Nevada Wine

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cabernet Franc Tasting

Today we started class by sniffing red wines with added aromas such as raspberry, bell pepper, green beans, mushrooms, etc. Then we tested our sniffing abilities on unknown wines (not labeled but one of the added aromas). Most people were successful in identifying the correct aroma. I think our training is starting to pay off. After that we tasted six wines blind (wrapped in aluminum foil), 5 were Cabernet Franc and one was a ringer (a different variety). The wines were exceptionally good, especially the 2009 wines with deep dark colors, great aromas and tannins that lingered on the long finish. The winner was the Drought-Stressed Cabernet Franc (2009). Nobody detected the ringer, which was quite a surprise. It was the 2009 Well-Watered Pinot Meunier and amazingly it fit in well with the Cabernet Francs. Next week we will do some aroma analysis in white wines after which we will taste our Pinot Gris. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pinot Blanc Tasting

Dr.Cramer was out of town again for this week's wine tasting, so Danny Hopper and Ryan Ghan lead the wine tasting and taught another interesting class. Their class summarized last year's research on how plants responded to drought. To measure drought stress, Hopper said they needed an arabidopsis, or prefect model, of the plants. Their two models are Riparia Gloire, which is a drought sensitive plant and Ramsey, which is a drought tolerant plant.

They took a 100 genotype samples from the fields at UC Davis and selected and screened the plants by measuring the change in NCED gene expression. They used NCED,a plant enzyme to produce ABA, Absicis acid, which is an important plant stress hormone. This hormone closes the stomata in plants so that the plants can conserve water loss and thus become more drought tolerant. In both early and later tests, Hopper and Ghan have had higher expressions of NCED in Ramsey vines. Their goal, at this moment, is to use ABA to produce more grapes on vines, especially in Cabernet Sauvignon.

John Handzo has worked with plants in the past and enjoyed the class on drought stress but was confused by how the hormone affected the stomata.

"I thought it was pretty interesting, but I fee like they could have been more clear on how the hormone affects the opening and closing of the stomata," Handzo said.

Cindy Ainsworth thought the class was fascinating because Ainsworth had recently adopted grapes out in the vineyard and wanted to learn how to properly grow vines.

"Drought stress is something I have never learned much about," Ainsworth said. "Learning how to grow grapes is interesting and shows me a different side to drinking wine."

After the class, tasters tried different Pinot Blanc wines. There were two wines out of the 11 that were not Pinot Blanc and they had to indentify them.

"I like the white wines they make here," Handzo said. "This class has given me a better appreciation of wine."

Bob Wildman had a hard time indentifying the Pinot Blanc wines because he has not tried enough Pinot Blanc to understand it's distinct characteristics.

"The Pinot Blanc is very pleasant," Wildman said. "I usually prefer red wines, but the white wines from here are better."

Although, Wildman loved one of the Merlots he tried last week. He raved about how surprising the fruit qualities were in the wine.

"They are producing wines comparable to the wines in Napa," Wildman said. "If the average person was served a UNR wine at a restaurant, they probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a UNR wine and a wine from France."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Merlot Tasting

Today we had a good turnout for a very interesting class on aromas with our Merlot from the UNR Valley Road Vineyard. We used the WW 2008 Merlot as our base wine. We then smelled added aromas of blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, prune, oak, black pepper and cherry, which were added to the base wine (no additives). After we trained our noses, we then tested four blind aromas. Unfortunately I don't think anyone guessed them all correctly! Oh well, more training is required! After that we tasted an assortment of Merlots. The aromas in each were very interesting! The oaked wines were very popular. Of course there was one ringer in the bunch, it was a Cabernet Franc!

NOTE! We will change our wine tasting class time and day starting in July. The classes will start at 5 PM on Tuesdays! Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nevada Wine Tasters, thank you for coming to the wine tasting yesterday. This weeks wine tasting was different than the usual set up. Dr. Cramer's graduate students, Ryan Ghan and Danny Hopper, taught a class on rapid propagation techniques. Greenwood propagation, for those who don't know it, is the process of asexually cloning a given plant. This propagation technique is a fast and easy way to produce plant material.

The class focused on taking cuttings from a ‘mother vine.’ Here, cuttings were taken 3-5 nodes beneath the growing end or shoot tip. The wounding of the cutting eventually leads to the formation of a callus and then to adventitious root formation. Ghan and Hopper emphasized two importance propagation aids: cuttings require warmth, in the form of bottom heat, and high humidity to quickly root. A rooting mixture of 1:1 perlite and vermiculite has been successfully employed, as per the advice of their colleagues at UC Davis. Plant propagation has been successful with UNR's Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes, the rootstocks Ramsey and Riparia Glorie, and the CBF4 overexpressing vines.

Bob Dickerson specifically came to yesterday's wine tasting to learn the proper way to propagate. He has been growing his own vineyard for the last two years in the sierra foothills. He wants to create more vines through propagation.

"This has been the second time that I have come to these wine tastings," Dickerson said. "I heard about it last week and I said I would definitely come."

Eric Swanson and Kim Roberts have been propagating plants in their own home. They have had a lot of success with their propagation.

"They have been rooting out very nicely," Roberts said.

They came to this culture class to learn more techniques for their grape plants because propagation worked with their other fruit plants.

"We are not sure about the success with our grapes yet," Roberts said.

Bob Wildman came to the wine tasting this week for the first time after meeting Hopper at another wine tasting. Wildman is a clinical psychologist who is intrigued by the idea of using wine tastings for research purposes. He would like to do research on wine someday and hopes that collaboration with UNR could be available.

"I want to let other people know about this work," Wildman said. "It's fascinating."

For the last half of the wine tasting, tasters tried their favorite white wines. The wines were wrapped in tin foil and they had to guess what each wine was. This was considered the fun part of the night.