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Faustini Wines Blog

Welcome to the Faustini Wines blog. Here you will find info on what's happening at the winery, our thoughts on winemaking, food, life, and wine industry news. Let us know if you want us to post on any topics.... 

You can also check out our event calendar here

Shannon Hurley
 
April 23, 2015 | Shannon Hurley

What is Terroir?

Many winemakers and sommeliers alike use the word “Terroir” pronounced “TARE-WHAr” lets find out the meaning behind this fancy wine word so you too can use it in everday wine conversation.

Terroir at a Glance

Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.  What is ‘terroir’ and how does it affect the taste of wine?

The basic idea is that some regions or vineyards have a quality that makes them special - so that if you took the same grape variety, followed the same winegrowing practices and winemaking practices but grew it anywhere else it would never taste quite the same. While this has somewhat to do with the 'earth' in terms of the soil composition, grade and exposure of the piece of land, terroir also encompasses the microclimate of that area and some other factors

Where Does the Word Come From?

‘Terroir’ is one of the most used but least understood wine words. A complicating factor in understanding terroir is that it is a French word (derived from “terre,” meaning land) Originally it was associated with earthy notes in many Old World wines. The recognition of terroir dates back to the ancient Greeks as they noticed wines made from the same grape variety exhibited different characteristics when grown in different regions. Over time, the more celebrated regions were held in higher acclaim based on the superiority of their wines.

The concept was eventually adopted in Burgundy by the religious orders that farmed the vineyards. It became the basis of France’s “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” (AOC) and subsequently all other appellation laws throughout the world including our AVA designations in the U.S.

Terroir is not what the grower and farmer do in (or to) the vineyard, but rather what the vineyard gives them in the most basic sense. In this respect a grapevine’s terroir is not unlike the geographic influences and surroundings we were exposed to in our childhood that were responsible for forming many of our individual traits and habits.

Nowadays, terroir is used to describe practically every wine region (e.g. Napa’s Terroir, Bordeaux’s Terroir etc..).

Napa’s Terroir

Great wines (and even lesser wines) are the product of their terroir. Throughout the Napa Valley we are the grateful beneficiaries of ideal climatic and soil conditions that lead to the production of world-class wines. But are all areas the same throughout the valley? Definitely not.

A closer look at the many different areas of the valley demonstrates the concept of terroir and its effect on the wines produced. We have more than 100 different soil types spanning the valley floor and surrounding hillsides. From the Mayacamas range in the west to the Vacas in the east, we can observe vastly different exposure patterns and geography that affect the entire wine growing season. From south to north on the valley floor and up to the mountain tops there are also wide variations in temperature and daylight hours.

All of these components of terroir are what makes Napa Valley unique and among the finest winegrowing areas in the world. The differences in terrior are endless and give all growers and vintners the ability to “quench their thirst” top quality fruit mirroring the vineyard to express its distinctive character in the wine, all with a broad choice of varietals and styles based on individual terroir for every occasion.

Time Posted: Apr 23, 2015 at 5:24 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
March 23, 2015 | Shannon Hurley

Chardonnay: The Versatile Grape

Chardonnay is the darling of white wines to many American palates. This grape and its wines are fashionable for many reasons: the name is easy to pronounce, and the wine is readily accessible and its, oak and fruit flavors make it stand out. Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the United States and it is enjoyed and admired globally.

Chardonnay was born in the Burgundy region of France, where it is known as White Burgundy, and it was there that the wine gained great acclaim for its elegance. Soon after Chardonnay’s rise in popularity, winemakers in Champagne began to grow the grape as well, using it as the dominant ingredient for their sparkling wines. While grown in the same country, the Chardonnay grapes took on a very different characteristic in Champagne than they had in Burgundy. Winemakers began to realize that the grape had a unique way for truly embodying “terroir” (that’s winespeak for the region and area where the wine is grown) No two places that grow Chardonnay produce the exact same wine, yet most regions find it is a relatively easy grape to grow. This discovery is what helped the grape quickly spread across the world.

As the grape spread, winemakers discovered that warm climates would produce a Chardonnay grape that was ripe and full of tropical flavors, while in cooler climates the grape had flavors of apple as well as earthy fall aromas such as mushrooms and the smell of fallen leaves. This worldwide variety allows Chardonnay to go extremely well on its own while sitting outside in the summer, or even on a cold winter’s night with a hearty stew. Chateau Montelena of Napa Valley even won against 9 other winemakers for their 1973 Chardonnay (half of them being French) at the Judgement of Paris a prestigious blind tasting competition, putting American Vineyards on the map.

