Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

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Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#1 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 12:48 pm

Surprised this has not been posted yet.

Interesting piece by Jamie, looking at historical measurements of ripeness and changes that have occurred over the past 20 years. And can't wait for installment 2 where he'll be talking with CA winemakers [soap.gif] [swearing.gif] [stirthepothal.gif]

http://www.worldoffinewine.com/news/rip ... aEhLgmEmLw
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#2 Post by Ian Sutton » December 4th, 2018, 1:21 pm

It reads well, with a fair voice for people at different ends of the spectrum.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#3 Post by BobMilton » December 4th, 2018, 1:33 pm

I always enjoy Jamie's writing since he makes me think about the subject.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#4 Post by Joshua Kates » December 4th, 2018, 5:25 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 12:48 pm
Surprised this has not been posted yet.

Interesting piece by Jamie, looking at historical measurements of ripeness and changes that have occurred over the past 20 years. And can't wait for installment 2 where he'll be talking with CA winemakers [soap.gif] [swearing.gif] [stirthepothal.gif]

http://www.worldoffinewine.com/news/rip ... aEhLgmEmLw
Thanks for posting, Larry,

Really informative, especially for someone not so familiar with the technical aspects of winemaking, unlike yourself. He lays it all out quite clearly. Can't wait for part two.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#5 Post by Alan Rath » December 4th, 2018, 5:53 pm

That's a great article.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#6 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 6:29 pm

Joshua Kates wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 5:25 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 12:48 pm
Surprised this has not been posted yet.

Interesting piece by Jamie, looking at historical measurements of ripeness and changes that have occurred over the past 20 years. And can't wait for installment 2 where he'll be talking with CA winemakers [soap.gif] [swearing.gif] [stirthepothal.gif]

http://www.worldoffinewine.com/news/rip ... aEhLgmEmLw
Thanks for posting, Larry,

Really informative, especially for someone not so familiar with the technical aspects of winemaking, unlike yourself. He lays it all out quite clearly. Can't wait for part two.
He's one of the best in the biz if you ask me. He certainly has his 'leanings', but he did a great job in this piece laying out the historical perspective and the factors at play.

It will be very interesting to see who he interviews in CA - to me, this will help determine the 'lean' of the piece. He's already mentioned the IPOB crowd so my guess is that he'll include Raj Parr or Jasmine Hirsch or someone like that; hoping he also includes someone like Justin Smith or Manfred Krankl or Russell From from Herman Story or any number of 'cult' Napa guys for alternative opinions . . .

Cheers.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#7 Post by James Billy » December 4th, 2018, 6:41 pm

I have to challenge one point. Those huge super ripe Barossa shirazes can only be made in certain parts of the Barossa, namely the North-West (think Torbreck.) Some winemakers in other parts of the Barossa would love to make those wines, they sell for big bucks, but they simply can't due to terroir. So, it does have an effect on flavour even at that end of the spectrum.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#8 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 6:45 pm

James,

Great point - and that point can certainly be made about other areas outside of the Barossa and Australia in general.

Cheers!
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#9 Post by brigcampbell » December 4th, 2018, 7:41 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 6:45 pm
James,

Great point - and that point can certainly be made about other areas outside of the Barossa and Australia in general.

Cheers!
Nice point James makes. How big is that area?

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#10 Post by James Billy » December 6th, 2018, 12:48 am

According to Wikipedia, Barossa has 10,350 hectares (25,600 acres) of vineyards. I'd guess less 1,000 acres can produce the Inky stuff.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#11 Post by Jürgen Steinke » December 6th, 2018, 2:54 am

To cut a long story short: There is no right or wrong. Many people tend to like the riper style. I can see this at my dinner table. If I put a bottle of Burgundy on the table and a full bodied Chateauneuf du Pape most probably the CdP is quick empty and the bottle of Burgundy still half full. This may be different if only wine geeks are my guests. And since Burgundy is a low production area worldwide demand will sell out this special type of wine anyway. But if you have to sell thousands of cases the picture is different. Most people are no admirers of the herbal style of traditional Bordeaux but love that new wave St. Emilion with vanilla, caramel and chocolate flavors and a dark fruit profile. 14,5% alc. is not a problem for most people as long as the wine does not taste sour or astringent. This is my experience.

