Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Frankenwine: Turn Two Buck Chuck Into 50 Buck Frank?

Can 600 volts and a little titanium take the place of reclining in a musty cellar for years (or a tidy temperature/humidity controlled storage locker)? Keep your eyes and palate peeled for further developments in this story:

Researchers - and some vineyards - are developing electrical equipment that accelerates the aging process, turning young wine from an undrinkable bitter grape juice into a quaffable beverage fit for any table.

The system being developed in China - which has a burgeoning wine industry - works by speeding up the normal chemical reactions in wines that can take up to 20 years.
According to the researchers, the results have been "striking" and have fooled some wine experts in taste testings. Even the cheapest of wines are usually only drunk after six months. Most, especially reds, take longer to achieve the required balance and complexity.

The finest can take 20 years or more to reach their peak.
During aging, wine becomes less acidic as the alcohol reacts with organic acids to produce a plethora of the fragrant compounds known as esters. Unpleasant components precipitate out and the wine becomes clearer and more stable. Red wines mellow and become less bitter.

A team led by Xin An Zeng, a chemist at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, came up with the idea of pumping the rough wine through a pipe that ran between two titanium electrodes, connected to the mains.
For the test wine, the team selected a three-month-old cabernet sauvignon from the Suntime Winery, China's largest producer. Batches of wine spent one, three or eight minutes in the electric fields. The team then analysed the treated wine for chemical changes that might alter its "mouth feel" and quality, and passed it to a panel of 12 experienced wine tasters who assessed it in a blind tasting With the gentlest treatment, the harsh, astringent wine grew softer. Longer exposure saw some of the hallmarks of aging emerge – a more mature "nose", better balance and greater complexity.

The improvements reached their peak after 3 minutes at 600 volts per centimeter: this left the wine well balanced and harmonious, with a nose of an aged wine and, importantly, still recognisably a cabernet sauvignon.

Although Zeng cannot yet explain how exposure to an electric field alters the wine's chemistry, his results show that under the right conditions the technique can accelerate some aspects of the aging process.
"Not only can it shorten a wine's normal storage time, it can also improve some lower-quality wine," he said.
Five Chinese wineries have begun trials.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Show airing Saturday, September 6, 2008

Calcareous, it's what we call limestone around here. Find out more in our interview with Dana Brown, owner of Calcareous Winery in Paso Robles and her winemaker from Australia, Damian Grindley.

Then it's time for the dinner of your dreams with Liz Zimmerman, co-owner of Dream Dinners in San Luis Obispo. We also have a chat with Tina Porter, who makes dreams come true for parents with her company, SLO County Sitters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Master Sommilier Tips Restaurants

I promised on our last show to post these tips for our restaurant owner listeners by Laura DePasquale, MS, VP of Fine Wine Development, Palm Bay International.

So, at long last, here they are. Details on the Sommelier Spiral Decanter are found at the bottom of this post. ---------------------------------------
Source: iSante Magazine
Gone are the heady days of wine and roses pricing as the competitive landscape dramatically intensifies. Customer loyalty, repeat diners and guest satisfaction have taken on monumental new meaning critical to the success or failure of many restaurants. Here are six simple, savvy techniques that I've observed in my business travels that will keep your guests coming back for more.

1. Focus, Focus, Focus. Wine and beverage programs that meander all over the place cost more money and result in confused customers. Have a point of view and choose wines and cocktails that reflect that point of view.

2. Did I mention value? It’s top of mind for every guest today. The days of high mark-ups (3-4 times) on wine are over. Successful wine programs have scaled back on percentages and offer “discounted nights” or “end of bin” values.

3. Tap into off-beat varieties. There’s great value to be found in premium quality wines made from lesser-known varieties or hailing from non-traditional regions. Look to Carmenère, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc from South America and Albariño from Spain for interesting, delicious and budget-friendly by-the-glass pours.

4. Champion indigenous varieties. I’ve seen a major trend in successful establishments towards the classics – wines that are familiar, reflect a point of origin and actually taste like what they are. Great examples include Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Chianti and Sangiovese from Tuscany, Syrah from the Rhone, Riesling from Germany, and so on.

5. Create food & wine pairing gurus. Your entire team of servers should be well-versed in specific wines across price points and styles that pair well with each menu item. The "sell" becomes much more authentic and accurate. An excellent first step is increased collaboration between the sommelier and/or wine buyer and the chef in selecting wines that reflect the cuisine. Next step? Staff education and tasting sessions!

