Friday, February 23, 2007

About grape varieties

What makes wine so interesting? Perhaps it is the number of different styles in existence. And regardless of your taste preference, there will always be a wine to suit your palate.

The style of a wine is determined from the grape variety that it was made from. We have articles on some of the most popular varieties here, as well as reference information.

There are literally thousands of grape varieties in existence. Most wine grapes are made from the European species Vitis vinifera, which is considered to be superior to the American vine species. The latter are unfavourable due to a distinct foxy character that is inherent in the grapes.

The reason for the numerous varieties is that grape vines have a tendency to mutate and cross breed with ease. Advances in genetic technology have allowed scientists to determine the origins of many well-known grape varieties. For example, it is now known that the 'parents' of Cabernet Sauvignon are in fact Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Sometimes the name of grape varieties can be confusing. However often the name of the variety is linked to a characteristic of the grape. For example, the names of various Pinot varieties are linked to their grape colour: Pinot Noir is black, Pinot Blanc is white and Pinot Gris is a grey/pink.

The following sections will give you an introduction to the world of grape varieties. Well-known varieties from around the world are listed, along with their origins, synonyms and the wine styles they are made into.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Varieties of wine

Like other wines produced in the United States, Oregon wines are marketed as varietals. Oregon law requires that wines produced in the state must be identified by the grape varietal from which it was made, and must contain at least 95% of that varietal. Oregon law has long forbidden use of place names, except as appellations of origin. Oregon is most famous for its Pinot Noir, which is produced throughout the state. Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley have received much critical acclaim from wine connoisseurs and critics, and Oregon is regarded as one of the premier Pinot-producing regions in the world.

In 2005, the top five varietals produced in Oregon were:

Pinot Noir (7,974 acres, 12,086 US tons)
Pinot Gris (1,184 acres, 4,317 US tons)
Chardonnay (842 acres, 1,568 US tons)
Merlot (550 acres, 675 US tons)
Riesling (524 acres, 1,000 US tons)
Other varietals with significant production in Oregon include Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Syrah. V. vinifera based wines produced in smaller quantities include Arneis, Baco noir, Cabernet franc, Chenin blanc, Dolcetto, Gamay Noir, Grenache, Marechal Foch, Malbec, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier, and Zinfandel. The state also produces sparkling wine, late harvest wine, ice wine, and dessert wine.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Java Games Brain School

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

History of Oregon wine production

Rebirth of an industry: The 1960s and 1970s
The Oregon wine industry started to rebuild in the 1960s. Hillcrest Vineyard, established by UC Davis graduate Richard Sommer, opened near Roseburg in 1961 (in what is now the Umpqua Valley AVA), with the first vintage appearing for sale in 1968. Also in the 1960s, several winemakers started planting Pinot noir grapes in the Willamette Valley, including David Lett and Charles Coury. In 1966, Lett planted a Vineyard in the hills outside of Dundee.

David Lett of Eyrie VineyardsBy 1970, the state had five bonded wineries, with 35 acres in production. Many out-of-state winemakers, the bulk of them from California, begain migrating to the state, including Dick Erath, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, Susan and Bill Sokol-Blosser, David and Ginny Adelsheim, Pat and Joe Campbell, Jerry and Ann Preston, and Myron Redford. In 1973, Oregon passed its landmark land-use law, which imposed strict separation between agricultural and urban uses of land via such mechanism as the Urban Growth Boundary and Exclusive Farm Use Zones. This prevented many hillsides, deemed inappropriate for other crops which are easier to grow on flat fields, from being converted to housing. Also in the 1970s, the winemakers of the region began to organize to promote their vintages. In 1977, the first coffee table book about Northwest wines, entitled Winemakers of the Pacific Northwest, was printed; the following year, a joint marketing brochure entitled "Discover Oregon Wines" was published.

But it was events of 1979 that put the Oregon wine industry on the map. Eyrie Vineyards' 1975 South Block Pinot Noir placed in the top 10 at the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, and was rated the top Pinot Noir, one of several non-European vintages to outplace French wines in the competition. Not only did the competition establish Oregon as a region capable of producing top-quality wines, it also established that premium winemaking was not the exclusive province of Europe, France in particular. French winemaker Robert Drouhin arranged for a rematch, pitting the Eyrie pinot noir against a group of French wines considered to be finer than those in the Wine Olympics. The winner was Joseph Drouhin's Grand cru 1959 Chambolle-Musigny; the Eyrie came in a very close second.

