More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

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larry schaffer
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More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#1 Post by larry schaffer » October 8th, 2018, 8:41 am

An interesting article by Esther Mobley about issues in Lake County and the Rogue River area. Some of this has already been discussed, but the inability to confirm taint damage with certainty is hammered home here . . .

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 29.php?utm
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Corey N.
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#2 Post by Corey N. » October 8th, 2018, 8:57 am

larry schaffer wrote:
October 8th, 2018, 8:41 am
An interesting article by Esther Mobley about issues in Lake County and the Rogue River area. Some of this has already been discussed, but the inability to confirm taint damage with certainty is hammered home here . . .

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 29.php?utm
I would think that the industry would benefit from a relatively standardized contract for purchasing fruit, unless perhaps one already exists?

Contracts should have procedures for rejecting fruit. If the buyer claims that there is smoke taint, it seems that the solution would be to send a sample (or several samples) to an independent third-party lab for analysis. Theoretically, there could be a sliding scale of consequences if fruit comes back positive for smoke taint (e.g. trace taint = 5% discount, low level taint = 10% discount, etc.).
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#3 Post by larry schaffer » October 8th, 2018, 9:27 am

Corey,

Great points indeed. But as the article points out, there are 'bound' chemicals which would not show in the tests currently being used and therefore could result in 'smoke tainted wines', even if the current tests would show otherwise.

It really does seem quite complicated - and as I said above, I feel for both sides here.

Cheers!
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Brian Maloney
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#4 Post by Brian Maloney » October 8th, 2018, 9:38 am

Fruit testing is poorly correlated to taint markers occurring in finished wine, but a test of newly fermented wine is a different story. This has been known for some time (we started looking at it this way in 2015) and from the article seems to be the main hangup between the growers and wineries. 5 days or so on skins and a few degrees alcohol can change a "not present" to a "20x threshold" situation. 5-gallon bucket ferments in the lab can show this prior to picking the fruit, and are a much more valuable tool than sending berry samples out for testing.

At this point in time after dealing with this same situation 4 times in the last 11 vintages, if there is ANY detectable level on fruit (pre-fermentation) I would consider the fruit to be at a level of taint beyond usage with out extensive treatment.

As far as contracts go - we have started to implement the exact style mentioned of a sliding scale depending upon levels of contamination - but based off of levels in wine, not fruit.

Overall, I found the article to be an unfortunate story of folks getting caught between a changing industry and less than scrupulous buyers. If you grow grapes and do not have crop insurance for your very valuable, very at risk product, you're asking for bad things like this to occur and putting your winery partner in a tough spot in terms of finding a way to make it work for both parties when dealing with a compromised product.

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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#5 Post by larry schaffer » October 8th, 2018, 10:10 am

Brian,

Thanks for your insight and thoughtful post. It's one of the 'strengths' of this board when someone posts not just 'anecdotal' information but factual and timely information as well . . .

Cheers!
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#6 Post by Alan Rath » October 8th, 2018, 10:54 am

Every time this topic comes up I post how shocked I am that there aren't several masters theses on the shelf at Davis which answer every question one could have on smoke taint.

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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#7 Post by larry schaffer » October 8th, 2018, 10:59 am

Alan,

The better place to see these studies would probably be Australia, since (1) they tend to be faced with this situation a lot more frequently than we do here and (2) their research is funded by the wine industry and the government . . .

That said, Andrew Waterhouse, the wine chemist specialist, is most likely working on it . . .

Cheers!
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#8 Post by Alan Rath » January 11th, 2019, 12:03 pm

Not sure where I found this article, I don't think it was linked here on Berserkers. But finally an indication that at least one group is doing some real research:

"You’d be forgiven for thinking that there could be an obvious answer to smoke taint — if you don’t want smoke-reeking wine, then don’t make wine from smoke-reeking grapes. But sometimes, grapes that are spared immolation from wildfires mature normally and smell fine on the vine at harvest. It’s only once they ferment that the smell of their smoky bath months earlier returns in full force, seemingly out of nowhere. This smoke-flavored disappearing-reappearing act is the result of a diabolical biochemical accident caused by the interaction of smoke molecules with the natural enzymatic machinery of grapevines and yeast."

https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/ ... story.html

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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#9 Post by Marc Hauser » January 11th, 2019, 7:15 pm

Corey N. wrote:
October 8th, 2018, 8:57 am
larry schaffer wrote:
October 8th, 2018, 8:41 am
An interesting article by Esther Mobley about issues in Lake County and the Rogue River area. Some of this has already been discussed, but the inability to confirm taint damage with certainty is hammered home here . . .

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 29.php?utm
I would think that the industry would benefit from a relatively standardized contract for purchasing fruit, unless perhaps one already exists?

Contracts should have procedures for rejecting fruit. If the buyer claims that there is smoke taint, it seems that the solution would be to send a sample (or several samples) to an independent third-party lab for analysis. Theoretically, there could be a sliding scale of consequences if fruit comes back positive for smoke taint (e.g. trace taint = 5% discount, low level taint = 10% discount, etc.).
Indeed, there is no standard contract for grape buying. What would us wine lawyers otherwise do for a living?

Contracts typically have rights to reject grapes (depending on negotiation strength). Smoke taint is an emerging deal point.
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Re: More Smoke Taint Concerns . . .

#10 Post by Steve Anderson » February 5th, 2019, 1:18 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
October 8th, 2018, 8:41 am
An interesting article by Esther Mobley about issues in Lake County and the Rogue River area. Some of this has already been discussed, but the inability to confirm taint damage with certainty is hammered home here . . .

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 29.php?utm
Just saw this note at the end of Celia Welch's Corra release email regarding her 2018 Rogue River Tail Feathers blend. Sorry to hear that, as it has been our favorite summer white the past few years.

"One additional note. Sadly, I will not be able to share a 2018 vintage of Tail Feathers white, as the vineyard suffered smoke damage during the summer wildfires. I’ll look forward to creating one for my next release a year from now."

Cheers,

Steve

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