6. Have an open mind, and know your customer. Quite simply, successful sommeliers are listening to their customers much more in choosing wines and not just asserting their own preferences into the list.

If you have a question for the Master Sommelier, email info@palmbay.com.

The Ravenscroft Sommelier Decanter in the photo is from 125West.com and is handcrafted by European craftsmen. They are available in shapes and sizes to meet the needs of the world of fine wine. These breathing decanters combine a long neck for oxidation during the decanting process with a broad, shallow reservoir for further aeration while the wine rests before serving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grapevine Radio Show airing Saturday, August 23, 2008

Podcast click to listen buttonAn exciting show that opens with internationally known author and TV-Radio show host (Nat Decants) Natalie Maclean.

Followed by David and Beth Nagangast winemaker/owners of Paso Robles newest winery, Cinquain Winery.

For dessert we have Chef Tom Fundaro of Villa Creek Restaurant in Paso. His handmade shortbread black pepper crackers alone have left patrons swooning.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Winemaking Not for Amateurs

Or... "Don't Try This at Home, Part Deux"

Jane Anson in Bordeaux
October 23, 2008Two amateur winemakers died last weekend treading grapes for home-made wine.

Daniel Moulin, 48, and Gérard Dachis, 50, of Roiffieux, northern Ardeche died from carbon dioxide poisoning.
They were crushing grapes in the traditional manner with their feet, in a vat that was approximately four square metres in size.

The grapes belonged to a small-scale winemaker who had recruited three friends to help vinify his 2008 vintage. The wine was intended purely for personal use.
It is thought that, with inadequate ventilation, they were rendered unconscious by the carbon dioxide fumes that are produced during fermentation. The two men did not regain consciousness, despite attempts to resuscitate them.

The owner of the estate, and the other friend who was helping with the winemaking, survived.
A fireman and the third friend were also treated for inhalation of carbonic gas in a hospital in Annonay.
An autopsy to confirm the cause of death is due to be carried out this week, Le Post newspaper reports.

Source: www.decanter.com

The photo is a Wine Spa in Japan, containing real red wine. The huge wine bottle is 3.6m tall. Bathing in wine is a rejuvenation treatment for the body, and it has been said that the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra loved to bath in wine.
There are regular performances of pouring real wine into the spa a few times a day.
Come San Luis Obispo County wineries, let's build one of these!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Spice Girls and Boys Invade U.S.

I'm dreaming of dinner at Thai Palace with a bottle of Wolff Vineyards dry Riesling. Heaven.
By Sarah Hills, 02-Oct-2008

The Hispanic and Asian influence on the US food and beverage market is growing stronger as ethnic flavors become mainstream and the spending power of these cultural groups increases, according to an industry expert.

Asians and Hispanics are no longer a minority in large cities across the US and census figures predict that they will form a majority by 2050, according to John Corella, spokesman for the Expo Comida Latina and All Asia Food industry event which will take place this month.

The result is more food and drinks specifically targeting these groups, as well as capturing a wider market of consumers who enjoy their culinary influence.

Corella said: “There are a lot of products coming out that are uniquely flavored to address the cultural shift.

“The US is becoming spicier”

He gave the example of lime flavored products with chili, which is typically Hispanic. There are also more fresh and frozen vegetables of Asian origin and the ingredients used in products can also target certain markets.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Grapevine Radio Show airing Saturday, August 16, 2008

One this show we meet Steven Hagy, self proclaimed "cork dork," and author whose second book, Faces in the Fog has just been published.

Steve works weekends in the Doce Robles Winery tasting room, whose owner Jim Jacobson is our second guest. Jim and his wife Meredith are third generation Central Coast growers and lean a bit about their history and how the heck they sell their premium boutique wines as such affordable prices.

Then we get to hear an incredible tale of moving 2,000 century old olive trees from Oroville to Cre
ston, CA from Frank Menacho, owner of Olivas de Oro olive orchard. Plus a live report from Shannon at the 17th Annual Basil Festival in Paso Robles.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I've Seen Some Crappy Wine Labels but ...

... this one take the, er, cake. From the www.vinography.com blog


One doesn't normally don't look to French winegrowers for a source of amusement -- they are a famously unfunny lot -- but apparently desperate times have brought out some humor in some wine producers in the Languedoc.

