Postmodern Winemaking

Posted by Ed on 2/11/2014 to everything else
I've been reading Postmodern Winemaking, a book written by Clark Smith that is about how a re-thinking of winemaking is needed. It is a book written for winemakers and very geeky consumers. Smith's view is that the technological changes seen in the industry since WWII have stripped most wines available to the consumer of their soul. He talks about how filtering robs wines of essential molecules needed for aroma, taste, and longevity. How micro-oxidation (MOX) can be a good thing to build structure if done correctly (in the smallest bubbles at amounts less than saturation levels), and at the correct time in a wine's life (just after fermentation). Smith discusses Crossflow clarification, Reverse Osmosis (RO), microfiltration, and something called Flash Detente. Most of these issues are not relevant to a 2,000 case winery focused on handcrafted production. However, some other points Smith makes are spot-on, important, and in tune with views that I hold. In no particular order these include:
The benefits of a basket press
Using barrels and oak substitutes in a sustainable manner is responsible winemaking
Post fermented wine should be a nutritional desert for micro-organisms
Feral yeast may cause increased levels of some bad acting chemicals
Microbial equilibrium in the cellar is a smarter approach than a sterile winery
A balanced vine supplies the ideal fruit to make wine from
A balanced vine lives in a balanced environment where chemicals and operations don't exert undue influence
Integrated Pest Management in the vineyard should be included as a concept in the cellar.

Although I'm still reading I've found the book to be worthwhile and thought provoking. I hope to write more about Smith's ideas and how they influence my decisions in the cellar in the near future.

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