Old-Timers at it Again...!

Wine Making Talk

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Khristyjeff

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You are so right, Dawg. We move today at the speed of light. Your hear the thoughts of someone in Australia or Argentina as fast as they can think them.
And I used to have a teacher who always said, not everything you think should be said. Not everything said should be written. Not everything writtren should be published and not everything published should be read... but today anything that anyone thinks is read. And there is no time to stop and think or simply listen to the buzz of insects and the chirp of birds.
That's good. I may share that. Do you remember the teacher's name so I can give proper credit?
 

BernardSmith

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i don’t think it really makes a difference to these people even tho it’s basically a stone cold fact. Many of them probably would view straying from the process used in their family for multiple generations as risky and out of their comfort zone. Because if it ain’t broke...

Need to keep in mind for alot of them it isn’t even about the wine. I mean it is. But it’s more about the lifestyle and tradition.
I think that that is exactly the point. It's NOT about making wine. It's about wine making as a social and family tradition. I am sure that we all (OK, many of us) have family traditions that go back generations and generations and those activities, those recipes, those ideas are not subject to "improvements" based upon best thinking by outsiders because it is about what we do and who we are. For US - on this forum - wine making may not be about sharing family traditions and practices. We may be absolutely geared towards "best thinking" but we are not "those folk" when it comes to wine making. We may very well be "those folk" when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, or how we treat colds and flu or how we raise our children, behave towards our parents or how we treat our spouse.
 

Jbu50

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My initial reaction was to proclaim the horror of reducing the boldest grape in the Nebbiolo region into a filtered down bodiless light red wine, but I've been proven wrong before by these old-timers. My neighbour bought 10 lugs of California cabernet sauvignon grapes and field blended with 4 cases of white grapes, to my horror. And, at first I was aghast at the thought of pinning the greatest red wine against a few boxes of low quality white grapes... And, then I started to think about the whole thing. Who the @#$% has the authority to say what is right and wrong in winemaking?

So, I chilled out and reflected some more.

And, so now I reflect on this most bold grape, Barolo, and the treatment it must have gone through in this case. First, the separation from its skins into juice, second, the vast transportation and eventual pumping of this seemingly hap-hazard fermentation into an immediate 3x filtration regiment, and corked into bottles right afterwards. Where has this bold, noble, Barolo come to? What is it now? Has it survived? What of its potential? What has it been reduced to? Who is to say what is right and wrong?
 
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winemanden

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You are so right, Dawg. We move today at the speed of light. You hear the thoughts of someone in Australia or Argentina as fast as they can think them.
And I used to have a teacher who always said, not everything you think should be said. Not everything said should be written. Not everything written should be published and not everything published should be read... but today anything that anyone thinks is read. And there is no time to stop and think or simply listen to the buzz of insects and the chirp of birds.
This was social media when I was a kid! :D
 

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Booty Juice

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Great post @Jbu50, thanks for sharing this.

This topic, and people’s responses, always interest, inform, and entertain me. Growing up here as the son of immigrants and spending so much time in the old countries, it’s crazy how many ways there are to make wines (and cook food).

Think about it: modern technology, products, processes and practices have made it possible to take relatively low grade grapes and make low cost, consistent, reliable, perfectly acceptable, mass produced wines. Awesome. That same tech is also used to produce some wonderful, very expensive, Parkerized, teeth-staining ooz-bombs.

And yet, some of the best commercial wines use virtually none of that. I was recently poured one of the best commercial cabs I’ve ever tasted, which I learned was made as follows; hand harvested and sorted, whole-berry fermented in concrete, native yeast, 10-20 day extended maceration, pressed into 70% new oak, aged for 22 months without racking, minimal SO2 prior to bottling. The bottle price was $200.