Faced with low demand for their cooperative produced wines in the face of their region's reputation for producing plonk, a group of winemakers have decided that they might as well meet the consumer's expectation.

So they've produced a wine labeled "Vin de Merde." And for anyone who didn't learn any French swear words when they got the chance in Fifth Grade, that means "Shit Wine." Or as the ever so proper BBC commentator puts it: "Crap wine." The rest of the text on the label says: "The worst signifies the best."

Here's a little piece from the BBC on the brilliant new label, which just happens to be selling faster than they can get it into shops.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Don’t Try Cooking This at Home. No. Really. Don’t.

England – This research just in from the Brits; 10 percent of their population – six million people – have had a kitchen accident trying to copy a celebrity chef.

No wonder real chefs are made of iron!

A United Kingdom insurance company (Esure Home Insurance) took a poll that showed that although 73 percent of the respondents described themselves as “amateur,” “novice,” or downright “useless” in the kitchen, that didn’t dissuade 75 percent of them from attempting a complex culinary technique, risking injury to themselves, to others, to their pets, and to their homes (I made up the pets part).

Damage estimates were in the $9 billion range! Makes the Bush Bailout look appetizing by comparison.

Numerous hazards were sighted from fast chopping to deep frying, but the chart toppers were creme brulees and roasted peppers. The prime culprit? Industrial strength blow torches.

A large percentage of injuries seem to be related to budding gourmets attempting complex culinary techniques in “real time,” dashing between the cooking show on TV in the other room and the kitchen. Slippery when wet!

And these “recipes for disaster” afflict women and men in nearly equal proportions with 83 percent of men and 87 percent of women, who although they claim “no cooking experience,” still fearlessly attempt these gourmet acrobatics.

Source: A “Front Burner” story by Julie Mautner for Food Arts Magazine, October 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wine Whisperer Nominated!

Your Soft Spoken Seeker of Sommelier Secrets has been nominated for "Best Profile Pic" on the great wine industry social/business blog site, Wine 2.0.

So for those of you who mocked the Caped Purple One for donning the elaborate get-up for a weekly radio appearance ... put a cork in it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Show Airing August 9th, 2008

Another jam packed show. We open with author William Ausmus talking about his new book, Wines & Wineries of the Central Coast.

Then Phillip Krumal, winemaker-owner of Asuncion Ridge Vineyards & Inn describes the wines (including one of Jan's favorite Pinot Noirs) and the Inn on Paso Robles westside.

Finally Chef Robert Root tells us about the 16 day Pallet to Palate events with featuring area
chefs pairing with San Luis Obispo County’s farmers to create delicious, gourmet dinners ... with local wines, of course!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Free the Grapes. Send in Capt. Terry

Our very own Terry Speizer, founder of Domaine Alfred, the world renowned winery he recently sold, was instrumental in bringing this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. And yet, the battle rages, as the post-Prohibition fiefdoms struggle to maintain their control... and money.

Here's the latest installment of the saga by David Kesmodel from www.iSante.com, Santé Magazine's online edition.

Alison Light and her husband fell in love with several small California wineries this summer while celebrating their wedding anniversary. But when Ms. Light tried to have bottles shipped to her Norfolk, Mass., home, she was miffed to discover that her state effectively barred most such shipments.

So she -- joining about 8,000 other Massachusetts residents -- became a member of Free the Grapes, a Napa, Calif., advocacy group for wineries and wine drinkers. Ms. Light, a 46-year-old university financial-aid worker, has written state lawmakers, urging them to overhaul the state's direct-shipping rules.


In the meantime, if you're trying to help friends and relatives who are wine touring on the Central Coast ship wines back home, check out our friends at www.SafeHavenWineServices.com.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roll Over Guy de Muapassant

It's like a modern day retelling of, The Necklace, Guy's well known short story first published in 1884. Maybe we're seeing the beginnings of wine journalism's version of reality shows.
First the news of the faked review in Wine Spectator and now
Food & Wine writer Lettie Teague pulls a fast one at a dinner party all in the name of a good story. I wonder if her name is a nom de plume, because it sounds suspiciously close to the name of Monk's assistant in the popular USA-TV series.

Wine Scams: A Counterfeiter Confesses

F&W’s Lettie Teague—feeling glee, then guilt—explores the growing problem of wine fraud by attempting to dupe her friends with a fake bottle of 100-point Bordeaux.

