Sommelier Shalom Chin – Austria Vintage Blog at Undhof Salomon – Day 18

Day 18: 13/10/2011 – A beautiful day to pick

Today was a great day. The weather was perfect and everything was calm. Ferments were well on their way. The winemaking team decided to lend a hand to the harvesting team. It was getting stuffy in the winery with all the CO2 gas being produced from the ferment and we need some fresh air.

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Sommelier Shalom Chin – Austria Vintage Blog – Day 17

Day 17: 13/10/2011 – Another Cold Spell

There wasn’t much going on today due to the sudden return of the rainy weather. It was freezing cold. Temperature has dropped to seven degrees. In fact, weather was so bad, none of the pickers worked today so they were put on bottling duties.

Over at our end, we decided to take some time to check on the bottles of wine that we have re-corked. To our dismay, the sulphur levels were not at the level we wanted and so we had go through the trouble of taking all the corks out and re-doing everything again. This time, we did a more thorough cleaning of the bottled.

Salomon Winery - recorking

A few pressings were done but other than that, things were significantly quiet. The grapes brought in tasted more diluted but flavours were still acceptable.

In my earlier post, I talked about pressing juice and how it is usually separated from the free-run. The reason for that is that pressing juice is considered of lesser quality as compared to the free-run due to more exposure to oxidation and the flavours not being as pure as the free-run.

Apparently, the practice here at Salomon is to add a portion of the pressing with the free-run to be fermented together so as to impart more texture to the wine. Unlike other wineries that would ferment both separately and blend them later before the bottling process, Salomon has no qualms when it comes to mixing them up together as the belief is that both free-run and pressing are good enough to be put together at the initial stage.

We are looking at about 1/8 of the wine having pressings juice. Perhaps this explains the lack of overt fruity flavours of the wines compared to a new world wine that would shun pressing juice and use them only in the entry level stuff. Thus, this is one of the differences between new world and old world wine-making.

To me, this is a big shift in wine-making for someone who is more familiar with new-world wine-making and that makes me question the teaching that pressing juice is always inferior to free-run. To the old-world guys, it is less of a question of which is better but how both elements can be used to make a better wine.

At the end of the day, the blokes and I had some time off for the night so we went out for a few drinks just to unwind.

The Rain Clears

Sommelier Shalom Chin – Austria vintage blog – day 16

Day 16: 11/10/2011 The Rain is gone!

Today is a beautiful day. I know I said that last week but after 5 days of rain, it was good to see the sun was up, the sky was blue and the chill was gone.

There was nothing much going on today except for 10 bins of Riesling from the kögl vineyard coming in this morning. We did an average sugar measurement on the grapes and it was an average of 19.5 KMW which is about 13% alcohol. The bins of grapes went straight to the press. More aeration was being done today.

We also spent some time re-bottling the 1969 WiedenGrünerVeltliner and 1968 Goldberg Grüner Veltliner & Müller-Thurgau  blend. It gets really frustrating with the old bottles when the cork breaks while taking them out. I had to clean up the black, greasy mold that has seeped into the sides of the mouth of the bottle. Wine and grease don’t mix well together. I can now understand why some people insist on decanting old wines because time in the underground cellar does impart a stench to the wines.

It was really fascinating to taste the kögl Rieslings and get a better look at them. Having skipped breakfast, I spent a good amount of time eating the different coloured grapes. If without self-restrain, I would have continued chomping down a significant part of the 2011 kögl wines. I noticed that the grapes from there came in three different colours.

The first is purple which means that the grapes are affected by botrytis. Not all botrytis grapes taste bad. If they are quite desiccated, they have a sweet raisiny taste to them. If they are not desiccated, they are sour and foul to taste.

Yellow berries on left vs green on right and some purple

The second is green. The green grapes have high acid and taste sweet. To tell if the green grapes are ripe, I would put them against the sunlight. If the light is able to penetrate through the berries, it gives me a hint of their sweetness. The berries that can’t get any light penetration taste very acidic.

Lastly are the yellow-coloured berries. I was told that the berries are yellow because of sunburn. This is sometimes frowned upon by producers because sunburn can potentially produceperceptible amounts of TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene) in grapes, which imparts kerosene and overly-toasty characters to young Riesling wines.

Recalling my time spent in the vineyards, I remembered that the grapes that were mostly yellow tend to be on the outer rows of the terraced vineyards rather than the inner rows. The inner rows were more sheltered from the sun compared to the outer rows. Upon tasting the yellow berries, I noticed that they had more sweetness in there and more flavor.

I love Riesling that were yellow rather than green but it is not ideal to make wine from just yellow Riesling grapes. Riesling needs acid and the green ones have more acid than the yellow ones. I think that it is best to have some yellow, some green and some good purple ones in the pressing of the grapes. The concept of balance between sweetness, acidity and flavor ripeness begins in the material going into the wine and will be reflected when it finally goes into the bottle.

