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Color in grapes from different climates

I am in the process of studying for the Certified test and had a question on the color in grapes from different climates. I was reading my Deductive Tasting Method Workshop packet from the CMS and it has in the section, GEOGRAPHY IMPACT under deductive logic parameters for warmer and cooler climates, some contradiction with what The Science of Tasting info the Guild has. 

In the Workshop packet is has "Color is slightly darker for the grape variety" under the warmer climate section and "Color is pale for the grape variety" under the cooler climate section. In The Science of Tasting info from the Guild it says that this is a not true. It states that color (anthocyanins) is inhibited by heat and that cooler vintages can produce darker colored wines than warmer ones. 

Any of my awesome wine cohorts want to clear this up for me?!

Cheers, 

Rhett 

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  • Rhett,

    There is no black and white answer here, particularly with deductive tasting and assessing color. There are way too many factors that can affect color outcome. Tying only the climate to the color is a generalization, which I'm positive the Masters expanded upon in the workshop you attended. I'd imagine, however, they mentioned using color alone can lead you astray in conclusions. Use it as a base starting point in your deductive method, a small piece of the overall evidence if you will.

    For example, I was just in the Sierra Foothills last week, speaking with Ann Kraemer of Shake Ridge Ranch who has decades of experience between Napa and Amador. They don't focus on Cabernet in Amador much because although it is ripe by the numbers, the phenolic development isn't there. Amador has the same average temperatures as Calistoga/St. Helena, but a shorter growing season with immediate daily rises/drops in temperature, along with higher elevation. This is not a place you want to be exposing your clusters if you are at elevation - The highest vineyards are above 3,300 feet, and most vineyards here far eclipse the majority of Napa Valley. Yet, they're just as hot during the day. Sunlight and 90 degrees at elevation is going to feel more intense than sunlight and 90 degrees at sea level, for grapes or humans. 40 minutes or so west in Lodi they have a hard time achieving color in Cabernet and will blend in Petite Sirah. Drive another hour west to Napa and Petite Verdot is usually your blender for color.

    Vines start to shut down photosynthesis above mid-90s temperatures, meaning a warm climate can (not always) be counterproductive to anthocyanin (color) development in grapes. In cooler climates, you may expose the clusters to receive more sunlight to encourage photosynthesis (among many other reasons), particularly if you have a shorter growing season.

    Again, I don't think either is wrong. Generalizing color in warmer climates is a base to start from with the deductive method. Color hints at things that should be looked at more closely on the nose and palate. I would say you're better off assessing what that color means as you start to consider fruit condition, structure, oak usage, botrytis, youth/age of the wine, and more.

    Hopefully that helps, good luck!
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