Almost every woman I know (including myself) has knowingly purchased a fake designer handbag at one time or another. I know it’s wrong—that counterfeiting can cost legitimate companies a great deal of money, and that it can harm the unwitting purveyors of fakes as well. For example, eBay was recently ordered to pay $60 million to LVMH, owner of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior brands, for selling fakes on its site.

Of course, fancy handbags aren’t the only luxury goods considered worth copying these days; as the price of fine wine escalates, so, too, has the quantity of imposter bottles on the market. The number has reached into the hundreds of thousands, as in Tuscany, where Italian authorities found quite a few Brunello producers making their fancy wine with cheap, non-Brunello grapes. (The government’s fraud-fighting tactics are quintessentially Italian: They began training policemen as undercover sommeliers.)


Saturday, September 27, 2008

What To Do With Empty Wine Bottles

Gives new meaning to a "well balanced" wine. I've done this same trick with boxed wine!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Local German Beer - Oxymoron or Ompah in a Glass?

Believe it or blow foam on your friend standing next to you.... an adventurous brewing entrepreneur has launched an authentic German style brewery right here in SLO.

EINHORN BEER Founder, Douglas Martin, a Chicago native who spent nearly two decades in Germany studying the craft. The results are a new microbrewery that makes beer in the German tradition.
“Germans really believe they make the best beer in the world,” he said. “Americans brew good beer, too,” Martin granted, “but it’s an entirely different style.

After working for a mineral water distributor in Germany, Martin attended Doemens Beverage Academy in Munich, one of three German colleges specializing in all aspects of the wine, mineral water, juice, and especially the beer industries.
After graduating from Doemens, Martin went to work for Scottish & Newcastle one of the top-ten macro-breweries in the world, responsible for such famous cold-ones as Fosters, Newcastle, Strong Bow, and Baltika.

All of our
full-bodied brews are made with the best raw materials available, brewed just the way you might discover on your travels in and around Germany.

You will find them true to their heritage - yet unique the way one expects from a California craft beer. The century-old traditions behind these hand-crafted brews guided us in their creation, but we have chosen to remain free with our own interpretation of the Germanic beer culture. Prosit!

Try the best German style beers available on California's Central Coast - 2 great events are approaching fast!

Check out their brews at LEVEL 4 RESTAURANT & LOUNGE in Paso Robles for OCTOBERFEST on Friday October 3rd or at the MORRO BAY HARBOR FEST on Saturday & Sunday October 4-5 ! You won't regret it !

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Podcast of Show from August 2, 2008

We are thrilled to welcome another Central coast wine pioneer to the show; Gary Eberle, founder/owner Eberle Winery in Paso Robles.
Gary is well known for his community involvement and on this show he tells us about the college scholarship fund that benefits from an event he and Toby Schumrick from Tobin James Winery concocted; The 10th Annual Winemakers Cook Off in Paso Robles. Probably one of the wildest of all the area's wine events!

Then Melanie Blankenship joins us to discuss local, sustainable and organic food products that she's featured for the past seven years' at her store, Nature's Touch in Templeton, CA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wine Nuked for Thomas Jefferson... a Job for the Pink Panther?

One of Britain's top rare wine merchants and nuclear scientists have jointly unveiled a 21st-century tool for unmasking counterfeit vintage wines.

The technique consists of zapping bottles with ion beams generated by a particle accelerator.

The beams are directed at the glass, not the wine, and can distinguish how old the bottles are and, roughly, where they originate.

"We compare the suspect bottles with those that we know come from the chateaux," explained Herve Guegan, a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Bordeaux.

"The chemical composition of glass used to make bottles changed over time and was different from place to place," he told AFP.

The Antique Wine Company in London, which asked Guegan's Centre for Nuclear Studies to develop the fraud-busting technology, handles more than 10,000 bottles of rare wines every year for thousands of customers around the world.

"We sell bottles every day for between $US2000 and $US10,000," said the company's managing director, Stephen Williams, noting that the exceptional grand cru can fetch up to $US100,000.

At these prices, "counterfeiting is something we have to be very diligent about," he said by phone.

France's most prestigious Burgundy and Bordeaux chateaux are notoriously reluctant to discuss fraud or its prevalence, but wine experts say it is a growing problem.

