Since I started drinking wine on a regular basis back in the late 60s, I am always amazed by how much I do not know about wine. Check out some of these.
In Greek antiquity, krater, kylix, and kythos are? A krater was a shallow bronze or pottery bowl used to serve wine, which would be poured from an amphora into the krater and from the krater, into a kylix–a shallow, two-handled, often beautifully decorated cup from which wine was drunk. A kythos often helped in this process. It was a ladle used to scoop the wine from the krater into the kylix.
Fumé Blanc is one of the widespread synonyms for sauvignon blanc and widely used in California (blanc fumé is another). This is purely a synonym; and it’s not true that as a group, wines labeled fumé blanc have an especially smoky character. Grown at high yields after Prohibition, sauvignon blanc became the basis for innocuous sweet and dry jug “Sauterne” (spelled without the final ‘s’ as it is in France). Sensing a marketing opportunity to distinguish its dry version, Robert Mondavi Winery branded theirs as “fume blanc,” a reference to the Pouilly Fumé wines of the Loire Valley. And Mondavi still makes a very fine example.
Who is Harry Grenache? Hairy grenache, or garnacha peluda in Spain and lledoner pelut in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France, is a clone of grenache that has particularly hairy leaves. Like the furry fuzz found on rosemary and other Mediterranean plants, the “fur” evolved as a defense mechanism to protect the vine from heat and conserve moisture. The clone is native to the Spanish region of Catalonia. Wines made from hairy grenache often have a lower alcohol content, but the clone is customarily blended with regular (non-hairy) clones of grenache.
Next time you breeze past Oakville in your fancy foreign driving machine: Oakville is the only wine growing region in the United States to have a dedicated research vineyard and facility in the heart of the AVA. For over 50 years the University of California, Davis Research Station in Oakville has conducted studies including trials of clones, rootstocks, vine spacing, pruning levels, and irrigation. The original budwood for Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon came from the Oakville Station, and many of the modern trellising techniques utilized in Napa Valley were devised there as well. The Station, on some of the most expensive wine real estate in the world, is comprised of two vineyard parcels equaling a total of 40 acres. From 1868 to 1879, pioneer viticulturalist Hiram Crabb, purchased the acreage he would eventually plant with vineyards and christen To Kalon, Greek for “highest beauty.” On a 20-acre section (ultimately known as the Old Federal Vineyard) at the heart of the vineyard, Crabb experimented with rootstock and almost 400 different grape varieties. After Crabb’s death in 1899, much of To Kalon was sold to the Churchill family, who set aside the Old Federal Vineyard for use by first the U.S. Department of Viticulture and then the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1947, wanting to secure a research vineyard for the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, a group of Napa vintners purchased and donated a parcel now called the South Station, located south of Crabb’s original experimental plot. By 1955, closing out its own grape research, the USDA did the same and ceded the Old Federal Vineyard to the University.
I wonder where we fall in this rather astounding statistic? Forty nine percent of U.S. adults do not restrict what they eat or drink during the holidays, (a demographic that definitely includes us), according to the research company Morning Consult. But people who do watch what they consume are also a significant percentage—44%. Also: two in five Americans plan on making a 2022 New Year’s resolution.
Grapevines have been around a thousand years? The first hard evidence of grapevine domestication occurred 8,000 to 6,000 years ago in a triangular area extending from eastern Turkey to western Iran to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The geneticist José Vouillamoz calls this area the “Grape’s Fertile Triangle.” This area overlaps with what archeologists call the Fertile Crescent, the ancient cradle of agriculture where wheat, rye, and legumes were first cultivated.
“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it―unless I’m thirsty.”― Lily Bollinger, (1899-1977), Bollinger Champagne(This quote is dedicated to every wine drinking mother in honor of Mother’s Day.)
(All facts courtesy of Winespeed)Have a wonderful, sports and wine filled weekend.