Thursday, April 30, 2009

Add another voice to the lists!

I'll reprint his comment here, as it bears repetition well:
"Stuart Smith recently wrote a great letter to the editor (of the Chronicle?) responding to the Dolan-Benziger school of non-stop BD promotion, practiced with nothing but anecdotal claims of efficacy, and plenty of marketing hype. As Stu pointed out the problem with the BD promoters is that it puts the rest of us at a competitive disadvantage. There are a few accounts that won't buy anything but organic and BD wines. Those of us who are more concerned with making delicious, well-made wines are fortunate, so far, in that most people care most about wine quality, not BD hokum.

When you look deeper into BD, beyond what the winery proponents choose to talk about, you find some truly wacky stuff, as if the common BD practices aren't enough already. Steiner was a paranormal fancier and clairvoyant. There are lots of spirits of various kinds. There are sylphs and fairies that move light and water into the plant and gnomes in the earth that tell the roots and worms what to do --- I'll bet there wasn't much about that at the seminar!

Careful, minimal input viticulture ought to be the standard, but the antiscientific-religio-cultish stuff at the heart of BD will eventually send it back where it belongs .... I hope."
I'll add a quick HALLELUJAH!, and use this post as a PUBLIC CALL TO ARMS for those responsible winemakers out in the field to publicly join the crusade against this modern-day mumbo-jumbo! Make yourselves heard!!
Join the Zinquisition!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Distilling a 'Why Biodynamic" conversation

Well, I did go to the "Why Biodynamic?" conversation at the Sonoma County Day School last Friday eve. Mrs Johnson and I both went, and though the proceeds were to benefit the Sonoma County Wine Library, I'm glad we each saved $5 by buying our tickets beforehand.
I'll post some highlights in a moment, but I must say I was disappointed the Q&A section was so short that it only allowed for 3 questions to be put to the panel. They were [Thank God!] skeptical in nature...
For the introduction: I'll thank Jeff Cox for his observations, but I have to point out that gravity is NOT an invisible force. (Cox dropped his glasses case from one hand to the other to demonstrate that not all forces were "seen".) We can see and demonstrate its effects, and can predict how it acts. You are correct, it is not VISIBLE (we don't see strings pulling objects toward the Earth or Moon, but that's not the same thing), and the fact that we can't SEE it does not imply that other unseen and yet un-demonstrable forces exist.
Also -and this is important- the Moon DOES NOT influence when women menstruate. This has been proven incorrect time and time again, and Mrs. Johnson would like me to let you know that if what you implied WAS true, then women -as a group- would all menstruate at relatively the same time in the lunar cycle, which she can personally attest to that they don't. She further wanted me to mention that there is only one planet that all the women live upon, and there is but one moon to influence them all, so the assertion implies that women should be in "synchronicity" of some sort. They are not.
Period. [pun intended!]

Alan York  
BioD since 1971, never farmed Organic –went straight into biod, Louisianan good ol’ boy

- Old Yeller & Agriculture course were the only two books he’d read at the time (funny, but hard to believe that’s true)

- Read Agriculture, but didn’t understand anything that Steiner had said…

- Very entertaining! I'd love to talk with the man over some period of time, maybe 1 of the dozen people I’d pick to be stranded with on an island for a week (reminded me of Gilligan – not in an inept way, but too much of the folksy-ness would get to be a real drag)

- We don’t “grow” anything, the plants grow themselves, we just create environments for plants to grow to their potential. We are co-creators with nature, not destroyers.

- biodynamics is an art, not a scientific venue [sadly this seems to be lost on the practitioners who later assert that it IS scientifically proven or provable...]

