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Hot off the old Facebook page: hottest trends!

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I asked my FB friends “What’s the hottest trend in wine?” and as usual, they weren’t shy about replying. Here are some of the more interesting comments — with a few observations from myself.

“Sparkling” – I agree, because we’re going into the holidays when everybody drinks a little bubbly. After Jan. 1? Not so sure.

“White Skin Fermentations” — from David Grega, a Napa somm. He explains, “Basically it is the process of fermenting white wine on its skins like you would a red wine…..it’s risky but it creates white wines with amazing texture and complexity ….my [Carlotta 2008] Alder Springs marsanne you rated 89pts was 100% skin fermented ….”

“Blends” — Affirmative on that! Why have we been so fixated on varietal bottlings and the 75% rule? A blend can fill in the divots.

“Great value under $15” — Totally.

“Mulling” — this is from our friend Jeff Stai at Twisted Oak and I have to believe he’s got a big old bucket of something red and heady with cinnamon sticks and cloves floating in it. Helps ward off the Sierra cold.

“Vintage ‘99 Cab” — If you’re lucky enough to have a cellarful, then I guess it’s a trend, for you. I just opened a ‘99 Dominus and it was pretty good. Not great.

“Washington” — This is from somebody named Paul Gregutt. I think he lives someplace up there and is in the industry.

“Concrete eggs” — Lots of buzz about fermenting red wines in concrete, as opposed to steel or wood. Supposedly this gives– what? Not sure, but Charles Thomas, Tim Mondavi, Charlie Wagner, Patrick Sullivan and Alan Viader have given it a try. Tim Mondavi told Wine Business, “I’ve seen them in use at Petrus.”

“marketing wine to the Millennials and Gen X” — from an old buddy, Ricardo (formerly Rich) Kanakaris. Well, of course this is true, and everybody’s trying to do it. Alan Kropf, my new BFF from Mutineer, also nominated Mills, as did a guy named Anthony Carone, who owns a winery up in Quebec.

“MD 20/20 Blue with a necklace that says Bling Bling” — Yes, this is ultra-hot here on the streets of Oakland, where most trends start.

“Drinking it not collecting it!” — Right on, cousin Becs! But remember, you do have some of “ the good stuff” in your mom’s cellar, and it won’t be ready for a while.

“Burying cow horns filled with manure in the vineyard at midnight, then convincing folks the wine tastes better” — No comment.

“weird growing regions? varietals you never heard of?” — From Duane Bowman, and not tongue-in-cheek. These Millennials seem to want new stuff. The question is, will they discover old stuff (Bordeaux, Napa) the way their parents did, or will they stick with the weird, new stuff? It’s enough to drive a marketing manager insane.

“a less ‘serious’ or less ‘traditional’ attitude in new drinkers, new bars, new publications and new brands” — see comments about Millennials. From the beautiful and charismatic Leah Hennesy.

“Drinking it at lunch?” — Michael Rodeno, is that a question or a statement of your intentions?

“Domestic Tempranillo!” — I’ll have more to say about this toward the end of the month, on Wine Enthusiast’s website.

“Lower alcohols!” — This vintage, everybody’s talking about lower alcohols. Of course, the grapes may not be ripe, but at least you’ll have your 13.9% Cab!

“Meritages under $20 that beat out the $200 Bordeaux Wines” — From Ron Saikowski. Care to name names?

“Music and wine pairing” — Is that new? I’ve been drinking and listening to Dylan since the Sixties.

“Bashing wine’s old-media elite” — Who would bash those nice old dinosaur media elites? Nobody that was properly brought up, I’m sure!

  1. Concrete eggs! Oh yes they are so HOT right now (like Hansel)! A friend told me a story: he was visiting a vineyard in New Zealand, asking the grower technical questions about disease control. The guy said something like “oh, everybody just sprays when everybody else does – watch this.” So in the middle of the morning he hooks up his spray rig, with just water in it and heads out into the rows and fires it up. Within 30 min there was a tractor spraying in every vineyard within sight.

    Concrete eggs! Next will be clay amphorae…

  2. Concrete – it’s HUGE right now (in CA, anyway)… seems like everywhere I visit they’re using the eggs (or some variation) or plan to…

  3. I still love the ones you can crack and turn them into over easy.. oh I just had those like 10 minutes ago with some buttered toast on the side and omg not real butter but smart sense… get in your late forty’s and you cant have real butter so I guess some cannot have real egg’s… Concrete Eggs.. omg what is next wine in EGGS… oh yummy : )

    Ok to anser the question… the next trend? Well I hope its sales people that know something and know how to sell a wine… Oh thats a dream. Heres dreaming for that trend

    Miller is out : )

  4. Concrete.

    True story.

