Back in Black

Hello,

It has been a crazy 6 months, but I’m back (not necessarily in black, that’s one of my favourite songs….and cell phone ringtone).

You may have guessed from the name change that Kirk has ‘left the building’. His restaurant, Frankie and Lola’s in Morro Bay is going great for him. The best breakfast in California! I will give some thought to something a bit catchier for a title, or maybe there are suggestions?

Name changes are becoming popular, JanKris Winery will soon become Veris Cellars. The name JanKris comes from the previous owner’s daughters’ names, January and Kristen. We feel it’s time to move on and Veris is Latin for “the produce of spring”.

Harvest 2009 has started and we quickly processed Chardonnay, Viognier and Malbec but then everything else slowed. The start wasn’t a typical smooth transition to the new winery facility. We have established an AP (Alternating Proprietorship) which allows us to share primary space with a host winery, although we have all our own equipment and operate entirely independently of the host’s operations. The AP is at nearby Rotta Winery and quite handy to our vineyards. The main ‘hitch’ with the start was the fact our crushing equipment arrived the same day as the first load of grapes and had to have all the power connections completed. This photo kind of tells it all. The grapes were inside the building in the cool, out of danger. We managed to battle our way through and so far the quality is superb, with better to come.

Harvest09(1)

I will post some photos with all the action next time we receive grapes.

Bye for now,

Chris Cameron

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New Times

The delay in posting was brought about a change in my employment. In the middle of January I was “laid off” at Summerwood Winery due to the economic downturn. This placed a serious burden on my visa status but luckily I was approached by a nearby winery to join their team.

First thoughts were, great, I don’t have to leave the US but then I needed to establish that the employment offer wasn’t just an interim measure.

I was contacted by Matthew Talbert, the new owner of the long established JanKris Winery in Templeton (Paso Robles). Matt purchased the property and is reviving one of the most visually stunning winery sites on the Central Coast. Was it what I wanted??……………HELL YEAH!!!

After 32 years in the wine industry I have gathered a huge amount of knowledge and experience which, until now, has been largely untapped during my almost two years working in the US. Matt is excited about the future of his company and is really pumped about learning as much as he can about production. A very successful international businessman, Matt bought the winery after retiring and is quickly learning that if winemaking was easy, everyone would do it!!

Matt’s energy and non-traditional approaches to wine marketing are already yielding great results…I too, am excited about being a part of the winery’s future. Keep an eye out for the new label.

JanKris (take a look at the new website www.jankriswinery.com ) has secured the naming rights for the Ben Hogan range of wines, a very limited release to celebrate the life of arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

On a more specific note, I have seen a parcel of Merlot from the vineyard adjacent to the winery made in 2008 and can’t wait to get my hands on it this harvest. I haven’t been too excited about Merlot as a variety on the Central Coast but this, I believe, will change all that.

More stories, more photos and lots more fun to come…………..

Kirk, by the way, has opened his own cafe in Morro Bay, called Frankie and Lolas front street cafe. If you down this way, call in and see him. I will try and get him to continue to contribute here.

Bye for now,

Chris Cameron

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Follow up punt

I failed to mention yesterday that the photos I took of the original Champagne seal were taken of a very unusual drink. The bottle is Pommery Fine Marne.

It is unique in the fact that it is a spirit (similar to Brandy) and is distilled from Champagne base wines. It is very difficult to find and this is my last bottle (of six originally). The characters are somewhat similar to Cognac but more floral and delicate. Here’s what it looks like.

fine-marne

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Take a “punt”

Happy Holidays…

Generally at this time of year a considerably higher volume of sparkling wine is consumed to celebrate the holiday season.

I use the term sparkling wine rather than Champagne which is a specific type of sparkling wine. The word Champagne should ONLY BE USED WHEN REFERRING TO WINES FROM THE CHAMPAGNE DISTRICT OF FRANCE!!! You may have guessed I feel a bit passionate about this well, the area of Champagne in France makes a very unique, and in my opinion, by far the best sparkling wine in the world and no other area/region/producer outside of that region has the right to use the word Champagne”. Unfortunately many still do and the true Champagne producers are fighting to protect their rights. I wholeheartedly support their cause! I will get off my soap box now (we call it a cordial box in Australia) and move on to today’s discussion….why is the punt in the bottom of a wine bottle?

The indentation in the base of wine bottles is generally termed a punt. Its origins have been interpreted many ways so here is what I know. There are suggestions that the early glass blowers had difficulty in producing a flat base for the bottle, in many instances leaving a sharp spot where the bottle was held and subsequently marking tables and benches. They found it was more stable and less likely to scratch if an indentation was left.