- Farmers should try to foster a “closed system” [qoutation marks are his, not mine], though that’s not fully possible, to avoid destroying one portion of nature in favor of another

- waste stream becomes fertility stream w/ composting

- DIVERSITY of plants and organisms is the indicator of success and fertility, so don’t focus on just one organism

- Goal of biod is “diversity”, conventional agriculture goal is simplification by removing unwanted organisms [“reductionist”]

- Agriculture removes more than just minerals: life forces & soul forces, which must then be replenished into the environment [interesting, and yet unproven theory of BioD, upon which I'd say most of the conflict with non-believers stems from]

- Cosmic Hierarchy: physical sphere (represented by minerals) – life sphere (plant life) – soul sphere (animals) – spiritual sphere (humans)

Paul Dolan  
Organic for many years, recently has converted to biodynamic, sons still somewhat skeptical [thank God again!].

- Read AG course & didn’t understand it either (like York) but had York as a guide to help him through it (fallacy of blind leading the blind?)

- Don’t feed the plants: feed the soil, or better yet feed the environment, and life will flourish

- Create bug highways for beneficial insects to control the bad bugs

- [after Q from Cox RE “we are part of nature…why don’t we trust it, why don’t we trust preps (witchcraft, voodoo)"] “…we nicknamed the system “moo-joo”…”

- [Cox: vortex is recurrent form in nature: water going down the drain to tornadoes, to galaxies. Shape focuses forces into the center of the form…] Dynamization is process to bring the ethereal forces into the material realm using this recurring natural pattern.

- Dynamization by hand is best, but “flow form” is used to create same effect [this is where the practitioner creates a sculpture like a waterfall, where the water is theoretically mixed continuously in each successive pool...and thus "imprinted" with the desired cosmic energies...]

- Captured rainwater is used for the preps, passes thru flow-form first. Groundwater has mineral components which are “imprinted” with the site already and is considered inferior.

- Cow horns used because they follow the vortex form…manure from female lactating cow (!) is collected for the process [Dolan buys organic manure from outside his farm to use for this process]

- Homeopathic doses used [must be powerful stuff! or maybe it doesn't make a difference that you're using so little because it has no effect anyway!]…manure formula benefits “life force” (microbial life)

- silica formula promotes qualitative “soul force” and governs aromas, flavors, colors, etc., [supposedly] everything that we associate with quality.

- Difficult to attribute qualities to the compost preps… [“weenus” factor in play, wussed-out answer, maybe they don’t exist and that's why this is difficult?]

- Organic cert vs. Biod cert: Biod is also yearly independent party inspected [biod is not so much policing as “counseling”, he says, but that raises some interesting questions whether practitioners are held to the same standards all over the place]

- 10% of area on farm might be left fallow to avoid monoculture (doesn’t need to be “natural” just different than the main crop)

Terroir? Freshness factor brought up as possible explanation for better tasting produce. No further discussion on that point.

Okay! Now on to the questions that were asked....

Q does BD rid you of phylloxera, Pierce’s, etc?

Dolan: We were ORGANIC back in the 90’s while there was Phylloxera outbreak, and many neighbors had to tear out their AXR-1 rootstocks. Bonterra didn’t have to. Overall health seems to have been better, more resistant to those pressures…while a few vines were affected, it wasn’t widespread swaths like the conventional farmers were being hit with. It seemed to be weaker individual vines. We did have hoppers and mites when we changed over. to biodynamic, but they seem to have reached a balance with our beneficials and we don't have a problem now.
[Currently he doesn't have an example of BioD defeating pests like the Q asks...]

Q is there a commercial aspect to this practice?

A [Dolan passes to York] [pause] Yes, we are in business (dead silence from the audience), and we need to continue to make a profit like all businesses.

Q I have chickens, and have been organic for many years, but no cow. Can I be BioD?

A if you aren’t using the preps then you aren’t biod. “Biodynamics is organic-plus” (dead silence from the audience – especially those organic farmers present that I know!) in the fact that it fosters these etheric forces using the preps.

Q you can’t have a "closed system", which you placed in quotes, so how does it work?

A [York]  it is the effort towards the goal, not the attainment which is important. It has to be a stretch. If we don’t stretch then we aren’t going to fulfill our (human) potential.

Well, that about sums it up.
Entertaining evening. And while there were some positions outlined, there was no persuasion to be had.