There are hundreds of small, commercial, “low-intervention” wines here in CA and the Pacific Northwest making incredible (some expensive, some not) wines that don’t fall into the chasm of; harvest, crush, dust with SO2, add acid, add enzymes, add nutrients, hammer through ferment with a high tolerance commercial yeast, oak age or add wood chips, rack / SO2 every three months, bottle. Many commercial cellars will also use mega-purple, velcorin, casein, RO, etc. etc. etc. (which can greatly enhance their wines). Don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely nothing wrong with making wines this way, but it is only one of thousands of ways to make wine – good wine.

When you talk to small commercial or home wine makers, every conversation will be different. Those who don’t grow grapes will emphasize their cellar techniques. Those who grow grapes and make wine will start with the clones they planted, vine lay-out, and farming techniques before describing their cellar practices. Everyone is just trying to control and perfect what they can while making their wines in the styles they choose.

If you are on the East coast of the US buying boxed grapes (lugs?) from some unknown source (“California”, “Lodi”, “Paso Robles”) which were harvested on some unknown date and then mass-packaged and shipped, making wine from the above-mentioned formula is probably the “safest” route. But if you know your source, hand harvest yourself, watch the farmer tractor in macro bins of just-now-hand-harvested fruit, or stand there as the sun rises and take delivery of whole berries from a Pellenc machine harvester / destemmer / sorter – then your options for making awesome wine opens up by a factor of 1,000.

These old timers are making wine in a way I’ve never heard of, just as many of us here make wines in our own unique ways. But fundamentally we are all doing the exact same thing – correcting, controlling, and perfecting what we can while making our wines our way and sharing them with our family and friends.
 

Ajmassa

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Great post @Jbu50.
. I was recently poured one of the best commercial cabs I’ve ever tasted, which I learned was made as follows; hand harvested and sorted, whole-berry fermented in concrete, native yeast, 10-20 day extended maceration, pressed into 70% new oak, aged for 22 months without racking, minimal SO2 prior to bottling. The bottle price was $200.
fantastic post Booty.

but what was the name of that cab you referenced? And how were you able to get such detailed info on their winemaking process. Did they list all that info online?
 

Booty Juice

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fantastic post Booty.

but what was the name of that cab you referenced? And how were you able to get such detailed info on their winemaking process. Did they list all that info online?
Thank you.

The wine was a 2017 Estate CS from Crescere, and yes the winemaking process was available on the internet, not the bottle. Some wine makers do print their process on the bottle, Ridge Estates for example, but it's pretty rare.

I've called many wineries and spoken directly to wine makers, who are generally open to discussing their methods, but you never know how honest or complete they are being. When it comes to the major components of their methods, I assume they are being honest. As for the details, I assume honesty will only follow admitting they cheat on their wives.....with Boy Scouts.

I have a relative that makes his wine similarly - no racking. Leaves the wine on the gross lees for 18 months, then a tiny SO2 addition before bottling. After 4 years in the bottle it's incredible.

There is a change happening now where wine makers are looking for more time on lees, not less.

My wife is in S. Jersey (Pennsville) and Philly visiting friends and relatives.

All the best.
 

winemanden

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I think that that is exactly the point. It's NOT about making wine. It's about wine making as a social and family tradition. I am sure that we all (OK, many of us) have family traditions that go back generations and generations and those activities, those recipes, those ideas are not subject to "improvements" based upon best thinking by outsiders because it is about what we do and who we are. For US - on this forum - wine making may not be about sharing family traditions and practices. We may be absolutely geared towards "best thinking" but we are not "those folk" when it comes to wine making. We may very well be "those folk" when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, or how we treat colds and flu or how we raise our children, behave towards our parents or how we treat our spouse.
Thanks for that Bernard. It's nice for us golden oldies to get a bit of praise now and then. A lot of trouble in this world is caused because people are forgetting all knowledge is based on what has gone on before.
For myself, winemaking has been my hobby for 63 years. I'm still learning, that's why I joined the forum, but a lot of my wines are based on how I was shown how to make it years ago. I do rack it off the gross lees though 😀😀
PS I've only ever thrown 1 bottle away and that was because it was badly corked.
 
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