Five New Year’s Wine Resolutions for 2009
1. Drink Well, Drink Local
In 2008, I blogged about “Food/Drink Miles” as applied to wine selection. In 2009, I reconfirm that I will drink well, but drink more locally produced wine. This action may help to reduce my wine cooler’s carbon footprint a tad. But, more importantly it will help support our struggling local economy as well as the winemakers in Texas that are making great strides with each vintage. I also hope that people in other states will do the same. Remember – Each bottle of wine from New Zealand has more than 23 times the carbon footprint of a bottle of Texas wine. See: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=49
2. Seek Out New Wines and Wineries
If I am going to drink more local wine, I need to take positive action to seek out new wines and wineries from around the state. To do this, I plan to travel the highways of Texas. This a good thing as the price of gasoline has gone way down. High on my tasting list for 2009 are the wines of northeast Texas and far west Texas. I particularly want to visit Brennan Vineyards to see their winery and taste their Viognier and Syrah, and see Alfred Flies at Piney Wood Country Winery. It is the home of Texas Muscadine and fruit wines and winner of the Top Texas Wine (Piney Woods Country Winery and Vineyards, Texas Moon Magnolia NV) at the 2009 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition.
3. Spend Less for Wine
With the state of the economy (and my own 401K plan), I think that it is time to “reshape” my wine collection and to redirect a portion of my discretionary spending from high dollar Bordeaux and Burgundy purchases to regions that bring more value. I like the qualities of cellar-aged wine and especially want to focus on regions that can reduce my wine “investment” and yet have proven aging potential. One example is that I will buy more wines from Bandol (in S. France) made from 50 to 85 percent Mourvedre that have long shown that they can stand the test of time in the grand way, but cost only a fraction of a first growth Bordeaux.
I will also find true value wines that cost less than $15 a bottle but that provide a 90+ rated wine tasting experience. Examples: Red wine blends of Grenache-Tempranillo from Spain and white wines like Grillo (also known as Riddu) from Sicily.
4. Learn about “New” Wine Varieties
In Texas, our wine past has been dominated by the big three of the wine world: Chardonnay, Cabernet and Pinot. But, we are finally realizing that Texas is not like Bordeaux or Burgundy. But, we have recently learned that in Texas, Chardonnay is not a consistent producer. Good Cabernet Sauvignon is limited to a few specific Texas terroirs like that in the High Plains. Pinot Noir – well, even cool-climated Oregon has its difficulties doing it well year in and year out. We need to become more knowledgeable about grapes that originate from warm weather regions like Texas:
Reds – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre (S. France), Sangiovese (Italy), Tempranillo (Spain)
Whites – Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne (S. France), and Pinot Grigio and Vermentino (Italy).
After all, Texas is the Mediterranean of the USA.
See – http://www.rdkane.com/culinary_thymes_sep2003.htm
Learn these names and buy a few bottles of wine made with these grapes from quality producers in Texas and from their native lands. If you do this, you will be able to help Texas winemakers hone their craft with the benefit of your feedback. Post your comments on VintageTexas.com. I know that many Texas vineyard operators and winemakers read this blog and would love to read your tasting notes and comments.
I believe that in the years to come we will even see a Texas red wine made from Tanat and I challenge you to tell me the name of the country that considers it their national grape.
5. Exercise the Brain More…Learn More about Wine, then Taste
Part of the enjoyment of wine comes from knowledge. Studies have been performed on groups of tasters – those that are wine novices and those that have some background knowledge about wines. The scientists found that the brain activity in the wine-knowledgeable tasters was more intense, actually starting in advance of the tasting – associated with anticipation and recall based on prior experiences and knowledge. They also found that brain activity continued on well beyond the actual tasting – connected to the creation of new wine associations and memories. By comparison, the brains of novice tasters were mainly active during the actual tasting. Supposedly, they did not have an experiential basis to anticipate or to create new memories.
Most treaties on alcoholic beverages address the destruction of brain cells with excessive consumption. However, it appears that wine-knowledgeable tasters (whose that read about wine, visit wine regions and participate in guided tastings) have increased brain activity gained through processing new and old experiences and the function of memory. This is directly analogous to efforts aimed at staying physically fit through exercising your muscles, but in this case, it is the brain that has to work out.
I plan to particularly focus on the wines of Italy and Spain. They have many native varieties of grapes that may find a future home in Texas.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions, I wish you success in achieving your goals in 2009. One of the most important parts of reaching you goal is to write it and verbalize it. Post your 2009 wine resolutions in the comments section below. You can do this anonymously, if you wish.