So if Chardonnay is so versatile, then what has caused the wine to get a bad rap in recent years?  One word: oak. In addition to winemakers discovering how adaptive the grape was to different regions of the world, they also found that it was incredibly responsive to being aged in oak. Some oak on a Chardonnay is a very good thing — it creates the luscious mouthfeel we expect in a Burgundian Chardonnay, and gives us just a kiss of vanilla. The problem is, if the wine gets too much oak, bad things can happen.

In California during the ‘80s and ‘90s, winemakers, especially the mass market ones, started going oak crazy. Determining what they thought was Americans’ desire for oak, oak and more oak, they over-oaked the heck out of Chardonnay and created what came to be known as butter bombs, a white wine that literally tasted like liquid butter in a bottle. This turned many wine drinkers off and caused many to say they hated Chardonnay, but that should not be the case.

The practice of over-oaking Chardonnay has pretty much stopped worldwide, with most winemakers who now want their Chardonnay to spend a little time in oak reverting back to the heritage of the French Burgundian winemakers. Or chose to make an unoaked chardonnay similar to a wine coming from an area in France 80 miles of Burgundy known as Chablis. That being said, a good way to avoid the liquid butter wine is simply to avoid Chardonnay that is made by any of the worldwide mega-producers, who basically sell the stuff for under $10 a bottle, using the oak to mask the poor qualities of the fruit.

Faustini Wines has just released a new Chardonnay! This Chardonnay apart of our ever so popular “Play Date” collection is unoaked and has a simplistic texture with flavors ranging from citrus to mild tropical fruit accompanied by soft floral notes on the finish.

 Whether it be oaked or un-oaked Chardonnay that you choose to enjoy, when you have that perfect bottle you’ll understand what we mean by “Chardonnay bliss.”

Till next time Oneophiles… Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Time Posted: Mar 23, 2015 at 5:58 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
February 15, 2015 | Shannon Hurley

A Look at the Coravin System

 

We’ve had a lot of questions about “the fancy wine gadget” that pours wine from the bottle without removing the cork... (yes without removing the cork, I promise you we're not crazy) Without further ado here is an overview on the unique Coravin system.

The Coravin uses technology that keeps the cork in the bottle, where it’s been since the bottle was sealed. The capsules are filled with the purest Argon gas that has no effect on the taste of the wine and includes a cap that creates a perfect seal in the System. The gas is then pumped up through a needle and seals itself upon release. This allows you to pour glasses whenever you like, and know that instead of oxidizing, the remaining wine will continue to age naturally.

The Coravin System was inspired founder Greg Lambrecht’s love of wine and the never-ending discovery in taste and aroma that it provides. His dream was to magically pour wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork so the remaining wine could then go back in the cellar to be enjoyed whenever he desired at a later date. What followed was a decade of development and testing until he had a system that left the cork in place, but still delivered great glasses of wine, indistinguishable from untouched bottles.

Today Faustini Wines is proud to serve our wines using the Coravin system. As a Wine Ambassador, the Coravin system allows me to serve each guest like they were all getting the first sip of a new bottle. It retains the superb quality of the wine and enables you to store it for long periods of time. It is a great tool that has really been a game changer benefitting consumers and restaurant professionals alike.

Time Posted: Feb 15, 2015 at 12:57 PM
Shannon Hurley
 
January 15, 2015 | Shannon Hurley

How to Pair Wine & Chocolate

Both wine and chocolate can be very complex on their own, so let’s keep it simple with three basics. The wine you select must be perceived as sweeter than the chocolate. Since chocolate coats your mouth when you eat it, you’ll need a wine that’s big enough to cut through its richness. Try looking for flavors in both that have some similarities to one another.

 

Pairing with Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate, which contains a small amount of cacao, is the sweetest of the real chocolates with its high sugar content. Remember rule one and choose a sweeter wine than chocolate, or the pairing might leave your mouth tasting like a rubber band. For milk chocolate, your best match might me be he perfect bottle of Pinot Noir, but other suggestions can include a Cream Sherry, Tawny Port, Rutherglen Muscat.

