TWS Rhône 19 offer

Yes, there is a commonly parroted mantra that “riper grapes make better wines“. I’m sure this made sense in the 1980’s when the wines of the late 1960’s and 1970’s were the reference point. I think it’s actually harmful now. A better mantra would be “correctly ripened grapes make better wines” (although some slightly odd people like me prefer their grapes to err on the underripe side of that).

Even 30 years ago Francois Faiveley preferred to harvest early to retain aroma, acidity and freshness and then to chaptalise for body and to extend fermentations. Chaptalisation is now much reduced in burgundy though by no means dead.
 
In Burgundy some of the elite producers do not churn out wines with high ABVs due to factors which may include but are not limited to meticulous vineyard husbandry, canopy mangagement, control of yields, organic / diodynamic viticulture and of course picking dates.

The N Rhone is of course further south, but at same time if they employed same attention to detail as per elite Burgundy producers then maybe we would not be where we are. I wonder what the ABVs are for Allemand or Clape this year?
Not quite sure how they manage to obtain such low abv’s in warm vintages using techniques that normally increase potential abv’s and ripeness? I’d love to know who and in which vineyards. I’ve rather lost touch with the happenings in Burgundy in the last couple of years.
 
I feel this fully vindicates my policy of buying mainly Cote Rotie. Any suggestion of confirmation bias is strongly rejected...:cool:

(my first day in a while away from the vaccination clinic; I’m sure there are other things I should be doing....)
With his avowed love for lower alcohol wines Richard may be forced to decamp from his beloved Cornas and join those of us on the dark side a little further North.....
 
Many of which of course hit north of 14% especially if your name is Weinbach or Zind Himbrecht.

Mind you TWS Alsace selection isn’t what it was even three or four years back as has been mentioned here and elsewhere.
I recall tasting with ZH in 2004. A flight of 20 wines, many 2003s (with the sugar and alcohol you'd expect from that year) was a real challenge.
 
Not quite sure how they manage to obtain such low abv’s in warm vintages using techniques that normally increase potential abv’s and ripeness? I’d love to know who and in which vineyards. I’ve rather lost touch with the happenings in Burgundy in the last couple of years.
According to Jasper Morris of this parish, in his 2019 report, Charles Lachaux of Arnoux-Lachaux achieves between 12.55% and 12.97% ABVs across the range bar one wine which just breaches 13%. My understanding is that there are several other elite producers who also manage to keep alcohols nicely in check.
 
According to Jasper Morris of this parish, in his 2019 report, Charles Lachaux of Arnoux-Lachaux achieves between 12.55% and 12.97% ABVs across the range bar one wine which just breaches 13%. My understanding is that there are several other elite producers who also manage to keep alcohols nicely in check.
Interesting. I shall converse with him. Ta.
 
Interesting. I shall converse with him. Ta.
Pre conversing with Jasper a little research shows that young Charles Lachaux has been trying to get earlier phenolic ripeness before the potential alcohol levels rise. He’s also instituted pretty much whole bunch practices in the cellar. He’s been trying to gain maturity by tying over shoots from one row to the opposite, forming an arch, the theory being that by doing less shoot trimming he’s able to keep the vine in better balance and increase the amount of leaf available for photosynthesis. So far, so good, as the results seem to show (at least in alcohol levels). I’d be a bit concerned if I’d bought the newer wines without realising the change that has occurred vis a vis his father’s wines. The newer wines would come as quite a shock stylistically! Fascinating to see the wheel coming around from the fully-destemmed, cool-soaked, new-oak school of winemaking popularised by Jayer and practiced by a large majority for the past thirty odd years. If this is truly someone at the vanguard of a movement (as is intimated) interesting times may lie ahead....

Could this be applied in the Northern Rhône?

Hmm, a few obvious difficulties. Firstly, the method of cultivation in burgundy is via trellising and therefore (I am not a viticulturalist and am surmising here) seems like it would be difficult to apply to the echalas system of vine training in common use throughout the better hillside vineyards of the region. It may be a possible solution in the flatter lands of Crozes for example, but note the next point.

Secondly, the Arnoux method requires approximately four times the labour force to make it work. Given the prices fetched by his burgundies this massive cost may well be absorbed, but I’d have thought the prices fetched by all but the very top wines in the Northern Rhone likely wouldn’t cover the large extra expense that would necessarily be incurred.

I’d definitely agree that not destemming the crop is a useful weapon in reducing abv’s (I am not a winemaker either, but it is my understanding that alcohol levels are reduced with this method) and given that most of the wines I’m interested in tend to be not destemmed or only partially destemmed I wish that more winemakers would go back to using this method.
 
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I do wonder if some of these extremely labour intensive methods are in some ways post-hoc justification for the vast prices asked and obtained, the new Arnoux-Lachaux wines are heavily oversubscribed. On the other hand I am told by people with excellent taste that they are fantastically good, which is a relief, the wines of Lachaux pere were often extremely unprepossessing.
 
I was speaking with someone in the wine trade who is very knowledgeable about Burgundy and very critical of many "stars", and he thinks that Arnoux-Lachaux is THE single most exciting producer of Burgundian reds to emerge in recent years. You could have probably got the same reading Jasper or William Kelley, but perhaps less digitally expressed (i.e., "one of the most exciting").

I was bowled over by the 2018 reds (Corney's did a complete tasting just prior to lockdown) but was put off by the prices, even though had I had bought a little previously.
I delayed, regretted it, but in the end, I picked a couple of more basic wines from the very small residual that Corney's had left.

Btw, I was no fan at all of the previous Arnoux wines, including the Suchots and RSV. (Strangely, RSV 1992 was an exception!)

On cultivating for climate change, I heard a fascinating rating of "top" white producers by a very revered wine professional, who had studied the vineyards in some detail and saw what was being done to be able to manage problems likely brought on by climate change going forward. He rated A. Ente and d'Auvenay as doing the right things, but was much more critical about Leflaive, Lafon and Coche. Very interesting.

Comparing the situation in Spain and South America (areas superbly covered by both Luis Guitierrez and Tim Atkin) there seems to be more excitement in the cooler vintages these days ("Atlantic" vintages in Spain) than the warmer ("Mediterranean"), a reverse of the historic norm.
 
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Ok, how does not destemming the crop reduce the abv? I really don't like the modern high-alcohol wines, so I have more than a natural curiosity.
 
Ok, how does not destemming the crop reduce the abv? I really don't like the modern high-alcohol wines, so I have more than a natural curiosity.
A little research suggests that it is not entirely clear, but that there is an effect. The number that was in my head was a reduction in the range of around 0.5% or so vs destemmed fruit.

Suggested mechanisms include dilution due to the stems containing up to 80% water but no sugars and evaporative loss of alcohol during fermentation.

Reduction in abv isn’t normally cited as the main reason for using whole bunch techniques, but it can be a useful by product. I’m not sure it’s the answer to your worries about high alcohol in modern wines as these appear to me to be far more a stylistic choice on the part of producers.
 
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