April 29, 2012


Recently I heard a report that a well known wine writer had tried one of my Pinot Noirs and called it "focused." We'll see if the wine actually gets written about, but no matter. I love that descriptor and understand more than ever how much I look for focus in wines, mine as well as others.

Thinking about focus, I'm reminded of a sort of obscure book that I read a couple years back and recently reread. It's When I Whistle, by one of my favorite authors ever, Shusaku Endo, a Japanese novelist of the mid to late 20th century. I recommend him highly, though you may not find his writing as appealing as I do.

Endo writes simply, with a poetic focus that charms you while slowly revealing the heartbreaking depth of his characters and plot. Even in translation, and surely something is lost from the original Japanese, each word is precise, intentional, mise en place. He writes fiction but everything is non-fiction with Endo. He writes what is real and true.

That's how I want my wine. Focused. Non-fictional. Precise with an ease about it. Specific to a place and time. Enduring, I hope. And perhaps a bit haunting, so you don't forget it very easily. Like Endo.

April 11, 2012

Vincent wine tasting this Sunday

Elevage readers, please come a tasting of my Vincent Wine Company wines this Sunday in Portland. Our friends and Guild partners Helioterra Wines are leading the event, with some new releases to pour and the launch of the Helioterra Club.

I'll be there pouring my 2010 Pinot Noirs and perhaps a barrel sample of 2011 if people are interested. We'll have wines for sale, including some discounts on my 2010 magnums. I went a little crazy with mags last year after not doing enough the year before, so check that out.

There will be food from Cheese Bar. Best of all, there is no charge. Come taste, nosh, hang out...and if the spirit moves you, buy some wine.


What: Vincent Wine Company and Helioterra Wines tasting
Date: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Time: 1-5pm
Location: The Slate, a mixed use space at 2001 NW 19th Avenue in Portland, Oregon

April 08, 2012

Paper chromatography

Even though this year's paper chromatography has an unfortunate streak on it, I still love the pattern. I won't bore you with too much science, but essentially we use the chromatography process to see if there's still malic acid in the new 2011 wines. Malic acid is sharp tasting and in red wines we generally want it all converted to softer lactic acidity through the process of malolactic fermentation.

To test for malic acid, I dab a bit of wine from each barrel of pinot noir at the bottom of the chromatography paper. Using a developing solution, we see yellow marks appear to show the presence of various acids in the wine. On the right, midway up the paper, you can see a dark yellow spot. That's a sample of pure malic acidity, and it shows where malic acid appears on the paper. Moving to the left, you can see how there are no similar yellow spots in the same zone, meaning there's no malic acid in these samples. The exception is near the white streak, a touch of yellow from barrel 9 that presumably has some malic acid left.

I did this test a couple weeks back before a spring break trip, so I expect barrel 9 is done by now. I'll take a sample of that barrel to the lab to see for sure, then add a bit of sulfur to all the barrels and allow them to continue aging before bottling later this year.

I'm excited about how 2011 these wines are developing. They show nice acidic freshness, something I want to see more of in my wines. I'm particularly excited that this year I finally appear to have allowed the malolactic to happen successfully on its own. I've added a bit of malolactic bacteria to my wines in past years, after having a little trouble getting it to happen on its own. For whatever reason - art? perhaps. science? no. luck? definitely - this year it worked. These wines are truly nothing added, nothing taken away, pure. Just how I want them.