So You Want To Make Ice Wine

June 21, 2012 · Posted in Hobbies · Comment 

Making ice wine can be challenging to make, but the rewards are worth the effort. Ice wine is becoming more popular every day and home winemakers and large scale winemakers are getting in on the act. If you’re considering making ice wine, there are some key things you should know before venturing into this type of winemaking.

Ice wine overview

Ice wine is so called because of the method used when harvesting and crushing grapes. This creates a very sweet, highly acidic wine that is usually enjoyed cold and paired as you would pair a dessert wine. Because of the methods used, it’s typically created in countries that experience longer freezing times and is made with grape varietals that are hearty and can withstand such climates.

How is ice wine produced?

The goal of making ice wine is to produce very high levels of sugar, naturally creating a wine much sweeter than other dessert wines. Grapes are picked and pressed while still virtually frozen. When pressed, the water remains frozen, but the sugars are extracted and the resulting juice can have a brix of 35 to 50, vs. 20 – 25 for most red wines. This is done by allowing grapes to remain on the vine for months after a standard harvest, until the season’s first frost. Because of the characteristics of ice wine, the fermentation process typically takes much longer. If you’re used to primary fermentation taking days, prepare for weeks or months before brix levels off.

Why is it so difficult to produce ice wine?

Commercial winemakers take a great deal of risk in making ice wine, given the challenges. It’s not easy picking grapes in the freezing cold. Most are picked in the middle of the night. That’s because they must keep them frozen until they are pressed. That often means driving grape bins through difficult, snow covered terrain. If grapes are left on the vine too long, they will either fall off of the vine or be too damaged to use. Timing is essential. Once harvested, ice wine grapes must then be pressed in an unheated facility, usually with a basket press. It takes a lot of pressure to press frozen grapes and commercial bladder presses are not up to the task. That means loading frozen grapes into the press by hand and taking them out with an ice pick! The volume of free-run and pressed juice is much lower and as a result, winemakers costs are much higher, per volume. This is all in addition to the market risk of producing a product that is not yet in huge demand by a large percentage of the wine-drinking public.

How can I make my own ice wine?

Still want to make ice wine? If so, get ready for some hard work. Your first step will be to figure out if the right type of grapes are available and to determine if the weather conditions provide you with a supply of frozen grapes. If so, you’ll still need to get some very good friends to harvest grapes after the first freeze, usually in the dark of night. You will then need to transport the grapes, keeping them frozen, to a place where you can crush them fairly quickly. Make sure the grapes are still frozen when crushing, or you will not achieve the high sugar content you intend. A basket press close by the vineyard is your best bet. If you don’t have access to grapes that are frozen on the vine, hope is not lost. You can still recreate the conditions by getting fresh grapes and freezing them in a big freezer. You’ll still need to make sure that you are crushing the grapes while frozen to get a high brix. Most appellations don’t allow this type of wine to be called true ice wine, but for the homemade winemaker, you’ll not really notice the difference. Make sure you test the juice for sugar content first after free run, then again as you press. You can then mix the two juice products to achieve the brix you’re looking for. Also, use yeast made for this purpose, resistant to high sugar and high alcohol content and often used in ice wine. Once you decide to put in the time and effort, you will be able to experiment and make a wine that is ready for any after-dinner party!

If you’re thinking about making homemade wine or you’re a veteran winemaker, come check out the homemade wine source.

Superb McLaren Vale Wine Generates Waves

February 21, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

Mclaren Vale wine originates from a scenic area of South Australia called McLaren Vale. Many of the original vines today are more than 100 years’ old and are still single family owned. This is a destination area where visitors are greeted by many cafes and restaurants featuring local as well as international fare.

Growing in popularity is WayWood Wines that produces small quantities of boutique wines. Their important accomplishments include winning the Silver Medal at the Small Winemakers Show in 2010. They are considered producers of one of the 100 hot wines for 2010. Wine lovers can join their online newsletter mailing list to keep abreast on their newest releases.

