January 19, 2019
Do you like big bottles ? Do you have any space in your racks/cooler for magnums and larger sizes ? I’m thinking you should at least consider it. First of all 750ml is too small a bottle, I refer to these size bottles as “shooters”. By the time you are just getting a sense of the quality, taste and texture the bottle is gone. Besides that what happens when you get more than 4 people at the dinner table. You have to open a second bottle anyways. They really look impressive… call me shallow but when someone shows up for dinner and plunks a magnum on the table you have my undivided attention. In particular I think magnums of champagne show really well with bottle age , years ago I read an article in the Wine Advocate when it was just Robert Parker writing it. He opined that while he liked aged Champagne in general it was the magnums that showed particularly well in tastings and he would often score the same wine higher in tastings versus 750ml bottles. I suspect it might be a difference in the ratio of air to wine in a 1.5 litre vs 750ml. Another consideration is auctions, consistently magnums receive higher bids at charity auctions. This can be a great way too boost the proceeds of a charity auction for your kids sports team or parent teacher association . You will score points with your spouse who puts up with your wine collection obsession and with your kids who normally roll their eyes at the thought of wine. Eventually they will all see the light.
The names are fun as well many are Biblical in origin. Dating back to the Roman Catholic and religious orders influence in grape growing and wine making.
- Magnum is standard 1.5 litre
- Jeroboam is 3 litres but can be 4.5 litres in Bordeaux
- Imperial or Methuselah is 6 litres
- Salmanazar is a 9 litre
- Balthazar is 12 litres
- Nebuchadnezzar is 15 litres
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Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers
December 26, 2018
In Spit Happens 46 and 47 I wrote about the concept of Terroir and new farming techniques like Organic and Bio-dynamic farming. This time I’m going to discuss fermentation techniques and why you pick 1 vessel , say a 225 litre barrel over a puncheon ( and why you want wood at all) or why you might want to use Amphoras , Eggs or Concrete tanks.
Wineries must be constantly seeking to improve the wines they sell. This means upgrading viticultural practices , identifying new yeast strains ( not very sexy ) as well as looking at fermentation processes. This means how do you ferment and the vessels you use to do that. Oak has a critical role in wine making , it affects the grapes in much the same way that vanilla extract contributes to flavor in baking . Adding texture and mouthfeel , softening tannin , allowing suspended solids to drop out and thereby clarifying the wine are other benefits of oak aging. There are a few downsides to oak. Number one is it’s expensive. Number two is it’s a clumsy tool in the wrong hands and can overwhelm some of the more subtle flavors in cooler climate BC wine. So wineries started to look for techniques that were more delicate on the wines and could be a unique selling proposition as well . Amphora’s, large concrete eggs and larger wood fermentation vessels started to appear. Amphora’s are usually clay vessels that have a neutral effect on the wine allowing varietal character to show through. Concrete eggs are often a step up in size from amphora. The shape of the eggs allows the yeast to remain in suspension longer during ferments due to the temperature changes from top to bottom allowing for a slow mixing of the contents. This leads to a bit more autolysis ( exchange of flavors into the wine from the dead yeast cells , called lees).
One of the wineries utilizing the eggs and amphora to a high degree of success is Laughing Stock Winery. They have a number of wines that are 100% concrete egg ferments and a few more wines that individual components might receive time in the eggs. They have also created Amphora fermented Syrah that spends 8 months untouched in 2 x 500 litre containers. The 2017 was just released to their wine club members for $49.99 on November 6th. Check it out.
Laughing Stock Winery wine making team
Thanks for your time.
If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/.
Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot .
Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.