Pairing with Semisweet Chocolate

Chocolate that contains about 50 to 70 percent cacao is known as semisweet, the sweetest of the dark chocolates. With tones that are nutty, spicy, or earthy, semisweet dark chocolate has a balanced and less sweet aftertaste than milk or white chocolate. A Cabernet or Bordeaux will tend to bring out any fruity or peppery tones in the chocolate, while a ruby port is also considered a classic pairing with semisweet chocolate.

Pairing with Bittersweet Chocolate

The richest, most intensely flavored chocolates are known as the bittersweet darks, which contain the least amount of sugar, and the greatest amount of cacao – anywhere from about 71 and 100 percent. Their bitter, roasted flavoring is so intense, that it really needs a strong red wine to balance the taste. Our friends Poco Dolce make a lot of delicious bittersweet tiles & bars topped with earl gray sea salt. You can find them in The Tasting Room.  

Cabs and Malbecs are ideal bittersweet dark, but you might also find an Australian Shiraz or a Spanish Grenache to be a suitable companion. Since these chocolates are the least sweet, your pallet of appropriate pairings is much wider, meaning you can also experiment with many of the sweeter wines like a Port and Moscato.

Time for Tasting

Once you’ve got a great pairing, it’s nothing but bliss. Start by tasting the wine, allowing its flavors to fully saturate your mouth. Then take a bite of the chocolate, letting it slowly melt on your tongue. Sip the wine once again, and you might never consider having one without the other ever again.

Till next time Oneophiles…

Cheers!

Time Posted: Jan 15, 2015 at 6:27 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
December 15, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

How to Properly Pair Wine With Food

Pairing a wine with the correct food, you may think that this a tricky subject that only the sommelier can tell you but the truth is its fairly simple. When it comes to food and wine pairing, you need to know that food changes the way the wine tastes and vice versa. When improperly paired you can create undesirable reactions through the wrong pairings, but if you pair correctly, then you open a new world of amazing flavor.

First things first, it’s important to understand the fact that different people have different sensitivities when it comes to identifying aromas and flavors. Some may really enjoy tartness for example, whereas some may not.  Always take into account the preferences of whom you are serving for, combine that knowledge with the general rules to food and wine pairing and you’ll be golden.

FLAVORS & TEXTURES

 Sweetness: High amounts of sugar in your dish will make a wine taste more bitter and acidic, and lose its fruity flavors. This will often make the wine taste bland and boring. Always select a wine with a higher level of sweetness (or at least as much sugar) than the dish so the flavors complement each other instead of fighting against each other. If the wine is less sweet than the food it’s matched with, it will tend to taste bitter and tart. This is why a Port wine is perfect with dessert.

Salt: Salt gives the wine more body while reducing the acidity levels, it’s pretty wine friendly. The classic one to remember is seafood in this instance. Go for a nice crisp white, like a Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid pairing big bold reds with a delicate piece of seabass -this will knock the flavors and you won’t be able to taste the wine either.

Acidity: The opposite to sweetness in every way - in food this is things like lemon juice. It takes away some of the wine’s acidity while increasing its fruitiness and body.  You just need to get the balance right for this one. For highly acidic foods go for a wine with a high acid, and vice versa. If you had a wine that was low in acidity with a food that was high in acidity, the wine would feel flabby and sad. Try to match the weight of the meal with the weight of the wine too, so oily fish such as smoked salmon will work better with whites and Champagne, and heavy oily dishes such as lasagna work better with reds that have a good level of acidity. A wine should have higher acidity than the food it’s matched with otherwise it will taste dull.

Spice: Everyone tolerance is different when it comes to spice (always taste your chilies before you cook with them to test the heat).  Some people enjoy the heat, some don’t. A thing to remember is that the higher the alcohol content, the more intense the heat sensation becomes and vice versa.

If you enjoy this, get a 15% alcohol red. If you don’t then it’s just trial and error until you find the right alcohol content that matches your palate. A good example of a solid wine choice for spicy food is either a Sauvignon Blanc, due its acidic flavors lifting the spices or a Moscato, which is aromatic and compliments many spices. If you want red, go light. Avoid heavy oak flavors too. Heavier wines can overpower the spices, so be careful with that.

Bitterness: Foods that are naturally bitter tend to increase a wines bitterness as well. Again, this does change from person to person. Tannins add to a wine’s bitter flavor and acidity making it drier and bite the gums. They are more commonly found in red wines and the odd white depending on what it has been aged in. Tannins naturally occur in wood as well as fruit skins and leaves. For example an oak aged wine will tend to have a higher tannic level. Since our tastebuds are very sensitive to bitterness, it’s important to pay special attention to not pair bitter food and high tannin wine. If you want to pair a high tannin wine, look to foods with fat, and salt for balance. As a general rule, the more textured or fatty the meal, the more tannin you need. Steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec is a great example here.

