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."