Can Natural Cork change 25%-40% of the wine it touches?

2-5% of wines under natural cork are returned at competition as being TCA-infected. Most judges hit a TCA infection between 3-10 parts per trillion. Most corked wine (3-5%) would have 5 ppt TCA infection.

" In a 2005 study of 2800 bottles tasted at the Wine Spectator blind-tasting facilities in Napa, California, 7% of the bottles were found to be tainted.[1]" Let's assume the TCA taint rate of those 7% were 3-4 ppt.

.5 ppt TCA can change a wine, mute its nose and change the mouth feel. Now if you read the literature, especially that funded by cork companies, they will stress that most consumers can't tell a wine is corked under 3-4 ppt.

What they don't say is that even slight TCA infections (>.5 ppt in my 20 year pro wine and judging experience) DO CHANGE a wine's aroma, bouquet, mouthfeel and finish.

So if 7% of wines are corked to where almost anyone can tell, (5ppt), we can assume a ten times higher incidence of .5 ppt taint, which could be as high as (gulp!) 70%. I believe the 25%-40% rate I mention is a very low and conservative number.

I might even go so far as to say that MOST wines under natural cork are somehow influenced negatively by TCA. But I'll wait to get some more data from ETS to go on the record on that one.

Regardless, I think we can agree that there is no reason in the world for any cautious, sane winemaker to close a bottle of wine with natural cork.

First field ripeness tests for sparkling Pinot Noir

What I sent to our producers: 

This section is usually 1-2 brix behind the ripest sections of the Clos.  Nets are almost all up and green drop continues.

Sparkling section (NORM YOST):  (swale in front of Wes and Chanda’s house)

Fruit sample:  90% veraison, some color on crush, seeds 20% (?) browning.

Refract:  17.5 Brix  Hydro:  18.2 Brix  pH meter:  2.85 pH.

Juice aroma:  chalk, kiwi, aspirin, unripe strawberry and cherry

Mouth:  Aspirin, enough acidity to strip cheek lining from a Silver Oak drinker, green flavors dominant.  Minimal sweetness and flavor development.  Germans would say ‘nicht rund’.

Numbers are lower than I had feared.  My sense is the ripest sections: Hillside 115 traditionally, are sitting at 20 Brix and 3.0 pH.

Full tests on Pinot Noir next Monday.

Forget the fruit salad: learn to evaluate wine STRUCTURALLY!

How boring is a wine tasting note that describes a wine like a recipe for sangria?  Blood orange, bing cherry and kiwi?  Really?  Forget the fruit salad and learn to describe a wine like a pro.

Here's my notes that I read off of:

Does smelling cherries or raspberry make a wine better?  Of course not.  But breaking down the structural elements of a wine gives us a clear and distinct idea of our stylistic preferences in wine.  Go to a wine shop and say you want a wine that smells like 'bing cherries', a wine geek may look at you funny.  But if you say you want a structured and austere Chablis, they will know exactly how to hook you up!

Here's the visual aids reproduced:

Nose: Aroma (fermentative)/Bouquet (aged)
Jammy:  15%+ Napa Cab or Paso Zinfandel.
Fruity/Primary:  Cru Beaujolais (young-3 years)
Balanced:  Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir (3 years from vintage date)
Earthy/Mineral:  5 year Chablis, Premier Cru
Austere/Mature:  20 year old Romanee Conti

Light/Elegant:  Sauv. Blanc
Balanced/ 'Round':  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chinon
Rich/ "Chewy": Young First Growth Bordeaux, Barolo, Sierra Foothills Old Vine Zinfandel

Flabby/Soft/Low Acid/ High pH (hydrogen ion activity) High ripeness Zinfandel, 'cougar juice' Chardonnay
Balanced/Structured (Round) (Sta. Maria Pinot Noir)
Highly structured/Tannic/Firm/Bright (Chablis)
Highly Tannic/Shrill/Acidic (Dry Alsatian Riesling)

Health Benefits of Wine: How to Drink Every Day and Live Longer!

Wes Hagen takes you through seven minutes of information on wine and health.

Also, Wes is a big supporter of safe wine drinking and reducing risk from drinking and driving.  Wes loves his breathalyzer and wants to show you how to have a breathalyzer party where you and your friends can safely test your limits.

How much wine can we drink safely each day and does it really have health benefits?

Watch the video below to see what Wes has to on the matter...