Seminar focuses on maritime winegrowing.
The first grapevines were planted on Long Island in 1973. There are now 43 vineyards and 10 producing wineries. The acreage breakdown is: about 40 % Chardonnay, 30% Riesling and 30% Bordeaux varieties. The vast majority of the industry is concentrated on the North Fork, where the growing season is almost two weeks longer and the average temperature is about 10 degrees higher than on the South Fork. The North Fork also grows potatoes, flowers, fruit trees, sod for lawns and race horses. The South Fork ("The Hamptons") is famous for mansions, beaches and being the setting for the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The first day of the conference was devoted to winemaking. Lucie Morton, the Virginian viticulturist, (and Wines & Vines eastern correspondent) translated for those guests who did not speak English. The following is a summary of each speaker's presentation.
M. J.J. Godin (Winemaker, Chateau Pichon-Lalande)
One must have a good site: a temperate climate, a well-drained soil, the right variety and the right rootstock. The vine must be totally protected from disease. In Bordeaux, there is an agricultural warning service which alerts growers when climatic conditions favor particular diseases.
Growers tend to pick too early! Maximum ripeness is essential for rich character, high color and low acidity. Harvest sampling (200-300 berries) should be done on the same vines, at the same site and at the same time of day for reliable results. Both sides of the row should be sampled. Picking time varies with region, vineyard, variety and vine age. Of course, it is dependent on grape maturity.
Grapes are destemmed before crushing because stems contribute herbaceousness to and absorb color from the must. Crushing is done gently by a pump with an elliptical rotor. S02 is automatically dispensed to the must en route to the tank. Tank height should not exceed diameter for good aeration. Tanks should be stainless and have good temperature control.
Six to twelve hours after filling pumpovers begin. The whole volume of juice is pumped over the cap - it usually takes about 1 - 1/2 hours. Afterward, sugar and temperature are recorded. Adjusting the sugar or acid level of the must is permitted by the government under certain conditions.
Yeast are incorporated the second day, with another pumpover and aeration. Sugar, acid and temperature are taken again. The must is usually about 18-20' C at this point. Sugar and temperature are taken three times a day until dryness.
At dryness, tanks are sealed to ensure C02 protection. A complete chemical analysis is done. Each tank is tasted and evaluated for fruit and tannin daily, to determine remaining time on the skins. In general, vintages of poor maturity and/or quality receive less maceration. Maceration concentrates both the good and bad qualities of the vintage. Maximum wine temperature during maceration is about 22-24' C.
Wines are racked with aeration. Vineyard lots are kept separate. A pneumatic or horizontal screw press is used. Pressing is done gently. The free run, the press wine and the heavy press wine are kept separate. They may or may not be blended together later. Spontaneous malolactic is encouraged. Inoculation is from wine to wine, they cannot get their appellation unless malolactic is completed. After completion 40g/hl S0 sub 2 is added.
Gravity and racking, rather than filtration, are utilized for clarity. Lots are blended before barreling. The barrel room should be clean, air-conditioned, ventilated - immaculate! New barrels are treated with boiling water or steam for five minutes, empty and filled. Barrels are topped two times a month and bunged loosely with a glass bung from january until May. In May, barrels are racked with aeration, S02 is added, they are tightly bunged with an oak bung and turned 1/8 of a rotation. They are next racked in August, racked and egg-white-fined in December, racked off the fining lees in February, racked and S02 added in june. Bottling usually occurs the following October, after 18 to 24 months in the barrel. Mme. de. Lencquesaing (Manager, Chtiteau Pichon-Lalande)
Pichon-Lalande, with producing vineyards of about 62 acres, has been a Second Growth since 1855. She has been manager since 1978, inheriting the property from her father. The vines are spaced one meter by one meter. There are about 6,342 vines per acre. They use no chemical weed control, but prefer cultivating to allow oxygen to reach the roots.
Wine lots are separated by age of vine. Wine from the youngest vines (less than 15 years old) receives a second label. The best vintages coincide with the most sunshine hours and total degrees of heat over the harvest. Flowering is about june 10 and veraison about August 18. "In August the quality of the must is made," she said.
The "standard" varietal blend is 35 % Merlot, 45 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 % Cabernet frane and 8 % Petit Verdot. Merlot contributes suppleness, Cabernet Sauvignon finesse and backbone, Cabernet franc bouquet and acidity and Petit Verdot concentrated color and tannins. However, the blend is adjusted according to the vintage. For example, in 1984 a lot of the Merlot was lost to coulure due to cold weather during flowering. They therefore used all the Merlot, only the very best of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet frane and all of the Petit Verdot for their first label.
The chateau selects lots for their first label by taste only. Emile Peynaud is consulting enologist. They attribute the quality of their wine to the lack of water in their vineyards, the poor gravelly soil, the small yields 1/2 liter per vine per year!) and long life of the vines. M. Alain Fouquet (Seguin Moreau, U. S. A.)
Barrels contribute to the chemical and physical transformations which lead to limpidity in the wine. They contribute flavor, and affect the tartrate and color stabilization.
