Perhaps it’s the convergence of so many diverse factors that’s necessary for grapes to be transformed into something special. Grapevines thrive in temperate regions where long growing seasons allow them to fully ripen before frost sets in. Proximity of ocean breezes, mountains, orientation to the sun, wind, and rain all play a part. Soil structure is critical as well. Vines thrive in a variety of mediums, from ancient seabeds to slate shards and white chalk, all sharing the capacity to drain well as an essential ingredient.
After considering all of these factors, selecting the correct varietal for a specific location is critical. In general, certain varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc — prefer relatively warm temperatures. Others — Pinot Noir and Riesling – prefer cool ones. Once the vines have been planted and nurtured they need to be pruned. Letting vines produce too many leaves and too much fruit will make it hard for them to ripen and will dilute the concentration of the juice.
Let’s say you have a vineyard, and you’ve managed to care for your vines with the right amount of water, sun, and stress (yes grapes like to be treated a little rough) to allow the grapes to ripen. Now you must carefully choose the exact time to harvest. After you’ve picked the grapes (hopefully at the optimal time) you must crush them, expose them to yeast, decide how long to ferment, when to rack or press the wine off the skins, and whether or not to barrel age. If all these factors come together harmoniously, and if you’re lucky, you might end up with a wine that expresses a distinct varietal character and exhibits an integration of its components, expressiveness (clearly projected flavors and aromas), complexity, and connectedness.
Connectedness is the most elusive thing to ascertain — it’s the sense that a wine is the embodiment of a place. And this is at the heart of our wine tour: taking you around the world to taste wines that embody their origins. We have some fun events planned for this month, including tasting the wines of New Zealand (September 12) and California (September 19), followed by our Arizona Wine Dinner (September 26) with wines that embody places you may never have experienced in your very own state. I’ll leave you with our Quote of the Month: ‘Wine is sunlight held together by water’- Galileo Gallilei.
Welcome to our new members! I look forward to meeting you and sharing some new and exciting wines.
Our September White Wine of the Month is the Ponzi 2009 Pinot Blanc, a wonderful crisp summer wine from Willamette, Oregon priced at $8.99. The September Red Wine of the Month is the Healdsburg 2009 Zinfandel, a fruit forward red from California’s North Coast priced at $9.99. Wine Club members; please pick up your bottles before they are gone.