We believe in blending for richness and complexity. To achieve this, we have worked with over 100 vineyards in Oregon…it could be any vineyard in Oregon from A to Z.
Why Do We Say Pair of Pants But Not Pair of Shirts?
In short, for quality, complexity and balance.
If You Try to Fail, but You Succeed, Which Have You Done?
If one closure in a thousand failed for one of the cola companies, it is likely they would reject that packaging. Contrast the year of love, time, effort and money that goes into a bottle of wine and yet wineries persist in accepting cork closures that continue to fail. How bad is it? The cork industry admits a 21/2% failure rate while the wine industry estimates it between 8 and 15% failure. Can you imagine a hotel where one of every ten rooms provides an unacceptable experience?
Cork failure? Tainted corks introduce 2,4,6-trichloroanisole or TCA into wine which is responsible for unpleasant odors like those in a wet basement. This can occur when corks are bleached in a chlorine solution during manufacturing or when naturally occurring fungi combine with industrial pollutants called chlorphenols to become TCA. Chlorphenols are found in wood preservatives and pesticides and are likely absorbed by cork trees. Why is corkiness such a big problem now? Chemicals like wood preservatives, pesticides and even chlorine were not used in the cork industry until modern times. World wide production of wine has exploded and the cork industry has been straining to keep up.
Wine has been stored in bottles with corks for a long time. Why change? We no longer need to stock wine in the cellar for the year’s consumption. With today’s global distribution systems, wine is stored for much less time because it is so readily available. More than 80% of wine purchased in the USA is consumed within 48 hours of purchase and 98% is consumed within six months. Corks were a natural solution to longer term storage of wine in the past because they could be forced into bottles, hold the liquid inside and yet be removed again. However, cork’s natural permeability varies and results in variable aging for identical wines in different bottles.
How do I know a wine is corked? An egregious example of a wine from a bottle with a tainted cork is such that anyone would identify it as bad. The real problem is that subtly “corked” wines are perceived as being unpleasant, sort of musty or even just dull. Many consumers may think they don’t like the varietal or the winery or the region. Corkiness can be so subtle that even some wine professionals miss it and also misjudge the wine itself.
Alternatives come with their own problems. We tried synthetic corks and found that they pull sulphur out of the wines leaving them unprotected, browning and sometimes with a strange, dry, fuzzy mouthfeel. Hogue Cellars in Washington conducted a four year study of closures and found that synthetic corks undergo premature oxidation with lower levels of fruit aromas and taste than screw caps. Gallo experiments decades ago showed “twist-offs were actually far superior to corks.” In the end, we believe that at this time screw tops offer the best choice to insure that the quality wine we put into the bottle is what you receive in your glass. Even though the Stelvin screw-caps that we use are more expensive than corks, we were the first Oregon winery to be 100% screw cap.
Is this the end-all? Certainly not. There was probably an outcry when wine was first bottled instead of stored in goat skins or clay amphorae. Bag in the box is fast becoming an alternative for consumers who want a glass or two of wine at home from time to time but not a whole bottle of that wine at one time. Because bag in the box is oxygen free unlike most other closures, the wine inside will not oxidize even after it has long been open. Glass stoppers, an expensive new alternative, also have no oxygen exchange. Is oxygen exchange desirable? For long term storage and aging, a small amount of gas exchange might be desirable but the debate on anaerobic storage continues. For now, it is worth remembering that for most people aging is something that happens on the way home from the market.
A server trick to easy opening is to grasp the cap and twist the bottle. In New Zealand when the cap clicks off, the server will often say with delight, “The Click of Quality.” We know one server who is able to roll the cap down his sleeve until it slides off in his hand! Regardless of how it is opened, reclosing is a breeze and one of the benefits of screw caps. And finally, no more disappointments on vacations or picnics when there isn’t a corkscrew to be found!
Why Is Aluminum Foil Shiny on One Side and Dull on the Other?
In this election year, we thought some folks might want clarification on this philosophy. We, two wine families here in Oregon, launched A to Z ten years ago with the express goal of crafting high quality wines that we could make available for good values. At that time there were no quality Oregon Pinot Noirs under $20. We brought our considerable experience (Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Archery Summit, Chehalem and The Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon as well as New and Old World winemaking stints) to blend the Essence of Oregon™ for each varietal in each vintage. We use many lots from many vineyards to achieve this and make only one cuvee of each wine each year. We came up with the phrase, “Aristocratic wines at democratic prices” to reflect our philosophy of offering the greatest quality for the most value.
If Love Is Blind, Then Why is Lingerie so Popular?