The role of the wind in winemaking

  • Charming and approachable: Maison Chapoutier, a vineyard in France’s Rhone Valley (Photograph submitted)

    Charming and approachable: Maison Chapoutier, a vineyard in France’s Rhone Valley (Photograph submitted)


For some reason I seem to have wind on my mind today, so let me share with you the relationship between it and our favourite tipple.

If you are a grape grower in Provence or the Rhone Valley of France you will be thankful for the mistral that can easily reach speeds of 50mph. This wind helps clear cloud cover, thus allowing the sun to perfectly ripen the fruit and moderate the temperature to ensure grape quality. Mould causes grape rot, but vines are quickly dried after rain by the breeze.

We have a very limited allocation from Provence of Château D’Esclans Rock Angel 2018 Rosé that is made from Grenache and rolle grapes that are sorted optically so only the best are used for free-run juice and a first, slight pressing.

Critic James Suckling rates it 93/100 and comments: “Here’s a very serious rosé indeed that shows fresh nectarines, newly picked peaches, tulips, rose petals, citrus and a lovely kick of vanilla and spices. Full-bodied and layered, framing a whole array of spicy, but vibrant, stone fruit. Stunning and amazing value.” $39.85.

If we travel to the Rhone Valley, we can experience what this wind does for Grenache, syrah and mourvedre by trying Chapoutier 2015 “La Bernadine” Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You will find an intense crimson-red colour along with a complex and subtle nose with blackcurrant and plum aromas, followed by roasted coffee and cinnamon, cherry, and morello cherry. Robert Parker calls it “charming” and “approachable”. $47.40.

If you appreciate the wines of Sicily, and they are lovely, then you must think of the sirocco that causes dry and dusty conditions in North Africa, storms in the Mediterranean Sea and influences the climate with winds up to 60mph and occasionally hurricane force.

Donnafugata Sherazade Nero D’Avola 2016 packs a lot of enjoyment for $23.80 and it has a brilliant ruby red colour with violet reflections.

The nose offers a pleasantly fruity bouquet with fragrant notes of cherry and red plum, combined with light spicy scents of black pepper.

“The palate is fleshy and perfectly reflects the nose, pleasantly refreshed by acidic verve. A fragrant red, soft tannins, perfect to sip from the glass. Wine & Spirits Magazine rates the offering from the Nero D’Avola grape 90/100 and remarks: “This wine’s deep magenta hue matches its violet scents and crunchy black-plum flavours. Vinified entirely in stainless steel, it feels fresh and juicy, crackling with acidity that keeps the flavours clean and tight to the finish. A great by-the-glass option.”

The locals call it Huayrapuca or “the witches’ wind” and it can waft along at 25mph or roar like our Humberto did at speeds of 125mph or more.

It starts over the Pacific Ocean, travels up and over the Chilean side of the Andes and then descends into Argentina.

It can raise the temperature by as much as 50F in a couple of hours and windburn the vine’s leaves and rip the shoots right off.

If you would like to experience how this witches’ wind influences Malbec, syrah, petit verdot and cabernet franc, then you only need to purchase a bottle of Alpasión Private Selection 2014 from the Uco Valley.

This is their top wine, aged for at least 18 months in French Bordeaux-style barrels. It is a blend that changes every year depending on the best grapes available.

It is a powerful, full-bodied wine, with complex aromas and sweet flavours of ripe plums and blackberries.

I had a blind tasting with my wife with this wine last evening and her first inclination was that it hailed from Napa Valley, which for me is praise indeed.

The 2014 blend is 56 per cent Malbec, 12 per cent petit verdot, 23 per cent syrah and 9 per cent cabernet franc. $44.05.

The Alpasión label is so unique, with fingerprints of the various owners displayed, and rumour has it that the one labelled “Bill” may be found on a few Bermuda wine glasses as he is a local resident. This winery is really turning out some very fine wines and we have quite a selection.

It is safe to say that the Catena family really launched the modern era of fine wines in Argentina and we have a tiny allocation of 2015 Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae Malbec. This is what the reviewers think:

• James Suckling: 98 points

“This is a phenomenal Malbec with intense blue fruits such as blueberries and blackberries. Black truffle, too. Full-bodied, bright and juicy with fantastic power and richness. Yet the acidity just keeps going. Volcanic salt and white peppers. A thoroughly breathtaking wine. Try after 2020.”

Decanter: 97 points

“Of the three single-parcel malbecs from Catena in the Adrianna Vineyard, this is by far the most radical. From heavy calcareous soils, this is more than fruit — it smells of stones and chalk, has a tense, sharp structure with no hint of sweetness. Fresh and vivacious fruits towards the end.”

Drinking window 2019 to 2025. A bottle will cost you $251.60.

On December 7, 2017 the Petaluma Gap was created as a new American Viticultural Area.

It is named for the Pacific wind and fog that is funnelled through this geographical feature and affects climate in parts of Sonoma in California.

Some of this region’s finest wineries that we represent include Rodney Strong Vineyards, DeLoach Vineyards and Schramsberg Vineyards.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm ,/i>

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Published Sep 27, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 27, 2019 at 8:37 am)

The role of the wind in winemaking

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