    Vacationed in Provence in 2003. Yes that 2003 when the temps went over 100 F for days in a row. Visited Vieux Telegraphe, CNdP, and Sang des Callioux, Vacqueyras, on one of those days. As we pulled into Sang des Cailloux, we noticed a bunch of rectangular cement fermenter, seemingly new, sitting on the ground. During our visit, when we got out of the car, we asked the owner-winemaker about it and he said he was replacing the old fermentation tanks with higher tech cement–which seemed like an oxymoron to me.

    When we drove over to Vieux Telegraphe, we asked owner Daniel Brunier about what we had seen, and he replied that he was going to pull out his steel tanks and go back to cement.

    His argument was, stiill is I presume, that cement somehow gives a richer texture and character to the wine. It was back to the future.

    Jeff Cohn at JC Cellars has both an “egg”, which really does look like an egg and a “hippopotamus”, which is essentially a cement tank on its side.

  5. After November 2nd many new blends will appear in the market. I have it on good authority the following blends will be among them:

    Magic Carpet Merlot
    Marley’s Malbec
    American Dream Albarino Kush
    Beaujolais Bubbleberry Belladonna
    Brunello and the Beast
    Zin Berry Blaster
    Sur lie Fatty
    Carmenet Confusion
    South African Skunk
    Barbera Bottle Rocket
    Celestial Temple Cinsault
    Diesel #7 Gewurz
    Chenin Chronic
    Amnesia Haze (I forget what’s in it.)
    Foggy Mountain Folle Blanche
    Northern Lights Nebiollo
    Humbolt Purple Pinot Power
    Sensi Star Syrah
    Morton’s Ultra Haze #2

  6. Morton you forgot Go and Pinot More.

  7. May the winemakers never stop tinkering!

  8. A couple of things I forgot. The South African Skunk (aka Durban Delusion) can be any grape variety. And Karen McNeil is rumored to be working on a new pairings class.

  9. Actually, I figured anything “hot” in wine had to, by definition, involve mulling…

    (John – great story!!!)

  10. Concrete is seeing a surge — tried Mer Soleil Silver? Great mouth feel, no oak notes to disguise the fruit and still able to preserve some acidity.

    I was at a trade tasting in Eugene, OR, on Tues. and talking with two winemakers who are using concrete eggs, one for pinot gris and another for pinot noir. When I asked how they came to concrete eggs as a solution (no jokes about cement chickens, please! ;), one had consulted with a transplanted french winemaker who had plenty of experience with them. The other had spent some time in CA where they were in use, a la Mer Soleil.

    Both winemakers liked the “no oak” influences, yet still having something that gave a richer, rounder mouth feel. When the topic of the new, high-tech from Sonoma Cast Stone came up, both winemakers said while they looked interesting, at $12K they were twice the cost of the original french eggs. They’re sticking with the originals –

  11. redoubling efforts to convince everyone that if they like a wine…then its a good wine. Regardless of where its from, whether it was grown near a manure filled cow horn, whether native or cultured yeasts were used, whether it has 100% new oak or all neutral, high or low ETOH/acid and finally (and most importantly), regardless of what the critics, bloggers, somms etc have to say about it (except for white zin…white zin always sucks)

  12. “Concrete eggs” are a good alternative for the oak-phobes. Concrete is porous; it breathes, but doesn’t impart any extraneous flavors.
    In Spain, Telmo Rodriguez has been fermenting and aging some of his entry level wines – e.g., LZ (Rioja Alavesa), Gazur (Ribera del Duero) – in cement for a while and, IMHO, they taste real good and clean.

  13. Saso Velkov, Macedonia says:

    Good things come back, now in the form of concrete (eggs), history of winemaking is repeating, and things are reinvented in a new forms all the time. Best thing is that the result is we are drinking better wines. What’s next: open top fermentors again? I think they are never forgoten.

    “sparkling” deserves to finally become everyday wine. Why only for hollydays? Crises and people’s wish for “dolce vita” will make it hapen.
    Wanna bet?