The biodynamic food and wines that were poured in the lobby afterwards were all serviceable, but nothing I'd be running out to get. "Good", not "great", and certainly nothing discernable that I'd ever be able to pick out from the numbers of other good, servicable wines out on the market...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

an EARTH DAY present from Randall Graham

...[f]or Mr. Grahm, that means owning a vineyard, embracing biodynamic viticulture and farming without irrigation, as the best Old World vineyards are farmed. “Dry farming is absolutely crucial,” he said. “It’s more important than anything — biodynamics, schmiodynamics.”
“I actively resorted to all manner of marketing tricks,” [Randall Graham] said, as if standing before the congregation to confess.
 "Biodynamics, schmiodynamics....”!
" tricks..." !!

For anyone who's been asleep at the wheel these past 10 years, the truth is now out in the open! Now Randall implies that perhaps the entire thing (biodynamics) was a mistake, and he should've been paying attention to the amount of rainfall his vineyards get and how deep the local aquifers are instead of stuffing cow horns with "poo".
Well I saw that for what it was!
Simultaneously sad and funny to see, but here's the story: a man who set himself up as the advocate of this preposterous method of agriculture for marketing purposes is now backing away from his previous positions to focus on his NEW MARKETING position: Dry Farming!
Unfortunately, Randall hasn't given up all his old ways...
He seems to be relying on a geomancer to evaluate his newest vineyard acquisition's water potential, rather than hiring a certified hydrologist or geologist.
C'mon, Randall!  Make a clean break and purge your soul...'re so close to redemption!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A voice of Reason in these dark times...

I just got through reading his letter to the editors of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, somewhat taking them to task for the nonsensical video of Mike Benziger on the PD site touting his Biodynamic philosophy. I've clipped the letter he wrote here, as well as provide the link for the PD letters for Fri April 17th...
The best lines have to be...
"...People today make all sorts of assertions with little or no connection to the truth, and biodynamics is no different. Show me the scientific experiments that prove biodynamic soils and vines are healthier and biodynamic wines are better.
... in my opinion, biodynamics is a hoax and deserves the same level of respect we give to witchcraft. On Earth Day or another day, animal sacrifices (a biodynamic farming practice) should not be an acceptable practice of modern day agriculture or our society."
That's poetry. And my heart is warmed that people out there are starting to take notice of this mis-represented farming practice which wants everyone to think it naught but "peasant agriculture".......

A BIG thanks to Mr.Smith for his letter of reason!

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A word about the economy

"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."  - Francis Bacon
"A penny saved is a penny earned."   - Benjamin Franklin
Ok, so this is more about saving money than the economy in general. Actually, I'm still dumbfounded that it's taken an economic crisis of this magnitude to really put the brakes on sales of top end tier wines. Were we as a society really all that happy about ourselves going out and buying wines at prices ranging from $100 to $1000+ per bottle?
Was the wine really that much better than a $45/bottle wine, or were we "compensating" for something?

People are dropping the higher end wines from the shopping lists, generally, in favor of lower priced relatively "bargain" wines, and the results from near and far afield are a boom in the sales of the remainder of the market. This isn't the end-all indicator of the economic turn around, but hearing that the CA wine industry has boosted its shipments of wine by 15 million gallons in 2008 is a sure sign that people who are drinking wines aren't stopping their consumption, just looking to drink those which "fit in" with their new budgets. And it is an interesting difference to see three main EU players dropping in market share while upstarts like the Californians and Argentinians shoot upwards....
Sadly, this also comes at a time in the EU where the wine industry has been under attack in France(!), by the French themselves. In the past decade, French legislators and firebrands have changed the wine consumption habits of its' people directly via laws restricting advertising, and indirectly through cultural campaigns to curb drinking period. This has been a huge contributor to the French producers' angst and has no doubt helped them to get themselves into the rioting mood these past few years. As the French Giant has nodded off, Italy has passed France in wine consumption, with the US now nipping at its heels. In a way that shouldn't really come as a surprise given that there are ~3 times as many Americans as Frenchmen, but with the US consumption of wine only a paltry 8.7 litres of wine in 2005 compared to the French per capita rate of 55.8 litres that same year it is quite a feat! Converted to cases of wine per year, the US would be slightly under one case per person in 2005, while France was at nearly 6.2 cases per person annually.
And that's not too bad of a deal when we look and see that 2008 had an overall drop in global consumption of almost 1% of the previous mark in 2007...

