The Wines that Made America

22947164_mlWhat do Lincoln’s top hat, Neil Armstrong’s Space Suit, and Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay have in common?

They are all part of a new collection curated at the Smithsonian Institution called “101 Objects That Made America.” Chosen from among the Smithsonian’s collection of over 137 million artefacts by Richard Kurin, the Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture, these 101 objects tell the cultural history of America.

Other artefacts chosen include the American Buffalo and the Bald Eagle from among “Wild America” and Lewis and Clark’s Compass, representing “Discovery.” Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and FDR’s microphone were chosen to represent “The American Voice.”

101-Objects-America-vintage-california-wines-88-963Vintage California wines, represented by Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 and Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 1973 were chosen as emblematic of “America in the world. The bottles of wine, which are currently on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, are accompanied by the story of the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” wine tasting that brought California wines to the world’s stage for the first time, as they won first place in a blind tasting contest featuring California wines vs. French wines, as evaluated by Fench judges on French soil.  Often referred to as “the vinous shot heard ‘round the world,” the event shocked the Old World wine establishment to the core and set the stage for California wines, and other wines of the new world to come into their own.

See the website of the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian Magazine for more information.

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Libraries and Lectures: Professor Maynard Amerine

Professor Amerines BookWhen I was a 21-year-old student at UC Berkley I began to be obsessed with wine, cooking, and food. This was the 80’s in Northern California; the perfect time and place for such a passion to bloom.  California wines were taking the world by storm and chefs that seemed to us like “local hippies” would soon be world-famous for a new style of cooking dubbed “California Cuisine.” All of this would set the nation on a course that would lead to…well, our nation’s current obsession with wine, cooking, and food.

As most people do when they first “discover” the culinary arts, I spent all my spare cash  on cookbooks.  Lucky for me I could wander down to Cody’s Books, the legendary Berkley Bookstore that unfortunately shuttered in 2008. One day I happened to pick up – for 99 cents – a tattered, used copy of a book called “Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation” written by Maynard Amerine and Edward B. Roessler. Even though it would be years, or perhaps even decades before I would be able to really understand what I was reading, I was fascinated by that little book.  I still have my tattered copy and get a kick out of seeing the underlines and scribbled notes I put in that book 30 years ago.

amerine_maynard_aOne of the authors of that book, Maynard Amerine (1911-1998), was, in 1935, the first faculty member hired in the new Viticulture and Enology Department at the University of California at Davis. He became full professor in 1952, was deemed All-University Lecturer in 1962. He continued his research and teaching at Davis until his retirement in 1974, and remained a Professor Emeritus until his death in 1998.

His many contributions to the world of wine include 16 books and over 400 articles on the subjects of viticulture, enology, and the sensory evaluation of wine.  In the early 1940s, along with his colleague Albert Winkler, he developed the Winkler scale, a technique for classifying wine growing regions based on temperature now known to most wine students as “heat summation regions.”

Among his many awards are the Andre Simon Prize, the Croix d’Officier du Order National du Mérite, the Chevalier de Mérite Agricole, Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award 1985 and Wine Man of the Year – Wines & Vines Magazine” 1989.

Today, through an amazing combination of luck, technology, and the UC Davis Library, you can view a series of videos of Professor Amerine’s  class lectures, recorded in 1973 during his class for “Viticulture and Enology 125: Sensory Analysis of Wine.” Just click here: http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu/dept/specol/collections/media/index.php?media=viticulture

Professor Amerine donated many of his writings, awards, and references to UC Davis.  You can learn about his archives, now housed in The Maynard Amerine Room at the UC Davis Library here:  http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu/dept/bioag/collections/vitic/amerine-room.php

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, SWE Blog Administrator:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

1855: It was a Very Good Year…

Bordeaux 1Its a familiar story to wine enthusiasts…in 1855, Napoleon III, the Emperor of France, decided that France would host an event to rival the Great Exhibition held in London four years earlier.  That event, the Exposition Universelle de Paris, would showcase all the glory that was France – including its finest wines.

One of the exhibitors was the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, which decided to feature a list of the region’s best wines. However, knowing better than to draw up the list themselves, they asked the Syndicat of Courtiers (Bordeaux’s Union of Wine Brokers) to draw one up.

It did not take the Syndicat long to think through the list; two weeks later, they were finished.  Their original list included 58 of the finest Châteaux of the Gironde department – four first growths, 12 seconds, 14 thirds, 11 fourths, and 17 fifths.   Apparently, the brokers did what brokers do:  they assigned the rankings based on price, reasoning that the market, in its infinite wisdom, had already ranked the wines based on who was commanding the highest price.  This move makes more sense if you know that in the 1850’s; the wine trade in Bordeaux was still largely controlled by the British.

bordeaux 2The Syndicat’s original list ranked the Châteaux by quality within each class. Mouton-Rothschild, quite famously, was at the head of the seconds.  However, the controversy concerning the entire list was such that by the time the Exposition rolled around, a few months after the list was first released, they had rescinded the quality listing within the categories, quickly claimed that no such hierarchy had ever been intended, and took to listing the Châteaux alphabetically.

As every good wine student knows, the only formal revision to the original list came in 1973, when, following a half-century of unceasing effort by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Mouton was elevated from second-growth to first growth, and the winery’s motto became “Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change.”  (“First, I am. Second, I used to be. Mouton does not change.”)

9.8-The-Haut-Medoc-4-color-[Converted]Since 1855, many changes have occurred in the names and ownership of the properties. However, as long as an estate can trace its lineage to an estate in the original classification, it can retain is cru classé status. Due to divisions of the estates, the 58 original estates now number 61.

And now for the rest of the story…

As any good CSW Student knows, Bill Lembeck, CWE, has designed the maps for the last few editions of the CSW Study Guide.

Next month, (Spoiler Alert) SWE will launch its 2014 version of the CSW Study Guide, and Bill has once again designed and updated the maps for us – this time in color! As a special bonus, Bill has created this map of the Häut-Médoc which gorgeously lists the Châteaux of the 1855 Classification.  A larger image and pdf of the map is available here.

Enjoy, and many thanks to Bill!

 

 

 

Chinato: Cocchi, or Cappellano?

cappellanoIf you love Italian wine, you can most likely discuss the intricacies of Brunello, Barbaresco, and Bardolino.  If you love Italian food, you probably crave Bolognese, Balsamic, and Burrata on a daily basis. But what can you tell us about Barolo Chinato?   

Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up your Italophile badge just yet.  Barolo Chinato is rare – it’s not exactly easy to find in America, despite it being more widely available than ever these days, thanks to the longevity of the craft cocktail craze and an ever-growing American fondness for all things Italian.

Barolo Chinato is digestive (equally qualified to serve as aperitif) produced in Piedmont, Italy created from a base of Barolo wine.  The word “china” (pronounced “key-na”) in Italian refers to “cinchona bark,” known to Americans as quinine. This, if we want to stay literal, Barolo Chinato (pronounced “key-not-o”) is Barolo wine that has been  infused with quinine bark and other herbs and spices. 

Technically, Barolo Chinato is considered a quinquina (an aperitif that contains cinchona bark) as well as an aromatized (flavored) wine.  With alcohol levels of 16.5 – 18%, Barolo Chinato may also be considered a fortified wine, as some of the flavorings may be added in the form of extracts produced using alcohol.

Cocchi ChinatoWhile the actual recipe of Chinato varies by producer and is a closely guarded secret, the flavorings are rumored to include sugar, rhubarb root, cinnamon, mint, vanilla, star anise, citrus peel, fennel, juniper, gentian root, and cardamom in addition to quinine. Don’t forget that all those layers of flavors are added to a base wine of Barolo – undisputedly one of Italy’s most complex wines to begin with. This is a smooth, spicy, flavorful sip with a hit of bitterness on the end – enough to wake up any appetite, or help smooth out an over-indulged one.

Barolo Chinato was first produced in the area around the city of Turin sometime in the 19th century.  By this time, companies like Martini & Rossi and Cinzano were already producing Vermouth and other aperitifs in the region.   

A Tuscan pastry chef named Giulio Cocchi is often cited as the inventor of Barolo Chinato.  After moving to Asti, he was inspired by the region’s vermouth industry and founded his winery in 1891. Soon after, he invented a formula for Barolo Chinato. Dr. Giuseppe Cappellano is also believed by many to the Barolo Chinato’s creator.  Dr. Cappellano was a pharmacist in Turin and the second son of the owner of the Cappellano Winery, which was founded in 1890.

Luckily, both companies are still around, and Barolo Chinato from both the Cappellano and Cocchi wineries are available in the United States. We may never decide who was first, you can decide for yourself who you think is best. 

While the debate rages on, there are a few things that fans of Barolo Chinato can agree on:  Barolo Chinato can help calm down a rumbly tummy after a hearty meal; it be used like an Amaro or Vermouth in a creative cocktail recipe, and it pairs very well with chocolate cake. 

Cappellano Barolo Chinato:  http://madrose.com/index.php/italy/piedmont/cappellano#barolo-chinato

Cocchi Barolo Chinato:  http://www.cocchi.it/eng/barolo_chinato.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cannons of Cape Town

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

If you ever visit the wine regions of South Africa, and find yourself wandering around Cape Town at lunch time, be warned:  a cannon is about to go off! There’s no need to worry, but if you aren’t expecting the resounding boom, the sound of the Noon Gun may have you running for cover.

The Noon Gun has been fired in Cape Town at noon, every day except Sunday, since 1806.  The gun – two cannons, actually – is located just outside of the center of the city on Signal Hill. Signal guns have been a part of Cape Town since the Dutch settled here in 1652, and the two cannons on Signal Hill were part of the original artillery stashed at the Imhoff Battery at the Castle in Cape Town. In 1806, the two cannons were removed from the Battery and placed in town for use as signal guns.  After the loud retort from the cannons unnerved a few too many citizens, the cannons were move to Signal Hill, where they still stand.

The Noon Guns atop Signal Hill

The Noon Guns atop Signal Hill

The original signal cannons of Cape Town, 18-pounder, smoothbore muzzle-loaders, are still in use today. The ritual represents one of Cape Town’s oldest living traditions. They fire every day at 12 noon sharp, except Sundays and public holidays, and are maintained by the South African Navy. On Friday January 7, 2005, both the main gun and backup gun failed to fire owing to a technical difficulty. This was the first time in 200 years that the noon gun had not fired as scheduled.

The Noon gun was used as a time signal for the sailing ships in the harbor, to allow them to calibrate their navigational instruments and accurately calculate their location. However, their original use as a “signal gun” is much more interesting.

In the 1800’s, Cape Town was known as “The Tavern of the Seas,” as one of its main commercial functions was the provisioning of vessels making the long trip from Europe to India and the rest of the East. As the ships approached, the cannons atop signal hill were fired to let the farmers and the merchants know that provisions were needed.  A series of cannons, all set on hilltops, would relay the message far inland.

The Kanonkop Wine Estate

The Kanonkop Wine Estate

One such cannon was located on a farm called Kanonkop, Afrikaans for “Cannon Hill.”  Kanonkop, located in the “red wine bowl” of Stellenbosch, is now a well-known, fourth generation family wine estate producing highly regarded red and rosé wines.  The vineyards at Kanonkop are heavily planted to Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

The top-flight wine at the Kanonkop Wine Estate, Paul Sauer, is a Meritage blend named for one of the original owners.   Their widely distributed Cape Blend, Kanonkop Kadette, is produced as both a medium-bodied, crisp red wine and a dry, lively rosé.

The term Cape Blend can be used to denote any red wine produced in the Cape Winelands made with a minimum of 20% Pinotage, South Africa’s “native home” vinifera variety.  However, many winemakers think that Pinotage should a larger part of the blend, in homage to the unique characteristics of the region and the grape.  Kanonkop’s Kadette is 57% Pinotage, while the rosé version is 100% Pinotage.

For more information on Cape Blends: http://www.capeblend.co.za/news.aspx

Pineau de Charentes…Extreme Fortification?

Vieux Pineau“Fortified Wine Day” in my professional wine studies class is one of my favorite classes to teach.  The incredible array of colors, aromas, and flavors offered by fortified wines amazes the students, and the rich histories of Port, Madeira, and Sherry are full of tales ripe for the telling.

It’s a favorite day for the students as well, although that could be due to the 20% alcohol content of some of the wines.

Yesterday, after tasting Ruby Port, one of my students asked, “dude, what would happen if you just added brandy to grape juice…would it be like extreme fortification?” At least that’s what I think he said.

It’s a good question, albeit in need of some editing. What if we asked it question a bit more properly, as in: “What would happen if a winemaker added grape spirits to wine must, before it even begins to ferment?”

The answer would be “Vin de Liqueur!” Vin de Liqueur is a unique type of fortified wine that is fortified just before or just after fermentation begins, creating a strong, sweet liquid.  Vin de Liqueur is very close in style to Vin Doux Naturel; the main difference being that Vin Doux Naturel is allowed to ferment until the residual sugar reaches around 10%.

Vins de Liqueur are made in many places throughout Europe. They are often referred to as “Mistelle” or “Mistela,” and the style has been copied in the new world as well.  The Italians make good use of the technique, producing a blend of unfermented grape juice and brandy called “Sifone” that is often used, in turn, as a sweetening agent in Marsala.

CharentesThe most famous French Vin de Liqueur is Pineau des Charentes, made in the départements of Charente and Charente-Maritime in Southwestern France.  The region of origin is technically the same as the region of origin for Cognac.  Pineau de Charentes is produced by combining Cognac with freshly pressed grape juice, in a ratio of approximately one part Cognac to three parts must.  The Cognac must be at least one year old, and the mixture is aged for at least 18 months in oak.

Two older varieties are also made, including Vieux Pineau, which is at least 5 years old, and Tres Vieux Pineau, (“Very Old Pineau,” if my high school French hasn’t failed me), which is at least 10 years old. These older versions are rich, complex works of art as compared to the fruity, floral, and crisply acidic young version.

Many of the large Cognac houses make Pineau, and there are several small, artisan producers that focus on Pineau exclusively.  The Cognac house of Normandin-Mercier makes several versions, including white, rosé and “Tres Vieux.”  Almost 90% of the Pineau de Charentes that is produced is consumed locally, with another large percentage going to Belgium.  However, it is available in the United States and seems to have been discovered by the “Craft Cocktail Movement,” so it should be easy to find…just ask your local celebrity mixologist.

Cognac and Pineau de CharentesAs with many fortified wines, Pineau de Charentes has a good back story. This one tells of a wine and brandy making Monk who, in 1589, filled a barrel with freshly pressed grape must, not knowing that the barrel was already partially full of aging Cognac.  Five years later, a bumper crop had him emptying out a series of barrels to use for new wine, and he discovered what he had done five years earlier.  By this time, of course, his Cognac and grape juice “mistake” had evolved into a rich, thick, sweet liquid…and, as they say, the rest is history.

Pineau de Charentes from Nonmandin-Mercier:  http://cognacnm.fr/products-page/pineau-des-charentes/pineau-des-charentes-tres-vieux-blanc-75-cl-17-vol

 

 

 

 

 

Prince Golitsyn’s Award Winning “Crimean Champagne”

76 years before the famous “Judgment of Paris,” at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, a sparkling wine from Crimea defeated all the French entries to claim the internationally coveted “Grand Prix de Champagne.”  You may need to let that sink in for a few minutes.  In 1900, in France, Sparkling Wine from the Ukraine won the top prize for Champagne. 

Prince Lev golitsynThe wine, known as Novy Svet, was made by Prince Lev Sergeievitch Golitsyn, a highly educated member of a Russian Royal Family, at his wine estate in Crimea. Crimea is a peninsula of the Ukraine located on the northern shore of the Black Sea.  Lying between  44° and 45° in latitude, the region has an excellent climate for growing high quality grapes.  As a matter of fact, during Soviet times this region was the largest wine supplier in the USSR – which sounds like a good story for another day.

Prince Golitsyn, having studied both law and winemaking in France, established his winery in 1878 on the southern coast of Crimea. He dug a series of wine cellars into Koba-Kaya Mountain (Cave Mountain), much of it below sea level. All in all the tunnels stretched on for over a mile. He planted experimental vineyards of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Aligote and Pinot Meunier and spent ten years perfecting the art of sparkling wine.  The Prince used a variation of what we would call the Methode Traditionelle, allowing his wines to rest on the lees, in the bottle, for three years in his cellars at a constant, underground temperature of 59 – 60°F.

By the late 1890’s, the Prince was an experienced enologist and was producing a large array of sparkling wines.  In 1896 his wines were served at the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II (who would wind up being the last in a long line of Tsars) and Golitsyn was granted the right to display the family coat of arms on this wines.  Soon thereafter, in 1899, Novy Svet

Novy Svet Winery's "Coronation" Sparkling Wine

Novy Svet Winery’s “Coronation” Sparkling Wine

produced its first large-scale production, making over 60,000 bottles of sparkling wine…one of which won the Grand Prix in Paris.  

Legend has it that Prince Golitsyn was was inspired to build an estate in the area during a passionate love affair with Nadezhda Zasetska, an aristocratic young lady who had inherited large land holdings in the Crimea. It is rumored that the Prince bought the land to be near to her and studied enology in order to impress her.  We may never know if the rumors are true, but it does seem that wine and romance often go hand-in-hand.

Prince Golitsyn passed away in 1915 and was buried in a large tomb on his beloved estate.  The Novy Svet winery did not survive the Russian Revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union intact, and was plundered and nearly destroyed several times.  Today the restored winery, including the underground tunnels, is government-owned.  Under the leadership of Ms. Yanaina Petrovna Pavlenko, the winery produces a wide range of unique sparkling wines, many of them reflective of the original style and spirit of Prince Golitsyn.

In 1978, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Novy Svet Winery, the Golitsyn House Museum was opened in the house where the Prince lived for over 37 years.

The Novy Svet Winery in Crimea:  http://nsvet.com.ua/en

Rosé for the Sun King

Rose de RiceysBefore Louis XIV, known as “The Sun King,” sipped Champagne at Versailles, he became a fan of a rare wine – a still rosé of Pinot Noir known as Rosé de Riceys– produced in the Champagne region.

Louis XIV is said to have discovered this aromatic and lightly tannic rosé when a group of workers from the village of Riceys-Haut arrived at the construction site of the Palace of Versailles, bringing a supply of their local rosé along with them.  The King was a big fan of Provence rosé, so he asked to try a bottle. (Well, he probably demanded it, but we’ll pretend he asked.) The King liked the wine so much that he soon dispatched the workers back to Les Riceys to bring back more Rosé de Riceys for the royal court.

This unusual, non-sparkling pink wine, produced within just a few miles of Burgundy, is officially part of the Champagne region.  The wine comes from a tiny spot called Les Riceys.  Les Riceys is made up of three close-knit villages named Riceys-Haut, Riceys Haute-Rive, and Riceys-Bas. Wine has been produced in this region since the 1100′s, made by the Cistercian Monks living at the nearby Abbey of Molesme.  The monks  selected the particular south-facing slopes where the grapes are grown as one of the few spots in the whole of the chilly Champagne region with enough sun and heat to ripen Pinot Noir to the point where it can be turned into this aromatic, brightly colored rosé. 

Making rose de riceysThe AOC regulations for Rosé de Riceys are among the strictest in France for a rosé wine, with the goal of keeping the tradition started by the monks at the Abbey of Molesme alive.  The wine is produced using the saignée method of vinification, and the grapes must be picked at a minimum ripeness of 10° Baumé from vines that are at least 12 years old.  The minimum ripeness standard is not always possible to reach, particularly in cooler years.  If the ripeness standard cannot be met, Rosé de Riceys will not be produced that year and the grapes will be used in the production of the region’s other wine, Champagne.  

This tiny appellation has only about 70 acres planted to Pinot Noir designated for Rosé de Riceys. No more than 20 producers make the wine, with an annual total output usually about 70,000 bottles a year. The wine is hard to find, even in Paris (perhaps even at Versailles), so aficionados of the wine drive to the edge of the Champagne region every spring to buy their year’s supply.

Mr HoriotThe Rosé de Riceys AOC was approved in 1947.  However, there was a time not too long ago when the wine was almost lost for good.  It was the 1970’s, and Champagne production was running high.  Champagne was more popular than ever, and growers were making a good living selling their grapes to the large Champagne houses.  In addition, for a few years in a row, the weather wasn’t cooperating enough to sufficiently ripen the grapes to make Rosé de Riceys.  For a few years in a row,  nobody wanted to produce Rosé de Riceys.  However, according to INAO regulations, if a certain type of wine is not produced for five consecutive years, the AOC will cease to exist. 

Pierre and Jules Horiot, 12th-generation proprietors of Horiot Père & Fils, were not about to let that happen! Despite being producers of Champagne as well as rosé,  they strived to keep their part of French wine history alive and continued to produce Rosé de Riceys, even when it would have been much more profitable to  turn their Pinot Noir into Champagne. In time, the other vignerons of the region joined in the fight to save the historical Rosé from ruin, and today this tiny region tucked into the far southern corner of Champagne still makes a rosé fit for a king – if he can find it!

For more information:

 

The Forgotten Grapes of Champagne

Forgotten Grapes of champagneEvery good wine student knows the three main grapes of Champagne – repeat after me, “Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.” And yet, there are more!  While the three well-known varieties are far and away the most planted in the region, the Champagne AOC actually has seven grapes approved for the use in the famous bubbly.  The other approved grapes include Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.

The Champagne House of Aubry is an interesting part of this story, and their story is how I first came upon this information.  It seems that back in 1986, the owners, Philippe and Pierre Aubry, started to think about how they could create a special wine to celebrate the producer’s 200 year anniversary, to be celebrated in 1991.  They got the idea to create a wine that would reflect the wines that were being made in the region in the 1770’s, when the business began. 

After extensive research, they discovered that many of the grapes that were grown in the Champagne region at the time were almost  forgotten, and in some cases, verging on extinction.  They located the grapes, and planted Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. While the grapevines were not mature enough to harvest for their bicentennial champagne pupitresvintage, they did begin harvesting their “forgotten” grapes in 1993 and by 1994 were able to harvest all 7 grape varieties.  The cuvee they created in 1994 is named “Le Nombre d’Or,” meaning “The Golden Number, ” representing the 7 grapes of the Champagne Region.

Arbane is a white wine grape variety that was historically planted in the Aube region of Champagne.  It is now very rare; its plantings in the entirety of France add up to less than one hectare (2.5 acres).  The Champagne House Moutard-Diligent makes a 100% Arbane Champagne called Vieilles-Vignes as well as a Cuvée 6 Cépages that includes Arbanne as well as Pinot Blanc and Petit Meslier.   

pinot blancPetit Meslier, a white variety, is a close relative of Chardonnay, being the result of a cross between Gouais Blanc (one of the ”parents” of Chardonnay) and Savagnin. While the grape is extremely rare, it used to be widely planted in Champagne due to its ability to retain a good deal of acidity even in the region’s warmer areas.  There does seem to be some growing interest in the grape, as plantings have recently increased from 4 to 20 hectares in France.  Irvine Wines, in Australia’s Eden Valley, has planted a small amount as well.

Pinot Blanc, another mutation of Pinot Noir, was historically widely grown in both Burgundy and Champagne. It is grown in tiny amounts in the Champagne region, where it is likely to be referred to as “Blanc Vrai.”  In principle, it may still be grown in small amounts in Burgundy, but we won’t say that too loud, and no one is stepping up to confirm the suspicion!  I did find several Champagnes that use Pinot Blanc in the mix, including Champagne Tassin’s Brut Cuvée Elegance, which states that it is made from 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, 50% Pinot Noir.  

Pinot Gris is most likely native to Burgundy, and is thought to be a clone, mutation, or at least a close relative of Pinot Noir.  Along with Pinot Noir it spread from Burgundy, and was widely grown in the Champagne region back in the 18th century Drappier_Quatuor_bottle_shotunder the name “Fromenteau.” Eventually, plantings in Champagne dwindled as the grape was found to be very low yield and unreliable. I found just a few references to Pinot Gris vineyards on the dozens of Champagne Producers’ websites I researched, and only three  wines that claimed Pinot Gris in the makeup, all of the them claiming to be made from the “7 grapes.”  At least from this vantage point, it seems like Pinot Gris might be the most obscure Champagne grape of all.   

The House of Drappier produces a Champagne called “Quattuor.” Quattuor features Petit Meslier, along with Arbanne, Pinot Blanc (here called Blanc Vrai) and Chardonnay in equal amounts.  The wine is described as fruity, floral, and delicate, and is dedicated “To The Forgotten Grapes of Champagne.”

Post written by Jane A. Nickles, CWE (your SWE Blog Administrator) bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org

For more information:

The Maestro

Andre TTTAndré Tchelistcheff (1901-1994) was so impressive as a winemaker that he earned the lasting nickname “The Maestro.”  Born in Moscow, he fled Russia during the Revolution and studied agricultural technology in Czechoslovakia before landing in France, where he studied microbiology, fermentation, and oenology at the Institut Pasteur.

In 1938, Georges de Latour, the owner and founder of Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa Valley, made a tour of France in search of a new winemaker. He was looking for someone with a sophisticated palate and a scientific background.  He found it in André, who was working at the French National Argronomy Institute at the time.  André had already received numerous offers of work from all over the world, yet he accepted the challenge and, in 1938, moved to Napa to become the Vice President and chief winemaker at BV.

Upon his arrival in California, he stopped the over-sulfuring of wines and put an end to the practice of dumping large amounts of ice into the crusher to combat the searing heat of the Napa Valley in fall.  He pioneered the cold fermentation of whites and rosés, the control of malolactic fermentation in red wines, and the use of small barrel aging.  He spent years replacing rusty cast iron piping and pumps that were causing the wines to have unacceptably high levels of metallic concentration.

Napa AndreAndré also pioneered the study of viticulture and terroir in Napa Valley, implementing frost protection in the vineyards and the prevention of grape diseases. He studied the various sub-regions of Napa, identifying areas where world-class Cabernet Sauvignon could be made, and is credited with coming up with the term “Rutherford dust.” Most importantly, he created Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which quickly became the benchmark style for high-quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

During his time with Beaulieu, Tchelistcheff trained many soon-to-be-famous winemakers, including Mike Grgich and Joe Heitz. He remained vice president of Beaulieu Vineyards until he retired in 1973.  In his “retirement” he consulted with dozens of wineries and winemakers in California, Washington State and Oregon. One of his first clients was Mary Ann Graf at Simi Winery, who is now recognized as the first woman winemaker in America. In full circle style, he consulted once again with Beaulieu Vineyards from 1991 until his death in 1994.

Always a gentleman, André was well-known and much beloved for his for his quick wit, sharp intellect, and European charm.  He was considered a master of the language of wine, and once described a Beaujolais as “a young woman, barefoot, the wind blowing in her hair, ruffling her blouse.  She has the look on Andre Tchelistcheffher face of an early peach, a teen-age beauty.”

Considered the most influential California winemaker since the repeal of prohibition, his many honors include being inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2007, Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award of 1986, and the 1970 Merit Award of the American Society of Enologists.  He was also recognized internationally, being named both a “Chevalier” and an “Officier du Mérite Agricole” by the French government.

However…to all those countless winemakers, grape growers, wineries and wine drinkers from the early days of the California wine industry and beyond, he will always be “The Maestro.”

 

Post written by Jane A. Nickles, CWE (your SWE Blog Administrator) bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org