Champagne, however, required a more sophisticated system to use in the process of making their wine  or methode champenoise required a specific bottle shape. The punt does indeed assist in strengthening the bottle as well as allowing easier pouring by waiters but it did have a more specific purpose. The art of making Champagne requires a secondary fermentation in individual bottles where it remains until consumption. This fermentation produces lees (see link to methode champenoise above for a detailed explanation) that remain in the bottle as part of the aging process. In early days the wines were “riddled” to capture the lees upside down in the bottle and the punt allowed more stable storage for that purpose. In present production the secondary fermentation uses a “crown seal” (similar to beer bottles) for the secondary ferment but prior to that corks were used and secured by a clip (called and  agrafe). The photos below show that clearly.

agrafe-1

agrafe-2

When the bottles completed riddling they were upside down and required extended storage that way. The shape of the cork seal fitted neatly and securely in the deep punt which also included an extra bump (called the plume) to add to stability. This is a diagram of a similar bottle shape used in early Champagne making. Note the deep punt and additional plume.

la_baronne_c

I would love to discuss Champagne production further and will endeavour to do so at a later date. These comments on the punt will no doubt create a lot of discussion but I had the privilege to be involved in tasting Chardonnay base wines at Veuve Clicquot many years ago and had this explained to me.

Cheers,

Chris Cameron

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Welcome back for some “Cork Talk”

Hello,

I’ve been a slacker again!! It’s nearly Christmas and the little icon on my weather ‘widget’ (yes, I use a Mac!!) shows today as 42 degrees with rain drops and…..snow flakes!

I struggle with this a lot. Not the cold weather but every Christmas as I grew up was hot because it is the middle of summer in Australia and everyone goes to the beach!

Enough reminiscing, lets get down to some interesting info. I received a publication from the Associação Portuguesa de Cortiça (Portuguese Cork Association or APCOR) which provides an array of information on cork. It details its origins, uses, research etc. I will provide some of the more interesting details and for fairness and ‘abundant clarity’ will later provide an insight to other closures like screw caps.

Firstly, APCOR describes the “Uncorking a bottle of wine. A ritual with rules.” 

Drinking a glass from a good bottle of wine gives enormous pleasure. However, some important aspects need to be considered in order to make the most out of this unique experience. Right from the start, great care is needed when extracting the cork closure.

Depending on the age of the bottle, the cork will be in different stages of evolution. In a new wine, there will be a very robust cork closure, but in more mature wines, the cork closure will have softened. In the very old wines, generally with a bottle age of more than 35 years, weaker corks will be found due to their already fragile internal structure. These corks require great care as they often break during extraction. In the case of very old wines, a heated tong can be used as an alternative to a corkscrew, without needing to extract the cork closure.

I will interrupt here to describe the demonstration shown.

1. Heat the tongs on a gas burner until it is blazing hot and apply it to the bottle neck for 30 seconds.

2. Immediately after removing the tongs from the bottleneck, apply a brush of ice-cold water to the glass surface that was in contact with the tongs. Alternatively, ice or cold water may be applied directly to the bottleneck. The glass will immediately break leaving a clean, splinter free, cut. The wine is thus ready to be decanted.

At this point I would add that I feel this is a bit dramatic and cannot imagine a 3 star Michellin restaurant offering the service. I prefer to remove as much of the crumbling cork as possible and then decant the wine through the fine filter gauze that comes with the best wine funnels. I have a great one from Royal Selangor with the head of Bacchus as the funnel.

#mce_temp_url#

With new or very old wines, it is necessary to ensure that the corkscrew has a totally vertical extraction force.

The opening of the bottle should be made carefully and calmly. First, the capsule that protects the bottleneck must be removed, approximately one centimeter below the top rim of the bottle. After that, especially if the bottle is old, the bottleneck and the top of the cork stopper must be wiped with a clean cloth. The point of the corkscrew is then placed in the center of the cork closure taking care to insert the spiral of the corkscrew far enough but not so deep so that it perforates the bottom of the cork. This operation is not possible with every design of corkscrews, especially some that are not hand operated. If the spiral is not inserted deep enough the cork is not extracted and the screw can pull through the middle of the cork. If particles of cork do fall into the wine because of the spiral of the corkscrew has been inserted too far, there is no serious problem and one should remember these small particles are organically harmless, even if swallowed.

If this were to happen, they are normally poured into the first glass, which is then generally served to the host.

………bummer!

This article of wisdom was provided by the cork producers, I can’t wait to see how the screwcap guys explain how their closure works!

I will get back to you with details of the WORLD’S BEST CORKSCREW!!, and some photos (as soon as I charge the camera batteries).

ENJOY and remember…..practice makes perfect!

 

Chris Cameron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Frost Update

Hello,

I posted some earlier photos of the recent damage to the vines that frost had caused. Since then the damage has become more evident, here’s some later pics (click on image for full view)

 

Higher rows of vines show less damage

Higher rows of vines show less damage

 

Some vines were protected by trees

Some vines were protected by trees

 

Treeline also offered protection from the frost damage

Treeline also offered protection from the frost damage

 

Alternate view

Alternate view

 

Close up view of tree protection on Syrah vines

Close up view of tree protection on Syrah vines

frost-damage2

Syrah vines exposed

Syrah vines exposed

higher rows less effected

Syrah vineyard. Note: higher rows less effected

More on prolonged effects of frost damage later.

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Culinary Delight

There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the great Aussie delicacy Vegemite. Just to set the record straight, it IS good for you. As you can see our dog Annie thinks it’s great.

 

Give it a try!

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