It will be interesting to see how long it is before the high-end tier recovers once the economy does get its legs back under itself. 
Of course at that time we'll see what happens to the lower end of the market as well, but hopefully people in the US are continuing to embrace wine as more of a necessity than they have in the past. Even if they are at a price-point they thought they couldn't/wouldn't like as much...

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Californian sweet wine: a continued debate

I had a conversation this past weekend with a few guests about the popularity of sweet white wines, and heard comments about how California is responsible for the sad world-wide trend towards producing "sweet" (off-dry) white wines. Californian chardonnay in particular was vilified...
I should lay a little background for this topic before I go into it.
Most people in the industry consider a wine "dry" (meaning it has completed the conversion of sugars into alcohol) when the level of sugar falls below 2~3 grams per liter. There's a little bit left over in the wine, but at this level it usually doesn't represent an amount which spoilage organisms can really exploit, and the yeasts present which did the work are tired and have pretty much stressed themselves out with the alcohol they've produced and are dying off. Also, the maximal amount of alcohol has arguably been produced, and alcohol has a preservative effect. At this point most human palates can't pick up notes of sweetness in the wine, and the aroma, acid and alcohol components of the wine drive the overall tasting experience. Alcohol itself can add a little sweetness to the profile of a wine, but it also contributes a pungency or "heat" to the experience as the concentration increases (think about the last time you had a shot of vodka...there's a LOT of heat, but also a slight sweetness to the finish). If a wine is a little too acidic, or the body is a bit flat or hollow, a small amount of sugar can be blended in to help fill out these perceived shortcomings, without making the wine "sweet" to the taster. This happens because our palates have been selected to prefer sweetness (think of sugar as a natural indicator that fruits are ripe) over almost every other perception. And even though the levels are below the level where our brains say "this is sweet" (threshold level of identification), we still pick up a signal saying "this is good, but I'm not exactly sure why" (the 'je ne sais quoi' effect at the level of perception, but below that of identification). This is akin to seeing a light moving on the horizon, but we're unable make out exactly what it is: we have met the level of perception, but not that of identification. As time goes by, we look again and see the light has come closer and the object with the light is a ship (level of identification).
Anyway, here's a quick sampling of my conversation at that point:
"Isn't that manipulation?"  Sure it is.
"Isn't that a bad thing?"  That depends now, doesn't it...on the level it's taken to and the final wine desired.
"Then the wine doesn't represent what Nature intended, does it?" (?) Say what...? Remember, Nature WANTS to make vinegar, not wine...WINE is never what Nature intended grapes to become, not that Nature ever 'wants' or 'intends' anything.
"Well, then, you're an interventionist!"  Yes, and back to my point - all WINE is a creation of/by intentional intervention in the natural process when the juice gets to a point where we have alcohol and aromas we like, with a balanced level of acidity.
"But organic wine that doesn't have sulfites..."  Doesn't matter. The process is still stopped by human activity at the wine stage before it becomes vinegar.
"But we're talking about sugar in the wine - how do you get a wine to stop with sugar still in it?"  The real question many times is how do I get my wine to finish fermenting(!) not how do I stop it...many wines stop by themselves before the sugar is finished. Weak yeast strains, "natural yeasts", fruit with minor nutrient deficiencies, excessive temperature spikes (high or low) during fermentation can all be factors...wines can be centrifuged to remove yeasts, and sulfur can be added to shock them into submission.
"How is sugar added to a dry wine? Are we talking about beet sugar again?"  No, this is not like chaptalization, where in the EU beet sugar (being phased out in favor of concentrated grape must) can be added before fermentation to change the final alcohol level of the wine. What we are talking about is more like taking a few of the lots you made which haven't finished their sugar and blending them back into the dry wines to balance body, acidity, etc. If you're one of the lucky ones whom had every fermentation finish to dryness, then you can add concentrated grape must to adjust the final sugar level.
Some producers even select lots of grapes prior to harvest which they then chill and/or centrifuge the natural yeasts and solids out of before they hold it in tanks through the harvest. It may or may not get a hefty wallop of sulfur at this point to help ensure that fermentation doesn't start by itself. After everything else has finished its fermentation, this "stopped" juice can be added back in small quantities to adjust the profile of the wine. The Germans have a name for the wines created by this process: süss-reserve [actually süß-reserve], which literally means sweet reserve. Yes...juices intentionally held (reserved) without fermenting so the sugar can be blended back later. And they have added them for years to make sure the balance of the wine is where they want it.
So is that manipulation? Yes.
Does it produce fantastic wines? Yup, youbetchya!
Is it some new-fangled crap-tastic method to cheat Nature out of what it intended? NO...and while we're at it, let's stop being so g**damned anthropomorphic by ascribing "intentions" to Nature...
Nature doesn't give a damn about what our desires are, and has none of its' own.
PS to Uncle Lou: No, I reject that most California Chards are too floral and sweet to drink, and are best used as weed-killers and ant baits...though I grant you have a different palate than mine...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