In a recent and spectacular case, American collector William Koch sued a German wine dealer, claiming four bottles - allegedly belonging to US President Thomas Jefferson - he had purchased for $US500,000 were fake. The case has yet to be settled.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

D'Anbino Winery & Old Vienna Restuarant

Show airing Saturday, July 26, 2008

Show could be subtitled, Cool Jazz & Hot Accordions.

A musical show this week. First we talk to Carmine Rubino and his son Mike of D'Anbino Winery & Vineyards. A fascinating professional musical family with a tasting room in Paso Robles that features a full blown nightclub stage!

Then Chef Mike
(and heavy metal guitarist) Mosier from the Old Vienna Restaurant, Bar & Beer Garden tells us what's new on the menu and events calendar (including their "Squeezebox Square Off") at this third generation owned restaurant in Shell Beach.

Sudden Rise of "Sliders" and "Mini Burgers," Explained!

I'm sure I can't be the only one whose observed the addition of so called gourmet "sliders" to tony restaurants throughout the land.
Followed shortly by the addition of "mini burgers" and sandwiches to chain operations.

We sent our Grapevine Radio investigative reporter out in the field to discern the reason behind this latest "small is beautiful" trend.

The story is shocking! The forces behind this phenomenon is a cult like association dedicated to the breeding of "mini cattle."

I swear on my limited edition DVD of, "The Island of Dr. Moreau" that I'm not making this up.

This could also explain those little cartons of "mini moo."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Domaine Alfred Sells! (You Can Call Me Al)

Erle Martin, President & CEO, Crimson Wine Group, just announced that
The Crimson Wine Group has finalized details for the purchase of Domaine Alfred and the historic Chamisal Vineyard in the Edna Valley.

For those who may not know Central Coast wine history, Domaine Alfred's Pinot Noirs (under the guidance of winemaker extraordinaire Mike Sinor), put Domaine Al on the world's wine map. Decanter Magazine rated it as one of the only Pinot's of California worth sipping, among the numerous accolades they collected.

Domaine Alfred's visionary founder, Terry Speizer, was also headed up the effort to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme that resulted in a major victory for all wineries who ship wine within the U.S.

The purchase is scheduled to close Thursday, August 28, 2008.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Winemaker's Cookoff Winners!

Paso Robles, California, August 18, 2008
Mitchella, Midnight Cellars and Local High-School Seniors Are Big Winners of 10th Annual Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff

Cookoff winners:(L to R) Paso Robles Rotary President, Dan Blake; 2008 Cookoff Chair, Sally Davis; People’s Choice winner, Rich Hartenberger, Midnight Cellars; Judges’ Choice winners, Angela and Darren Mitchell, Mitchella Winery.

Earns Top Judges’ Honor, Midnight Cellars Takes First-Place People’s Choice Award

In what organizers said was this "fundraiser’s largest attendance in its 10 year history," Mitchella Vineyard and Winery’s marinated shrimp taco garnered the first-place Judges’ Award and Midnight Cellars’ beef Wellington in a mushroom-port reduction sauce got the top honors People’s Choice Award at the 10th-Annual Paso Robles Rotary Club Winemakers’ Cookoff.

The event took place on Saturday, August 9 held at the Paso Robles Hot Springs. Preliminary figures indicate a record attendance of over 1,000 and proceeds from the Cookoff are also expected to exceed previous editions of the event.

100% of net proceeds from this event each year are deposited in the Club’s Harlow Ford Scholarship Foundation. In 2007 and again this year, the Foundation provided $30,000 in college and vocational scholarships to local high-school seniors. From the results of this year’s Cookoff, the Club hopes to be able to increase that amount in 2009.

Judges for this year’s event were: Kathy Marcks Hardesty, chef and freelance wine and food columnist; Mike Steponavich, a wine writer and educator; Larry Shupnick, a nationally known leader in the hotel and hospitality industry; Janis Switzer, a Central Coast freelance wine writer; and Robert Whitley, nationally syndicated wine writer and wine talk show host.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Outside's Go Magazine Goes For Paso Wines!

A beautifully photographed, well written story on the wines of San Luis Obispo County hits newsstands and mailboxes August 19th.

Lucky Grapevine Radio fans can link to advance copy right here!
Outside's Go Magazine article on Paso Robles Wines

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wine Wrangler Opens in the Paso Robles Train Station

Here's a couple of photos of their new offices.

