma. Big cherry fruit flavour, a good level of acidity and medium tannins. A star for this one.

Our seventh wine was the Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus 2006. Pinot noir here. The vineyard was once owned by nuns, thus the origin of the “Baby Jesus” name. The vineyard is in Beaune, which is the main city in Burgundy. This wine had beautiful cherry blossom aroma. Soft mouthfeel, cherries and strawberry flavours. Very well balanced. My OVERALL favorite of the tasting.

The eighth wine was the Olivier Leflaive Wines Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens 2005. Remember, Pommard produces masculine wines. This vineyard grows on iron rich soil, giving the wine more body and firm tannins. Garnet colour and big legs (high alcohol). Cherry and strawberry flavour. Full bodied, firm tannins, cherry flavour.

Our final wine was the Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin Bel Air 2006. I do love the wines from the Gevrey-Chambertin appelation. This wine had beautiful cherry and vanilla/oak aroma. Good acid, cherry flavour, medium body.Tour de terroir

Enjoy!

Day 1 at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest

March 26, 2009 09:22:25
Posted By Wine With Karl

Today I was at the wine festival waiting for the doors to open. My strategy as I am there today and tomorrow, is to taste mainly white wines today, and red wines tomorrow. Also since BC is the theme region, I’d taste the BC wines before exploring the international offerings. The BC wines I tried:

– Black Hills Estate winery who are noted for their Nota Bene Bordeaux style red blend
– Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars
– Burrowing Owl Estate winery
– Cedar Creek Estate Winery
– Church & State Wines
– Dunham & Froese Estate Winery
– Garry Oaks (I also recorded an interview with Marcel Mercier from Garry Oaks)
– Road 13 Vineyards
– Sandhill (check out the picture of me with Howard Soon their wine maker, and Louise Wilson their sales rep and Sommelier)
– Stoneboat Vineyards
– Tantalus Vineyards (I recorded another interview here)
– Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
– Twisted Tree Vineyards & winery
– Wild Goose Vineyards

Keeping things short and sweet on the blog, the Tantalus Riesling and Old Vines Riesling were exceptional. Sandhill has a wonderful Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Road 13 has a nice pinot noir. Garry Oaks pinot noir was quite beguiling. Cedar Creek‘s Ehrenfelser is a neat change to a gewurztraminer. You can’t go wrong with Burrowing Owl‘s Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

On the international side I tried:
– La Joya Viognier Reserva 2007 (Chile)
– Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau Blanc Premier Cru 2006 (Burgundy, France)
– Catena Chardonnay 2007 (Mendoza, Argentina)
Champagne Deutz Cuvee William 1998 (Champagne, France) LOVED It But >$150 a bottle.
– Erath Pinot Gris 2007 and Pinot Blanc 2006 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
– Vina Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard 2008 (Aconcagua, Chile) A wild ferment!
– Miguel Torres Milmanda Single Estate Chardonnay 2006 (Penedes, Spain)
– Bodegas Muga Blanco 2007, Rosado 2005 (Rioja, Spain) I enjoyed the Rosado so much I bought a few bottles.
– Murphy-Goode Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006 and “The Fume” 2007 (Sonoma, CA)
– Olivier Lefaive Wines Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2006 (Burgundy, France) an excellent wine but over $100
– Santa Margherita / Ca’ Del Bosco / Kettmier Pinot Grigio 2007, Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2007, Cuvee Prestige Franciacorta N/V. (Italy)
– Vina Santa Rita Floresta Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Leyda Valley, Chile) good gooseberry flavour
– Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution N/V and Dundee Hills Pinot Gris 2007 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
– Thompson Estate Chardonnay 2005 and Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2005 (Margaret River, Australia) The sparkling just evaporated when it hit your tongue and was quite creamy. A buy!
– Miguel Torres Cordillera de las Andes Chardonnay/Viognier blend (Curico, Chile) Also a nice blend to try.

Did I try enough? I was at it for 2.5 hrs, then did a 2 hour sit down Pinot tasting. I’ll blog about that another day. I will do indepth reviews of wines after the festival is over. Enjoy!

Thinking about Pinot Noir

The movie Sideways popularized the Pinot Noir varietal. It is the classic red grape of Burgundy, but is getting competition from around the world, particularly from Oregon and New Zealand. Other countries, such as Canada and Chile are producing some nice Pinots as well. This is a cross over grape, I’d say, for people that primarily drink white wine because they don’t like the tannins from red wines. Pinot Noir grapes have low tannins, and depending on how the wines are produced can be very light, with wonderful red fruit (e.g. strawberries and raspberries) and violet aromas and flavours. There can also be the more “Burgundian” versions of pinot noir that have more of the earthy, barnyard aromas and flavours that some people enjoy.

So if you have someone you want to introduce to red wines, may I suggest a New World pinot noir. It is hard to go wrong with one from New Zealand. Matua, Tohu (aboriginal run), Cloudy Bay, and Villa Maria are some producers you may want to check out. Chile also makes some nice Pinot Noir. Two that I can recommend are: Cremaschi Furlotti and Casa del Bosque. If you prefer to try Canadian Pinot Noir, Mission Hill, Cedar Creek (try the Platinum Series if you can) and Quails Gate produce good examples.

With a lighter style Pinot Noir, you can pair these wines with fish or chicken. Try a roast salmon with pinot noir.

Enjoy.