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Carl's Corner

Carl Hudson
 
April 14, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Frost Protection for Texas Grapes

During a recent trip to the Texas High Plains, a major topic of conversation with grape growers was the concern over spring frosts and the methods available to mitigate freeze damage to young vine tissue and grapes. Texas in general, especially the High Plains, is noted for turbulent and unpredictable weather that often brings frigid temperatures soon after bud break when grapevines are most susceptible to frost damage. Four methods of commonly used frost protection are described below. Please note that none of these are fool-proof, and all are expensive, unfortunately adding cost to Texas grapes, and therefore to Texas wines.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
March 29, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Thoughts on Using a Waiter’s Corkscrew

A recent question and series of replies on Facebook prompted me to write about the use of a standard waiter’s corkscrew when opening a wine. The question that was asked related to whether users tended to pull the cork out of the bottle with the hand on top of the corkscrew handle, versus lifting the cork out with the hand underneath the corkscrew handle. I have a fairly strong opinion on this matter, but there are extenuating circumstances that should be addressed before making a final pronouncement.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
March 15, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Roussanne – Richness from the Mediterranean

Roussanne (roos-ahn or roos-ann) is believed to be native to the Rhône Valley near the Mediterranean Sea in Southern France. Although most of the world’s Roussanne is today grown in the Rhône Valley, other regions, especially Texas, are beginning to show interest in the variety. In the Southern Rhône, Roussanne is one of six white grape varieties permitted in the famous wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (blanc & rouge). It is often blended with Grenache Blanc, which adds richness and crisp acidity to Roussanne’s pear and honey flavors. In the Northern Rhône, Roussanne is frequently blended with Marsanne to provide acidity, minerality and richness. Limited plantings have been made in Australia, Italy, and the U.S., particularly in CA’s Central Coast, WA’s Yakima Valley and Texas.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
March 1, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Oak Barrels for Wine – Part Four

Oak barrels are most often used for aging wines after the initial fermentation that is usually done in stainless steel tanks or plastic tanks/bins. However, actual fermentation in barrels is also a time-honored process. Chardonnay is the varietal most often fermented in oak. Common characteristics for barrel fermented chardonnay include coconut, cinnamon and cloves, and an overall toasted, silky texture with notes of bread dough, caramel and butter cream. Because of the toasted inner surface of the barrel, the wine will usually be darker gold in color than similar wine fermented in tank. Fermentation of red wines in barrel will bring out a toasty, smokiness with notes of mocha and dark toffee.  Continue »

Time Posted: Mar 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Carl Hudson
 
February 15, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Oak Barrels for Wine – Part Three

Different barrels from different oak sources and cooperages are often called the “winemakers’ spice rack.” From experience, a winemaker learns what barrel types best impart desired aromas and flavors into different varieties and styles of wine. New barrels impart far more flavor into a wine than a used barrel. Typically a new barrel gives up 55-65% of its flavoring components during the first use. Second use can impart 20-35% flavoring while third and fourth use impart 15-25% and 10-15%, respectively. Over time oak flavoring properties are "leached" out of the barrel and less wood flavoring is available for the vintage of wine stored in the barrel.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
February 1, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Oak Barrels for Wine – Part Two

A cooper, or barrel maker, has the time-honored task of creating a liquid tight container (an oak wine barrel) from a pile of wooden staves. The staves are heated, traditionally over an open fire but more frequently now with infrared radiant heaters or steam, until they become pliable. The staves are then bent into the desired shape and bound together with iron rings. The heating process “toasts” the barrel which creates a number of flavor components from wood chemicals and brings them to the surface for eventual contact with the wine. The toasting can be light, medium, medium-plus or heavy, even charred (think Jack Daniels Whiskey barrel). Following the traditional, hand-worked style, a cooper is typically able to construct one-to-two oak barrels per day.  Continue »

Time Posted: Feb 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Carl Hudson
 
January 18, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Oak Barrels for Wine – Part One

Oak is an important winemaking tool that can have significant impact: influencing color, flavor, tannin profile and even the texture of wine. Oak treatment normally occurs when wine is fermented and/or aged in barrels, but increasingly oak alternatives, chips, pellets, staves, etc., are used to add oak influence to wine in other vessels, e.g., stainless steel or plastic tanks.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
January 4, 2017 | Carl Hudson

Decanting Wine – Why and How

Over the holidays, I was asked twice about the slightly mysterious practice of decanting wine and allowing it to “breathe” before consumption. Most wine consumers have heard of this practice, and many have observed it being done to their wine in a restaurant or by someone at an event. The primary reasons for decanting a wine are, 1) to allow a wine’s aromas and flavors to develop more quickly by exposing it to air (oxygen), and 2) to remove most or all of the sediment that some wines, especially older reds, may have developed.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
December 21, 2016 | Carl Hudson

Sparkling Wines – Great for the Holidays

Sparkling wines always seem to conjure up visions of celebrations and special occasions. They can be made by several different methods, from almost any grape, range from sweet to totally dry, and be white, rosé or red. With Christmas and the New Year just around the corner, this seemed like a good time to highlight sparkling wines.  Continue »

Carl Hudson
 
December 7, 2016 | Carl Hudson

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Ruby Cabernet – What’s the Difference?

Let’s start this segment by discussing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, two of the five varietals allowed in French Bordeaux red wines (the others ? Merlot, Petite Verdot & Malbec). Cabernet Sauvignon is not an ancient varietal, having been developed as a cross between Cabernet Franc (red) and Sauvignon Blanc (white) in the late 1600’s. This ancestry was confirmed as recently as 1996 by DNA testing at UC-Davis. Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab S) is the world’s most widely planted grape, and arguably the most famous varietal. It is grown in almost every major wine region in the world, and has found special success in California (Napa Vly), Washington (Columbia River Vly), Australia, Chile, Spain and Italy (Super Tuscan blends). Cab S is also the most widely planted varietal in the state of Texas, estimated at well-over 600 acres.  Continue »

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