nostalgia

•May 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

well its been a while since i have been back in the good ole usa and i have been neglecting il piu nell uno for far too long now… so im back.  i titled this post nostalgia because although i am back in the good ole usa there are quite a few things i miss about europe.

1. cornichon et pate sur de pain avec sauvignon… for breakfast! (pickles and pate on bread with sauvignon)

breakfast at Pelles

2. spanish tomatoes on anything and everything…

straight off the vine

3. tank pilsner in the character driven old pubs

the golden tiger

4. pronouncing foreign street signs and words

translation: keep driveway clear

5. some of the best wines my palate has ever tasted…

one nights worth of drinking

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Encus

•September 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

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España: the beginning

•September 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have dreamed of coming to Europe to see and learn their winemaking styles and traditions for the last five years and this dream is finally coming true! I have begun my journey in Spain in the Pyrenees Mountain region at Castell d´Encus.  The winery is situated 800-1000 meters above sea level and is a sight to see.  The wine history began here with the monks in the 12th century when they planted vineyards and used rock caves as fermentation vessels (which are still being used!!)  Now the winery, Encus, is 3 years old and they have a state of the art gravity flow production facility that is quaint but magnificent.

I am lucky enough to be here for a short time because of a friend, Mireia, who is the winemaker and head of this facility (besides the owner Raul).  She is my boss, my roommate, my Spanish teacher, driver and above all a great person to learn from.

The vineyard consists of 11 varietals: the main two this harvest are Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc but they also produce Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Muscat, Albariño and Petit Verdot.  For the second year in a row the vineyard has been hit hard in its maturation stage by hail.  This has been so devastating not only for their production but also for the owners and Mireia.  I can see it in her face as we walk through the vineyards.  The site and grapes hold so much potential but certain blocks, ie Cabernet Franc, have been completely wiped out with nothing to harvest.

The hail completely annihilates a vineyard.  It dehydrates it, puts it in a state of shock, shreds apart its leaves and impales its berries.  While the leaves protect the grapes from the sun and dehydration they also feed the grapes their proper nutrients, without the proper canopy, or should i say without a canopy, the fruit is left to fend for itself and the following year becomes in danger.  The result is that a retardation occurs in the vine and the grape will rot. The fruit that is not as badly damaged and could be used nearly in whole are the most northern blocks of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.  The vines and fruit are beautiful with hardly any leaf or berry damage.  It is amazing to think of what this winery could produce if it were to have a year with out hail.

As i return to the winery and winemaking after a 2 month hiatus i can feel it in my muscles and bones.  My body though sometimes sore or tired from working and standing all day is feeling rejuvenated.  I start my mornings in the vineyards pulling samples for analysis.  I begin when it is still dark to ensure i can finish before the heat changes the samples analysis.  As the sun rises over the vineyard and almost becomes parallel with the horizon and peeking out to say good morning to the still hanging moon I can feel my confidence in the vineyard increasing.  I no longer worry about what i might be stepping on or what could possibly be in the vine as i reach my hand in to search for grapes.  By the time that I am finished I have sweat dripping down my back and my hands are sticky and drenched with juice from the grapes.

At the winery we have been comparing kinetic analysis of grape samples to see the maturation changes in the grapes over time.  It is fantastic to see that despite the hail the grapes are maturing at a constant rate and are similar to the previous years.

We are now preparing the winery for harvest which will begin at the end of this week for the Pinot Noir.  Cleaning tanks, adding SO2 to barrels, bottling last years wine and sampling and tasting grapes everyday.  More updates on harvest as it comes!

Encus Winery

Modry Portugal

•August 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

hello all!! i am sorry for being away for so long!! i have been traveling around Europe and my internet connections have been very bad, therefore my posts have been pushed aside for more important things like booking flights, busses and trains…

as i have dedicated this site to wine i would like to tell you about the wine that i drank while traveling around.  IT WAS HORRIBLE!  I started in Ireland then over to main Europe for Prague, Vienna, Berlin,and  Karlovy Vary (in Czech Republic).  While I am sure if you have money to spend on wine you can find some great wine but on a Eurotrip budget like i myself was on the wine was disappointing.

