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Effects of Global Warming on CA Wine

Sensationalized by Stanford prof to claim future demise of fine wine on the West Coast. May be some great computer work, but the conclusions drawn are ridiculous.

     On Dec 17th at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Noah Diffenbaugh, an Asst. Prof. of environmental earth system science at Stanford University, presented a paper using high-resolution computer models to predict future climate impact on certain local area crops. See Stanford News Service to read about the paper in more detail.
     Prof. Diffenbaugh’s claim was, “Global warming could reduce the U.S. wine-grape region by 81% this century.” The Stanford Alumni website dutifully produced a feature story on Diffenbaugh’s presentation headlined, “Global Warming Could Empty Your Wine Glass.”
     Bruce Cass disagrees. See Bruce’s Stanford Alumni Assoc. blog called Straight from the Vine to read his rejoinder.

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Single Vineyard Napa Cabernets

Think you can pick out a Pauillac from a Margaux blind? It’s hard. Most people who think experts should be able to do it, have never tried to do it. Now perform that feat with wines from Napa Valley!
At least three wineries are making Cabernet Sauvignon wines separately from a variety of Napa Valley vineyards in order to illustrate the concept of terroir. It’s an interesting effort, and success or failure will be replete with commentary on the American marketplace. Heretofore it has been Europeans who firmly believed a wine should express the place where it was grown. Hence the role of the winemaker was akin to that of a baby sitter: keep the wine safe, but otherwise get out of the way and let it develop on its own. By contrast Americans put their faith in the artistry of the winemaker, expecting grapes (usually of the same varietal) to be adroitly blended from several different districts in order to achieve a result better than the sum of its parts. Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay would be one huge success story dating from the 1980’s built on that blending model.
California winemakers love to talk about terroir, and they can demonstrate it in their cellar by letting you taste from different fermentation lots residing in barrel. But, at the end of the day, the sales department at most wineries demands all those lots get blended into one or two final products (usually a high-end assemblage, and then maybe a second-string item) for ease of understanding in the marketplace. Continue Reading →

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Riedel Crystal Stemware

Georg Riedel is an elegant man and a compelling authority figure, like a stage hypnotist. Made some strong points, then wildly overstated his conclusions.

Many people I admire in the wine biz have completely bought Georg Reidel’s line about glass shape affecting the smell and taste of a wine. So I went to see what can only be described as one of their Stage Shows. No doubt about the fact Georg cuts an impressive figure. His shoes alone would have paid my mortgage for several months. And 120 people in the audience ate it up. Of course Georg did give each of them five fairly expensive glasses to take home.

Did any of his claims about the shape of the glasses hold water? Well, yes and no. It certainly is true that any wine tasted from a large wine glass will be more impressive than the same wine tasted from a slope-sided plastic cup. And I’m inclined to go along with his assertion that wide-aperture glasses emphasize fruity aromatics better than tall glasses with narrow mouths. But that is about as far as I can ride the bandwagon. I simply did not see the differences due to shape in the middle of the glass that he was exhorting the crowd to notice. Which is not to say that most of my neighbors in the audience stood unaffected. As a group they largely spent the hour whispering to each other about what a revelation these different glasses were, and how they couldn’t wait to buy fourteen different sets of glasses for use in their homes. I’m afraid I just could not overcome my sense of Mr. Riedel’s self-interest in the matter.

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