Do I like Burgundy or traditional Bordeaux? Yes. But I am not dogmatic and can have fun with a "modern" wine as well. As long it is competently made and not a completely overripe mess.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#12 Post by Karl K » December 6th, 2018, 4:44 am

Good post Juergen; I concur.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#13 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » December 6th, 2018, 4:59 am

An outstanding article, Larry, thanks for linking. Wish I had seen it during our recent robus discussions on this topic in the two Bordeaux threads (1970s FG v. 3rd Growths and and 2016 Bordeaux).

Love the Intro:
Of all the issues at the heart of fine wine, perhaps one represents the crucial battleground: ripeness. To make good wine, ripe grapes are a prerequisite. But what exactly is ripeness? How is it defined? And when is ripe too ripe? The most controversial issue in wine is the shift toward riper red wines, made from grapes picked later, with a sweeter fruit profile and more alcohol. Bolstered by the lavish use of expensive new oak, these are in the so-called “international style.” They are dark, concentrated, and seductive, but they are a world apart from the classic European models that have for so long formed the bedrock of the trade in fine wine.

Even some of the classic wines have changed, becoming denser, riper, and more alcoholic through later picking, lower yields, more ruthless selection, and the use of increasing proportions of new oak. Is this just a style preference on the part of consumers? In this case, what right have we to complain? Or is there a deeper problem here, with a convergence of flavor that sees nuance and sense of place in wine lost? There are a limited number of privileged terroirs in the world capable of making nuanced, elegant, ageworthy red wines, and if these are being used to make big international reds, then something precious is being lost. This is why the topic is so controversial.

These wines are being made because this is what the critics like, we are told. But there’s a vocal reaction against these riper, denser wines, with a growing momentum to see some of these excesses curtailed, chiefly through picking much earlier. But to see this issue as a simple binary “right/wrong” or “them/us” scenario is to misread the situation and to prolong the divide. As with so many issues in the world of wine, a more intelligent, nuanced reading is needed, holding in tension seemingly conflicting “truths.” In this three-part series, I will try to explore the issues surrounding ripeness in wine, which is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking of all the discussions in fine-wine circles.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#14 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » December 6th, 2018, 5:06 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 2:54 am
To cut a long story short: There is no right or wrong. Many people tend to like the riper style. I can see this at my dinner table. If I put a bottle of Burgundy on the table and a full bodied Chateauneuf du Pape most probably the CdP is quick empty and the bottle of Burgundy still half full. This may be different if only wine geeks are my guests. And since Burgundy is a low production area worldwide demand will sell out this special type of wine anyway. But if you have to sell thousands of cases the picture is different. Most people are no admirers of the herbal style of traditional Bordeaux but love that new wave St. Emilion with vanilla, caramel and chocolate flavors and a dark fruit profile. 14,5% alc. is not a problem for most people as long as the wine does not taste sour or astringent. This is my experience.

Do I like Burgundy or traditional Bordeaux? Yes. But I am not dogmatic and can have fun with a "modern" wine as well. As long it is competently made and not a completely overripe mess.
Sure, but of course the problem is, so many once-traditional estates have flipped to the trend. It's not just limited to St Emilion, as you note. So while others may like "vanilla, caramel and chocolate" in their wine, it is quite sad to see Figeac, Conseillante, Carmes Haut Brion, Lanessan, La Louviere and a whole host of others, make such a paradigm shift. They had loyal followings already. Follow trends, fall prey to trends. If only it had indeed stayed with the St Em garage wine movement, relegated to the garage.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#15 Post by Brian Gilp » December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am

The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#16 Post by Gordon Fitz » December 6th, 2018, 8:06 am

My chief problem is when the line in ripeness is crossed with the result being gads of residual sugar. A producer wants to pick that cab at 32-34 brixs yet only ferment to 14.5-15 abc, no cone spinning desired. Ripe fruit is fine, if I want RS, I’ll buy a Sauternes, Vin Santo, or Riesling, keep it out of my cabs, Syrah, Chardonnay, and especially PN!

