Archive for October, 2011

A new house wine

Moi and her indoors tasting bubbly at Ackerman in Saumur

The pot of gold lies either side of Manoir de Gourin our french base for wine tours and holiday apartments

Its the same old problem of competition and dumming down prices and the buying power of supermarkets and the big importers where the independant has difficulty in competing. I know we need to find our own markets but it can be difficult where a customer is looking to buy in a range of wines from house wines upwards.  This difficulty is extended by the fact that one such market we are looking at is the bar trade. Here we have a classic example of bars selling the cheapest wine they can get hold of as they need to compete with other bars as drinkers these days are only interested in how many they can put away not what it tastes like. Thats OK but we need to compete if we are to get a look in with this market.

We’ve  been looking at a number of sources for these wines . One is the Languedoc where there are a great choice of Vin de Pays d’Oc. The reds use the big varieties like the old favourite of the past Carignan, a prolific producer of grapes that can reach 200 lires per hectolitre. Now its not grown so much and the Grenache is another favourite of the area. Our Cotes de Thongue is a mix of Grenache, Carignan and some Syrah to add a bit of spice and body. Not too much as a house wine needs to be an easy drinker for all tastes. On the white side we have a vermentino grape. It is increasingly being used in the Languedoc- Roussillon for white wine production where it has been permitted as an appellation variety.  Its a grape used almost exclusively in Corsica and also in Sardinia and of course in Italy. Our Cote de Thongue Vin de Pays d’Oc has a little Muscat Petit Grain to round off the wine which is useful for a house wine so it has a popularity across the board.

This is one of our new wines as we expand into other regions of France. We will be looking forward to adding it onto our portfolio. Cheers.

Maceration part 2

After crushing the juice is pumped into an underground vat and strained to remove larger bits of skins etc

A turret on Saumur Chateau

Maceration is mainly relaed to red wine making. The process involves the extraction of the phenolics (tannins and flavour compounds) from the grape skins, seeds and stem bits that remaind after the bunches have been passed throug the destemming device or egrappage in french.  Maceration takes place in the vat during fermentation of red wine and is dependant on temperature, the contact between skin solids and liquid, time and the different processes of agitation, and grape variety.  Some winemakers allow the maceration process to continue after fermentation has finished to extract the tannins that will allow red wines to age, develop and keep longer.

The process of red wine fementation in a vat naturally pushes the solids to the surface of the liqiud as gas is trapped in the mass as the juice ferments and so creates a cap on top of the juice. This prevents contact to extract the tannins and flavour compounds. There are many methods that are used to keep the skins within the  liquid of the juice as it converts into wine.

If the cap is not disturbed then the extraction of the components in the skin will stop.  The easiest is just to push the skins down into the fermenting juice called Pigeage  in French.  There is  also the process called remontage where the juice is pumped from the bottom of the vat onto the cap at the top. These methods are used for the finer wines where the winemaker controls the processes so that he can produce the style of wine that he wants to acheive. There are more mechanical methods that involve rotating the vats, mechanical stirrers, and screens that keep the solids within the juice.

 Our winemakers in the Loire use these simple methods to produce the desired wine. The winemaker will continue to check and assess the wine as it develops in the vat by taste, smell and looking at the colour.  Winemakers are very sociable people and will invite friends and fellow winemakers to taste their wine so that they obtain a wider opinion. We visit the estates regularly over the winter months and into the spring and right through the summer on some wines to track the progress of the wines as they develop. Its interesting as well as in the Loire the cabernet franc grape is the predominent red variety and to see how the different cuvees develop is incredible in diversity of taste and structure.

That’s part of the joy of being involved in making wine and our guests who come on our wine tours in the Loire are bowled over  at being able to get up close and personal with our winemakers. You should come along.  Check us out at www.loirewinetours.com. Cheers.

Maceration Part 1

The wine house of Bouvet Ladubay in Saumur

Chateau Breze - a chateau on a chateau

Its a big subject and involves lots of different techniques used to basically impart the flavours into red wine and to a smaller extent in white wines.

Maceration can take part before fermentation, during and after fermention and is governed mainly by temperature,  alcohol and time. 