A well known vineyard is that of Graham Stevens Wines who has been winning awards since the 1970s. A family run business Mr. Stevens is running his second vineyard with his daughter. Two special releases occurred in the summer of 2011 called The Cousins Grenache Rose and Clare Valley Riesling.

This area features the beauty of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the beaches of Gulf St Vincent. It is an idyllic setting for enjoying the culinary delights of such popular restaurants as El Toro Bar and Grill which specializes in Latin American cuisine. Other well known eating establishments include The Barn Bistro and Oscars and Vasarelli Cellar Door & Cafe.

The specialty wines of the area include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Chardonnay. Growing in popularity are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Some of the better known wineries include Coriole and Wirra Wirra Vineyards. Aficionados who do not live in the immediate area can visit the winery website and order online.

McLaren Vale wine originates from south Australia where mountains meet the shores of the southern oceans. Visitors can enjoy this splendid scenery while indulging in award winning wines and gourmet food in any of the dozens of restaurants to choose from. When visiting this area of Australian the McLaren Vale area should not be missed.

Check out the site McLaren Vale Shiraz, Shiraz

Vineyards and Winemaking From McLaren Vale

January 17, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

McLaren Vale, the home of the Curtis Family Vineyards, is just 45 minutes’ drive south of South Australia’s capital of Adelaide, has been making wine for one and a half centuries. That’s not as long as wine has been made in Italy, but the results are just as encouraging. And how a family with its ancestry dating back to the 15th Century has brought its expertise to McLaren vale with a new range of wines with an impressive European lineage.

The Curtis Family Vineyards is established just west of the township of McLaren Vale in . Its vineyards have flourished and now its sought-after dry white and dry red table wines are available on the Australian and export markets.The story of the Curtis Family Vineyards is really the story of how everything old came new again…of how European immigrants came to Australia, struggled against the odds and then applied old world values and experience to produce fine wines.

The name Curtis is thought to derive from Curtius, a noble and wealthy family of the First and Second Centuries AD, the Roman Empire era originating from the Latinium people.

Records show that the Curtis Family name first appeared in Cervaro in 1471, a town established by the Latinium tribe in Central Italy around the Second Century AD. Cervaro is situated approximately 10klms south of the monastery town of Monte Cassino, the site of some of the bitterest fighting between the Allied and German forces in Italy during World war II. Winemaking – Red grapes are harvested at optimum flavour levels, after testing and monitoring of the maturity development, in the cool of the day and then destemmer crushed into fermentation tanks.