Unfortunately, the market place is going in the opposite direction! They all want to make money like Joe Wagner!

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#17 Post by GregT » December 6th, 2018, 8:38 am

The article didn't start out that well IMO but overall it turned into a pretty good read. Most interesting was the bit about Chile, because it seems really hard to talk about their wine without taking into consideration the vast amount of learning that's taken place over the past 20 years and the changes in the political situation. So many of their wines used to be both too green and too ripe and I was always amazed at that because it's a country with an astonishing array of possibilities. So many mountains across so many latitudes provides as many possibilities as any country on earth. And over the past decades their wines have become better and better. I don't think that they need to go back to whatever they were doing in the 1970s because there is now much more diversity than there was and they have more possibilities.

Ditto California. People slag on Napa Cab for being oaky and ripe, but there is just so much more to California wine than Napa Cab.

And that's where I had problems with the article, good as it was. There's not a "new world palate" or preference for sweetness - that's universal in all cultures. Also, most wine produced anywhere is pretty crappy, including Bordeaux. There's an ocean of plonk coming out of there that doesn't get discussed by wine writers or people on this board and a lot of the changes have helped that wine at the low end.

Nor do I get where people came up with the notion that a bigger wine shows better at blind tastings. In their imaginations maybe, or with people who tend not to drink wine regularly, but after some twenty years of regular blind tasting, I can testify that it's simply not true.

I realize he wasn't writing about the history of wine so much as recent stylistic changes, but he should have edited this line:
it was universally acknowledged that in the classic European wine regions, the best wines were made where grape varieties were grown close to the margins of where they could successfully achieve ripeness.
That may have been true in the 1960s, but I doubt very much that it was true in the 1600s, 1200s, and earlier. People planted what they had and what they could grow and they didn't use the most fertile ground because that was needed for food crops. Grapes did OK on more marginal soil, so it worked out, but no way were people looking to make their lives more difficult than they already were.

But all in all a fun article to read.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#18 Post by John Morris » December 6th, 2018, 9:48 am

GregT wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 8:38 am
I realize he wasn't writing about the history of wine so much as recent stylistic changes, but he should have edited this line:
it was universally acknowledged that in the classic European wine regions, the best wines were made where grape varieties were grown close to the margins of where they could successfully achieve ripeness.
That may have been true in the 1960s, but I doubt very much that it was true in the 1600s, 1200s, and earlier. People planted what they had and what they could grow and they didn't use the most fertile ground because that was needed for food crops. Grapes did OK on more marginal soil, so it worked out, but no way were people looking to make their lives more difficult than they already were.
It's pointless to discuss fine wines in 1200 or 1600, since winemaking was so primitive then. And he's not saying that grapes were planted in those locales for that reason, I assume -- he's just making an observation about the final products.

If you think German and Austrian riesling, Champagne, Burgundy (white and red), Bordeaux and nebbiolo in the northwest of Italy are capable of producing the most complex and interesting wines (not a crazy view, though hardly universal), then the accepted wisdom he cites is pretty true.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#19 Post by Jürgen Steinke » December 6th, 2018, 11:59 am

Robert,

obviously these Chateaux think they will be more successful with a modern approach.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#20 Post by James Billy » December 6th, 2018, 9:32 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Absolutely! True terroir comes from perfectly ripe grapes fermented without too much 'winemaker's thumbprints.'

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#21 Post by larry schaffer » December 7th, 2018, 9:36 am

James Billy wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 9:32 pm
Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Absolutely! True terroir comes from perfectly ripe grapes fermented without too much 'winemaker's thumbprints.'
I'm not sure that your statement is true - 'terroir' still needs to be better defined [stirthepothal.gif] [soap.gif] [snort.gif]

So many other things come into play here. When you pick grapes certainly starts the potential wine off on a specific path, but it can also be 'curtailed' by the use of oak, by the use of 'finishing agents' like gum arabic, by the use of SO2 to control oxidation, etc.