A good show (dinner not included)...

I found this on the web while looking up a few points for this post:
"You do not 'believe' in science. Science is not a BELIEF SYSTEM. Science is a method of inquiry. If you do not know what deduction and induction are you need to LOOK THEM UP. Don't try to burn Galileo, you villianous Heathen!"
         - Angry Pontiff
All the same, put this on your calendar:
Friday April 24th, 7 PM @ the Jackson Theater, 4400 Day School Place, Santa Rosa...keep critical thinking points like that above in mind while attending...
Because this location is hosting an evening of Biodynamic Q&A put to a trio of proponents [link]: Alan York (BD consultant), Paul Dolan (winegrower), and Jeremy Fox (chef @ Ubuntu...uhhhm, so how's he fit into this exactly?). Tickets are $20 in advance/ $25 at the door, and the proceeds go to the Sonoma Co. Wine Library, which is housed at the public library in Healdsburg. This is the type of theater which is most amusing, and my suggestion to you all is to read up on a bit of the BioD nonsense and then ask the hard questions of those assembled on stage, to wit: "exactly what forces are those that we are 'concentrating' by using these BioD preparations?"...
After all, these are the 'experts' - hell, York charges MONEY for those types of answers everyday! - and if they don't have clear answers to these questions, or if they conflict with each other, then we can draw one of three conclusions~
  1. they don't have a clue...
  2. they know, but don't want us to know...
  3. there is no answer because there really aren't any forces being concentrated, and to say such would expose the farce that biodynamics is.
 Personally, after about a decade of trying to fathom what-the-Hell BioD actually is doing in the vineyard by talking with growers & proponents, I believe the answer is a combination of 1 & 3. You can witness this firsthand by viewing the video below of Steve Beckmen of Santa Barbara "explaining" what they do at his vineyard...and "why"... 
This last part is the most telling, due to his rambling answers and lack of anything concrete. How someone can produce a video where the "expert" being talked to can stumble when trying to relate what "forces" are being "excluded" or "enhanced" is beyond me. Why anyone would then post that video w/o cleaning it up first to make sure it made sense is even further beyond me (c'mon! you've got all the time on your hands to make it as authoritative as possible, and ensure it flows smoothly...why not do a couple of takes and get it right?).
A few high points of the video are: 
  • Steve telling us about how his magic plywood box (lined with peat) keeps out unwanted "energies" from his BioD concoctions (sadly, those "energies" remain unnamed)...
  • relating the "art" of dynamization, and his confession that although hand stirring is best, he uses a machine to do the job so he doesn't have to hire 8 people to get the same job done...
  • that they CAN'T get the job done by following the biodynamic calendar, because you only have 2 days out of every 8 where the system allows for the work you need to do to actually get done - so they wrap the work onto other "similar" types of days ...
  • ...and many more!
And look here, you can actually see the potent cosmic-type energies escaping the box when it's opened!
Well, we're back to the beginning again, just like the snake eating its own tail, no closer to the real answers about what this system is really trying to do, or better yet "how it gets those things done". And why when people ignore the doctrines of that system it continues to deliver the wanted results. As I've said before - if you can delete or ignore certain parts of the system, did they really contribute to the overall results in the first place? 
Did any of it ever contribute to the results??
Hmm. Reminds me of a post from back in March '06 where a writer had published all sorts of nonsense re BioD and their silly calendars (don't forget to plant your potatoes this coming Monday after Easter...unless you're Greek Orthodox, when the best day will be the Monday following THEIR Easter Sunday...).