There were only two places that I found myself to actually be enjoying wine upon numberous attempts.  The first was when I visited Vienna in a small little adjacent village called Grinzing.  It is super cute and totally dedicated to wine.  It is basically two main roads that all have little restaurants on them and all make their own wine.  Like Vienna the food was very traditional, the people were all so welcoming and the wine was actually good.  The second place was actually in Prague in the botanical gardens where they too actually grow grapes and make their own wine.  We tried two wines both dry and both satisfying on a hot day.

It should be duly noted however that this was a rare occurence and a surprise to me.  I thought that I could run down to the local liqueur store and pick up a cheap bottle of wine that was if nothing else descent. This was not the case.  Most of the wine was something called a Modry Portugal and was syrupy and fowl.  It was made in 2009 which tells me that it clearly wasnt ready to be drunk yet the taste did lend it much potential either.

While this was disappointing my travels have now lead me to España and bad wine is history!  I will be updating again soon on my work experience here in Spain and all of the fantastic wines I have been drinking.  Until then, stay away from Modry Portugal at all costs and if visiting Eastern Europe stick to beer!

do you drink 66.67 liters of wine per year?

•June 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

i learned a fact two summers ago and it stands true today: vatican city state is the highest per capita wine consumption by country with 66.67 liters per person; remember that one for jeopardy.  and for your own knowledge numbers two and three are norfolk island and france.

some jems i have captured

•May 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

recent fotos by me:

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.santa ynez oak tree. camp 4. tara at santa barbara vintners festival. beginnings. block 152 pinot noir. cote de tolosa. sunset over farm and vineyard. NEVER ceases to amaze me. barrel love. a favorite. ken and his infinite wisdom. tasting decisions. stop at the shack. more barrel love.

red red wine make me feel so fine

•May 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

the first cassette i ever owned was Labor of Love by UB40  and my all time favorite song from it was red red wine.  it was the first song i ever listened to on repeat.  well i recently had the song stuck in my head for 4 days and it reminded me how much i used to love the song.  i thought as a tribute to my love ill make a list of some of my favorite red wines recently…

  • villa creek– 2007 damas noir- a 100% mourvedre. a great wine. it is rich and lush and bold but not overpowering to you palate.  is great alone or with food. it has a huge explosion of blackberries followed by white pepper and some licorice finish.
  • thacher– 2007 syrah- a first paso robles distinct syrah for thacher.  its a great wine with structure and a strong acid backbone which makes me believe this will continue to be a great wine for many years.
  • san roman– 2005 100% tinta de toro (tempranillo).  this wine has the potential to be fabulous.  it needs time.  right now its dark like the night and beautifully bold like the moon.  its a blend of spices and concentrated blackberries and vanilla and HUGE oak. it has drying tannins.  i would wait at least 24 more months to drink this one for its balanced perfection.
  • stolpman vineyards– syrah, sangiovese- these are the wines i have tried from stolpman and i have loved them both.  they are from the santa ynez valley in santa barbara county, if you dont know where that is look it up, it is great.
  • eric kent wine cellars– 2007 big boy syrah- dark dark color purple, nose of dark berries and fruits and vanilla, balanced tannins and acids, plum blackberry blueberry cinnamon vanilla smoky pepper taste, no ands or commas it is a true blend. i believe will be more relaxed, distinct and supple in much more time.
  • la ferme julien– rhone valley vineyards 2008- a trader joes find, only 4.99 and its good.  if you can find it, try it; i have a feeling youll like it.

as always try as many wines as you can.  there are so many great ones out there just waiting to be discovered… go discover them, enjoy the nectar of the gods.