But I agree with Brian - under-ripe is 'no better' than over-ripe - there can be a 'sameness' in either case.

Cheers.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#22 Post by Scott E. » December 7th, 2018, 9:51 am

A couple of statements that I found interesting (Niepoort):

“In the Douro, our logic is more picking by ripeness of acidity than alcohol,” he says, “picking before the acidity falls dramatically".

Seems like this is just plain picking early?

“Old vines, and especially old vines looked after in an old-fashioned way, first produce ripeness and then the alcohol".

How does this work? Don't they go hand-in-hand?

and this one from Papa (Chile):

"When you pick earlier, you get a bigger diversity of flavors."

I imagine this is true, but some of those flavors are going to be green, no? Cheers!
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#23 Post by larry schaffer » December 7th, 2018, 10:01 am

Scott E. wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:51 am
A couple of statements that I found interesting (Niepoort):

“In the Douro, our logic is more picking by ripeness of acidity than alcohol,” he says, “picking before the acidity falls dramatically".

Seems like this is just plain picking early?

“Old vines, and especially old vines looked after in an old-fashioned way, first produce ripeness and then the alcohol".

How does this work? Don't they go hand-in-hand?

and this one from Papa (Chile):

"When you pick earlier, you get a bigger diversity of flavors."

I imagine this is true, but some of those flavors are going to be green, no? Cheers!
Great questions - and the statements all sound 'good' on first reading, but after really thinking about them . . .

I don't thing there is such a thing as 'ripeness of acidity' - I think the concept here is to pick earlier to retain higher levels of natural acidity rather than 'sacrificing' that in lieu of a higher sugar content, and thus increased potential alcohol levels.

Not sure about the 'diversity of flavors' concept by picking earlier. And if we are just talking 'diversity of flavors' in the grapes themselves, we all can hopefully agree that that does not necessarily translate into 'diversity of flavors' in the final wine.

These statements remind me of so many other 'conventional wisdoms' that exist in the wine world which are just not true:

'Unfiltered is always better than filtered'
'True' Rose is always better than Saignee roses
'Smaller wineries make more interesting wines than larger wineries'
'Old vines always lead to better or more complex wines than younger vines'

And the list can go on and on . . .

Cheers
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#24 Post by Doug Schulman » December 7th, 2018, 10:38 am

Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Can you be more specific? Are there certain areas or categories, or even more helpful, producers, where you find this to be the case? It's pretty far from my experience.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#25 Post by James Billy » December 7th, 2018, 3:27 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:36 am
James Billy wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 9:32 pm
Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Absolutely! True terroir comes from perfectly ripe grapes fermented without too much 'winemaker's thumbprints.'
I'm not sure that your statement is true - 'terroir' still needs to be better defined [stirthepothal.gif] [soap.gif] [snort.gif]

So many other things come into play here. When you pick grapes certainly starts the potential wine off on a specific path, but it can also be 'curtailed' by the use of oak, by the use of 'finishing agents' like gum arabic, by the use of SO2 to control oxidation, etc.

But I agree with Brian - under-ripe is 'no better' than over-ripe - there can be a 'sameness' in either case.

Cheers.
Larry, you are saying what I was trying to say!

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#26 Post by Brian Gilp » December 7th, 2018, 4:36 pm

Doug Schulman wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 10:38 am
Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Can you be more specific? Are there certain areas or categories, or even more helpful, producers, where you find this to be the case? It's pretty far from my experience.
I have a small home vineyard with multiple varieties. In 2010 due to family issues I had to pick all my reds on one day with different states of ripeness and co-fermented the entire pick together. The resulting wine wasn’t bad but did have a very distinct cranberry flavor that dominated.

The next time I tasted the same dominant cranberry flavor was when I ordered a mixed case from Broc. The 7 or 8 red wines in that case all had the same taste and honestly that’s all I tasted regardless of which variety it was. Note these were all 2011 vintage reds. I’ve not taste other vintages so can’t say it’s not a vintage issue.

I’ve noticed the same taste since then with some of the lower alcohol wines but surely not all of them. I don’t keep track so don’t have names. The only reason I remember the Broc is because every one of that case had the same taste and it was the first time I connected it to my own wine and the less than fully ripe pick.