Controlled temperature fermentation of 20-25 degree celsius on the skins until almost dry, the cap wet and submerged by regular pumping over, drained and pressed, racked off, followed by maturation in selected medium toast new American and French Oak \”hogsheads\” barrels. Ideally stored until bottling once the fruit and oak flavour balance is attained. Some bottle age maturity is then gained before the release of the wines for sale. White grapes are harvested in the cool of the night, destemmer roller crushed, must chilled to 6 degrees celsius into an air bag press, free run and gentle pressing separated to cold juice settling tanks. The clarified juice is then temperature controlled fermented until dry. Maturation in selected new medium toast French oak \”hogsheads\”, if required for wooded full body style, or alternatively in inert receptacles prior to bottling. The original Curtis Family Vineyard was re-established in 1973 by The Curtis Family, planted mainly to red varieties, Grenache and Shiraz. Further land was acquired in the 1980\’s and 1990\’s eventually expanding the vineyard area. The vineyard area is now planted to both red and white grape varieties upon soil types varying from McLaren Vale type terra rossa to sandy loams over limestone marl subsoils. The varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. All vineyard sites are deep ripped prior to planting but minimally cultivated with inter row cover crops to preserve our precious resource. The vines are drip irrigated through out the warm long summer/autumn growing season to attain maximum fruit quality development. Native fauna is not considered a threat to the ripening fruit and hence no extermination or barring techniques are employed. In fact, the small percentage lost to pecking birds is insignificant, meaning neither gas guns nor shooters are deployed in any of the vineyards. Claudio Curtis has trained a dedicated, willing operations team. All staff participate in a Vineyard Quality Assurance accreditation scheme and attend training to keep abreast of new vineyard techniques. The vineyards are admired by local and international visitors, and are immaculately and fastidiously tended in the Italian tradition….they are bordered by trees to enhance the Australian Wine Industry\’s international image as a \”Green and Clean\” industry. Enormous Eucalyptus border the eastern boundaries of the vineyards, abundant with native flora. The History of The Curtis Family Vineyard The first owner of what is now Curtis Family Vineyard was Mr Phillip Hollins, purchased in 1849 from the SA Land Company having been surveyed in 1839 by Mr John McLaren. Mr Hollins had large land holdings in Noarlunga through to McLaren Vale and was also owner of the famous Horseshoe Inn on the banks of the Onkaparinga River in Noarlunga, a necessity for horse drawn carriages travelling south from Adelaide. Mr Hollins died in 1876 and willed his land to Alexander Birrell, formerly of Norwood. Both owners employed farmers to work the land in the district. On this section prior to 1876, a small house with a cellar was built for the workmen consisting of a kitchen (slate floor), dining and bedroom, these rooms form the nucleus of the house today, which is now on another title. The property south of the original house was planted with vines. The varieties were Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro. The working of the vineyard was with horse drawn implements. Five horses were bought with the property and had been trained by Mr Stock. Bill Rivers can remember one horse called Roger, which was particularly good at his job. He was trained to pull the finishing off plough (which is still on the property today). If by chance the plough hit a vine, the horse would stop until all was righted. The vines were removed in the mid 1950\’s and the land used for cropping and dairying.

www.curtisfamilyvineyards.com

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Great Place – McLaren Vale

January 16, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

McLaren Vale, the home of the Curtis Family Vineyards, is just 45 minutes’ drive south of South Australia’s capital of Adelaide, has been making wine for one and a half centuries. That’s not as long as wine has been made in Italy, but the results are just as encouraging. And how a family with its ancestry dating back to the 15th Century has brought its expertise to McLaren vale with a new range of wines with an impressive European lineage.

Wine from this vineyard was sent to London in 1822, where it was awarded a silver medal. A subsequent parcel of wine was awarded a gold medal in 1827. John Macarthur planted a vineyard at Camden Park in 1820 and by 1827 produced a vintage of 90,000 litres. Interest in viticulture in the colony increased rapidly and in 1831 James Busby travelled through Spain and France collecting cuttings of grape cuttings for the colony. He was recorded as having collected 433 varieties from the Botanic Gardens in Montpellier, 110 from the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, 44 from Sion House near Kew Gardens in England and 91 from other parts of Spain and France. At this time, varieties were not well characterised and it seems certain that some were repeated in this introduction under more than one name, perhaps many more – the same name may also have been used for more than one variety, It is clear from the catalogue of the collection put out by the Sydney Botanical Gardens in 1842 that some of the varieties may also have been confused, for example Semillon is described as a black grape and Malbec as a white. Unfortunately, this collection was removed in 1857 – but not before cuttings has been distributed to Camden, the Hunter Valley and the Adelaide Botanical gardens from where they spread throughout Australia.

The new faces behind the Curtis Family Vineyards are Mark, Thomas & Jenna Curtis, with the guidance of their father, Claudio Curtis who lives on the vineyard just outside McLaren Vale. The name Curtis is thought to derive from Curtius, a noble and wealthy family of the First and Second Centuries AD, the Roman Empire era originating from the Latinium people.

Records show that the Curtis Family name first appeared in Cervaro in 1471, a town established by the Latinium tribe in Central Italy around the Second Century AD. Cervaro is situated approximately 10klms south of the monastery town of Monte Cassino, the site of some of the bitterest fighting between the Allied and German forces in Italy during World war II. Winemaking – Red grapes are harvested at optimum flavour levels, after testing and monitoring of the maturity development, in the cool of the day and then destemmer crushed into fermentation tanks.

