Littorai Last week I checked in on the new winery being built on Ted
Lemon’s estate in the Sebastopol Hills. Ted Lemon’s commitment to sustainable
farming has been brought to the construction of his new winery. Phase
one is a straw bale building (9,000 case permit) built on two levels on the
side of a hill and phase two will be 5,000 sq ft of underground caves. The
facility is designed for solar power and to maximize energy efficiency.
Winery water will be reclaimed through an innovative constructed wetlands
treatment system and the water will be re-used for vineyard and farm irrigation.
Expected date of completion of the building is August, 2008, after which tours will be available
by appointment and wine order pick up will be offered as an option at the winery. Beginning with the
2008 vintage, 90% of Littorai’s vineyard sources will be farmed using only organically certified materials,
54% will be farmed biodynamically, and 39% will be estate production.
Climate Change & Wine Conference Attended by 350 people from 36 countries, this conference
concluded last week in Barcelona, Spain. As reported in the Los Angeles Times (February 20,
2008), there is general consensus in the international wine industry that climate changes are occurring
(an average temperature increase of 2 to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit is predicted by 2100). It is projected
that California’s Central Valley may eventually not be a viable wine grape growing region, with most
of the prime growing areas clustered in California’s northern and southern coastal zones. Burgundy
vintages will be more reliably ripe and Germany and England are expected to have a notable increase
in plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Denmark, Belgium and parts of Central Europe will become
new wine growing regions. Down under, Tasmania and New Zealand should be well suited to
the warming climate. I recently wrote about global warming effects on viticulture, implying that the
problem was largely “human caused.” One of my readers, Jay Caplan, a scientist, pointed out that although
warming will change the type of grape varietals grown in many regions, the causation of global
warming is considered by many in the scientific community to be a sun caused event due to the evolving
nature of the sun spot cycle. The sun is actually heating up (burning more brightly than at any time
during the past 1,000 years) resulting in warming of all of the planets in the solar system. 10,000 scientists
have signed a petition concerning the lack of human causation of global warming. Reducing carbon
emissions may actually be harmful, leading to higher costs with no beneficial results. Caplan
points out that, “Carbon dioxide is an aerial fertilizer for plants, and higher levels make for more food
and fiber production, reducing famine and allowing a higher population on the planet, a second gift
from the buried carbon deposits in addition to energy.”
Lost Tasting Notes Recovered I had misplaced my tasting notes on Roco and Privé Pinot Noirs
for the recent Oregon issue (Volume 6, Issue 52). I came across them recently and here they are.
2005 ROCO Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40, screw cap. A blend of several Willamette
Valley Vineyards, including the winemaker’s own Wit’s End Vineyard. The thunderbird image on the
label is derived from a petroglyph discovered in the Columbia River Gorge. On the label: “We believe
the wine speaks for itself. Wine is a revelator.”
Fairly light in color. Lovely red cherry and allspice
aromas. Very soft and elegant redder fruits with a raspberry kiss on the lingering finish. A very
feminine and sexy Pinot Noir that is perfectly crafted and in one word, superb.
2005 Privée Le Nord Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc.. 20 year-old vines, Pommard
clones, on a moderately slopping southwest facing hillside. True artisan winegrowing.
core of intense black cherries. Pomegranate, cardamom spice and oak add interest. Plenty of forest
floor, earthy overtones making this more terroir- than fruit-driven as in previous vintages. Impeccably
balanced and a treat to drink.
2005 ROCO Private Stash Number Three Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 100 cases, $70,
screw cap. Third vintage, all from estate grown fruit at Wit’s End Vineyard.
The aromatics are stunning
with perfectly spiced cherry fruit. Similar to the wine above but a little deeper and earthier and more
ramped-up fruit flavors. The tannins are gossamer, the acidity is perfectly integrated, and the texture is mouth coating and silky. In two words, more superb.
Turnkey Pinot Noir Wineries for Sale (1) 3,250 sq ft winery/warehouse/tasting room, 5,000
case bonded winery, 2,500 sq ft storage building, crush pad, 26 acres of premium Sonoma Coast Pinot
Noir planted in 1999, 30+ total acres, 4.17 tons per acre yield in 2007, guest house at 3066 Adobe
Road, Petaluma, CA (Flying Rooster Ranch). Owner Dennis De La Montanya may assist and advise
buyer after purchase. $4,395,000. WineryX Real Estate - 707-968-9100 (Katie Somple). (2) The Rutz
Cellars. 5,000 sq ft cave winery on 4.25 acres in Sebastopol, 10,000 case winery permit, private setting
with views overlooking vineyards, valley and mountains. $2,450,000. Pacific Union Real Estate - 707-
529-6225 (Jeff Bounsall).
Pinot Noir Summit The 6th Annual Pinot Noir Summit will be held on March 2, 2008 at Fr. Mason
in San Francisco from 12:00-7:30. 267 wines were entered in the competition and the final 40 will be
available for blind tasting by the public. The public’s scores will be compared to the wine panel
scores (the panel included myself) in an award ceremony. After an unveiling of the wines, attendees
will be able to meet and talk with the winemakers for the 40 winery finalists. Seminars on Pinot Noir
will also be offered. I am moderating a panel titled “Discovering New Pinot Noir Producers.” Participating
wineries include RN Estate, Three Sticks Winery, Kutch Wines, and B Vineyards & Habitat.
Register online at www.affairsofthevine.com. Cost is $135 pp, but bring a friend, use my password-
“insider”, and receive two tickets for $170.
Burgundy Bad Boys According to decanter.com (January 24, 2008), the French have banned an
advertising campaign from Burgundy because of its implication that wine drinking increases sexual
attraction (duh, isn’t that common knowledge?). The Evin Law of 1991 in France says that ads must
only inform and cannot use words like ‘seduce’ or anything that suggests wine can be sexually seductive.
The Burgundian wine trade body (BIVB) had released an ad showing the curvaceous outline of a
beautiful woman in an evening dress of flowing wine. Those French need to lighten up!
Treviso Objects to Paris Hilton Ads While you are “in the mood,” here is another report regarding
offending ads that portray wine as sexy. Rich Prosecco, which comes in cans, has raised the
ire of the wine growers association of Treviso, the northern Italian city in the Veneto region where
Prosecco originates. Hilton is pictured in various high-heeled stages of undress in ads for Rich
Prosecco. A spokesperson in Traviso said, “Paris Hilton is sensationalism. It’s not good. It’s not adequate
for Prosecco.” (from reuters.com, January 11, 2008).
Biodynamic Wineries Jack Everitt (Fork & Bottle, Santa Rosa, California) has compiled an accurate
list of biodynamic wineries in the world. See the list at www.forkandbottle.com/wine/biodynamic_producers.htm.
Doug Cook, a former search engineer at Inktomi and
Yahoo, has developed a wine search engine - Able Grape. The site,
is currently a beta test version consisting of
over 10 million pages. It was developed as an up-to-date online
source for wine, enology and viticulture information. Its advantage is
that it provides a short path to the most useful information and was designed by a wine geek (Cook is
currently studying in the Masters of Wine program).