Mom & Daughter Wine Making Team
When I first visited The Grange of Prince Edward it was basically a one person show. Caroline Granger had her finger on the pulse of every aspect of the winery. She would lead visitors through the vineyards that she loves, regaling them with the loyalist history of her family farm, as well as the complex details of viticulture and winemaking. She looked over the winemaking, the viticulture, the tasting room and sales herself. She was the “chief, cook, and bottle washer”. These days however there is another force to reckon with at the Grange.
When I first went to The Grange, Caroline's daughter Maggie was home from school for the summer and was helping out but I saw her as a very shy person. That perception was totally removed from my mind when I recently brought an Opimian tour through the county and we stopped by The Grange.
As is usually the case when I go there Caroline has the group out front and she tells the history of her operation and explains how and why she got involved in the industry. This time however Maggie started jumping in with her observations and I was completely thrown back. We then proceeded into the wine making part of the operation and it was now Maggie leading the discussion. It was a Mother Daughter team leading the tour and it was not something I had seen there before! I saw a young lady that had stepped out of the background and was standing as an equal beside her Mother ... I had to find out more and went back the next day to talk to Maggie.
She told me that she had started working with her Mom when she was 13. She said that she was the first vineyard crew that her Mother had and that she helped on weekends and summer vacations. She fondly remembered that she liked hanging out with her mom and all of a sudden they were all just hanging out in the vineyard instead of the backyard. She laughs and says she got paid in hours at the beach back then and says it "wasn't a bad gig"!
Maggie remembers that one of the first jobs she had was watering the baby vines. In 2001 they had a 9 week drought that started right when they planted the vines and newly planted vines need rain water to survive. So they bought a tank that could be pulled behind the tractor and she explained how her and Caroline walked behind the tractor with hoses giving each vine a few liters of water.
Maggie eventually went away to school thinking that she would never be a ‘farmer’ again! But over the 4 years of school, she started to focus on cultural studies that in turn brought her attention back to wine. All of a sudden after being away she saw the industry in a different light and she was really excited to be a part of it. And she's been working with her mom more and more since then. Its just been the last few years that the relationship between Mother and Daughter has evolved to become full time in the winemaking and everything that comes with that. Maggie now admits that her interest lies in the vineyard. She believes that great wine is made from great grapes and she wants to cultivate the best possible fruit that they can and hat means continuing to learn and grow all the time. Sounds an awful lot like her Mother talking!
It is always a joy to visit the Grange when friends visit the county as I know they will be impressed with the ambiance of the winery (from the impressive tasting room overlooking the mill pond to the spectacular barrel cellar) as well as the large selection of great wine that Caroline, and now Maggie, is always on hand to pour. This Mother Daughter team is a force to be reckoned with!
Sippin' in the County
Dear Dr. Vinny, Why do aged Rieslings develop a petrol-like character? —John, South Australia Dear John, That note of petrol, kerosene, gasoline, diesel or vinyl is an aroma compound identified as TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene). I rather like a little bit of petrol my Rieslings—it reminds me of that “new car” smell. My favorite is when it is mixed with other Riesling notes like honey or beeswax; then it manifests more as a paraffin accent or wool-sweater note of lanolin. TDN is pretty distinctive to Riesling, but it’s not unusual to see it other wines; I sometimes get it in Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a pretty divisive aroma. It’s like the cilantro of wine aromas—people seem to either love it or hate it. Here’s what’s a little strange about TDN—it is rarely found in grapes or really young wines, but its precursors are. This gets pretty science-y pretty quickly, but wine grapes (and many other plants) have carotenoids, which are a class of pigments—they give color to bananas, carrots, corn and autumn leaves, and they are what’s believed to cause TDN in wine down the road. While the potential for TDN to be noticed in most wines is pretty low, Riesling grapes have more carotenoids than other grapes, thus the highest chance to exhibit those distinctive aromas in the wine. The evolution in TDN over time is thought to be the result of acid catalyzed hydrolysis of carotenoid derived precursors. I lost you, right? It’s a bit too complicated to go into here, but basically plants have the capacity to taste and smell like stuff, and sometimes that evolves over time. Certainly fermentation can unlock flavors, as does aging. Wine isn’t alone here; black tea and tobacco also develop aromatic compounds due to carotenoids breaking down over time. There’s been a lot of research on how to mitigate TDN in Rieslings, much of it by the Wine Institute of Australia. Warmer vintages, riper grapes and exposure to sun can intensify TDN. Oxidation, water stress on vines, yeast activity and acidity levels can also affect the presentation of TDN. Closures also play a role, since it’s believed corks can actually absorb some TDN (or possibly the higher levels of oxidation can be obscuring it). Screwcaps can either lead to higher TDN levels, or preserve them better. —Dr. Vinny
