Odds and Ends in the News

Credit for the featured image goes to Meg and Angela, who are my Arterra collection heroes!

So after spending the day alternating errands, household chores, and work, I’m catching up on my news feed on social media and reading a few interesting articles. A number of them relate to what I’ve been writing about here, so I want to share them with you.

First off, an update on RoundUp and France banning its use anywhere, ever.

The French food and environmental safety agency ANSES said in a statement that sales of Roundup Pro 360 were banned as of Tuesday following a court ruling earlier in the day….

Environmental activists hailed the ruling, noting a 2015 study by a World Health Organization (WHO) agency which concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”.

“It’s a major ruling because it should eventually cover all versions of Roundup, as the court determined that all products with glyphosate are probably carcinogens,” said Corinne Lepage, a lawyer for the CRIIGEN genetics research institute.

The European Union renewed its authorisation of glyphosate for five years in November 2017, but President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to outlaw its use in France by 2021.

This goes back to what I wrote about earlier about the bad news out there about chemicals showing up in US wines, and the controversy over whether or not there is danger in glyphosate consumption by humans. France is taking steps, shouldn’t the US get on board?

When I wrote about the Arterra wine seminar, I shared some info I was learning about the influence of oak on both red and white wines. Here is an article I read recently dedicated to the influence of oak in barrels on wine.

Oak can be a textural and/or a flavor element in winemaking, depending on whether the barrels are new or used, from French or American oak, and their size. It’s the use of new oak that most dramatically influences wine….

In white wines, particularly Chardonnay, American oak can come across as popcorn and toffee, while French oak results in gentle nuttiness and slight smoke… Structural differences in the wood grain means that American oak can be cut into staves to make barrels, while tighter grained French oak needs to be split. However, both need to be air-dried and seasoned before use, and toasted over fire to bend into shape. Toasting also has an effect: higher toast levels amplify butterscotch notes in American oak, and smokiness in French oak.

It’s interesting to note the nuance between French and American oak, and what they impart to the wine.

And now the influence of oak on red wine:

New oak also has a profound influence on red wines. There are sumptuous notes of coconut and cinnamon from American oak, and spicy hints of clove and cedar from French oak. Higher toast levels can be reminiscent of mocha or espresso.

In red winemaking, the impact of oxygen is even more crucial. The color and tannin of the grape skins need oxygen to form stable phenolic compounds, while the oak’s tannins also support the structure of the wine.

Oak is imparting some tannin into the wine, which changes the taste, astringency, and finish.

Oak is not a blunt instrument, and it’s about so much more than flavor. Its use can be fine-tuned to influence texture and aroma, to mute or emphasise, to support or subdue.

And that goes back to what Jason was sharing at the seminar (linked above) that winemakers often use oak to cover up faults in the grapes themselves, or to emphasize a characteristic that the grapes, due to terroir or climate, simply don’t have.

In other news, I have decided I love Sauvignon Blanc, especially thanks to Linden’s Avenius Sauv Blanc, and I also love New Zealand Sauv Blanc.

With that, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was off and running. New Zealand wine exports have been growing for 23 consecutive years, and Sauvignon Blanc makes up 86 percent of its $1.16 billion wine industry….

America is New Zealand’s biggest export market in terms of dollar value. In the year ending June 2018, we spent $355 million on Kiwi wines. America’s top three wine import countries are Italy, France, and New Zealand.

It’s worth it. Pair with oysters on the half shell. You won’t be sorry.

Finally, on why I write. I stumbled on a tweet about this guy’s blog entry.… and loved it. It’s a nice musing on the fact that what he does, as a wine writer, is changing, and as a trade, possibly dying in the form it has been in up until the past 10 years. Be prepared to adapt and change, or perish, but while it’s still there, go and do it, especially if you love it.

Pair that with this article on why one should keep a diary, and you can hopefully see why I write this stuff out. Drawing on the journals of a number of famous writers and quoting their rationale for writing, she notes important themes across all:

  • capturing the current moment
  • creating a relationship with yourself
  • creating a bridge between your present and future self
  • and from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The good writer seems to be writing about himself, but has his eye always on that thread of the Universe which runs through himself and all things.

So I leave you with those musings on recent wine news that has caught my eye, and musings on the nature of my writing about wine. I’m here to finish this leftover bottle of Linden Claret. Hope you have a healthy pour next to you!

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