In the prefermentation stage when the grapes are held at a low temperature the compounds are extracted that are conducive to extraction at this temperature. Each compound will have its own optimum temperature level for extraction into the liquid. Some white wine makers allow a similar state when, after crushing, the liquid with the bits of skin within the liquid are left in  contact in the vat at a low temperature to prevent fermentation starting. At the same time this allow the solids to settle in the tank before fementation is allowed to start and these solids are removed by decanting the clear liquid into another vat where it is allowed to ferment.  Another process is also practised with white wine where the grapes are left in the trailer after picking and before crushing to impart more flavour. However you have to be careful as this period of contact with the air can induce oxidisation, so the normal practise is to pick very early in the morning whilst the grapes are cool from night temperature and there is little chance of this happening. This is very important for natural wine makers who do not add sulphites to the grapes at this stage. Big wineries will add sulphites to the trailer in probably two doses to prevent spoiling. and this is normal for the big sparkling wineries and co-operatives that recieve grapes in dribs and drabs from different vineyards at all hours of the day  regardless of temperature and conditions.

The smaller more passionate winemakers are more careful and practise much stricter controls.  Thats one of the reasons we champion these small family run estates. Part 2 tomorrow. Cheers.

Our local government

The natural environment of our vineyards

Our wines are made in the natural environment

Our plans for our new shop premises progress slowly.  We have  agreed a price with the current owners and now we have to go through al the searches and valuations and the like. We are hoping to be up and running around Christmas time all being well.

One of the many issues that worry us is the parking here in our seaside village od Sandgate. It is a lovely place quirky and full of history, but its impossible to park anywhere. The High Street has become a ghost town with 25% of shops closing down due, inpart to the fsct that visitors are unable to park to use the shops and amenities.  There are currently no  restrictions on parking so in general local people park all the time and there is very little vacancy for visitors. Its a natural thing. Residents park at night and go to work in the day and business people park in the day so never is there a time when it is vacant. Added to that we have a large employer in Sandgate whose staff also use the surrounding roads to park. I am told because its easier than their own car park and there own car park is overflowing.  I don’t know and I don’t think anybody knows so the first thing you would expect to happen would be to find out the problems. OH no Not shepway council. Instead they intend to slap on parking charges to poor old jo public  without a by your leave. Its another example of public bodies finding the easiest way of taxing us. All it is is another local tax. Its time it stopped. Should we open a shop in the town. Probably not.  Certainly not if our local council decides to slap on  parking charges. What will that do for local business. They have already had a payoff from Sainsbury supermarket to allow them to open a supermarket here. Its a job loser. It does nothing for the local community.

So we are stymied on tw

o fronts. Free parking for Sainsbury and parking charges for us. Cheap boose from Sainsbury and a proper price from us.

Please support your local shops. We’ll have the best wines in the area. We’ll give you a shout when we open. Cheers.

Government and big business

Saumur chateau across the Loire river

Cabernet Franc The father of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc

The march of marriage between Government and local authority and big business grows ever stronger and as it does so we the poor people in the middle get to be pushed into oblivion. Life in our big wide world centres around government sucking up to the multi nationals and rich financiers who wield the power in our land of Britain.  The recent revelations of Blair, Brown, Cameron and their cronies all sucking up to Sky boss Rupert Murdock just shows us were we are in the scheme of things. The tax payers pay in the end  thats it end of.  Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall spelt it out recently in an article: government is in thrall of big business, multi nationals and supermarkets. What government fails to see is the damage it does in so many ways to our way of life.  Supermarkets just kill our local businesses and they dictate trends like crap cheap food. How can it be fair when a supermarket is given permission to decimate the local high street. All these public servants paid for by us the tax payer give permission to supermarkets to the detriment of local jobs. Its outrageous. I hear our local Chamber of Commerce praising supermarkets and what they do for local communities. Are they stupid or is it that they benefit in some way from these supermarkets.  I remember our local chairman of the channel chamber of commerce in Folkestone supporting supermarkets. I mean where has he been. Where is the benefit to local communities. We should be  supporting local business not the Sovereign wealth fund of some middle east country.  He needs to be told if he can’t get to grips with local sustainability. The poor man.