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How serious are the laws (and legal teams) protecting the name "Champagne"? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, What actually constitutes the use of the name “Champagne”? Is a product that uses a word that sounds like "Champagne" but is spelled differently illegal? —James, Dover, Ohio Dear James, “Champagne” technically only refers to bubbly made using traditional methods and grapes from the Champagne region of France. As you might imagine, the French want to protect the use of the term. The history of their efforts goes back to 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed and included direction on how to use the word. But the United States never actually ratified the Treaty of Versailles, and in 1919, the U.S. was on the verge of enacting Prohibition, so alcohol-labeling laws weren’t a big priority. For a long time, domestic sparkling wine producers felt comfortable using the term. Then in 2006, the United States and the European Union signed a wine-trade agreement, and this time the U.S. agreed to not use the term, along with other protected terms of wine origin like “Port,” “Burgundy” and “Chablis.” But anyone who already had an approved label was grandfathered in and could continue to use the word. That includes domestic brands like Cook’s Champagne and Korbel, as well as Miller High Life, which had “The Champagne of Beers” as a tagline on their labels dating back to 1906. (A small concession: The wines can only use the term in conjunction with their actual place of origin, i.e. "California Champagne.") Lately the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, or CIVC, has been suing or threatening to sue people who try to misuse the term “Champagne.” They took issue with a company that promoted its water as “the Champagne of Water.” A flooring company had to discontinue their “Champagne Collection.” There was a kerfuffle with a sorbet made with legit Champagne in it, but after a legal battle was still allowed to be called “Champagne Sorbet.” The CIVC even enforces the uses of the word to describe a product, most famously when it preemptively stopped Apple from describing an iPhone color as “Champagne.” I get it—Champagne doesn’t have a single color, and it feels like shorthand for something luxurious or high quality. Yet I still see the term used to describe lipstick colors, a shade of marble and even jellybean flavors. As far as words that sound like “Champagne” but are spelled differently, there was the case of Champín, a berry-flavored Spanish children's soda with a clown on the label. The CIVC tried to sue, but a judge threw out the case saying there was no way the two products could be confused. I couldn’t find any additional examples of products that use an alternate spelling. (But my goodness, there are plenty of people who can’t spell “Champagne”!) There’s a song by the band Five Finger Death Punch called “Sham Pain,” and you can still buy a T-shirt with the famous (if corny) quote, “Champagne for My Real Friends and Real Pain for My Sham Friends,” on it. But I certainly wouldn’t suggest pushing the point—the CIVC seem intent on protecting the reputation of Champagne. —Dr. Vinny
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What kind of wine grape is Gamay? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, What kind of grape is Gamay? —Ranjit, Delhi, India Dear Ranjit, A good one! Most wine lovers have heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, which is the most famous wine made from the Gamay grape; it's released on the third Thursday of November after harvest (a tradition launched by vintner Georges Duboeuf in the early 1980s). It’s a fruity, easy-drinking red that is celebrated as the first wine of the newest vintage. (Unlike more traditional red wines, Beaujolais Nouveau is made using a fermentation method called carbonic maceration, which allows the wines to be ready to drink much sooner.) But there are also other terrific examples of wines made from Gamay, most of them from the Beaujolais and Loire regions of France. The grape has a long history in France, where it was originally in competition with the Pinot Noir grape in Burgundy (until it was unceremoniously banished in 1395). Gamay was prized for its early ripening and high yields. If you’re looking for the most revered bottlings of Gamay, look for cru Beaujolais, made from one of the 10 classified areas within the Beaujolais region. The grape’s signature red fruity notes still come through, but when made more seriously, spice, floral, tea and pepper accents emerge. Crus Beaujolais grabbed the attention of sommeliers a few years ago. They loved the fresh, vibrant and food-friendly profiles, as well as their attractive prices. As other grapes and regions emerge on trendy wine lists, I still look for them, especially the top crus like Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie and Juliénas. —Dr. Vinny
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Are any wines made in maple or apple wood barrels? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, Are any wines made in maple or apple wood barrels? —Alan, Concord, N.H. Dear Alan, I'm not aware of any wines made in maple or apple wood barrels. Oak is a popular choice because of its tight grain (no leaking!) and the flavors it can impart, including spice and vanilla. Redwood barrels were once popular in California, and chestnut and acacia barrels are currently becoming trendy. Some some whiskey producers are experimenting with maple barrels (as well as oak barrels that maple syrup was aged in). I’ve read maple barrels impart a sweet, maple-like flavor, as you’d expect, but they can also be prone to leaks. I can’t find any evidence of barrels made from apple wood, but I do see some home brewers experimenting with aging wine with apple chips. —Dr. Vinny
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Is a bottle of wine "open" if the cork is partially pulled out? (Wine Spectator)
Dear Dr. Vinny, In order to bring an unopened bottle of wine home from a restaurant, our server pulled the cork out about half an inch, so that that the bottle appeared to have been opened. How long will the wine last with the cork pulled halfway out? —Brian, Seekonk, Mass. Dear Brian, Massachusetts, like most states, distinguishes between on-premise and off-premise retail alcohol licenses. Off-premise licenses are for supermarkets and convenience stores—places where you’d buy the wine and consume it elsewhere. Restaurants, taverns, hotels and such will have an on-premise license, meaning the wine will be consumed where it’s sold. It’s an important distinction, because those licenses mean you can’t open the bottle of wine you bought at the supermarket while you’re still in the store, and restaurants and bars are technically not allowed to sell wine that’s not going to be consumed there. By pretending the bottle of wine is open and you’re just taking the leftovers home, the server was skirting the law. Unfortunately, by breaking the seal even a little bit, there’s a good chance that some oxygen has gotten into the bottle, and you should treat it as any other open bottle of wine: Consume it within a day or two, and store it in the fridge until then to get some extra life out of it. Eventually the fruit flavors will start to fade and take on nutty notes. It won’t make you sick, but it might leave you disappointed. Meanwhile, if you’re reading this and wondering about the legality of traveling home with an open bottle of wine, Massachusetts has an “open container” law, but people are allowed to take a partially consumed bottle of wine home from a restaurant if it was purchased with their meal and the bottle is resealed. The bottle also needs to be in a part of the car inaccessible to the driver, like the trunk. —Dr. Vinny
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