Thursday, February 5th, 2009
I received an email this morning with news from Winemaker Dan Tudor that four of their pinots were granted scores of 90 or above in the most recent Wine Spectator reviews by James Laube. Dan was among the first wineries we featured in the all-Pinot version of our Sideways Wine Club sampling program back in 2005. Back then, I thought the Tudor's were producing some very fine pinots, and I'm glad to see other palates recognize the same thing. (Click Here to see all our Tudor Pinots)
In his article, Laube mentions that the Tudor's have improved their wines. I spoke to Winemaker Dan Tudor, who took umbrage at that - "Our wines have always been this good. It's just that 2006 was a bit of a difficult vintage, and I think we coaxed more from our grapes than many other producers did, so perhaps it just seems as if we improved more than the rest"
Ah, so that's it. Dan commented on the wide variation in scores some of his wines were given, with other notable palates scoring the same wine very differently than did Laube. Which brought us to the question about whether scores are a reliable indicator of a wine you're going to enjoy or not! "Not really" he said "unless you enjoy the same sort of wines a reviewer does on any particular day. It's more useful to read a description and understand whether a given wine is made in a style you enjoy, regardless of its score"
Dan also shared one of his company's secrets for assuring every bottle tastes as they intended it when bottled - their use of the the Diam Corks from Oeneo. These are composite corks that many consumers perceive as being cheaper and inferior to a whole, natural cork. According to Dan, nothing could be further from the truth. The Diam corks begin as natural cork bark, are ground and sieved to a uniform consistency (and any impurities eliminated), then purified of over 150 contaminants (including the offending TCA that leads to cork taint and ruined wine, such as the treasured bottle of 1994 Rubicon we had to dump last month!) In addition to removing TCA, the process reduces other harmful compounds behind such offensive cork-based aromas as rubber, petroleum, mushroom and sulfur. Note, the mushroom mentioned here is not the natural mushroom ("Forest floor") aromas found in many good pinots - one of the reasons pinot and mushrooms have a natural affinity at the table!
This purification process is accomplished using "Supercritical CO2" - the scientific description for the change in gaseous properties under specific pressure/temperature conditions. In this case, CO2 is at its Supercritical phase at temperatures above 88 degrees and pressure in excess of 71 Bars. (Note, I found no mention on the Oeneo website about whether the CO2 is released into the atmosphere during the purification process - does anyone know? Please leave a comment)
After purification, the cork "dust" is molded into the shape of a cork using a food-grade binder (I believe this to be urethane, but can't find confirmation). Two levels of permeability are available to the winemaker, a basic version for standard wines and a more permeable version for very delicate wines. But the best news for winemakers is that the company guarantees against cork taint, and I know of no other wine closure that offers such assurance.
Dan, "Amusing Musings" extends our congratulations on your good ratings, and thanks you for the time on the phone today.
Cheers! Quote of the Day: ~ My wife, Leslie Durschinger, upon tasting a corked bottle of 1994 Rubicon
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Dave the Wine Merchant
Quote of the Day:
~ My wife, Leslie Durschinger, upon tasting a corked bottle of 1994 Rubicon
I Need Your Vote! VOTE DAILY!
. Help me continue this free blog by taking 5 seconds to vote here!