Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Harvest a Month, That's All We Ask...

Today I am reminded of the story of a young consultant working for a large winery. The consultant comes running into the client's office saying that he has found a solution for the winery's underutilized asset base. "You're only putting wine through your crushing and pressing equipment one time each year! If you can just double that, you will be twice as profitable". This particular consultant is no longer in the wine industry, but his "genius" was simple not understood at the time........

Today's article in the New York Times provides a fascinating look at some recent vineyard developments in Brazil. Yes, that's correct, Brazil, the tropical one. Among the interesting tidbits, there's this nugget:

"....these companies are challenging the centuries-old dogma that viticulture is about terroir, the belief that a wine reflects the area where its grapes were produced, and temperate climes."

(France's official response: "Sacre bleu! They're onto us!")

While the ultimate proof will be in the Pinot, so to speak, its first of all great to see those who challenge the norm and strike out on their own. Sure, the purists will denigrate their efforts and even lovely Jancis doubts their success “I still find it hard to believe that new latitude wines will ever be seriously good” its hard to miss one key point.....multiple harvests!

That is why I'm reminded of the story of the consultant, he was just working in the wrong region. Had he been in Brazil instead of Napa, it would have worked nicely for him.

“We have around 50 lots of four hectares each and we have grapes growing all the time," Mr. Santos said. “That means we collect grapes two or three times in January, two or three times in February, two or three times in March and so on. The cycle is continuous.”

While I don't think that these kinds of grapes are going to threaten Caymus, it does make one wonder what will happen in the "plonk" sector of the world? Will the so-called "commodity" producers from North Africa to Chile to California's Central Valley be affected by this? If the cost of transportation doesn't rise sharply, I can't see how a region producing 4 or 5 crops won't be able to beat the cost structures of regions with just one. Further, with brands like Lindemann's going to global sourcing, one would think this would work well for them as well.

Austra-Brazilian Chardonnay anyone?



Anonymous old cellar hand said...

What sort of humidity are they dealing with? and insect pressures??

Those would probably be the defining factors in what they produce.
Also, what quality of fruit is produced when the vine is continuously growing? Our vines are through with the growth phase when we are picking, I wonder what the differences would be,,,,

Years ago, a pal of mine & I were discussing something like this: he had family in Puerto Rico with land and wondered if something would grow decently there. I've lost track of him over the last decade, and don't know if they ever tried it, but one of the positives about it was the fact they'd get to use the tanks multiple times a year.

they Say parts of India and Thailand are harvested at least twice a year - is there any winemaker there who can say what the quality is like?
Or does that Volcano Winery in Hawaii get two crops a year with the few vinifera vines they have planted?
That's the way to find out what Brazil might do to the wine.
(Winemaking style remaining the same that is)

May 16, 2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

At our restaurant we sell the RioSol wine from Brazil, because we think it's pretty delicious for the price. We sell it for around $21/bottle...I estimate it would be a $9-10 bottle in a wine store. In either instance, a good value. I'm not sure I prefer many Aussie or Argentine wines at that price point.

Plus, it's something different, which is neat.

May 19, 2007 8:43 AM  

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