Sommelier Shalom Cin – Austria Vintage blog – day 15

Shalom’s vintage experience continues although bad weather has meant a halt to picking so he has had a few days off, hence not day 13 or 14 reoprt, but here’s day 15… in a wet and cold Austria Read More >

Sommelier Shalom Chin – Austria Vintage Blog – Day 12

Day Twelve: 07/10/2011 Rain, rain, Go away!

The cold has set in and the miserable weather has begun. This is the first dark and gloomy day I had in Austria since arriving here two weeks ago. Temperature was as predicted, which was 12 degrees Celsius. Read More >

Sommelier Shalom Chin Austria Vintage Blog – Day 11

Day Eleven: Dry Ice Wonderland 06/10/2011

It was a very busy day. Early in the morning, a tanker filled with grape must rolled up at our doorsteps. The grape must has been bought to be used for the supermarket wines under another label. This wine will be sold in the UK and Poland. The must taste considerably of lesser quality in terms of flavour compared to the ones Dr. Bert brought in from his vineyards.

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Shalom Chin Salomon Blog – Day 10 in Austria

Day Ten: The Coming of Autumn 05/10/2011

Autumn has already arrived. You can tell be the falling of the leaves from the trees and the browning of them on the vines. It is starting to get cold too and harder to stay out of bed.

As part of the routine, I made my way to the winery and tasted each tank to check for any off-odours from the wines. I also took the usual alcohol and temperature readings. A few bins of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling came in today.

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Shalom Chin Salomon Vintage Blog – Day 9 – recorking 1969 Grüner Veltliner

Shalom has his first experience of re-corking old wines from the deepest part of the Salomon cellars, and 1969 Grüner Veltliner. This brings back memories of when Bert Salomon showed up at my place in Melbourne for my 40th birthday with a case of 1962 Grüner Veltliner!

Yes, a whole dozen, as he was not sure how many people were coming!! I will never forget Bert’s generosity and true friendship in this wonderful gesture. Oh, the wines was brilliant, very sound, complex, provocative, showing a lot of development although not falling over – like the birthday boy.

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Shalom Chin, Salomon Vintage Blog – Day 8 – The Coming of Botrytis

Day 8 – 03/10/2011

Another beautiful day in wine country. Sometimes, I wonder if it will ever get dark and cloudy. The temperature is expected to fall to 10 to 12 degree celcius this week. I can already feel a slight chill compared to the previous week.

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Shalom Chin – Salomon Vintage Blog Day 7 in Krems

A day off from the vintage gives Shalom a chance to expore Krems area and the village of Dürnstein… although his palate still gets a good workout with visiting sommeliers from Hong Kong.

Day 7 – 02/10/2011

A quiet Sunday for us. The crew decided to go for a walk to the town of Dürnstein. It was a lovely view from the terraced vineyards. It was fascinating to see the vines planted so close to the stone walls. My colleague told me that vines planted next to the walls tend to produce riper grapes due to the heat coming off from the wall at night. It was all sunny and not a cloud in sight.

View from the top of the hill above Durnstein

We climbed to the top of the hill full of vines. Many others did the same. My Swiss colleague remarked that in if we were to walk into like that in the vineyards of Switzerland, we would probably be chased out with a gun-totting man. As we walked down the hill over the other side, a sign in German mentioned that in the past, if a person was caught eating the grapes here and could not pay for what he has eaten, his ear would be cut off. Thank God we don’t have that today.

Hills surrounding Durnstein

At Dürnstein, we took a train to the town of Spitz to catch a ferry ride back to Stein. On the train, we were greeted by a lady who gave us free schnapps to drink. A train ticket for a shot of schnapps sounded like a great deal to us.

Back at the winery, we had a visit from HK Association of Sommeliers. Some amazing vintages were tasted.

Salomon Undhof Steiner Kögl2009, Erste Lager Kremstal DAC, 13.5%abv

A pale yellow tinge. Light fusel aromas and lifted menthol, a flintiness to it with white peach and lemon peel. On the palate is littered with hints of fusel flavours, flint and lemon peel too.

Von Stein 2005 Grüner Veltliner, 14%abv

Pale yellow. A toasty, honeyed botrytis nose in there with hints of confectionary. Quite concentrated. On the palate, the acid is still present and flavours of dried apricots and toast. My most complex Gruner yet. This can lay down another 5-7 years.

Kögl Reserve 1999 Riesling, 13%abv

Pale yellow. Concentrated nose of apricots, petrol, honey and lightly minted. On the palate, acid is still present, beautiful sweet confectionary notes with cold tea. A very long length.

Kögl Reserve 1981 Riesling, ?%abv

Gold colour. Lifted notes of limestone, flint, and petrol. A mintiness to it like 99. Beautifully balanced between acid and flavor. Off dry sweetness that comes from age. Amazingly complex with flavours of honey, cold tea and dried apricots. Beautifully aged with hints of menthol. A treat!

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