Cooked Wine

So with the warmer weather here lately I’ve been thinking about what happens to wine when it overheats.  My wine unit storage capacity is outstripped by my current inventory, so I’ve been trying to figure out where to put the excess bottles to avoid them cooking in my non-A/C cooled apartment.  “Cooked” wine is considered flawed and is identifyable by a smell of cheap sherry or burnt caramel and a thinned-out flavor profile.  Of course us wine enthusiasts know that wine should be stored in a dark, cool (55 degrees Faranheit give-or-take a few degrees), vibration-free environment.

I recently returned a cooked bottle to the nice peeps at Groton Market who replaced it for me.  The tip-off was the capsule (the foil) – it was stuck to the bottle as seepage had occured. The overheated wine had pushed the cork partway out of the bottle.  I tried to cut off the top of the capsule and a musty odor of the seeped vino was identifiable and my hands got wet without even getting the capsule off.  Here’s a pic of the offending bottle:

Cooked Bottle

There’s a good article about wine flaws in general here at Wine Enthusiast Magazine Unreserved blog by Jim Gordon.

I’ve also smelled Corked wine, where the cork has been infected with TCA, at a tasting in a store.  Once you’ve smelled that wet musty cardboard/newspaper smell, you can’t mistake it for anything else.

In Elin Mccoy’s biography of Robert Parker, The Emperor of Wine, which I just finished reading, is described an unfortunate episode that resulted in monumentally hurt feelings and lawsuits that was at bottom an incident of wine cookery.  L’Affaire Faiveley ocurred when Parker in 1993 noted that barrel samples from respected Burgundian wine producer Francois Faiveley tasted better than what ended up in bottle.  Faiveley was enraged at the implied fraud and sued.  The root of the problem was that the American importer of Faiveley’s wines was storing them in a non-temperature controlled warehouse, stacked to the top, where temps reached 95 degrees.

Also recently one of my local wine stores, Salem Wine Imports, which I blogged about recently in regards to a tasting of Isole e Olena wines, experienced a meltdown of sorts when a heating unit was left on all weekend to temps of 90-95 degrees.  The store owner blogs about it here.  It makes me sad to think of all that gorgeous Cepparello going down the drain!

So, have you ever experienced Cooked wine, and what are your thoughts if you have?


May 21, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , | 6 Comments

Tasting Wines of i Clivi at Lower Falls Wine Co.

On May 15th I had the pleasure of tasting through some wines of different vintages presented by maker Ferdinando Zanusso of i Clivi of Friuli, Italy. The tasting was held at Lower Falls Wine Co. of Newton, MA (located on Rt. 16 on the Newton-Wellesley line). This is an elegant light-infused wine shop with beautiful blond wood fixtures and a well-heeled clientèle.

I had previously enjoyed the i Clivi 2000 Galea Rosso (100% Merlot), but know that i Clivi is more generally known for elegant white wines made from local grape varietals Tocai Friulano, Verduzzo Friulano, Malvasia Istriana, and others. Friuli is at the upper right tip of Italy, and the 2 i Clivi vineyards (Brazan, Galea) are very nearly in Slovenia near the Adriatic Sea in Collio and Colli Orientali del Fruili D.O.C.s, respectively.  i Clivi will be certified with the next vintage as 100% Organic.

I tasted the 1999 Galea Bianco and found it to be aromatically very exciting and quite complex with a beautiful lingering finish.  The 2002 Galea and Brazan Bianco cuvees are subtly different but both quite pleasing. The 2003 Galea (the latest vintage) is from a very hot growing year and not quite as refined as either 2002, to my palate.

Mr. Zanusso answered many questions about his Organic winemaking techniques.  I avoided asking him about Friuli cult winemaker Josko Gravner, about whom I know he has strong opinions, even though I was somewhat curious.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , , | 8 Comments

Wines of Clos Triguedina at Ourglass Wine Co.

Yesterday I stopped in at Ourglass Wine Co. in Saugus, MA on Route 1 to taste 3 wines of Clos Triguedina of Cahors, France and also 2 other wines from French wine importer Cynthia Hurley.  Clos Triguedina specializes in wines made from Malbec, which most people associate with wines from Argentina.  As she explains on her website in this article, the grape was originally vinified in France and exported to Argentina, where it has been very successful.  I super enjoyed the tasting, especially the exquisite Clos Triguedina Prince Probus Cahors 2005, a 100% Malbec cuvee which reminded me of liquid red silk.  Too pricey for me at this point though – I walked away with the Clos Triguedina Le Petit Clos Cahors 2005, which is an easy-drinking 80% Malbec/20% Merlot blend which still showcases its terroir.

Next Saturday, Ourglass Wine Co. will have its huge grand Spring tasting of 70 wines from 3-7PM which I’m attending with the North Shore Winers.  Should be a fun time!

