Good Fruit Grower

October 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 10 of 47 GOOD FRUIT GROWER OCTOBER 2015 11 Joe Cotta, vineyard manager at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates' Cold Creek Vineyard, manages tannins in fruit by controlling stress placed on the vineyard. Cold Creek Vineyard, first planted in 1973, is one of the state's older vineyards. The vineyard is located east of Yakima in a very warm, dry site. Silt loam soils are fertile, but gravelly, and have a low water holding capacity. Cotta said the older vines, some now more than 40 years old, have more pol- ished tannins than younger vines in the same vineyard. He believes the most significant difference in tannins at Cold Creek is due to different clones, not block by block variation. "Cold Creek is a site that always has a lot of tannins in the fruit," he said. "The tannins can be overpowering if they're not carefully managed. That's why we do things to limit vine stress." For example, he's careful not to take deficit irrigation strategies too far. Fruit from Cotta's managed vineyards have plenty of flavor and intensity, so he doesn't have to worry about creating small berries. His viticultural objectives are to slow down vine growth and avoid dehydrating berries after veraison. He's not stingy with irrigation after veraison; he applies as much water as needed to avoid berry shriveling. These days, fruit at Cold Creek are harvested at around 25° to 26° Brix, much lower than the 28° Brix of several years ago. "We know that if we wait too long for harvest at Cold Creek, we'll end up with higher tannin levels," he said. Wines produced from Cold Creek are rich, intense, and powerful, and the tannins are said to be densely structured, mouth-coating, massive, and bold, says Cotta. By managing tannins, he can pro- duce fruit that complements the effects of winemaking. "The tannins are still unde- niably noticeable, but they are smoother and don't dominate the wines." Trade talk Joe Aschbacher, senior director of global accounts west for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, spends much of his time explaining to wine buyers what they are tasting and where it was produced. He specializes in selling wine to major restaurant and hotel chains. For the market he sells to, most wine is being consumed by the glass as a stand- alone beverage, he said, noting that a different style of wine is needed when it's consumed alone without food. "It needs to be easy drinking and more supple than if it's matched with a big rib eye steak in a New York steakhouse." He spends much of his time educating buyers. Decisions are often made by peo- ple who don't drink wine or know little about it, he says. "Dry is a term that always comes up when I talk about tannins," Aschbacher said. Aschbacher believes that Washington wines have greatly improved since his early wine marketing days more than two decades ago. "Back then, when I opened young wines, they were pretty rough," he said. "But today, the industry is really man- aging tannins well for the short and long term." Jeff Lindsay-Thornsen, lead sommelier at Seattle's RN74, a restaurant featur- ing French-American cui- sine, said the sommelier's job is to find out what a customer wants and how much he or she is willing to spend. "We get one shot at it," said Lindsay-Thornsen, who makes wine by day (he's partner in W. T. Vintners in Woodinville) and sells wine by night. Today's consumers are savvy and have strong wine opinions, he's found. "If they want an oaky, red wine with oysters, it's not my place to say no, but I do try to turn them on to a wine that will enrich their dining experience and sell more wine." He noted that tannins in Washington wines have greatly softened and don't need long aging as they did in the past. Because few under- stand how to talk tannins, the sommelier's job is to interpret what the guest is expressing, he said. "That can be a real challenge. They'll use descriptors like low tannins when they really mean sweet, and I have to figure out what they really want." Smart phones have become a big help in bridging the wine communication gap. Guests pull out their phones to show a pic- ture of a wine they drank a year ago. "That helps give me context of what they mean and might like," Lindsay-Thornsen said. • "The tannins can be overpowering if they're not carefully managed. That's why we do things to limit vine stress." —Joe Cotta TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Left: Tannins are mainly found in outer layers of the grape seed coating and outer layers of skin as well as stems and pedicels. IF YOU SHARE OUR COMMITMENT TO QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS AND CUSTOMER AND CONSUMER SATISFACTION, PLEASE CONTACT ONE OF OUR PARTNERS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GROWING WITH US. | 151 Low Road • Yakima, WA 98908 | 509.966.1814 QUINCY FRESH FRUIT, CO.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - October 2015