The exterior and the interior, where we see Paso Robles Pinot Noir purveyor (and spaghetti western stunt double) Mark Goldberg (foreground), owner-winemaker of Windward Vineyards giving Wrangler, Coy Barnes a chuckle.

When it comes to wine tours t
hey have it all: Trains and Buses and Planes. Coy and Sarah Barnes keep expanding the scope of the Wine Wrangler's services.

Now they are becoming the "concierge service to all of Paso Robles." Whether it's a custom group tour, a wine tasting package or a helicopter tour of Central Coast Wine Country, the Wine Wrangler is doing it all.

Probably the most informative, fun tour guides you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. www.thewinewrangler.com

Space Beer Invades Japan!

Spaced Out Beer Lands in Japan

Your intrepid reporter has come across a plan by Sapporo Breweries Ltd. to test brew “space beer” made with barley descended from grains that travelled in outer space.

The pilot edition will be 100 bottles which will be released in November of ’08.
The barley utilized in this astrodraught was propagated from seeds that spent five months aboard the International Space Station.

I know there will be people worrying that something will leap out of a stomach after drinking “space beer” or that a dog will drink some and wind up flattening Tokyo.

Any name suggestions for these space suds?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Wines and Wineries of the Central Coast

It was a pleasure to meet author William Ausmus on our show today. A great guy with a great new book on our favorite wine region.

Here's the official blurb: "In comparative tastings, wines from California's Central Coast rival those from such renowned regions as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Napa, yet they also offer superb value.

This is the first comprehensive guide to one of the world's most dynamic and beautiful wine regions-and the setting for the award-winning movie Sideways.

An excellent, one-stop resource for touring and tasting at convenient wineries located from Monterey to Santa Barbara, the guide is organized into county-by-county alphabetical listings for this up-and-coming region."

The book profiles nearly 300 wineries personally visited by the author and includes 5 maps, visitors' and contact information for each winery and discussions of regional wine history and terroir, just for starters.

William A. Ausmus is a research scholar in the Communication Studies Department at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.

Mr. Chardonnay and the Mistress of Fine Cheese

Podcast click to listen buttonShow airing Saturday, July 19, 2008

On this episode we talk to wine legend and Wine Master of Ortman Family Winery, Chuck Ortman is recognized as one of California's most accomplished winemakers. His winemaking career spans nearly 40 years in California and along the way he earned the moniker, "Mr. Chardonnay," as he pioneered barrel fermentation of Chardonnay.

Next it's Danika Reed, owner of Vivant Fine Cheeses in Paso Robles ... the exotic treats she brings really makes us smile for the microphone.

WARNING: listening to Cliff, Jan and Danika tasting and talking about these exotically wonderful cheeses will make you VERY hungry.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Electric Tongue is Not a Sixties Band!

Nor is it a Rolling Stones stage prop. Yes, wine lovers we no longer need to rely on the burned out palates of a small cadre of "wine reviewers." It's the electric tongue to the rescue. Read on if you dare.
By Steve Connor, Science Editor - The Independent (UK)

Even highly trained wine experts cannot agree on whether a variety or vintage is genuine
Can't tell the difference between paint stripper and a 1982 Château Pétrus?

Well, scientists have developed a remedy: an "electronic tongue" that can distinguish between grape varieties and vintages.
The device is still in the early stages of development but researchers hope they will one day be able to make an automatic wine taster that is more reliable than the human palette.

The electronic tongue – or e-tongue – is based on an array of tiny synthetic membranes built on to a single silicon chip called a multisensor. Each membrane has a different sensitivity to the various chemical components that distinguish one grape variety from another and one wine vintage from the next.

It can already distinguish between four grape varieties – Airén, Chardonnay, Malvasia and Macabeu – and samples of the same wine belonging to the vintage years 2004 and 2005.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mid-State Fair and Balanced

Ladies and gentlemen, we have this year's winning wines from the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.