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Another weekend of frost protection

Saturday and Sunday morning's temperatures both dropped below freezing, causing me to get up at 2:30 Sat morn, and 3:30 AM yesterday. The problem with this time of year is the vulnerability of the young shoots to frost damage. Last year, I had the sad fate of having to use much of my irrigation pond water for frost protection. Since our rainfall was so short, I really didn't have that much water left for the rest of the growing season. Now some out there who think dry-farming is the best thing since the invention of sliced bread and processed cheese may rejoice, but from the farming side of the equation, this is a bad thing. For as bad as frost is, having your vines wilted by extreme high temps during the summer peak is bad too.

There is a benefit to those who have wind machines, and vineyards with those installed get to save their pond water for irrigation. What they've traded for is added capital budget expenses, and a system which only has one function: mixing the air in your vineyard to avoid frost. On the plus side, you save water, either from your own ponds, wells, or drawn from the Russian River. I had pushed for putting a few wind machines into the budget in the past, and more so last year after the short rainfall, but persuaded myself not to with the idea that there might be some cleaner technology on the way to power them, namely solar instead of diesel or propane. (This type of system seems a bit too "iffy"...and without being backed up by plugging into the main grid, or having a propane back-up, probably wouldn't allow me to get any more rest than I do now. Betting that the system would have stored enough electricity from solar energy in the winter months to be useful 100% of the time it's needed is not a bet I'd want to make. Hopefully the near future hold some solution which is a bit greener and sustainable, rather than rely on a fossil fuel driven back-up system.)
I hope that one day I can look out and see a wind machine which is powered by the sun, but for now I'll bet on having the water available for preventing frost damage.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Do you need a winemaker for wines under $2? you?
Is it really all that important to shell out hard earned cash for a "Certified Master of Wine" [CMoW] to produce wines at the $1.99 price point?  TESCO is doing just this, though the winemaker will be in charge of wines in the range of  $2~$40/btl.
But really, I mean how many people would return a wine that was $1.99 if they found it a bit "off" or "different" from a previous bottle? How many cases of the stuff would you need to produce (and sell) to recoup the salary you're going to give that winemaker? Certified Masters of Wine don't just fall off the trees, now do they...

Fresh & Easy to Launch 25 New Wines (TESCO)

"Over the next three months, Tesco's small-format U.S. grocery chain, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, will introduce 25 new wines, 15 of which will be exclusive to Fresh & Easy, and crafted by a Certified Master of Wine, the company said.
The new local and imported wines range from $1.99 to $40 per bottle.... [t]he new wine selection includes a California Cabernet from Sonoma, a Malbec from Argentina, sparkling wines from Italy, and a Tempranillo-Shiraz and Ribera del Duero from Spain..."

I'm assuming the CMoW will be involved with each of the 25 wines to be carried...and I don't want to totally deflate the reasoning behind having the CMoW involved as there are more pricey wines in the range, but the MoW designation is vastly different than a MS or PhD in Enology or Viticulture [see here for a good description]. What this implies is that neither TESCO nor Fresh & Easy will be getting into the wine business by owning a winery...rather that they will be sending their CMoW to various existing wineries with the mission of having said businesses make custom wines for their exclusive retail. Think of the symbiotic relationship between Trader Joe's and Two Buck Chuck. One produces, the other sells exclusively.