Where are we with wine well supermarkets control the wine trade in the UK. and you the poor consumer has to be told what to buy and its crap wine they sell in general. Please do not buy your wine in supermarkets. Use your local wine merchant or go on line to a decent wine website to choose your wine. We must champion small independant wine merchants.  They are  the best at bringing to you good wholesome wines. Go on why not try some decent wine. Cheers.

Natural Wines

saumur champigny white and reds ageing in old burgundy and bordeaux barrels.

I’ve spoken about this before and the the word natural probably gives you the wrong idea about what it means when it comes to wine. I suppose you would think it as being another word for organic. No. What I mean when I say ‘Natural’ is everything about the winemaking process from the farming bit in the vineyards to the making of the wine.  Organic just refers to the farming bit not the winemaking and you can add anything you like after you have picked the grapes. Like for example manufactured yeasts, sugar, acid, eggs, bentonite, sulphite, there are loads of additives which winem akers add to their wines through the cycle of winemaking.

Natural winemakers use nature to make their wine. Some still use natural copper against mildew others use a spice of natural ingredients to spray on their vines to prevent mildew. Most big winemakers use tons of all sorts of ingredients in the vineyards some very toxic and harmful to us humans. They use manufactured yeasts that will give them a particular style and taste that they can produce year on year, the natural winemaker will rely on the natural yeasts in the grape to allow natural fermentation of  the sugars. Big boys throw in maximuim levels of permitted sulphite, natural winemwkers are careful to maximise the natural sulphites in the wine so that they do not have to add sulphites or a minimal quantity, and so on. What you get at the end is a chemical wine as opposed to a natural wine. How do you tell by looking at a bottle. You can’t cos producers do not have to put these additives on the label except sulphite and even them not how much.

That’s why you should have a friendly wine merchant who is able ot tell you all about each of his wines. We can tell you about our wines. Why not log on and see what we have to offer at gfwine.co.uk. Cheers.

Natural Wines

saumur champigny white and reds ageing in old burgundy and bordeaux barrels.

I’ve spoken about this before and the the word natural probably gives you the wrong idea about what it means when it comes to wine. I suppose you would think it as being another word for organic. No. What I mean when I say ‘Natural’ is everything about the winemaking process from the farming bit in the vineyards to the making of the wine.  Organic just refers to the farming bit not the winemaking and you can add anything you like after you have picked the grapes. Like for example manufactured yeasts, sugar, acid, eggs, bentonite, sulphite, there are loads of additives which winem akers add to their wines through the cycle of winemaking.

Natural winemakers use nature to make their wine. Some still use natural copper against mildew others use a spice of natural ingredients to spray on their vines to prevent mildew. Most big winemakers use tons of all sorts of ingredients in the vineyards some very toxic and harmful to us humans. They use manufactured yeasts that will give them a particular style and taste that they can produce year on year, the natural winemaker will rely on the natural yeasts in the grape to allow natural fermentation of  the sugars. Big boys throw in maximuim levels of permitted sulphite, natural winemwkers are careful to maximise the natural sulphites in the wine so that they do not have to add sulphites or a minimal quantity, and so on. What you get at the end is a chemical wine as opposed to a natural wine. How do you tell by looking at a bottle. You can’t cos producers do not have to put these additives on the label except sulphite and even them not how much.

That’s why you should have a friendly wine merchant who is able ot tell you all about each of his wines. We can tell you about our wines. Why not log on and see what we have to offer at gfwine.co.uk. Cheers.

Natural Wines

saumur champigny white and reds ageing in old burgundy and bordeaux barrels.

I’ve spoken about this before and the the word natural probably gives you the wrong idea about what it means when it comes to wine. I suppose you would think it as being another word for organic. No. What I mean when I say ‘Natural’ is everything about the winemaking process from the farming bit in the vineyards to the making of the wine.  Organic just refers to the farming bit not the winemaking and you can add anything you like after you have picked the grapes. Like for example manufactured yeasts, sugar, acid, eggs, bentonite, sulphite, there are loads of additives which winem akers add to their wines through the cycle of winemaking.