Controlled temperature fermentation of 20-25 degree celsius on the skins until almost dry, the cap wet and submerged by regular pumping over, drained and pressed, racked off, followed by maturation in selected medium toast new American and French Oak “hogsheads” barrels. Ideally stored until bottling once the fruit and oak flavour balance is attained. Some bottle age maturity is then gained before the release of the wines for sale. White grapes are harvested in the cool of the night, destemmer roller crushed, must chilled to 6 degrees celsius into an air bag press, free run and gentle pressing separated to cold juice settling tanks. The clarified juice is then temperature controlled fermented until dry. Maturation in selected new medium toast French oak “hogsheads”, if required for wooded full body style, or alternatively in inert receptacles prior to bottling. The original Curtis Family Vineyard was re-established in 1973 by The Curtis Family, planted mainly to red varieties, Grenache and Shiraz. Further land was acquired in the 1980′s and 1990′s eventually expanding the vineyard area. The vineyard area is now planted to both red and white grape varieties upon soil types varying from McLaren Vale type terra rossa to sandy loams over limestone marl subsoils. The varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. All vineyard sites are deep ripped prior to planting but minimally cultivated with inter row cover crops to preserve our precious resource. The vines are drip irrigated through out the warm long summer/autumn growing season to attain maximum fruit quality development. Native fauna is not considered a threat to the ripening fruit and hence no extermination or barring techniques are employed. In fact, the small percentage lost to pecking birds is insignificant, meaning neither gas guns nor shooters are deployed in any of the vineyards. Claudio Curtis has trained a dedicated, willing operations team. All staff participate in a Vineyard Quality Assurance accreditation scheme and attend training to keep abreast of new vineyard techniques. The vineyards are admired by local and international visitors, and are immaculately and fastidiously tended in the Italian tradition….they are bordered by trees to enhance the Australian Wine Industry’s international image as a “Green and Clean” industry. Enormous Eucalyptus border the eastern boundaries of the vineyards, abundant with native flora. The History of The Curtis Family Vineyard The first owner of what is now Curtis Family Vineyard was Mr Phillip Hollins, purchased in 1849 from the SA Land Company having been surveyed in 1839 by Mr John McLaren. Mr Hollins had large land holdings in Noarlunga through to McLaren Vale and was also owner of the famous Horseshoe Inn on the banks of the Onkaparinga River in Noarlunga, a necessity for horse drawn carriages travelling south from Adelaide. Mr Hollins died in 1876 and willed his land to Alexander Birrell, formerly of Norwood. Both owners employed farmers to work the land in the district. On this section prior to 1876, a small house with a cellar was built for the workmen consisting of a kitchen (slate floor), dining and bedroom, these rooms form the nucleus of the house today, which is now on another title. The property south of the original house was planted with vines. The varieties were Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro. The working of the vineyard was with horse drawn implements. Five horses were bought with the property and had been trained by Mr Stock. Bill Rivers can remember one horse called Roger, which was particularly good at his job. He was trained to pull the finishing off plough (which is still on the property today). If by chance the plough hit a vine, the horse would stop until all was righted. The vines were removed in the mid 1950′s and the land used for cropping and dairying.

ref. www.visitorscentre.com , www.curtisfamilyvineyards.com

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New Ways of Shopping

January 3, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

In recent years, like a lot of people, I’ve been buying more of my wine online. The picture I would prefer to hold of myself is the fellow who faithfully patronizes (perhaps plagues?) the local wine shops rather than browses some brightly arrayed screen. To be sure, I’d rather be there in person, discussing a wine’s qualities with an enthusiastic merchant rather than passively scrolling through professional tasting notes. And I believe in the importance of neighborhood proprietors (whether they sell wine or house paint) to a vital, thriving community; they’re the hubs of the real social network.

I enjoy delicate, mature wines exponentially more than their youthful, exuberant versions, and online retailers tend to have a wider selection of older wine, while most brick- and-mortar shops only have enough room to carry the latest vintages.

