Sunday, January 3, 2016

Exploring Taste: Fox Run Geology Series #WBC15 #Terrior

If you're curious about what makes wine taste the way it does there are many ways to learn about the "taste" of wine.  I like pairing wine with food (I'm a hedonist - always seeking pleasure) for those with intellectual curiosity some vineyards offer experiences that educate on their terrior. (land quality that affects final taste of crop)

Vineyards are farms.  Winemakers only have one chance a year to create a stunning wine from the annual crop - that's just 30 - 40 chances in a long career. To make a good wine, they need choose the right planting for the soil and climate, and the right yeast to ferment the grape juice.  If the weather cooperates, it can be a stunning year - if something goes wrong it is make the best of it, and try again next year....

The owners and winemaker at Fox Run Vineyard know their farm. In their geology series, they share the geologic history of the area and farm, and the soil composition. Using that knowledge, they work to optimize the varietal to the soil, and climate.  In this four glass Riesling series, we were able to taste the subtle differences by fermentation style and allotment.  The allotments represented were Hanging Delta Vineyard and Lake Dana Vineyard.

The last glacial period was about 22,000 years ago - that's a lot of dirt to pile up, move around, and settle down.  Cornell University is at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake - so there are plenty of academics to opine.   I'll give you this blogger's overview:  Lake Dana was the giant glacial predecessor of Lake Seneca. When it retreated (a few thousand centuries before molecular gastronomy) it left behind a Hanging Delta. The owners of Fox Run have planted Riesling on two
geologically unique plots: Hanging Delta Vineyard and Lake Dana Vineyard. We got to taste them, and the moral of the story is: Minerality in wine comes from the yeast - not the soil. Soil affects the moisture and drainage - how the fruit develops, ripens and changes sunlight into sugars. But the fermentation can make all the difference.

Comparing Soil and Fermentation
These Rieslings were both had different fermenting processes- resulting in much different taste profiles.

Harvest Year: 2012

Riesling #11:  fermented in a  pied de cuve method - a small quantity of fermenting wine from another tank was added to the juice instead of a cultured yeast inoculum.

Hanging Delta Vineyard #11 Riesling `12 The first wine that I tasted in the series - it was bright, and complex (citrus fun citrus). Layered flavors. 9.9% ETOH  - we were off to a good start.

Lake Dana Vineyard #11 Riesling `12 This wine seemed sweeter - I noted honey sweetness it was also 9.9% ETOH

The difference between the two was subtle.

Riesling #12: The fermentation was started with Epernay II yeast and was carefully managed using current New World wine-making techniques to ensure healthy and steady kinetics. Fermentation lasted for three weeks and was arrested when the alcohol was low and sweetness high, in order to produce a classic traditional style of Riesling.

Hanging Delta Vineyard #12 Riesling `12  Sweet, delicious. It was my favorite of the four - it was also just 9.3% ETOH - what a difference an allotment makes!

Lake Dana #12 Riesling `12  Fruity with some acid 11.3% ETOH this is a classic. 

There was a big difference between these two wines, and the whole tasting experience showed the variability that can be created by the winemaker.  It really was amazing - different than a typical vertical tasting - and a great introduction to the recipe science of making wine.

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