This is a double-edged sword. While the winery might sell more of the low-end wine it produces with this scheme, it could also end up cutting the consumer base it normally relies on. If the wine is of decent enough quality, some of its' prior consumers may opt to "trade down" and purchase the cheaper wine with the idea the price is low due to lack of a national marketing program or need to support a brick-n-mortar winery facility.

Custom made wines have been in play for quite some time, from restaurant specific offerings, to airlines, cruise ship companies, tour groups, etc. I don't know of a winery which ever went out of business by participating in these deals before, so the threat of this sort of thing going badly for the winery seems very fact wineries would prefer to do this in a way because the retailer is contracting with them for the wine, and thus wineries see the cash for the transaction without having to figure out how to get it out the door.In the end, the wineries are happy, the retailers involved tend to be happy, and the consumer - who gets wine of a quality they like at perceived basement prices - also is happy.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Another worthless item to buy for your winery

Much has been made of "dynamization" of water by Rudolph Steiner and his biodynamic followers. The theory is that water as we see it today is disorganized and somehow "unnatural", needing to be corrected by applying dynamism (forcing a vortex to occur in the water by mixing it rapidly in one direction, then reversing the flow by stirring in the opposite direction)
At the site below you'll see yet another of the devices which supposedly delivers better water (to your house-winery-vineyard so that you can experience better heath and nutrition: the much anticipated "Vortelys"® (Terre de Lys®)....

And it's so easy to use:
"The main application of the Vortelys is the revitalization of drink and food. Earth is the planet of water. The human body consists of 90%-70%...."

Hmmmmmm....I think they're off by a little bit. I've never met anyone who was 90% water!
It continues....

"...Our development is done in a liquid medium. Our food contains between 50 and 80 % of water..." 

They obviously haven't been over to taste Mrs.Johnson's grilled burgers (dry as a witches teat, and only slightly more palatable than a hockey puck...a point I never waste mentioning to her as I sprint to the grill to take charge of the burgers before she does!). Anyway these points are really non-sequiturs. Again....

"The water molecule made of 2 hydrogen atoms and one atom of oxygen. Oxygen is the pole of communication. Hydrogen is at the same time the referential and the regulator. This unit is governed by very complex natural laws. The technologies and techniques of Terre de Lys respect natural dynamics, which are the source of well being. The use of Vortelys requires as a preliminary treatment of the electric pollution using the CHL01 protect which treats the electromagnetic pollution. To regenerate the water of the house, the Vortelys is placed near the water meter."

All the incorrect physics and pseudo-anthropomorphism ascribed to these elements aside, I believe they intend it to be "in-line" with your water service flow. Notice how their product "respect[s] natural dynamics" and is implied to do the same for the "very complex natural laws", which remain undefined in the sales pitch. And I've absolutely no idea what the referenced "CHL01" is, but I imagine they'll SELL you one whatever it might be...
"Consequently all the water consumed is revitalized. All water usage such as drinking, cooking, liquid used in healing, gardening and the others benefit from the treatment. In the same way the environment benefits from the discharge used water which has undergone revitalization: Little by little the ecosystem is regenerated. If you wish to benefit from the revitalization of food, and the drink wine, fruit juice etc.), it is enough to place for few minutes the products to be regenerated on the Vortelys. This will greatly enhance the taste of water/liquids and foods. Other applications are taught within the framework of BioSyntonie during our Biosyntonic seminars."

Ah-ha! We see what they really want to do is sell you this item so they can charge you to learn how to use it! And apparently just placing the item you want corrected upon the Vortelys is enough to impart the powerful "electric decontamination" effect, as they state you can do that with wine, juices, foodstuffs, etc.