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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#27 Post by Wes Barton » December 7th, 2018, 4:49 pm

Scott E. wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:51 am
A couple of statements that I found interesting (Niepoort):

“In the Douro, our logic is more picking by ripeness of acidity than alcohol,” he says, “picking before the acidity falls dramatically".

Seems like this is just plain picking early?

“Old vines, and especially old vines looked after in an old-fashioned way, first produce ripeness and then the alcohol".

How does this work? Don't they go hand-in-hand?

and this one from Papa (Chile):

"When you pick earlier, you get a bigger diversity of flavors."

I imagine this is true, but some of those flavors are going to be green, no? Cheers!
"Ripeness of acidity" is an odd conceptualization, but they're just talking about a range. For their location, that's a metric that works predictably to make a good picking decision. It doesn't translate to all sites and varieties, but why should they care? It isn't picking early, it's where they view complexity is at its peak. These compounds develop over time, then begins dissipation of aromatic compounds, then the cell structures start breaking down to the point inputs cease. Think of that as three phases. The first is clearly ripening. The last is senescence (death/breakdown). In between there is a trade-off of gains and losses. And, of course, there are wine styles that are purposefully under-ripe and over-ripe to be their best. What's revered in Vintage Port would be lost with too much hang time.

Re: The old vines statement. That's their experience with their vines. I'd guess the biggest factor differentiating their young and old vines is the production and delivery of sugars to the grapes. Foliar disease can significantly slow photosynthesis. Clogged up old wood can majorly slow fluid flow.

Note green flavors are just from under-ripeness. Hang too much fruit and that sort may never be able to go away, despite all other ripening metrics being advanced. Pyrazines are largely a factor of foliar management, not ripeness. You can also get green flavors from heavy extraction, including with the assistance of high alcohol near the end of fermentation.
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Re: Ripeness in Wines by Jamie Goode

#28 Post by Doug Schulman » December 8th, 2018, 9:29 am

Brian Gilp wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 4:36 pm
Doug Schulman wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 10:38 am
Brian Gilp wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 6:58 am
The article makes the point of a sameness in late picked riper wines and I agree with this but I also have experienced a sameness is a number of earlier picked lower alcohol wines as well. Not all of them by any means just like not every 15% wine tastes the same. But when I notice this it comes across as an overwhelming cranberry that overrides any varietal character. Yet this isn’t noted in the article. For me proper ripeness is that sweet spot between cranberry and raisins where the real flavors come through.
Can you be more specific? Are there certain areas or categories, or even more helpful, producers, where you find this to be the case? It's pretty far from my experience.
I have a small home vineyard with multiple varieties. In 2010 due to family issues I had to pick all my reds on one day with different states of ripeness and co-fermented the entire pick together. The resulting wine wasn’t bad but did have a very distinct cranberry flavor that dominated.

The next time I tasted the same dominant cranberry flavor was when I ordered a mixed case from Broc. The 7 or 8 red wines in that case all had the same taste and honestly that’s all I tasted regardless of which variety it was. Note these were all 2011 vintage reds. I’ve not taste other vintages so can’t say it’s not a vintage issue.

I’ve noticed the same taste since then with some of the lower alcohol wines but surely not all of them. I don’t keep track so don’t have names. The only reason I remember the Broc is because every one of that case had the same taste and it was the first time I connected it to my own wine and the less than fully ripe pick.
Thanks. I think the Broc wines all taste the same because they're terribly flawed microbial messes. It's really difficult for me to get past that element and think about the fruit. I guess maybe there's an extreme where what you're talking about happens, but I'm not sure. I think of vintages in Europe where some grapes didn't get fully ripe (by my definition), yet the wines still have definite sense of place and grape. I guess I remember having an Arnot-Roberts Syrah that was something like 11% ABV and didn't taste like Syrah. It was so tart that I didn't enjoy drinking it, and I love high acid wines like Nebbiolo from the Alto Piemonte. Maybe that was an example and I just haven't seen or noticed it elsewhere.
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