High-quality oak is grown in Limousin, central France, Argonne and Vosges. Coopers only use 2 % of the total oak harvested. The rest goes to furniture and other products. About 55 % of the barrels made are exported and 33 % of these go the U.S.
The important species of oak are: 1. Quercus sessiflora (mostly from Alliers) which are very tall, slow-growing and tight-grained. Average age at maturity of these trees is 150-200 years. Quercus pedunculata or Quercus robur (mostly from Limousin) which are short, fastgrowing and loose-grained. Average age at maturity of these trees is 120-200 years.
Trees are split radially rather than longitudinally, although this requires more logs per centimeter cubed of stave. Logs are split rather than sawn; sawing splits the rays and they will need to be sealed or they won't be watertight.
Oak contains vanillin and other tannins. During air drying harsher tannins are lost. Toast level affects tannin extraction. Too little toasting will result in too much extraction; however, vanillin increases with increasing toast level.
Since barrels are truly handmade, they may leak when wine is put into them and one or more staves may have to be changed. They are tested with water at the factory, but water cannot predict the behavior of wine.
M. Paul Pontallier (winemaker, Chateau Margaux)
At Chiteau Margaux, the estate is divided among forest, cows and vines. The vineyards were established in the 14th century; therefore, Margaux is steeped in and has a great respect for tradition. Tradition gets richer by innovation. One must understand, however, why things have come to be done the way they are done. There is no reason to modify a method which gives good results. If we understand why things are done, we can find or adapt our own methods accordingly. Winemaking is facilitated by natural" and human contributions.
Winemaking philosophy at Chiteau Margaux is based on: proper grape maturity, proper vinification methods (primary and secondary fermentation) and barrel "nursing".
Grape maturity is the result of the right, "terroir", which includes the climate, the soil and the history of the soil. In California, winemakers stop the process before the acidity drops too much. This is how they deal with conditions of quick ripening.
In Bordeaux, ripening is slow. Therefore, vintages vary and the risk of Botrytis is ongoing.
In Long Island, it will be most difficult to get the right maturity, requiring waiting until the last possible moment.
In Bordeaux, there is sufficient experienced labor (200 pickers!) to hand harvest the grapes to the quality standards. Hand-harvesting is even more important in a poor vintage when a clean harvest is essential. Making good wine is anti-economical".
After crushing, S02 is automatically dispensed in the must. The amount depends on the degree of Botrytis and the pH of the must. They ferment in wooden vats for better homogeneity of must and skins, and more even distribution of heat. Only the first vats are inoculated; thereafter the yeast population throughout the winery and equipment make inoculation unnecessary.
Maceration is conducted with the vats covered. The wines are tasted every day. If there is a reduced aroma that precedes sulfide formation, maceration is stopped. Otherwise, the decision to press is made when the tannins are right. Malolactic fermentation is done in the vat. After completion, the wine is aerated and barreled.
The use of barrels came into being partly to "sterilize" the wine by encouraging precipitation in the barrel rather than in the bottle. This leads to clarification and stabilization. Oxygen is trapped by the phenols, tannins soften and color stabilizes. Barrels also contribute oak character. Margaux uses 100 % new barrels for the first label. Barrels are soaked 24 hours with cold water, emptied and filled. The wine spends about two years in the barrel. The second wine gets a percentage of new and two-to-three-old barrels. The particular barrel maker is not important; but the way the staves are dried and the aging conditions are.
pH adjustment by acid addition is not done; the feeling is that if you keep the wine in sanitary conditions, you need not fear high pH. They also see a drop in pH in the barrel (3.65 to 3.50).
Racking should be a true "decanting". It is done seven to eight times a year. About 2 % of the wine is lost in racking. They neither filter nor cold stabilize. Every time you touch the wine, quality decreases. They fine with five to six egg whites per barrel, usually the second winter after the vintage. The "standard" blend is 75 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 % Merlot, 2 % Cabernet franc and 3 % Petit Verdot. Annual production is about 40,000 cases.
VITICULTURE Dr. Ral Welker (Long Island University at Southampton)
The Long Island ecosystem is the result of the interaction of land and water. The climate is moderated by the presence of the ocean. The Gulf Stream is a weather breeder of winter storms. In summer, the moist warm air is the result of the Bermuda High.
The spine of Long Island is a terminal morain. Thirteen thousand years ago the glaciers receded. The glaciers stopped, but the ice kept moving, depositing debris and melting as fast as it moved. This is a sorted deposit. The continental ice sheet was a mile in thickness at some points.
Long Island is surrounded by sea water, and sea water is also underneath it. The sea water rises to the surface in some areas; wells drilled at Mattatuak Inlet pump sea water. In dry years (1985, 1987) salt concentrations increase. With this comes the "brown tide" and the fish industry suffers.
During fruit ripening (a six-week period) Long Island may get as much as 20 inches of rain. Both Bordeaux and Long Island get significant amounts of rainfall almost every month of the growing season. They are also similar in their mean high temperatures and sunlight hours during the growing season. Long Island soils are typically in the bale series: 20 inches of topsoil, sand over deep gravel, about 1 1/2 to 2 % organic matter and high water holding capacity. Dr. Gerard Sequin (University of Bordeaux II)
In hot, sunny regions climate is the predominant determinant of grape quality. In temperate regions, the "terroir" or site is predominant. Terroir is a centuries old concept; it implies an interaction of climate + soil + vine (including rootstock), plus human factors.