I enjoy browsing the nerdier ones, like North Berkeley Wine and the Rare Wine Co., which provide their own blogs or even photos of staffers’ tasting trips, essentially offering a wider experience of what it means to engage with a wine.

I’m admittedly a difficult customer, being a slightly delusional wine lover/collector, someone without deep pockets but who favors older, mostly European wines. My favorite online retailer is Mission Fine Wines, which is based in Staten Island, New York. As it turned out, that wine ultimately repaved the course of Palmiotti’s professional life. Joe was, of course, hugely enthusiastic about the wine, holding forth without an atom of snobbery or pretentiousness, his comments smart and comprehensive and nuanced, convincing me that I should try this richly fragrant, silken wine despite its “poor” vintage, promising me, too, that I could return the rest for full credit if I didn’t absolutely love it. I’ve found that most of the online retailers I regularly patronize are similarly accommodating, standing by their wines by offering credit for corked bottles (counter to what the usual stipulated “conditions of purchase” read). They want you to trust them, for it’s the only way someone will become a regular buyer, especially of more expensive, older wines; some even indicate on their websites, as Mission Fine Wines does, that they welcome visitors.

I’ve never seen such a collection of rare and valuable wine in so workaday a place. The organization is clearly a reflection of Joe’s mad-wine-genius brain, the bottles and cases arrayed in an idiosyncratic house of memory: There’s an open box of ’79 Krug Clos du Mesnil here, some ’96 Mouton there, ancient ports and Madeiras perched precariously on a narrow shelf.

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Buying wine online

December 22, 2011 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

Select wine merchants Buying wine online is a useful and convenient way to source wines from unusual wine varieties. There are many advantages, and a couple of pitfalls to buying wine online.

Why buy wine online?

This may seem an unnecessary problem to you at first. If you can buy wine at your local supermarket, liquor store or off licence then why should you bother with the Internet?

Well, the answer is that it is all about choice. If you want a wider choice then online is the way to go. You can choose just about any wine and compare prices. If you are into wine , then you should use online buying to pursue your passion for new, exciting and different wines with ease.

Who should you buy from?

There are basically two choices for buying wine online. You can buy directly from the winery, or you can buy from specialist online wine and liquor merchants.

Buying from the winery is fine if you know that you want a particular wine. Most wineries have a mail order service that will be integrated into their website. You will fill in an online form, or download one to mail or fax and the wine will be on its way. Very simple. But there are a couple of catches. You will probably need to buy a minimum of a dozen, or perhaps six bottles. If you really just want to try different wines, which is what McLaren vale cellars is all about, you might only want one bottle of an unknown wine. You can usually order a mixed dozen, but again you will be restricted to wine from that particular winery.

The second catch when buying wine online is freight. If you are buying wine online from within the same country you may get the wine freight free. It’s not really free, but included in the price. If charged, freight is generally reasonable if you are buying a dozen or more bottles, and live in the same country as the winery.

Buying from a specialist online merchant has two advantages.

You can generally make up a mixed dozen of wines from different wineries, regions or even countries. You will get a much better deal on freight for foreign wines. The merchant has imported the wine for you, and handled any customs issues. There is considerable competition between merchants. Consumers buying wine online are likely to benefit from competitive prices, high commitment to service, deals on freight and special offers.

Is it safe?

The online commerce industry is growing quite rapidly. The merchants are very sensitive to consumer concerns about security. Huge expenditures on research and development have lead to systems to protect the consumer, and the reputation of the merchants. For example many merchants use VeriSign which is an integrated system to secure the transmission and storage of sensitive data such as your credit card details.

If you are buying wine online from an established merchant you can be reasonably sure that they will deliver. They should have a privacy policy and a secure data system. There will be information about these issues on the website, often accessible from links or icons on the foot of the homepage.

There can be an issue about where to get the wine delivered to. If you are not at home during the day the wine could disappear from your front doorstep. Some delivery services allow you to give instructions such as ‘leave at the side gate.’ You may need to make arrangements with a neighbour or get the wine delivered to work.

