Wine Details
For the Curious Winefan

 

Interpreting Technical Details

The technical details we’re speaking of here are primarily wine chemistry but include some other, less analytical but informative factors that contribute to what we call wines of distinction – meaning wines that don’t appear at the end of every grocery shelf. These aren’t the only factors affecting great wines but they’re important ones that, along with tasting notes, may offer insight into the character of the wine.

pH and TA – complimentary factors

pH and TA are probably the easiest aspects of wine to measure and likely two that greatly affect the most basic aspects of a fine wine. In lay terms, pH tells us the strength of the acids in the wine while Titratable Acidity (TA) tells us the amount of one type of acid – acid that can be analyzed through a lab process we call Titration.

In grapes and wines pH and TA are intimately connected. When grapes ripen, they naturally increase their pH value while decreasing their TA value until they reach that point of perfection where they are harvested and made into wine.

In general the earlier one picks the grapes the more mouthwatering the wine will be. However, wines made from under-ripe grapes will taste too tart or astringent. That happens when the pH is too low for the other components in the wine to compensate.

If grapes are picked later, the resulting wine’s flavor profile will shift toward more brooding, dark fruit notes with a fuller, richer mouthfeel. The danger here is that it’s possible for grapes to become too ripe. When the grapes are picked overly late the wines become syrupy and heavy on the palate. There just isn’t enough acidity to give the wine its needed lift. That happens when the pH is too high for the other components in the wine to compensate. The wines made from these grapes will lack aging potential as well as make for disappointing partners for foods.

The just-right time to harvest is one of those critical things the winemaker must decide. Making that decision requires years of experience with a particular vineyard and how the grapes evolve as they approach that peak point of their maturity.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a necessity for great wine flavors and aroma but the idea that more is better is flawed. Excessive alcohol levels (in Bordeaux wines) are generally associated with higher pH values, overripe harvested grapes and flabby structured wines with poor aging potential. Here we refer to such wines as “cocktail wines” because they rarely elicit the desire for a second glass and are more intended to inebriate than inspire.

The “usual range” for Alcohol

Alcohol levels vary and are dependent on the grape, the climate and the site. Zinfandel is not the same as Merlot is not the same as Pinot Noir. No matter however, within a given grape variety what alcohol levels indicate is how ripe the grape was when harvested. Excessive levels for the grape variety and the wine will tend toward flabby while overly low can indicate an unripe harvest and a requirement for compensating manipulations at the winery.

By themselves, the properly ripened Merlot will generally yield alcohol levels in the 12.8% -13.5% range while the best Cabernet Franc will be in the 11.9% – 12.5% range. Of course, blends of the two can vary widely, typically from the mid to low 12% into the 13% range depending on blend proportions and the starting points for each.

NV Vin Enchanté Technical Details

Attribute Value
pH 3.53
TA (g/L) 6.5
Alcohol % 12.2%
% Merlot 60%
% Cabernet Franc 40%
# Cases Produced 180
Average Producing Vine Age 26 years
Crop Load Average and Rootstock 2.1 Tons/Acre

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Website Enchante

2007 Rendezvous Technical Details

Attribute Value
pH 3.40
TA (g/L) 7.0
Alcohol % 12.3%
% Merlot 36%
% Cabernet Franc 64%
# Cases Produced 180
Average Producing Vine Age 26 years
Crop Load Average and Rootstock 2 Tons/Acre, own rooted vines

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2007 Rendezvous Tasting notes

2007 Arpège Technical Details

Attribute Value
pH 3.54
TA (g/L) 7.4
Alcohol % 12.6%
% Merlot 78%
% Cabernet Franc 22%
# Cases Produced 140
Average Producing Vine Age 26 years
Crop Load Average and Rootstock 2.1 Tons/Acre, own rooted vines

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Website 07 Arpege

2009 Cabernet Franc Technical Details

Attribute Value
pH 3.60
TA (g/L) 6.6
Alcohol % 12.2%
% Merlot 0%
% Cabernet Franc 100%
# Cases Produced 125
Average Producing Vine Age 26 years
Crop Load Average and Rootstock 1.8 Tons/Acre, own rooted vines

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Website 09 Cab Franc