The number one guideline is to bring out the best characteristics of a wine. A high tannin red wine will taste like sweet cherries when paired with the right dish. Focus on the characteristics that you want to champion and make sure that the wine will shine instead of fighting against the food.

Till next time oneophiles...Cheers!

 

 

Time Posted: Dec 15, 2014 at 6:52 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
November 14, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

Wine Storage Tips & Tricks

So you picked up some wine that you’re not planning on drinking right away (some people may completely object to this) Now the question is how exactly do you store it to maintain the best quality?

First off, it’s valuable to know that not all wines on the market actually benefit from long-term aging. Most wines are best enjoyed within a few years of their release. If you’re looking to buy wines to age, you should really consider investing in a wine storage system—a totally different ballgame.

If that’s not something you see yourself doing, following a few simple tips should keep your wines safe until you’re ready to uncork and drink them.

Found a Cool Wine? Keep it in a Cool Place

Heat is the mortal enemy of wine. Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine more quickly and in the end you will have a wine that isn’t very desirable to your palate. And if the temp rises even hotter, your wine may get “cooked,” resulting in dead aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F (55° F is often known as perfect), though this isn’t an exact science. If your storage runs a couple degree or two warmer or cooler, it shouldn’t affect the wine too much as long as you’re opening the bottles within a few years from their release.

Keeping wines in your refrigerator is ok for up to a couple months, but it’s not your best bet for the longer term. The average fridge temp usually falls well below 45° F to safely store perishable foods. The lack of moisture inside your refrigerator could eventually dry out corks, which might allow air to get into the bottles and damage the wine. Also, it is important not to keep your wine somewhere it could freeze (unheated garage in winter, forgotten for hours in the freezer). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork completely out… a scary situation.

Lights Out!

Light, especially sunlight, can pose a potential problem for long-term wine storage. The sun’s UV rays can damage and prematurely age wine. Have you ever wondered why many vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re like sunglasses for wine and help with the wines protection. Light from household bulbs probably won’t damage the wine itself, but can fade your labels in the long run and i’m sure you want to know what you’re drinking. Incandescent bulbs may be a little bit safer than fluorescent bulbs, but all in all it’s best to keep your wine in the dark.

Sideways, Not Just a Movie

Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically keeps the cork from drying out. The cork keeps its size and so maintains a tight seal against the outside air. The only air that gets in is through the small pores in the cork–the perfect amount to age the wine well. If you’re planning on drinking these bottles in the near- to mid-term, or if the bottles have alternative closures (screw caps, glass or plastic corks), this is not necessary.

Rack Those Bottles Up

If you haven’t been blessed with a cool (not too damp) basement that can double as a cellar, you can always improvise with some simple racks in a safe place. Rule out your kitchen, laundry room or anywhere else hot temperatures could affect your wines, and look for a location not directly in line with light pouring in from a window.

If you can, find some type of empty storage area that could be utilized for storing wine. If you have a dark, stable space that’s not too damp or dry, but it is too warm, you might consider investing in a small temperate controlled unit specifically designed for wine. There are some inexpensive systems for small spaces. Remember though if you do decide to buy one of these systems, you will probably end up filling it sooner then you expected so make sure you think hard about which system you would like to buy. Once you’ve started collecting wines to drink later, it can be hard to stop.

If you have questions whether it be Faustini wines or others feel free to ask questions! Wineries, wine merchants, sommeliers or even avid wine connoisseurs generally know what works best when it comes to wine storage and may even give you some tricks of their own.

 

Till next time oneophiles… Cheers!

Time Posted: Nov 14, 2014 at 7:13 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
September 19, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

Battle of the

What exactly is the difference between French oak and American Oak? It’s one of the more common questions people ask us in the tasting room today, and it’s one of the most debated questions in the wine industry; French Oak vs. American Oak, what’s the story?

The difference is in the actual oak species.  American barrels are made from White Oak. The physical properties of the wood allow it to impart a lot of flavor quickly so sometimes there’s a greater risk of “over-oaking” the wine. American oak barrels are also constructed using a different drying technique than the French oak barrels.  American oak barrels are dried using a kiln-dry method, which allows a quicker release of the aromas to the wine, resulting in a shorter contact period of about six to ten months. This method also gives off more sweetness in the wines as well as more vanilla notes.