  14. Ron Saikowski says:

    Since concrete is an alkaline material and wine is acidic, the wine’s acid will chemically react with the concrete causing its ultimate failure. You can see these failures in most winery floor where the wine has eaten the cement away. However, Woodbridge Winery near Lodi has been using rectangular concrete tanks for many years. Their secret is that the interior of the concrete tanks are lined with heavy duty chemical linings. Woodbridge does NOT allow its wines in contact with concrete. If someone is using concrete, it is because the concrete has been coated with a chemical.

  15. Saso: you are so right about sparkling wines. Why don’t we drink them everyday?

  16. Epoxy lined concrete fermenters are neutral vessels. Uncoated concrete is what this is all about. Concrete’s deep pores demand a lot of care, i.e., rinsing the casks with water below 110 ºF, sanitizing with pH basic products such as peroxide solutions, Vitinet 0011…, but in the end of the day, it is not that different from oak.
    Also, it has been shown in France that “tartrate crystals and acids form a protective layer inside the concrete egg, and as a result, the acid attack becomes weaker with time”.

  17. The wine industry was full of concrete tanks in the 50’s and 60’s. They were removed from every winery because of quality issues. They are porous as everyone notes, but just as air can permeate, wine also permeates and at some point is deep enough that chemical sanitizers do not reach. At this interface you get a microflora of spoilage yeasts which then brings VA and Brett into your wines. You end up with a nice source of contamination that you cannot do anything about.

    Wine acids deteriorate the inner surface making it rough. On old tanks you would see the aggregate exposed. Allowing tartrates to build up makes a great place for microflora to flourish away from and protected from the sanitizers.

    As a young winemaker, tired of sour smelling funky wines that required extra large doses of SO2, I fought battles with management to remove the concrete tanks. So did many winemakers. I see this fad of concrete as a experiment by winemakers who do not have experience and are willing to try anything to differentiate their wines in the market place. It is a good PR story…and they will make nice egg shaped sculptures in the garden in a few years.

  18. “As a young winemaker, tired of sour smelling funky wines that required extra large doses of SO2, I fought battles with management to remove the concrete tanks. So did many winemakers. I see this fad of concrete as a experiment by winemakers who do not have experience and are willing to try anything to differentiate their wines in the market place. It is a good PR story…and they will make nice egg shaped sculptures in the garden in a few years”.
    The following text was abstracted from the article “Fermenting Wine in Cement Tanks”, http://www.winebusiness.com, April 15, 2008.
    (http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticle&dataId=55049)
    “The majority of the tanks being used in the wine country are produced by the French firm ETS Nomblot SAS. Its factory is in Ecuisses, on the Route de Beaune in Burgundy. Marc Nomblot (pronounced Nomeblow) is the president of the family-run company, which has been making concrete wine tanks since 1922. He said it has produced over 15,000 tanks, ranging in size from a 70-gallon egg to containers that can hold 10,000 gallons and beyond. They come in assorted shapes, including rectangular, square (cube), elliptical (egg-shaped), trapezoidal (pyramid), truncated cone (upright cask) and round.
    “Our vats are made of basic, high-quality cement plus washed gravel and sand and spring water, not chlorinated and with no other additives,” Nomblot said. All material is Burgundian. The small containers are made in sand molds in two pieces and then formed together with their own symbiotic stands. They are fitted with stainless steel caps and spouts. Most of his sales are for unlined tanks. “The tanks can be lined by epoxy, but all of the great wineries don’t want epoxy,” he added.
    According to Nomblot, his clients include Domaine de la Romanee Conti and Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy, Chateau Pontet-Canet in Bordeaux and Domaine du Chapoutier in the Rhône Valley. “Lafite-Rothschild has just placed an order for 20 new concrete tanks as well,” he said.
    “Nomblot said Brett is not a problem in his tanks if properly handled.”In 25 years [representing his firm], nobody had Brett problems with our concrete tanks. I have never had the question,” he said. “Winemakers have been surprised to see how easy the cleaning protocols are. The concept of a concrete tank, for most people, is that it is very rough and porous–so very difficult to clean. They expect to have to use extreme measures to clean the nooks and crannies that they think are inherent to concrete. Our concrete process is a special formulation. Just make sure to properly neutralize and sanitize the bare concrete interior tank walls as per the enclosed maintenance and preparation protocol,” .

  19. What are you pairing with Dylan?

  20. Alfie: Which Dylan? He’s had so many identities, it’s hard to say!

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