Global recognition: The 1980s
Oregon winemakers continued to win awards in the 1980s. In 1980, there thirty-four bonded Oregon wineries, and 115 growers with 1100 acres planted. The 1980 vintage was greatly affected by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and two wines from that vintage won gold medals in the 1982 International Wine Competition in London. Ponzi Vineyards of Beaverton was favorably covered by the New York Times in 1981. In 1984, noted wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. visited Oregon and was highly impressed with the pinots he encountered. Oregon pinots won further acclaim in the 1985 Burgundy Challenge, wherein wine experts could not distinguish between Oregon and Burgundy pinot noirs in a blind taste test; in the rankings, the Oregon wines were rated ahead of the Burgundy entrants. Also in 1985, the Oregon wine industry received its first mention in Wine Spectator.

The 1980s also saw continued efforts at marketing the Oregon wine industry. The Oregon Wine Advisory Board was established in 1983, and in 1984 the Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley AVAs were established. In 1986, the International Pinot Noir Celebration was started at Linfield College in McMinnville, and in 1989, Willamette Valley Vineyards became the first publicly traded winery in the state.

Greater ties between Oregon and Burgundy were established in the 1980s. Close ties were forged between horticulturalists at Oregon State University and notable French wine cultivation experts, such as Raymond Bernard at ONIVINS; this relationship gave Oregon vintners access to clones that California growers were not able to acquire. In 1987, the Drouhin family of Burgundy, one of France's highly regarded winemaking families, purchased 100 acres in the North Willamette Vlley in 1987, founding the Domaine Drouhin Oregon winery. In 1988, then-governor Neil Goldschmidt made an official visit to Burgundy.

Modern Oregon wine industry: 1990s and beyond
By 1990, there were 70 bonded Oregon wineries and 320 growers, with 5,682 vineyard acres planted. The Oregon wine industry received a stern challenge from nature, when the Phylloxera root louse was discovered in Oregon. This necessated the use of Phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, many vineyards took this as an opportunity to select different varieties of grapes more suited to their particular location. The Rogue Valley AVA was established; three years later, the Oregon Wine Marketing Coalition was founded. In 1995, the Oregon Legislature enacted several new laws which were beneficial to winemakers. Direct in-state wine shipments from wineries to customers were legalized, allowing Oregon winemakers to partially bypass wine wholesalers. In-store wine tasting was also legalized, as were certain off-site special events hosted by wineries. Oregon State University established a professorship in fermentation science. In 1998, the wine industry contributed USD $120 million to the Oregon economy. A further legal change occurred in 1999, when legislation (HB 3429) was passed allowing multiple linery licensees on a single premise. This led to new winemaking arrangements, such as the Carlton Winemakers Studio.

In 2000, the number of winemakers in Oregon had increased to 135 wineries and 500 growers, with 10,500 vineyard acres planted. The 21st century has seen an emphasis on "green" wine production in Oregon. Low Input Viticulture and Enology, Inc., an Oregon non-profit, certifies wineries for meeting certain environmental standards; over 60 vineyards are now so certified. In 2002, Oregon became a leader in green winemaking with the Sokol-Blossor winery and the Carlton Winemakers Studio being LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Applegate Valley AVA was established in 2001; in 2003 the Oregon Wine Advisory Board (under the state Department of Agriculture) was replaced with the Oregon Wine Board, an independent state agency; that year the number of wineries reached 220, with 13,400 acres under cultivation. the next year, the Columbia Gorge AVA became established, as a winemaking industry rose in the Hood River valley (and in valleys across the Columbia in Washington State) AVAs were also established in McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, and in the Dundee area. By 2005, there were 314 wineries and 519 vineyards in operation in Oregon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