Most of the French oak barrels comes from one of five forests and the species of oak also depends on the forest it is coming from. The main forests located in central France are the Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Tronçais and Vosges, and each is considered to have its own distinctive characteristics. In these regions of France, the oak pieces are allowed to dry in open air and age for twenty-four to thirty-six months, which can give the barrels a tighter grain restricting air entrance through the pores, giving French oaked wines less contact with oxygen. Therefore French oak barrels are more porous and they often have to be topped off. Due to the organic makeup of French oak, wine stored inside these barrels tends to develop a higher tannin content over time.

In terms of flavor, most winemaker and experts agree that American oak possesses a unique combination of sweetness, nutmeg, clove, cedar and vanilla. Depending on the particular type of wine being stored, using an American oak barrel can really enhance its flavors to achieve superb drinking experience. The flavor offered by French oak wine barrels varies because of the many different barrels, but some of the most commonly reported flavor hints include butterscotch, cedar, vanilla, and coconut, along with a general creamy texture. The heavier flavors combined with an increased tannin content are ideal for full-bodies wine varieties.

Some winemakers strictly only use one type of oak, this does not necessarily mean that one type of oak is better than the other. We have to remember that wine making is an art, so it all comes down to what the winemakers style is and what they want their final result to be as each type of barrel can give the wine different characteristics. In some cases you will find winemakers using both American and French oak in order to gain a bit of both complexities from the different oaks. In the wine producing world it comes down to what the winemaker is looking for in his or her final product: which flavors and aromas they desire in the wine? Do they want to have a more complex wine? How long will they age that wine in the oak barrels and which type will they use?  There are many factors that can come into play when the oak process occurs, but without the oaks characteristics some wines would just be a boring and a some even too harsh.  Whether a wine is French oak aged or American oak aged, they will still be a wine waiting to share their story.

Till next time oenophiles…Cheers!

 

Time Posted: Sep 19, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
August 13, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

Sweet Spot: Moscato

Wine is just like fashion, there are times when a trend seems to come out of nowhere and take the country by storm. One day you’ve never heard of a particular type or variety of wine; the next, it’s all the rage everywhere. People are talking about it, it’s served at parties, dinners, you name it! Today the current darling of the wine world: Moscato. In the past few years this fruity, light-bodied, perfumed wine made from none other than the Muscat grape has gained a huge crowd. A favorite among the younger generation known as the Millennials, and people who enjoy a sweeter style wine, in 2012 alone the sales of Moscato in the U.S. grew by nearly 70% and is still growing today.

Muscat is an ancient grape variety that has been planted in almost every wine region all over the world. It is primarily used to produce sweet wines, especially dessert wines. It has been mutated many times and forms a family of five main related varieties. The most common is “Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains” (white muscat with small berries) which is the main grape variety used in the production of the popular Italian sparkling wine Asti made in the Piedmonte region. It is also used in the production of many of the French fortified wines such as famous “Beaumes de Venise” from the Rhone Valley.  Muscat of Alexandria is another Muscat variety found in Spain where it is used to make many of the fortified Spanish sweet Moscatels. Elsewhere it is used to make off-dry to sweet white wines, often labeled as Moscato in Australia, California and South Africa. In Alsace, Croatia & Serbia “Muscat Ottonel” is used to produce usually dry and highly perfumed wines.

Who knew there were so many different wines coming from the Muscat grape? Lets just stick to our homeland for now….

 In the middle of the 20th century, the wines made from California’s Muscat grapes were primarily sweet: thick, syrupy and even a little bit Port-like. When sweet wines went out of style and other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay became popular, many Muscat vineyards were pulled out to make room for new plantings. But some farmers, primarily in the Central California growing region, continued to grow small amounts of the variety. With a warm-to-hot climate and relatively deep, fertile soils, these inland growing regions are known for high quality Muscat, a vigorous variety known for its relatively high yields. In fact, Muscat vines can set so much fruit particularly when they’re young, that the grapes can actually weigh the vines down to the point of breaking so they always have to be closely watched. Winemakers, who valued the grape for its intense, floral aromatics, used (and still use) Muscat as a “blender,” adding small amounts to both white and red wines to give them more pronounced flavor and character.