There are risks in every activity we undertake. We just cannot avoid risk, otherwise we would never cross the road. We can however minimise risk by taking sensible precautions. If you are a slightly adventurous type you will see that the rewards of finding and buying new wines far outweighs the risk.

Getting started

It is worth doing a little research on before jumping in to buying wine online. Check out a couple of merchants to see what they offer in terms of range of wines, delivery charges, security policies etc.

Some tips for buying wine online

1. Buy wine, not freight. Get your wine from a source in your own country if possible. Buy in dozen lots or more to average the freight over more bottles.

2. Buy from established merchants. These guys know their business. They stay in business because they work on getting satisfied customers who come back for more. This is your best protection against unsatisfactory service.

3. Use the shopping cart to organise your purchases. Don’t be afraid to fill up your basket as you browse through the merchants range. You are not committed to buy until the end, usually called the checkout or something similar. You can adjust the quantities of each of your selections before the final transaction. With some merchants you can also order the wine online and complete the credit card payments by fax or telephone.

4. Compare prices and freight. Try a couple of merchants to check out the best deal, including delivery costs.This a great use of the Internet, allowing you to do comparison shopping from your desk. Most merchants will have specials from time to time, they are in a competitive business so they are keen to get your trade.

5. Have a secure delivery address. If you are not at home during the day, get it delivered to work or to a friend or relative (if you trust your relatives.) Virgin Wines say that they will replace wine that is nicked after delivery but some sensible precautions can save you the hassle. You may be able to insure your wine until delivery, but you need to consider if it is really worth the extra cost.

6. Beware of unsolicited offers. Scammers try to find gullible punters by mass emailings, put this stuff straight into the rubbish where it belongs.

7. Sign up for merchant’s online newsletters. This a bonus for those buying wine online. Competitive markets mean that merchants are actively promoting new products. Some newsletters contain useful and interesting information, but others are little more than a sales pitch. As they are free they are worth trying. If you don’t want the newsletter any more it is easy

You can find information about McLaren Vale Wine by clicking on these links, McLaren Vale Cellars .

Premium Wine Down Under

December 9, 2011 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

The Curtis Family Vineyards are established just west of the township of McLaren Vale. Its vineyards have flourished and now its sought-after McLaren Vale wines are available on the Australian and export markets.

The Curtis family has been in McLaren vale since 1973, imagrated to south Australia in 1956. They have been producing McLaren vale wine for 38 years. the story of how everything old came new again…of how European immigrants came to Australia, struggled against the odds and then applied old world values and experience to produce fine wines.

The new faces behind the Curtis Family Vineyards are Mark, Thomas & Jenna Curtis, with the guidance of their father, Claudio Curtis who lives on the vineyard just outside McLaren Vale. The name Curtis is thought to derive from Curtius, a noble and wealthy family of the First and Second Centuries AD, the Roman Empire era originating from the Latinium people.

Records show that the Curtis Family name first appeared in Cervaro in 1471, a town established by the Latinium tribe in Central Italy around the Second Century AD. Cervaro is situated approximately 10klms south of the monastery town of Monte Cassino, the site of some of the bitterest fighting between the Allied and German forces in Italy during World war II.

The Second World War took its toll upon the buildings used as a winery and barrel storage, but more destructive was the introduction of the Phylloxera grape vine louse, badly damaging the vineyards. Some were replanted and are harvested today. It was whilst the later replanting was taking place that the young Claudio Curtis first became involved in vineyards. While his parents tendered the newly growing vines, Claudio tried to help by removing the growing shoots. The Curtis Family have been growning grapes and making wine in McLaren Vale since 1973.

Today the Curtis Family are concentrating on developing complex premium wines for the Australian market. Today the Curtis Family are concentrating on developing complex premium wines for the Australian market. Premium wines that show the Curtis Family passion for great McLaren Vale Wines.

Gli evviva a lei e al buono vino dalla famiglia di curtis – Cheers to you and to good wine —The Curtis Family

Learn more about McLaren Vale . Stop by Marco polo’s site where you can find out all about wine and what it can do for you.