Can you believe it's 2019 already? Well here it is and all the world right now is probably wondering about what things are in store for us for the new year. There are those of us who make resolutions and fail to stick with them and alas I and everyone else at Wine Republic am human and prone to mistakes and setbacks. But last year I heard a quotation by Ernest Hemingway that said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Last year I managed to loose 56 pounds and started to train jiu jitsu again after a period of time. I fought in 2 tournaments and get second place in the first in gi and no gi, the second I got first place in gi and 3rd place in no gi. I also started getting really serious in my wine studies getting a Nez du Vin and started smelling, ney drilling smells every day. I also started to look to improve my writing about wine (& writing in general).
It's interesting because some of the best writing on wine comes from some Masters of Wine. They write quite a bit and that seems to be the secret sauce. Who would have thought that practicing writing everyday would make you a better writer? If you practice a sport every day you will see improvement over time and that is the same with wine. So to bring you the best in organic/biodynamic wine i'll be writing more daily to not be so brutish in my scribblings.
One of the things Masters of Wine do to prove their worth is to answer in writing specific questions about wine. These questions cover many things in the wine world from first planting in the vineyard, to selection, pressing, diseases that affect grapes, fermentation, bottling, shipping, etc. These guys and gals answer a battery of questions and are given three hours to answer three questions in writing.
I'm not going to do that 3 answers in 3 hours but I am going to answer them one at a time, referencing the specific question I'm answering to the specific test. In 2018 the first question on the Theory portion was, "Many wine regions can produce wines at a wide range of price points. Referencing at least two of such regions, compare and contrast methods of managing vineyards for high priced wines and low priced wines." Here we go...
Many things go into the making of wine. Location is surely one of these factors. Buying land in Burgundy will be much more expensive than Minnesota. The difference in land price alone would make Burgundian wine already more expensive even if the method of production were exactly the same. Also areas with consistently good weather like Napa or Marlborough NZ will spend less on management systems because they will not have to account for bad weather and an uneven grape ripening season. A winemaker that resides in a place known for a lot of sun and little weather fluctuation will probably spend less money on thing like chaptalization and acidification because the grapes will be able to ripen in predictable manner.
A place like the the Central Valley wine region in California that plants much wine destined for bulk wine tend to have huge vineyards grown in vastly straight lines on flat surfaces so the trackers can pick and trim vines without having to turn which saves money while smaller vineyards on uneven ground like in Alsace where the vineyards grow almost straight in the air machines cannot go. People must pick the grapes and this will also make a difference in the final pricing of a wine.
The practice of picking just the grapes that turn purple after veraison (like auslese in Mosel) vs picking the whole bunch at the end of the year will cost more in the manual labor thus making this style more expensive. When people go to tend the vines, it will increase the price of any wine. Mechanization, whether in picking, destemming will decrease costs and does this regardless if it a mega-vineyard making 2 buck Chuck or your favorite left bank Bordeaux.
Also, the way one tends the vineyard will add dollars to your final bottle. Conventionally made wine that uses chemicals for weeding, fertilization will almost always lower cost versus a method that uses organic, biodynamic and similar practices. For instance, the practice of putting Yarro or Nettles (biodynamic/DRC/France) into vine preparations will be more costly than Yellowtail in Australia that uses conventional wine methods including man made chemicals for weed and pest management.
Location will also raise or lower the cost of wine depending on where the final consumer is. Someone is Paris will pay less for a Loire Valley wine than an Australian Shiraz. Shipping adds dollars to every bottle depending on where the original growing and bottling is done compared to where it will actually end up. So California wine will probably be cheaper for somebody in Chicago than an equally produced vino from Italy.
These are but a few of the mitigating factors affecting the price of wine. Ultimately, we must fine the wine we like. Cheers.