Natural winemakers use nature to make their wine. Some still use natural copper against mildew others use a spice of natural ingredients to spray on their vines to prevent mildew. Most big winemakers use tons of all sorts of ingredients in the vineyards some very toxic and harmful to us humans. They use manufactured yeasts that will give them a particular style and taste that they can produce year on year, the natural winemaker will rely on the natural yeasts in the grape to allow natural fermentation of  the sugars. Big boys throw in maximuim levels of permitted sulphite, natural winemwkers are careful to maximise the natural sulphites in the wine so that they do not have to add sulphites or a minimal quantity, and so on. What you get at the end is a chemical wine as opposed to a natural wine. How do you tell by looking at a bottle. You can’t cos producers do not have to put these additives on the label except sulphite and even them not how much.

That’s why you should have a friendly wine merchant who is able ot tell you all about each of his wines. We can tell you about our wines. Why not log on and see what we have to offer at gfwine.co.uk. Cheers.

The trouble with Britain today

moi serving a sweet fruity pink bubbly for dessert at a wine dinner

the saumur champigny vines looking through the archway at chaintres

This is a rant about the stupidity of our society. Today was a point in question. Up to London we went to move young David. He is moving from the West End at the rear of Charlotte Street. Any one know it? A small street behind that goes nowhere except back to Charlotte Street in a one way direction. I parked on the side of the road by the flat front door ready to load up. On the other side on the road the council had installed a parking bay for the London cycles to be docked. So the street was a bit narrow at this point and before long  what wanted to go by was a veolia rubbish truck to pich up, it transpired, a bin of bottles from the pub up the road.  So like a curteous gentleman that I am I moved onto the pavement to let it pass and left it there in case of any repeat trucks appearing.   Low and behold whilst I am collecting some stuff from the flat a ticket man from Westminster council appears from an alleyway just by the van ( I did not see him but sumised this as he eventually went back that way after our encounter). When I got back down he had already proceeded to do what ever he does to sort out  a ticket. I advised him of the facts as above explaining my gentlemanly conduct but he just proceeded to tell me that it was an offence to park on the pavement.  So there a small view into the world of Britain and where we have arrived. Surely it should have been ok no problem I see that you have to park here and on the pavement a little to allow vehicles to pass so carry on loading your van. etc etc.

Its just not on and we should all stand up to these blouted bureaucratic twats and demand that they act reasonably and sensibly towards the public who pay their fat cat salaries and pensions.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.

What it has to do with wine is really quite straight forward. We had a pink Domaine de Rocheville for our late lunch of chicken and couscous

having removed ourselves to a more civilised part of London. Cheers.

The trouble with Britain today

moi serving a sweet fruity pink bubbly for dessert at a wine dinner

the saumur champigny vines looking through the archway at chaintres

This is a rant about the stupidity of our society. Today was a point in question. Up to London we went to move young David. He is moving from the West End at the rear of Charlotte Street. Any one know it? A small street behind that goes nowhere except back to Charlotte Street in a one way direction. I parked on the side of the road by the flat front door ready to load up. On the other side on the road the council had installed a parking bay for the London cycles to be docked. So the street was a bit narrow at this point and before long  what wanted to go by was a veolia rubbish truck to pich up, it transpired, a bin of bottles from the pub up the road.  So like a curteous gentleman that I am I moved onto the pavement to let it pass and left it there in case of any repeat trucks appearing.   Low and behold whilst I am collecting some stuff from the flat a ticket man from Westminster council appears from an alleyway just by the van ( I did not see him but sumised this as he eventually went back that way after our encounter). When I got back down he had already proceeded to do what ever he does to sort out  a ticket. I advised him of the facts as above explaining my gentlemanly conduct but he just proceeded to tell me that it was an offence to park on the pavement.  So there a small view into the world of Britain and where we have arrived. Surely it should have been ok no problem I see that you have to park here and on the pavement a little to allow vehicles to pass so carry on loading your van. etc etc.

Its just not on and we should all stand up to these blouted bureaucratic twats and demand that they act reasonably and sensibly towards the public who pay their fat cat salaries and pensions.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.

What it has to do with wine is really quite straight forward. We had a pink Domaine de Rocheville for our late lunch of chicken and couscous

having removed ourselves to a more civilised part of London. Cheers.