May 11, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , , | Leave a comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #45 – Old World Riesling

Once again it is that time of the month. The time for all good wine bloggers to devote their analytical skills and palates to the Wine Blogging Wednesday vinous theme. This month’s theme as presented by Tim Elliott of Winecast is Old World Riesling… the noble white grape as grown and vinified in the old world countries of Germany, France, and Austria. For this task I chose from my wine unit a wine I picked up in December from Colonial Spirits in Acton, MA., namely the:

2005 Langwerth Von Simmern Hattenheimer Nußbrunnen Riesling Kabinett

Weingut Langwerth Von Simmern has been making wine in the Rheingau region in Germany since 1474, according to their web site. That’s a LOOOONG time – can’t get much more Old World than that! The Rheingau region is situated just north of the Rhein (Rhine) river right before it bends southward towards Baden. The Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen vineyard is described on the web site:

1,6 ha
8-12 degrees southfaced
The deep, sandy to loamy soils of this southfacing hillside bring forth racy to full-bodied wines that are rich in aroma. Our estate owns ca. 40 % of this excellent vineyard, a source of distinctive Riesling wines.

2005 was a great year for Riesling in Germany, according to all reports. This wine is also a very pleasing example. It has 11.5% alcohol and is rated as a Kabinett, which means the grapes were picked at ‘normal’ ripeness. On the label is the “Grosses Gewachs” hawk-like symbol which is used as a quality indicator for wines from the Pfalz and Rheingau regions in Germany, meaning the vineyards are relatively low-yield. The wine is also marked Gutsabfullung, which indicated the wine was bottled by the producer.

Light lemon in color, the wine exhibits a racy acidity with actual bubbles emanating to the surface of the glass initially. The flavor is off-dry with a sweetish citrus impression and mouth-watering fruity floweryness. The nose is flowers and petrol, but not obnoxiously petrolly as some Rieslings I’ve tasted. It went well with my Trader Joe’s Chicken Gyoza potstickers and veggies (WITH the tangy TJ’s General Tsao sauce). It’s really quite delicious.

I found later that this great wine was chosen as a Daily Wine Pick at Wine Spectator, where it received a 90 point score, which sounds entirely fair.

I thought I would include a pic of my fave wine bottle opener. Happy. Happy has sideburns and think’s he’s Clint Eastwood:

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , , | 6 Comments

Big Taste of The Vineyard

On April 26th I attended another big mass tasting of wines at The Vineyard in North Andover, MA. This is located on Rt. 114 very nearly across the street from my Alma Mater Merrimack College (where if I recall correctly the preferred potent potable was beer, LOTS of beer). I love these big mass tastings as it gives me, as a newly hatched wine enthusiast, a chance to expand my palate, as it were, and figure out what I like. Also I’ve decided to try to join the Wine Century Club. The WCC sends you a neat certificate if you have tasted at least 100 different grape varietals (compliance is by honor system, and they do email you a nice spreadsheet for keeping track). I’m up to 56 at last count, since last November – I must be some kind of wino.

There were 48 wines there at The Vineyard to be tasted from 6 different distributors. I scoped out the wines beforehand so as not to get my palate fatigued on the less worthy stuff. For instance, I noted that the Bogle Pinot Noir received a VaynerPAZZZZZZ from Gary Vaynerchuk so pazzzed on tasting that one. I also went to the table first with the potentially most interesting selections.

I found several nice wines that pleased my tasting apparatus and went home with a few. Firstly, the Morgon Chardonnay Metallico 2006, a really delicious & crisp Monterey CA chard that I can only describe as mouth watering. Also splurged on the Clayhouse Vineyard Estate Cuvée 2004 which is a really fine “Rhone blend” of Grenache, Petite Syrah, and Syrah. This received the following review from Stephen Tanzer/IWC Sept/Oct 06 review (from Clayhouse Vineyard website):

2004 Clayhouse Estate & Vineyard Estate Cuvee Paso Robles 85
($30; 43% syrah, 43% petite sirah, 14% grenache) Bright ruby-red. Raspberry liqueur, dark chocolate and pepper on the rather roasted, exotic nose. Sweet, dense and unrefined, with a somewhat gritty element of torrefaction and a saline quality. This is stuffed with dark berry and spice flavors but comes across as rather ungiving.

I thought this cuvee was the most giving thing I tasted at the Vineyard :-). Well, maybe a year in a half in bottle since this review has made it more generous. Tanzer liked the Clayhouse Hillside Cuvee 2004 much more (91) so I feel just obliged to try that out sometime as well. Next I found the overperforming Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2004 from Maipo Valley in Chile. At about 10 bucks, this is a must buy. In fact, if I had a ‘house red’, this would probably be it. Lastly, I fell for the very fruity Pure Love Layer Cake Primitivo 2006. The Italian varietal Primitivo has been proven via DNA tests to equivalent to the CA varietal Zinfandel. This wine was jammy and aromatically reminded me of cake batter, which doesn’t bother me. We also picked up 2 really excellent Sauvignon Blancs – the Marlborough New Zealand Dryland Sauvignon Blanc 2007 which was just about the most varietally correct, crisp SB I’ve ever had, and the interestingly fizzy & zesty Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2006 from Sonoma.

May 5, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment