Wine bug bit me. I was introduced to this fermented grape juice when I was travelling across Europe 15 years ago. I lost contact to wine after a period of time until just a few years ago.
There is a lot to talk about. Wine like audio can be very delicate, complex, and expensive. I need to know what to buy, which wineries are actually producing great wines. It is easier to find bad wines than good wines. I do my best not to buy name brands, because most of the time, the money is mostly spent on buying the brand.
My choices are very limited to small set of wineries, family-owned wineries, wineries that practice organic-biodynamic viticulture or at least going that way but do not want / do not have the resources to get certified, smaller wineries I’d say.
There are also things that I need to avoid, such as: traditional corks and fake bottles.
Corks are what we usually find in most wine bottles, even the affordable ones. I like cork for its classic way of pulling it out. I like screwcap the least but it turns out, screwcap is the more reliable closure than a traditional cork.
Why a screwcap?
The best way to sum it up is the answer Stephen Henschke gave to Levi Dalton on I’ll drink to that Podcast. A reviewer tasted his wine, a blended wine, the reviewer was able to point out the grapes used in the wine. The wine used a screwcap. The other bottle used a traditional cork, all the reviewer could taste was red wine.
I’m aware most old world wine wineries and drinkers tend to disregard screwcap wines as being cheap. But what is important is the content, not the seal. I don’t want to find out that my wines are tainted or premox-ed when I open them. Yes, opening a cork is fun. I get it. There is a real alternative to traditional cork.
Domaine Ponsot is using a very interesting solution. They use Ardea seal. It looks like a cork. It opens like cork. It pops like a cork.
There is a thin sheet of PVDC under a screwcap that seals the liquid inside the bottles from getting out. There is a medical grade shield on Ardea seal that comes in contact with the wine. The Ardea one is better than a thin sheet of PVDC found under screwcap.
Ardea is also more durable to due it is actually injected into the bottle opening. I can’t really damage it without damaging the bottle itself. Screwcap on the other hand, does not take beatings very well. It can be dented and damaged. Once it’s damaged, the seal may no longer form a perfect seal.
Cork has its day. Screwcap is a great alternative. Synthetic cork – Ardea seal is the future.
Reading Rudy Kurniawan’s story is scary. I have to wonder everywhere I go, whether the bottle I’m going to buy is a real one or not.
If you have the time, read this thread: http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=61172
If you don’t have the time, read this article on Vanity Fair: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/wine-fraud-rudy-kurniawan-vintage-burgundies
From what I can see, other than the wine inside the bottle, it does not take a massive effort to replicate every single detail of the bottle and the labels. There are cases of fake wines everywhere, from France, Italy, England, to China.
According to many articles found on Google search, fake wines are not only notoriously found at auctions, but at restaurants as well. Even affordable wines are getting faked. Now, I only buy from official distributors. I don’t buy wines from second hand market.
There is nothing green about consuming bottles after bottles of wines. From my personal experience, making glass bottles cannot be made green at all. The heat, the materials used, and the trash. First of all, I do not drink that much wine. I only drink wine on special occassions and when I feel like I want to drink one.
I do not hold special preference to fancy bottles. I don’t mind getting generic bottles because what matters the most is the wine. If I have to trash my bottles, I will make sure that they will get recycled. So far, I have not thrown one away. Wine bottles can be repurposed.
Now, let’s veer away a little bit to the wineries.
I’m a big proponent of organic farming. Bio-dynamic farming is even better. I can’t think of a better time of getting wines than today. Grape farming has gotten a lot better these days than what it used to be.
I’m completely baffled when people say a 1945 wine (in this case DRC – Romanee Conti and other famous wines) is a great wine. There were wars during the time and after the wars were over, people were scrambling for foods. I’d imagine making wine was not even a priority at the time. Famine was a huge problem. The terroir was probably in much worse shape back then. I don’t think it took a short amount of time to recondition the land to even worth growing basic vegetables, let alone grapes.
After the war, there was the chemical industry revolution. This was the time when pesticides and synthetic fertilizers were heavily used. The lost: biodiversity, water pollution, and soil contamination. Decades of use of these chemicals destroyed pretty much everything we need in order to make good wines. This is one of the main reasons I do not buy old wines.
Many younger wine aficionados, they don’t fancy Bordeaux wines as much as the older counterparts. Bordeaux is famous for chemical-farming. The soils are not that special. They don’t really care about moving to organic / biodynamic farming. The trend of making big wines from overripe grapes.
The two major events above is the main reason why I think new world wineries can be better than old world wineries. Most often than not, new world wines are better.
New world wineries can be built on virgin soils. Australia is a good example where most farms champion organic farming. Since they are relatively a young country, the lands aren’t exposed to decades of chemical sprayings. Many have even started on virgin lands that had never been used for anything before.
Biodynamic farming involves every single living thing in a winery. Reusing everything, including re-purposing waste. The use of the land is not limited to vines, other plants can be planted and often times, they are produce and plants that can be used fertilize the soil. Horses, donkeys, even chickens can be found in wineries that practice biodynamic viticulture. It’s really a beautiful sight.
Wineries are now more open to the idea of going organic and bio-dynamic. Many have done it and many are trying to. I hope the results make the wines even better and it should. Most importantly, it’s good for mother nature.