Vineyard & Winery Management

January - February 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 139

WINERY "touchy-feely" to a data-driven winemaker. But Hansen said there are plenty of similar examples from day-to-day life. "An analogy we share with winemakers is ordering a steak at a good restaurant," he said. "Do they put a timer on and say your medium-rare steak will be done in five minutes? No, the chef smells it and listens to it during cooking. He or she uses their sens- es and their experience to cook it perfectly each time, even though the cut and the cooking tempera- ture may vary a little." Akin to variation in grain defi- nitions, this diversity matters to winemakers because of the impact on wine. Lighter toasts retain more structure as tannin, while heavier toasts make a greater aromatic contribution. Plus, there is a com- plex relationship between toast and grain, since tighter and wider grains "accept" toasting at different rates and in different ways METHOD AND MAGIC This lack of conformity should not suggest that coopers are shooting from the hip. The indus- try's most prominent names have developed their methods over mul- tiple generations; their efforts are remarkably refined and ever-more reproducible. They also point out that each barrel is legitimately a custom job. And as such, the vari- ous numbers and definitions can only be guides to the craft. "I'd love to say 'this' equates to 'that' in some definite form," said Miller. "But it doesn't work that way. We're playing with fire, water, time and other factors. There's just some magic in that mix." McCarthy concluded, "Some of the issue of house style is indefin- able. It's much the same as two people attending the same grade school and learning penmanship from the same teacher. Their hand- writing may be similar, but they still have distinct signatures." In the end, winemakers need to work attentively with different coopers to determine whether and how each house style can contrib- ute to the consistent delivery of their own. Gary Werner is a Seattle-based wine industry journalist and com- munications consultant, and the former communications director for the Washington Wine Commission. Comments? Please email us at 42 VINEYARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT JAN - FEB 2012 WWW.VWM-ONLINE.COM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Vineyard & Winery Management - January - February 2012