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MailTribune.com
  • Smoke from 2013's fires shouldn't affect quality of local wines

  • Recalling the long periods of smoky conditions in the valley last year, we were wondering whether this might result in an excep-tionally smoky flavor to 2013 vintage wines produced in our area?
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  • Recalling the long periods of smoky conditions in the valley last year, we were wondering whether this might result in an excep-tionally smoky flavor to 2013 vintage wines produced in our area?
    — Oscar Z., Medford
    Well, Oscar, it seems that the grapes for 2013 vintages avoided problems from smoke, though it's still a little too soon to tell exactly.
    While most of the Rogue Valley was worrying about air quality during our smoky summer, wineries were worried about smoke taint.
    Smoke residue contains volatile chemical compounds called phenols that can accumulate on the skin and pulp of the grapes. These compounds can release during the fermentation process and cause the resulting wine to develop an unpleasant taste.
    John Quinones, the winemaker at Roxy Ann Winery, says early tests came back negative for smoke taint.
    "It was a concern," Quinones says. "We see no problems though. It looks like we lucked out."
    Jean-Michel Jussiaume, winemaker at Del Rio Vineyards, says special care was taken during the pressing stage for the winery's white wines, and they appear untainted. It's too soon to tell with the reds, as they are still aging and developing, he says.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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