Wednesday, 13 May 2009

London International Wine Fair - Day II

  • 9.30: A little later start today doing some reading up on the next two days events.

  • 11.00: Wine Faults workshop presented by Pascal Chatonnet started the day after a little wander around the floor. This workshop was located upstairs on level 2 of the Excel in the Waterfront lecture rooms. The workshop was pretty sold out and guestlist only so to speak, good job I signed up a few weeks earlier. I think there were more PhD’s in the room than in my local NHS walk in center around work. This masterclass stated with a breakdown of some wine faults. TCA, Volatile Phenols, Brettanomyces, Sulphides and reduction, Volatile Acidity and Oxidation followed by some statics with percentages of cork taint based over 2006, 2007 and 2008. I did jot down some statistics rather quickly but im going to hold from posting them until I can confirm the numbers and details of which I will then re post the results. We went on to discover how to identify the reductive evolution in wine, what are the main volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) involved and what are their origins, how the closure can influence the post bottling evolution of a wine with a selection of 4 white sauvignon glasses each with different levels of fault. Im not going to explain the whole experience from the class as it went into a massive over the head amount of chemistry detail I couldn’t note in time but I will post again once I’ve collected my notes and slides together. Essentially, the wine with Methanethiol was by far, by a mile, the absolute worst smell ive ever smelt from a wine. Were talking a car burning out its tyres on a bin bag with rotten onions and mouldy eggs inside it. BAD. Pascal talked about copper or “blue” fining and what that can do for the wine. We were given a small dose of blue liquid to mix a few drops into our wines to judge the effects of these processes. While it generally muted some of the odours, it didn’t do much for the super stinky wine, that was beyond repair. What it did do though was as well as muting the bad odours it striped some of the typical aroma characteristics (or mercaptans) of the sauvignon which Pascal went on to explain. He talked about cork alternatives and screw caps and how to avoid some of the reductive issues associated with. An increase in headspace, more oxygen intake and an increase of oxygen transmition of the stopper or liner could reduce the reductive effects after bottling. This was a very complicated but fascinating masterclass.

  • 13.00: Still smelling that super stinky wine number 3 from the faults workshop containing Methanethiol.

  • 13.45: Portugal Whats all the fuss about? Sarah Ahmed won the portuguese wine writer of the year in 2008 and subsequently has been travelling throughout Portugal for a year uncovering some gems. She presented us with 8 wines, 4 red and 4 white. Notable mentions in the selection was the first white at £5.99, a Stella Blanco 2008 VR Terras do Sado 12% alcohol un oaked with wonderful grapey flavours, fresh sugary ripe clean fruit with a leeches tasty finish, this would be great as an aperitif! Second wine of note was a rose for £10.99, single vineyard, granite soiled organic (transitioning to fully biodynamic), Quinta de Covela Rose Minho 2007. Despite being a “rose” this wine was positively full in pale red colour with a lovely nose of strawberry and cream soda with clean fresh strawberries on the pallet with red berries and a good tannin structure and enough acidity to keep it fresh. The third wine of note was another red at £9, Herdade de Sao Miguel Colheita 2006, Alentej with lots of bright ripe fruit on the nose with a round texture on the pallet showing strawberry conserve and light fresh fruit. I really don’t drink enough Portuguese wine than I should but will change this, well done viniPortugal.

  • 16.00 Yarra Valley impact fires. This masterclass was given by the Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association and attended by several wine makers from the area, some affected, some not by the destructive fires earlier this year in February. A lot of statistics were presented to us and imagery of the damaged caused as. It seems in many instances it was the un cut grass that helped spread the fires and rip through the vineyards with the irrigation lines also actually conducting the fires through the vineyards. With global warming on the increase the risks are higher these days in climates such as the Yarra Valley but despite this increase the winemakers are not interested in relocating to new vineyards, more just controlling the grass and protecting themselves against such a disaster in the future. Amazingly despite 25% of the Yarra Valley getting directly impacted by the fires this area only represented 4% of the planted vineyards destroyed. I think this was a point they the wine growers association wanted to really get across. The Yarra Valley is still alive, its still making good wine. In fact, more of the issues concerned with the 2009 reduced crop was not necessarily to do with the fires, more the extreme heat a week earlier to the fires. They talked about smoke taint and how they dealt with that if possible. Im going to collect my notes and repost this masterclass in a separate post as there is so much interesting information to post here. We had a quick rather informal tasting after the masterclass through some new and older vintages. Nothing ground breaking to note.

  • 18.00: A quick beer then back on the sardine tram.


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