In the Medoe of Bordeaux (unlike Burgundy) there are large vineyard acreages. There may be different soil types within one cru. Therefore, the permanent features of the soil, the soil types themselves, have been known to be very important for many years. In 1787, the cultivars planted in the Medoc were (in order of importance): 1. Malbee, 2. Petit Verdot, 3. Cabernet Sauignon. In 1988, the order is: 1. Caberet Sauvignon, 2. Merlot, 3. Cabernet franc, 4. Petit Verdot. The 1855 classification did not fix for all time the hierarchy of fine wines. An ample is Chiteau Petrus, unclassified ut very fine and in great demand. The areas other than the grands Crus were unable to reach fine quality until soils and wines were better matched.
Cabernet Sauvignon only reaches proper maturity on sandy, gravelly soils. These soils are warm early in the season due to a low water content. Cabernet Sauvignon yields herbaceous wines lacking in finesse on wet soils. In Pomerol, where the soils are clayey, Merlot and Cabernet franc are the predominant varietals.
In Bordeaux, all the grands crus are situated on siliceous, gravelly sand. These are alluvial deposits of the Quaternary period. However, other soils can produce fine wines, even acidic clays, provided there is proper drainange. Petrus and Yquem are two examples. Proper drainage, and not soil texture itself is connected to the quality of wine. There is no connection either between soil nutrient content and quality of wine, provided that the vines are not stressed or growing in a luxuriant overly fertile situation. Chemical content of the soil depends on both the soil substrata and human application. Some limiting factors of soil on the vine include: lack of nitrogen, ion antagonism (K vs Mg), and high soil acidity which leads to metal toxicities.
Neither geological, pedological, soil texture nor chemistry determine grand crus but you must have: 1. low vine vigor, 2. small production, and 3. strict regulation of the water supply.
In Bordeaux, water content and supply to the vine can be regulated despite variable precipitations. The chemistry of grand cru wines does not fluctuate that much over different vintages; much more fluctuation is seen in the unclassified wines. This is because the grand cru soils minimize problems associated with difficult climatic conditions by regulating the water supply available to the vine.
The great growths are characterized by deep water tables and soil textures which allow deep rooting. The vines get a good water supply until the end of july, when vegetative growth stops. Even in wet seasons, the vines do not suffer from excess humidity. Young vines and shallow rooted vines are most affected by dry and wet seasons.
The sensory effects on the grapes of too much water are higher acids, lower sugars (usually), lower phenols and aromatic compounds. Water stress can also decrease grape quality.
Dr. Alain Carbonneau (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique Bordeaux)
The goal of canopy manangement research is to improve grape quality by improving berry health and maturity, and allow for full mechanization of vines. Quality is related to sugar accumulation, proper pH, persistent fruity (not vegetative or floral) aromas and good phenols. The lyre system has demonstrated that it improves the general maturity of the berry by providing the proper foliage shade, leaf and berry exposure compared to the "traditional" system. The traditional system was: 1. 1 to 2 meters between rows, 2. low trunks, 3. low foliage. The best wines of France have been produced from these types of vineyards. However, this was probably the only system which was possible, because layering was the method of propagation, and layering requried close spacing. These systems are labor intensive, so there is a high labor cost associated with them. Wider spacing can reduce labor costs by facilitating mechanization. However, unless you manage the canopy correctly, you will have delayed maturity due to too much shade.
Improved light interception results in more evapotranspiration and more demand that the leaves put on the roots. As spacing widens, root density decreases. The best combination is an open lyre on wide spacing; root distribution is as good as with traditional systems and the ratio of leaves to roots is higher. Thus, canopy management causes a regulation of the water supply; each leaf is more dry, and moderate stress occurs. The clusters are also exposed to diffused light, unlike the Geneva Double Curtain where the clusters are over-exposed which adversely affects the wine. The advantages of this system include better aeration (less Botrytis), better fruit set, better phenol content and decreased acidity. This system can also be mechanically harvested. (Dr. Carbonneau suggested that Long Island would do well to plant more Cabernet franc.)
M. Pierre Vagny (Institut Technique de la Vigne et du Vin, Montpelier)
A tremendous number of experiments have been done on mechanical harvesting in France. Crop losses have been seen to be comparable to those experienced with hand harvesting. There is a very broad range of percentage intact berries, percentage juice and percentage MOG. A lot depends on adapting the machines to particular grapes and conditions, by changing the settings and speed.
A brush can be mounted on the stemmer crusher to remove MOG. This is the same attachment that is used on the mechanical harvesters. Stainless steel trellis wire is suggested for maritime climates like Long Island - it will last longer because it won't corrode.
There are many vineyards in Bordeaux that are harvesting mechanically, although the grand cru vineyards remain hand harvested.12
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|Title Annotation:||Long Island meeting|
|Publication:||Wines & Vines|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1989|
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