Clare Oaks Blog
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017
By: Clare Connection
A Little About Wine
Winemaking is such an organic process that grapes, if left on the vine, will naturally turn into wine. Every single grape contains everything necessary for wine production: grape juice, sugar, and yeast. Of course naturally occurring wine isn't going to command a $50 bottle price or taste very good. That's where the science of winemaking makes a big difference.
The complex science that vintners go through to produce a bottle of wine is staggering. Terroir, malolactic fermentation, fermentation on the lees, pH of the soil, not enough rain, too much rain, etc., are just a few of the tribulations the vintner has to battle to make a nice bottle of wine. Without getting too technical, this blog will help the average person understand a little bit more about the complexity of wine and how to better select wine for your personal taste.
Terroir is the first place to start. Terroir describes the location of the vineyard, encompassing everything in nature that can affect the grapes: sunlight, chalkiness of the soil, how much rainfall, and myriad other factors. Why is this important? Look at a bottle of French wine. There is usually no indication of what kind of grape is in the bottle. That's because the French have been making wine in these growing areas (appellations) for centuries. They know that the terroir of one region is most suitable for, for example, chardonnay grapes. So they know that a bottle of white Burgundy is chardonnay, red Burgundy is pinot noir, and that a bottle of red Bordeaux will contain cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot, and malbec. America simplified wine labels by putting the varietal name on the bottle. Varietal simply refers to the name of the grape, such as merlot, riesling, or chenin blanc.
The term appellation is closely related to terroir. Appellation refers to the geographical identity of the grapes, where the grapes were grown. This is important, because if you taste a cabernet from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California and like it, you can rest assured that you will probably like most of them because of similar terroir. The major difference between wines in this area is how the wine is made.
The vintner is responsible for that. The winemaker has to decide how to craft the wine based on the flavor of the year's grape juice. Should the juice be fermented in stainless steel to concentrate on fruit or fermented in oak to offer woody notes, or a combination to offer both? Should the juice lay on the lees, the spent yeast, to lend a yeasty flavor to the wine that you can often find in sparkling wines. Another popular trick of the vintner is to use malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation, to impart a popular buttery flavor in some chardonnays, like La Crema Russian River chardonnay.
These are all little secrets that are listed on bottles of wine that hint toward what the wine will taste like. Knowing this information can help you make a better choice in wine selection. Woodland View at Clare Oaks has a nice offering of wines. Antoine, the Dining Room Manager, is in the process of upgrading the wine list. See how the labels offer insight to what flavor is inside the bottle. Expect another blog soon to explore the new wine list coming to Clare Oaks.
Want to experience Clare Oaks' wine selections for yourself? Make an appointment to learn more about our community and enjoy a lovely dinner with friends. Contact us at 630-372-1946.