1989 worldwide: mostly normal - world wine production

Looking back at 1989, the most recent year for which complete statistics of world wine production and trade are available, it turned out to be mostly a normal year. Production was up slightly, due mainly to recovery in Spain and Portugal from the disastrous mildew-affected 1988 harvest and to a record crop in Germany. Trade was about 6% larger, with Western Europe getting most of the gains and Eastern Europe dropping slightly.
These are the highlights of the world statistical summary recently issued by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome. The report, one of FAO's lesser annual commodity reviews, again suffered in timing and analytical detail because of continuing budget stringencies occasioned by the failure of the U.S. (the largest contributor) to pay its dues on time. For several years the U. S., despite promises to the contrary, has been a year or more in arrears with its assessments.
Table 1 lists the major producers, with 1988 comparisons. While the figures are essentially final for Western Europe and the United States, which together account for the major share (70%) of world production, reporting lags in Eastern Europe and the southern hemisphere countries (spring 1990 harvest) make the world total of 7,440 million gallons preliminary.
The lineup by volume, with Italy and France far out in front, was still the historical ranking, except that Portugal got back into the top ten. West Germany's production of 346 million gallons, 30% above its long-time average of about 270 million gallons, not only strained storage facilities but also unleashed a fierce and continuing national debate over "excessive" yields and proposed limits for the top appellations.
The figures for 1989 and recent years also reflect the gradual recovery of Russia's production base from President Gorbachev's well-intentioned but unrealistic anti-alcohol campaign, initiated shortly after he came to power. Attempting to curb widespread drunkenness, he not only cut back vodka production but likewise bulldozed thousands of acres of vineyards. As with American Prohibition, illegal distilling and rising crime rates finally forced abandonment of the program. But, even with official restrictions lifted, recreation of bearing acreage is a slow process. By 1989, Russian production was back to about 60% of its 1981-85 average.
Table 2 lists the main exporting and importing countries. The overall increase in trade was 6%, most of it in bulk wine. Portugal, a normally self-sufficient high consumption country which had a crop failure the previous year, accounted for over half of the increase and Russia for most of the rest. Shipments to the major importing countries were either static or down. A combination of inflation and skyrocketing prices for the prestigious appellations pushed the value of exports to a new record of slightly over $7 billion, with France taking in half of that total.
Consumption in most countries mirrored the situation in the United States good business for top quality wines, discouraging times for ordinary and "jug" wines, and altogether a slight decline. The major exception was Russia, as legal supplies recovered from the aborted anti-alcohol campaign. Japan's uptrending consumption makes headlines, but wine drinking is still not part of its culture; annual per capita intake is still less than one liter.
Wine consumption is highest, not surprisingly, in the major producing countries of Europe and South America, and in Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. The United States, which declined to 8.4 liters per head in 1989, is far down the list. And the industry's answer, except for a few brave individuals, is to wring its hands and blame the Neos.
(William F. Doering is a retired wine trade specialist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)
Table 1
1988 AND 1989(1)
(millions of gallons)
Country 1989 1988
Italy 1,598 1,672
France 1,538 1,495
Spain 766 639
U. S. S. R. 502 470
Argentina 473 608
U. S. 411 477
W. Germany 346 264
Romania 264 264
S. Africa 251 248
Portugal 203 92
WORLD TOTAL 7,440 7,408
(1) All data approximate
Source: All Food and Agriculture Organization
(data converted from hectoliters to U. S. gallons)
Table 2
1988 AND 1989(1)
(millions of gallons)
Country 1989 1988
Italy 391 367
France 349 349
Spain 135 122
W. Germany 77 74
Hungary 61 55
Bulgaria 48 55
Portugal 42 42
Greece 37 11
Yugoslavia 24 26
Algeria 24 11
WORLD TOTAL 1,287 1,218
Country 1989 1988
W. Germany 233 243
U. K. 177 177
France 153 148
U.S. 76 81
U. S. S. R. 61 42
Netherlands 61 58
Belgium-Lux. 58 61
E. Germany 53 53
Switzerland 53 50
Portugal 48 11
Canada 40 37
WORLD TOTAL 1,249 1,184
(1) All data approximate
Source.- Food and Agriculture Organization
(data converted from hectoliters to U.S. gallons)
Stimson Lane Wine & Spirits of Washington State currently owns Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Conn Creek and Villa Mt. Eden in California, Domaine Ste. Michelle, Whidbeys Greenbank Farm and Jefferson Wine & Spirits, an importing company.
Stimson Lane obtained the winery, bottled and unbottled wine inventories, grape contracts and all trademarks; no purchase price was disclosed.
Snoqualmie also owned the Franz Wilhelm Langguth Winery in Mattawa, Wash. With the acquisition of Snoqualmie - and Langguth - Stimson's winery storage capacity now exceeds seven million gallons
Seven leading German wine producers held tastings in six cities in March to promote both the wines and author Stuart Pigott's new book, "Great Wines of the Rhine & Mosel: 88/'89." Pigott accompanied the group, which began the tour March 4 in New York.
Other appearances were in Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles; the final visit was March 11 in San Francisco. The book is Pigott's second on German wines. His first, "Life Beyond Liebfraumilch," was published in 1988.
The 18th Annual Mainzer Weinborse, national wine trade fair organized by the Association of German Pradikat and Quality Wine Estates was held last month in Mainz. More than 700 wines from 70 member estates were available for tasting and purchase.