Ha! What a load of manure this all is.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No cold stabilization on red wines

I was reading an article this morning by Dan Berger and I thought it was a little vague on the point of cold stabilizing red wines. (The article is carried by the Press Demo from Creators Syndicate, so I don't have a link to post...)
What Dan reports is that on a recent trip to the Paso Robles area to taste wines from Justin Winery, the winemaker there (Fred Holloway) stated "I don't cold stabilize my reds". Bully for him. 

Cold stabilization is the process of super-chilling a wine down so that it is unable to hold any extra acid, and then adding a very small amount of potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar) to force the excess acid to drop out of the wine and deposit on the bottom of the tank. This is usually done for white wines, which a consumer can look into the bottle and see the crystals inside if they exist. Frequently, the crystals form after a customer puts the bottle just purchased into the freezer to quick chill for use that same day/night. It's common to then get busy with other things and forget the wine, allowing it to sit there for hours in the freezing cold. At this time, excess acid can naturally form crystals and drop to the bottom of the bottle. Many people, uninformed of the true nature of these harmless particles assume from their appearance that they are really particles of glass, and either don't purchase the wine in the first place, or worse yet, if it "pitches" or "throws" tartrates after spending some time in their freezer or fridge - pour it down the sink or return it to the store they brought it from. That consumer then usually avoids the brand of wine in the future...
In the end, wineries use the technique because it is easier to do this than to mount a huge consumer education program to let people know that these crystals are natural and harmless.
Frankly, as I recall I've never met anyone in the California wine biz who DID cold stabilize their reds. White wines are commonly put through the process for the reasons stated above, but reds are fairly opaque, the green tint of the bottles helps combine with the red color of the wine itself making it harder to see into the bottles, and let's face it - not too many people are throwing their red wines into the freezer. So the issue rarely comes up, and when it does the consumer can usually tell the crystals in red wine aren't glass due to the reddish color of the crystals (some of the wine is trapped within the crystals as they form), which white wine crystals don't have (these are usually slightly off-white).

On another note.....

This is also one of the main acids in wine which is responsible for the crystals left over when the wine is poured into a petri dish and evaporated (the other main players are malic, lactic and citric acids). This experimental process, usually used for what is euphemistically called "sensitive crystallization", which purportedly tells one everything they need to know about how the wine is balanced, integrated and "wholesomeness".

Frederic Koeppel [is this really necessary?]  blogs about one of Bonny Doon's labels (similar to the one on the right) that...

"...[t]he strange objects on these labels, which look like condoms wearing little fur coats, depict the “sensitive crysallization”[sic] of the individual wines. The press materials don’t reveal how these “sensitive crystallizations” occur, but when Grahm writes, of the Muscat 2007, “well-defined vacuoles reflect the powerful aromatic potential” and “finely textured crystals reach out to the end of the periphery reflecting the vine’s connection to the soil,” I cannot help thinking that “sensitive crystallization” is a synonym for “smoke and mirrors.”

Ha! Condoms wearing little fur coats! 
Sounds like something stolen from the Playboy mansion....and is about as informative to why the wine will taste like it does as the back-label drivel that Randall Graham throws onto it!
It's also simmilar to the comment on one of my posts deriding sensitive crystallization where someone suggected the photo towards the top of this post looked like a "pecan pie"....
Do they really expect anyone but an April Fool to believe this sort of thing?

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the Dregs Report 2009....'s April Fool's Day. But you have to give a shout out to the wit, sweat and inspiration that went into this fake headline page!
The Dregs Report 2009 I love the visual of California separating from the Union to become its own "Wine Nation" as the headline states...drifting off towards Hawaii wouldn't be half bad, now would it? Also, there's this gem of Governor Palin pimping for the Alaskan Wine Industry. Of course this explains why she wants us to "Drill, Drill, Drill!" in the ANWR, so there will be even MORE carbon emissions, warming of the Alaskan permafrost to allow for more grapevines to be planted in the area just north of Juneau.... ...and who wants all those pesky caribou running around eating all that precious fruit?! Go take a look & have a laugh!