All Muscats share a characteristic powerful floral aroma profile with sweet notes. Dessert Muscats primarily from southern France, Rutherglen Australia or southern Spain have carmelized sugar or toffee aromas. While the light sparkling Asti of Northeastern Italy has a subtle sweet everessence. California Muscats are often considered off dry in terms of sweetness. They have a little bit of sweetness to them, but will never be too overpowering.

Faustini Facts:

2012 Play Date Moscato

The fruit from this wine comes directly from the Coombsville AVA where the winery is located. The wine has also been stainless steel aged for 12 months.

Color: Pale gold

Aroma: Golden apple, honeysuckle, gooseberry

Sweetness: off-dry

Flavor: honeydew melon, white blossom, jasmine

 

Sometimes everyone needs a little pick me up and Moscato does just that. Each winery is doing something a little different with the grape, giving consumers a range of styles to choose from. On a hot summer day, a cool, refreshing class of sparkling Moscato is as good as it gets.

Till next time oenophiles, cheers!

 

By, Shannon Hurley

Wine Ambassador

 

 

 

Time Posted: Aug 13, 2014 at 8:14 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
July 14, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

Behind The Bubbles- The Truth on Sparkling Wine

Just hearing the word Champagne brings up images of popping corks with grand celebrations and parties like no other. Did you know that these famous bubbles were actually an accident? At the age of 29, monk Dom Perignon was appointed manager of Champagne's Abbey at Hautvillers. Realizing that the financial health and reputation of the monastery was tied to its vineyards, the monk set to work taking care of the beaten-down vines and reconstructing the cellar. In almost no time, the Hautvillers vineyard was up and running.

Nowadays, many people credit the famous monk with inventing champagne by forcing bubbles into sweet wine. That's a myth, though!! In Dom Perignon's day, bubbles in wine were actually considered to be a serious wine FLAW!  He spent more time trying to prevent them from happening. While he never succeeded on that front, he did succeed in making bubbly wine a whole lot better. For starters, he was the first winemaker in Champagne to use corks, which kept the carbon dioxide from escaping, thus creating the bubbles.  Champagne made still wine but the regions cooler temperatures would halt fermentation while there were still leftover yeast and sugar. When temperatures warmed up secondary fermentation occurred in whatever vessel the wine was stored in, producing more alcohol and bubbles. Eventually people began developing a taste for bubbles and the practice of making the sparkling was perfected. Dom also used a process of gently pressing his grapes, so that it eliminated the dark color that came from the skins. This produced a clearer, less murky looking wine. He even blended his grapes to make a light white wine, which suited the fizziness far better than the heavy red. Legend has it that upon first tasting his vastly improved beverage, Dom exclaimed the now famous quote "Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!"

Luckily enough I’ve had the experience of visiting the cellars of Dom Perignon and Moët & Chandon last summer through school. In the heart of beautiful Epernay, (almost like a playground for sparkling lovers) I was able to taste some truly gorgeous champagnes, and learn more about the rich history of champagne making in the process. The chalk limestone crayéres (caves) of the Moet champagne house stretch for about 17 miles. The area is vast and the perfect place for millions of bottles of champagne to age quietly for years.

In order to understand our American sparkling wines, you need to understand the basics of Champagne which serves as the model for most new world sparkling wines.  An important fact: ONLY wines that originate from Champagne, France can officially use the term Champagne. All other wines with bubbles are simply called sparkling wines. 

The three most common grapes that are used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Most American sparklers concentrate on making wines from the first two. Chardonnay adds elegance; Pinot Noir adds power and fruitiness. Once the still wines are blended a secondary fermentation is induced by the addition of sugar and yeast to create the bubbles that make these wines so special.    

Our sparkling wine Velvet & Vinyl is produced in the Méthode Champenoise style and is made from the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. A few years ago Anthony and Michelle Faustini did an interview with Fox news on their wines. Afterwards they decided to go out and celebrate the occasion by ordering a La Grande Dame champagne. Anthony was wearing a velvet vest that night. Michelle brought up that he’s come a long way from spinning vinyl (he used to be a DJ) to wearing velvet. And so the idea of producing a sparkling wine named Velvet and Vinyl was born.

 

Faustini Facts:

Nose: Citrus, pear and elderflower

Palate: Hints of fresh baked brioche, crisp golden apple, tiny delicate bubbles.

