48 hours with a wine

The wine merchant gave me the idea. I can’t say it was an original thought process, though it certainly wasn’t a foreign concept.

The bottle was a 2008 Coturri Carignane from Testa vineyards in Mendocino, CA. According to the Coturri website, the vineyards were planted back in the day (1912) when Carignane was the most planted grape in California (ah the good ol’ days). Worked by hand (and a really old tractor), the vineyard produced some killer grapes then purchased by a killer winemaker which, in turn, made for a killer couple of days worth of wine drinking.

The method I employed to ingest this bottle of wine is known in bacchanalian circles as “The Slow Decant”. Just as the name would suggest, I allowed this rather young and vivacious wine to breath its last breaths in a metaphorical goldfish bowl as it watched me drink it to its last drop over a 48 hour period. Please find below various temporal checkpoints that chart its tasty progression over the day(s).

Minute 1: Blackberry Cobbler! Just like Grandma used to make. Also showing signs of red, juicy ripe & fleshy peaches. Tooth-aching acidity with a long, clean finish with present but restrained tannins.

Minute 45: Absinthe! No joke, not just anise-y, but definitely absinthe-y. Quite interesting. Leather and clay are starting to abound from the glass.

Hour 10: Violets with an undeniable grapiness as well as a cool campfire aspect. Eucalyptus and laurel are sneaking themselves into the back of my nose.

Hour 20: Cognac! Chewing tobacco scents mingle intoxicatingly with a muddy forest floor characteristic. All the while, a very pleasant aroma of young leather mozies along in the background. A sensation I can really only describe as fresh rain is peaking out. It should be noted that it was probably peaking at this point.

It should also be noted that sleep was had between minute 45 and hour 10. The wine was finally revisted at hour 46. The blackberry cobbler note that was persistant all the way through but only mentioned in minute 1 was still there, though the grapiness had started to eclipse it. The acidity began to overpower any fruit characteristics and the general flavors had started to fall off. It should be noted that it was still pleasant to drink at this point, only less so than, obivously, when it had originally been opened.

All in all, it was a great experience and pleasure to taste this one seemingly simple wine over the course of a couple of days and watch it evolve. It’s as close as I can get on my meager budget/storage potential to actually ageing my wine and drinking it at different points in its life.

All in all, I think this wine is of great potential for ageing in the short to medium run. It would be cool to pop the cork of this wine again in 2015 and taste it along with some venison, blueberry demi glace and roasted winter vegetables. I still have yet to give the wine merchant, who thankfully recommended this wine, my feedback. But who knows, he very well could be reading this blog like you are.

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5 min Expert Interview - Daniel Johnnes

Daniel Johnnes, sommelier turned author, importer, winemaker, and wine director of The Dinex Group, Daniel Boulud’s restaurant management company, sat down with Biodynamy for a mini-interview and shared some insightful advice straight from the mind of a well-seasoned veteran of the wine world. Daniel Johnnes, along with importing wine, produces wine in Burgundy (Gevrey-Chambertin) and Oregon (Eola-Amity Hills) under the name Johnnes & Company.

BD: When did you first catch wind of biodynamics?

DJ: I first heard of biodynamics 10 or 15 years ago from my friend, Anne-Claude Leflaive, in Burgundy. I heard about what she was doing, in addition to Dominique Lafon, and Nicolas Joly.

[Producers like these] don’t bang the drum too loudly. LeFlaive, Leroy, [Domaine de la] Romanée-Conti are doing it for different reasons. They don’t need biodynamics. It’s a good method to produce good grapes. It’s not a commercial signpost. It’s unfortunate when it’s used for marketing; you shift focus from producing great quality wine to using it as a sales technique.

BD: How much does biodynamics matter in the production of wine?

DJ: It doesn’t matter that much. Just because someone uses biodynamics doesn’t mean it’s a good wine.

BD: What have you learned about biodynamics over the years?

DJ: Producers are open to talking about [biodynamics]. Natural cycles are important, and those who have embraced [biodynamics] are strong believers.

BD: Based on the names you mentioned, is it something geared more towards larger, better established producers?

DJ: It’s more of an effort or struggle for a small producer to get into [biodynamics]. It’s expensive due to high labor costs.

BD: Are your vineyards farmed biodynamically?

DJ: The Oregon Pinot Noir is, the one in Gevrey-Chambertin is not.

Photo: http://www.danieljohnneswines.com/winemaking.html

Seeking at once to reach their fanbase through an advertisement in Wine Spectator but realizing that people wouldn’t read a heartfelt letter, Randall Grahm, owner and founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard (Demeter Certified Biodynamic), reached out to Ed Piskor to comic-ize his intentions and essentially re-brand his vineyard.

An insightful look into the mind of a winemaker, one of the world’s finest winemakers in fact. Chapoutier is one of the leading authorities on biodynamic wine production in France.