Arion Wine Company Hosts a Trade Seminar discussing Fermented Juice Magic

I learned a thing or two at the Arion Wine Company Trade Seminar. Which I would like to share with you and hope you are interested.

First of all, I learned that Embassy Suites has nice meeting rooms, in their lower level, and that they cater events well, with mini pastechi, I had two, fresh cut fruit and breakfast yogurt parfaits.

Randolph Croes is the F&B man and he reports the resort is making good progress, in every business aspect.

Secondly, I learned there is a lot to learn about wines and British Financial Times columnist Jancis Robinson was a good teacher, and indeed a world-class authority.

So, we heard from the best, and here are some insights.

Mid-last century quite a few countries got jealous of the French and Italian monopoly over Cabernet and Chardonnay wines, and decided to get into the ring, making their own French-style wines. They ripped out all their indigenous vine varieties and planted some new ones, stolen, smuggled or borrowed from French and Italian vineyards.

They were not always successful, because the weather was different, the soil was different and the imported vines disappointed.

They couldn’t make it like the French and Italians do.

These days, countries are trying their best to research and bring back their own original plants and in doing so are finding success.

In wine growing countries, for example, every village had its own special grape variety, and through current DNA printing, they are all coming back.

Robinson reports there were just over 1,300 grape varieties ten years ago, there are probably around 1,600 now, among them, some historical ones, which have not been tasted, for decades.

A few years ago, the first boast you heard from wine makers, was the number of new oak barrels, they had on order. With consumer palates changing, the emphasis is now on fresh fruit flavors, rather than rich oak complexity. The oak thing was a phase, and its almost behind us.

Old vines explained Robinson produce wines that are more interesting and complex, and consumers should be aware, buy them, and enjoy them, so that grape growers aren’t tempted to rip old vines out when they becomes less productive, and replace them with young plants.

How old is old? There is now a consensus that one may call a vine old, once it reaches its 35th birthday, and here is a dedicated registry:

It is a crowd-sourced global database of living historical vineyard sites, designed to help these survive and thrive.

A big subject of conversation was global warming.

Apparently with temperatures up a notch in traditional grape growing countries, the vineyards must be harvested earlier, and some of the grapes do no have enough time to mature and sweeten nicely, before picked.

Growers have to be creative, trick the grapes into slowing the process, try new varieties better suited for hot climates, and in general, do things differently, especially due to drought and the shortage of water some growers now must irrigate. The strict rules find themselves changing, and the range of wines expanded.

Another aspect of climate change, because of the rising temperatures, England now has a decent wine industry and even the Nordic countries got into the game, and are gaining an audience.

Robinson reiterated that due to technology and science, there are no more faulty wines, all wines, in general, are now decent, so we should stop turning our noses up at some, and not be such snobs. Even India, China, Australia and Japan are making investments in their wine industries and Greece and Portugal are producing their own style of fresh wines, which are catching around the globe.

A successful vineyard today, understand that it must pay attention to the soil and take steps to regenerate it, improve the soil by adding organic matter. Some vineyards have introduced sheep to munch up on bad weed, and fertilize the plants. If we return nutrients to the soil, its fertility is increased, which makes for better wines.

Two last things.

Robinson believes that the corkscrew top is perfect and protects the wine inside the bottle even better than cork, that is faulty sometimes. But cork tree forests must be preserved, and that is why she is conflicted. Cork is good she says, as long as it doesn’t suffer from TCA, the musty wet dog odor, that spoils the sipping experience.

Last but not least: The bottle. The wine industry must come up with a lighter glass bottle, or an adequate alternative. And here Robinson spent considerable time listing the disadvantages of the conventional packaging, as far as transport, fragility and expense in production, with ultra-hot and pollutant furnaces making the glass.

As I said, there is a lot to learn about wine, fermented juice magic.

Bobby Holmes skillfully helped moderate the interactive session, and Reinier Maduro expertly co-hosted the tasting.

Book signing with Jancis Robinson.




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November 14, 2023
Rona Coster