Food Pairing: this is a dry sparkling, the acidity and bubbles make it a great paring for salty dishes like oysters, grilled shrimp or fish tacos

 

Now you know the real deal behind those bubbles and hopefully you too will be able to "taste the stars". Till next time oneophiles...  Cheers!

 

By, Shannon Hurley

Wine Ambassador

Time Posted: Jul 14, 2014 at 9:14 AM
Shannon Hurley
 
June 24, 2014 | Shannon Hurley

How Wine is Made- WHITE EDITION

     Ever wonder what really goes into making an amazing wine? Here is the inside scoop on one of the longest traditions in history. No we’re not talking about drinking wine, we’re talking about the art of handcrafting beautiful vino! This tradition has been passed down from generation all over the world, each culture having their own unique methods and practices for producing their best. The spotlight today is on producing white wine. Most white wines are made to show off their light, delicate floral and fruit aromas but some are intended as more full-bodied wines that can accompany a relatively hearty meal and will gain a complexity of character over a few years of maturation.

In general it is vital to begin the winemaking process as soon as possible after the harvest. Once the grapes are picked they immediately begin to degrade and oxidation begins. To minimize these effects the grapes are typically kept cool and covered, sulfur may be added as a preservative and they are taken to the process facility.

Sorting

The first step in the winemaking process is sorting. This is where leaves and other debris, underripe bunches and damaged grapes can be pulled out before processing begins. This is usually a manual job but can also be mechanized. The more rigorous the selection the higher the production process can be. Therefore it is mostly used in the process of high end wines.

Crushing and Destemming

White wine can be made with either white or red grapes. The grapes are sent through a crusher -destemmer machine. This piece of equipment is designed to break open the berries and release the juice, at the same time the grapes are separated from the stem structure of the bunch. The major difference between white and red wine is that white wines are fermented without the grape skins. First the grapes are pressed off the skins and the sweet grape juice is collected in vats to be fermented into wine.

Pressing

When making a white wine, contact between the skins and the juice is usually minimized (this helps the wine maintain its light color). The fresh grapes are poured into a machine called a press as soon as possible to separate the solids from the juice. By this point the movement of the grapes since harvest has already caused many of the berries to burst open, so a large amount of juice drains out from the press. This is known as the “free run” and is considered to be the juice of the highest quality, rich in sugar and low in tannin. After the free run has been collected, the grapes are subjected to one or more pressings to extract the remaining liquid.

Fermentation

White wines are typically fermented at much cooler temperatures (45-60 degrees). This is to preserve the fresh fruity flavors and aromas. If the temperature gets too high, these fruity and floral aromas can disappear into bitter tasting “cooked” flavors (nobody wants that!). The higher the sugar content of the juice the higher the resulting alcohol level will be. White wines are also much more susceptible to discoloration (e.g. turn deep gold-brown) and don’t commonly cellar as long as red wines do.  So with that being said temperature control is one of the most crucial parts of the winemakers’ job.

*FUNFACT*

After the wine is fermented, some wines can go through an additional fermentation called Malo-Lactic Fermentation (known in the wine biz as MLF) this will increase the texture of white wine to more of a creamy viscous liquid. MLF alters the type of acid in a wine fronm tartic (like the type of acid you taste in an apple) to malic (the type of acid you taste in milk).

Filtering

After a full course of clarification, a white wine will become sparkling clear and bright and should have no sediment in the bottle.

Cold Stablization

White wines are loaded with tartaric acid. This acid is a major component of wine and is not something that can or should be filtered out during the process. In order to keep this acid the way it should most wines are “cold stabilized” meaning they are chilled at 25 degrees for one to three weeks then racked up so tartaric crystals are not found in the wine.

Bottling

The last step is bottling the finished wine. The bottling line typically receives empty bottles at one end, fills them with wine, corks them, installs a capsule over the bottles necks, labels them and packages them in boxes. Each step can be automated or done manually. From there the wine is stored in the warehouse until ready for shipment.

 

 

Hopefully you enjoyed learning about what goes into producing a white wine. Whether it’s a Beach House Number #34 Sauvignon Blanc, Play Date Moscato or any of your other favorite whites, next time you’re sippin’ remember the tradition lies within the bottle!

Till next time oneophiles…Cheers!! (Insert glass of Beach House)

 

By, Shannon Hurley

Wine Ambassador

 

 
Resources: Society of Wine Educators & Wine Folly

 

 

Time Posted: Jun 24, 2014 at 8:33 AM