Super Awards went to:
* Best White Wine, Eberle 2007 Viognier, Paso Robles Mill Road
* Best Red Wine Halter Ranch 2005 Syrah, Paso Robles Estate
* Best Dessert Wine 2005 Robert Hall Vintage Port, Paso Robles

while the Best of Class was handed out to:

* 2007 Huber Chardonnay, unoaked, Santa Rita Hills
* 2007 Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles
* 2006 Castoro Cellars Pino
t Grigio, Paso Robles
* 2006 Claiborne & Churchill Dry Gewurztraminer, Central Coast
* 2007 Harmony Cellars White Riesling, Monterey County
* 2007 Ventana Vineyards Dry Rosato, Arroyo Seco
* 2005 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
* 2005 Niner Wine Estates Merlot, Paso Robles
* 2005 Per Bacco Cellars Pinot Noir, Dronysus, Arroyo Grande Valley
* 2005 Penman Springs Petite Sirah, Paso Robles
* 2006 Sculpterra Winery Statuesque, Paso Robles
* 2006 Eberle Barbera, Paso Robles
* 2006 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvedre, Lime Kiln Valley
* 2006 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel, Paso Robles
* 2006 Alapay
Late Harvest Moscato, Paso Robles

Next year we're proposing to pair wine styles with the entertainment and other events.

For example: What to drink while listening to Raul Malo, what to sip along with Steely Dan, what's good in a brown bag rockin' with Rob Piazza, something nice and cool with Paula Cole and a glass of something elegant to cruise along with Boz.

Eagle Castle and Sushiya Japanese Restaurant

Podcast click to listen buttonShow airing Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lynn Diehl joins us as guest co-host and we meet Kim Matthes of Eagle Castle Winery in Paso Robles. Kim tells us thrilling tales of knights on horseback jousting and other upcoming adventures at the Castle.

Toshi (Thoshio) Maruta from Sushiya Japanese Restaurant and his sushi chef, Sing Ko talk about their educational approach at the restaurant and Toshi plays a tune on his Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese flute.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New York .... Mountain!

Our friends over at www.RedWineBuzz, broke this story in mid-July.

York Mountain Winery for sale.

Historic York Mountain Winery is up for sale, Avenue Vine reports. The Owners of Martin & Weyrich Winery purchased York Mountain Winery in 2001, but are selling it to concentrate on their namesake brand, without implementing their plans for improving the vineyard.

Founded in 1882 by Andrew York, the winery is the oldest continuously operating winery in California. It is the only winery, but not the only vineyard in the AVA of the same name (awarded in 1983).

The 9,3000 acres surrounding the winery in the Templeton Gap are tucked against the eastern slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains and straddle Highway 46. This is on the western border of the Paso Robles AVA in San Luis Obispo County. The AVA is at elevations of 1,500 feet, just 7 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Days of Wine and Orchids and Lavender

Podcast click to listen buttonShow airing Saturday, July 5, 2008

On this show we meet Mike Schenkhuizen, the owner of Orchid Hill Winery in Paso Robles. We discover where the name came from and about their wonderful wines.

Then Janice Silva of Green Acres Lavender Farm joins us to share her knowledge about lavender and details of the upcoming Lavender Festival. Very interesting!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Riesling Scales New Heights

Riesling is living up to predictions to be "the next big thing." Of course, along with it's new found fame comes new responsibilities. And demands that a uniform sweetness scale be adopted to help consumer make choices that match their palate.
From Decanter Magazine
Howard G. Goldberg in New York

Every bottle of Riesling should carry a taste scale so consumers can see exactly what style of wine they are getting, the International Riesling Foundation has proposed.

In its first major initiative, the newly formed New York State-based foundation has created guidelines to help consumers predict the taste of any Riesling.
The foundation disclosed its so-called Riesling taste scale as the second annual Riesling Rendezvous, sponsored by Chateau Ste Michelle and the German producer Dr Loosen, began yesterday at the Washington producer's headquarters near Seattle.

The foundation has proposed descriptors it hopes to see on every bottle: dry, off-dry, medium dry, medium sweet and sweet, perhaps to be accompanied by a graphic.
Although Riesling is the fastest-growing white wine in America, the absence of dependable common label information about gradations of dryness and sweetness makes most purchases a gamble, Riesling experts agree.

'Market research has shown that many consumers think of Riesling only as "a sweet white wine" despite the wide range of tastes it can represent,' the foundation said.
To help winemakers choose the most suitable characterisations, it created a chart of technical parameters involving the interplay of sugar, acid, and pH, which determines taste.

Producers' use of the system would be voluntary.
The foundation, created last November, has an international board consisting of more than 30 top Riesling producers. Its president is James Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, a trade association.