Tuesday, November 29, 2022

5 Great Reds for Holiday Gifting!

For sure, some of you have wandered around different wine stores in New York, trying to find the perfect holiday wine gift. You know exactly what I’m talking about, finding that special bottle that will impress your significant other or wine enthusiast in your list, could be very overwhelming, especially with so many choices on the shelves.

The first advice, I would like to give you for the upcoming holiday season, is to start your research earlier by finding out the style of wines the recipient of your gift likes. If someone drinks only red, or a particular grape variety, it’s safer to buy this style, than to experiment and risk disappointing them. Also as a norm, I don’t recommend you to buy the cheapest wine at your wine store, unless you are planning to do sangria with it! Instead, try to spend a bit more. I find that going at least one or two steps up in quality always pays, so avoid the $10 bottle and spend at least $20 or more. I can guarantee you, the recipient of your gift will be super happy.

Keep in mind that there are appellations/ countries in the world that offer more value for your hard earned $$$ than others. This is particularly true for most of the countries located in the southern part of the world: Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, not only they offer great wine jewels at a reasonable price, quality wise they are better than samples from California or Bordeaux with the same price tag.

With this in mind, I have selected 5 delicious reds, all with expressive fruit and finesse, that you should try now:

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Shiraz 2018 (SRP: $19.99)
Made from 100% Barossa Valley Shiraz, this beautiful red was aged for 12 months in a blend of  3 different oaks that include French, American and Hungarian.
Luscious red featuring ripe plum, blackberry jam and fresh blueberry notes, with a medium plus body, showcasing spicy black pepper and dark chocolate nuances that add complexity and layers to a very smooth finish.

Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (SRP: $26)
A delicious blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% Verdot, this elegant wine was aged in French oak for 15 months.
Flavorful and expressive red reveals seductive black currant, prune and dried herb notes. Full-bodied and polished with fresh acidity and grippy tannins.

Altavista Terroir Selection Malbec 2019 (SRP:$32)
Made from 100% Malbec from 5 different vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, Mendoza. This savory wine was aged for 12 months in new French oak.
A rich and flavorful Malbec showcasing a gorgeous nose full of raspberry, violet and dusty cocoa notes. Generous, yet graceful, with creamy tannins that give depth to a very velvety finish.

Meerlust Rubicon 2017, (SRP:$39.99)
Wonderful, intense and concentrated red is a typical Bordeaux blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This wine was aged for 16 months in French oak, 60% new.
Powerful red, featuring a perfumed nose, saturated with plum, blueberry and pencil shaving notes.  Firm and structured tannins give texture, as well as backbone. Super cellar worthy!

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard 2018 (SRP: $45)
A single vineyard made from 100% Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ.  This refined wine matures very briefly in oak and on its lees, before bottling.  
A smooth and sensuous Pinot Noir, meshing red currants, black cherry, dark chocolate and espresso notes. Light-bodied with polished tannins and juicy, mouthwatering acidity. Since I'm team Pinot, this was my favorite of the line up!

Hoping, you will try some of these soon! Cheers, Silvina.
#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #holidaywines #holidayredwines #holidaywinegifting #drinkupamerica

This blog is possible thanks to the contributions of importers, wineries and PR agencies that supply samples to me. Special thanks to:Colangelo PR and Kobrand Wines!

Remember to subscribe to receive Thoughts of La Wina in your inbox. And to follow me on Instagram and Linkedin.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Microbiology and its important role in Wine Fermentation

During the pandemic I attended many webinars organized by my school, WSET/London. One of them caught my attention particularly, because it was about the important role that microbiology plays in wine fermentation. This seminar was presented by Ann Dummont, a Microbiologist from Lallemand Oenology. Her explanations not only satisfied the “wine nerd” in me but also helped me understand the winemaker’s intent behind each wine. 

Take any wine that you like for example, do you truly believe its creation was a pure accident? Probably not.

The winemaker decided to create this style of wine, he/she gave this wine form and shape from the raw materials to the bottle. Every step was meticulously planned and prepared to create a specific result. And the use of specific yeasts and wine bacteria played a very important role not only affecting the quality and style of this wine but also its shelf life.

Every fermentation requires two key ingredients, ripe grapes (with enough sugar) and wine yeast, also known as saccharomyces cerevisiae. If the winemaker decides to also put the wines through malolactic fermentation, bacteria is also needed, specifically oenococcus oeni and lactobacillus plantarum. Their job is to soften malic acid into lactic acid, yielding a softer/ rounder wine, with less acidity. 

There are two schools of thought regarding fermentation, those that follow and use spontaneous fermentation, with indigenous yeasts and those that use inoculated fermentation with lab created yeasts. Spontaneous fermentation is like a roll of the dice, or like leaving everything to chance, by simply allowing nature to take its course. Pro-spontaneous fermentation winemakers are proud of being so “natural”, of using indigenous yeasts found mostly in the wineries, brought by insects, in wine making material, grapes and skins. They are always defending the funky aromas and flavors of some of their wines, which according to them can only happen during a spontaneous fermentation. But, when you make wine commercially, is it smart to relinquish control over the whole fermentation process?  I guess, much depends on your tolerance to risk. This is why most wineries take the second path, that allows less risk by using inoculated fermentation. Here not only you have control of the whole fermentation process, and therefore the resulting wine, but you also reduce the chances of deviating from your objective, which is to make a sound wine that has no faults.

Now, the microbiological population varies through the different stages of fermentation, as seen in the graph courtesy of Lallemand Oenology. At the beginning and inside the berry, we find mostly non-fermenting oxidative flora, when the fermentation takes place, the balance changes, the oxidative flora diminishes greatly,  and the fermenting species, the saccharomyces cerevisiae prevail. The process will continue even during aging with further changes. 


  (graph used with permission of Lallemand Oenology (adapted from Renouf, 2016)

So, at the beginning of fermentation, non-saccharomyces cerevisiae will be present in higher numbers, but as the alcohol levels begin to increase, saccharomyces cerevisiae will take over. That is the path you want to take to a successful wine fermentation. If on the other hand non-saccharomyces cerevisiae are allowed to dominate, not only you will have problems in finishing the fermentation and getting a dry wine but they also can create faulty flavors that should be avoided.

Using inoculated/selected yeasts is not only important to control spoilage microorganisms, it also aids to express varietal and terroir typicity and to develop certain wine styles.  There are about 300 commercially available lab yeasts, many created on demand, some of them are better for certain styles, say red or for white wine or sparkling. Using inoculated yeasts, can help to increase acidity and freshness for example, or help the development of certain aromatics compounds, reducing sulfites and volatile acidity.

Of course, those in favor of spontaneous fermentation may say, inoculated yeasts will never provide the same flavors in a wine, than natural yeasts. But I disagree, inoculated yeasts, though created in labs like Lallemand, were also taken from wineries, from their vineyards and plots, and put through a 3-10 years rigorous selection process, whose main objective was to create a certain specific wine style, in a way, they customize the final product, providing in the process, many of the wine aromatics we like so much. Cheers! Silvina


 #thoughtsoflawina, #winefermentation #inoculatedyeasts #winewednesday#spontanousfermentation  #drinkupamerica

Remember to subscribe to continue receiving Thoughts of La Wina in your inbox and follow me on Instagram and on Linkedin.