Register Menu

Vinification

Displaying items by tag: Simon J Woolf

Wednesday, 05 October 2022 13:10

Sulphites in Wine with Simon J. Woolf

Join us on October 5 for this WSG Live which is FREE and OPEN TO ALL! If you're not a WSG Member, please follow this link to register. You will receive the Zoom link via email before the event. Can't join live? Follow the link to register and we will send you a link to watch after. We look forward to seeing you there! 

The use of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), often just referred to as “sulphites”, in winemaking has become a much-debated and even sometimes emotive topic in the 21st century.

Since the advent of readily available SO2 in tablet or powder form, dating back roughly to the 1950s, winemakers have relied on this all-purpose elemental substance for everything from cleaning  barrels to protection against oxidation and its abilities to kill stray yeasts and bacterias. It can seem almost alchemical in its ability to transform a cloudy, off-smelling funk into a estar-bright, fragrant smelling wine.

But in the last few decades with the growth of the natural wine movement, excess use – or sometimes any use – of SO2 has become increasingly frowned on. Some wine drinkers even claim they are intolerant to SO2, and that they can no longer drink conventionally vinifed wines without getting headaches.

This webinar looks at SO2’s properties, and why it is so useful in winemaking. What quantites are typically used, and which rules and regulations govern sulphur use? We will also dig into the science behind the intolerance claims. How many people are really allergic to SO2, and are the normal levels found in wines likely to cause issues or not? And why does just about every bottle of wine on the planet have those words “contains sulphites” on the back – even those made by natural winemakers who claim not to add any?

What are the challenges of making wine when a winemaker decides to minimise or completely do without the use of added SO2? What can go wrong, and how much do we know about the scourge of natural wine known as mousiness?

This session covers the whole spectrum of winemakers and winemaking, looks at the varying attitudes to sulphur usage, and what this ultimately means in terms of the quality and properties of what ends up in your glass.

Presenter: Simon J Woolf

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.

Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.

Fortified wines such as port, sherry or marsala are slipping out of fashion. It’s no different with Madeira, but this highly food-friendly beverage deserves your attention.

Madeira is unique in its exceptional acidity and freshness, and also in its ability to age. No other wine has the ability to start showing its fruit at its best when 100 years old.

We’ll talk about this Portuguese island – where it is, and why the terrain and climate are different compared to the Azores or the Canary islands. How did vines come to be planted here, and what are the conditions for grape growing?

We’ll cover the winemaking, how madeira is made and what you can expect from the various styles and single varietals. Get to grips with 10-year olds, colheita, frasquiera, garrafeira and more. Understand why Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey are so revered, and why Tinta Negra Mole was always regarded as second best. And what about

Learn the difference between madeira’s two key ageing techniques: estufagem and canteiro.

What are the challenges for madeira producers in the modern age? Is this one of those wonderful wines that is in danger of disappearing like Carcalevos or Commandaria? Who are the major players now, and which producers should you seek out? (spoiler: there are only eight in total!).

What should you pair madeira with, and what are the implications for ageing? Why should you pay close attention to the bottling date of a colheita or frasquiera?

There will also be a brief mention of the developing sector of Madeiran still (unfortified) wines, and how this compares with the traditional and hard-to-find vino seco.

Presenter: Simon J Woolf

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.

Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.

WSG members still enjoy a discount on Simon's book "Food Trodden" ! Get your discount HERE

Published in Other Wine Countries

Have you ever tasted a Souvignier Gris, a Solaris or a Bronner? What about Regent, Cabernet Cortis or Rösler? These are just some of the disease-resistant varieties that have been bred over the last few decades from complex crossings of vitis vinifera cultivars with American sub-species such as vitis labrusca, vitis riparia or vitis rupestris.

What started as a crude exercise in creating new plant material in the wake of the turn-of-the-century phylloxera catastrophe has become a cutting-edge niche in wine production. Varieties are being developed that have resistance to cold, drought, or to common vine ailments such as downy mildew and botrytis. This has opened the door to a form of viticulture that requires almost no inputs apart from pruning.

Should we call these varieties hybrids or PIWIs or something else? And how is a hybrid different to a crossing or a “direct producer”? Does laboratory crossing of grape varieties overlap with gene-splicing, CRISPR9 or GMOs? Where are the boundary lines in these techniques and what do they mean for viticulture and wine in general?

We’ll talk about why winemakers from France, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and beyond are planting hybrids – some are even specialising in them, mainly or even exclusively. Many see them as an essential development in the quest for more sustainable viticulture, and as a potential solution to the dangers posed by climate change.

What do they taste like and why has the wine industry’s reaction to hybrids sometimes been rather disparaging? We’ll take a look at some of the most promising varieties, and some of the winemakers who are achieving the best results.

Hybrids might just be the future in wine. So join me for this session if you want to stay ahead of the curve!

Presenter: Simon J Woolf

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.

Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.

WSG members still enjoy a discount on Simon's book "Food Trodden" ! Get your discount HERE

Published in Grape Varieties

The Alentejo is a massive, sprawling wine region to the south of Portugal. It often has a reputation for mass produced wines produced from international grape varieties, and you’ll find cheap Alentejo wines sold in every corner of Portugal, and even on the islands of Madeira and the Azores.

But Alentejo holds a great deal more interest than just budget priced Syrah or Chardonnay. It’s just that it kept one of its most important winemaking techniques a secret for half a century.

Talha is a Portuguese word meaning clay pot, and Alentejo is home to a 2,000 year old tradition of making wine in these large stone vessels. Although the talha tradition has some similarities to the Georgian qvevri winemaking method, it arguably has more differences. But talha winemaking in the traditional way is in the middle of a massive resurgence. There are villages where it’s said there’s a talha behind every door. Is this true? You’ll find out as part of this seminar.

We’ll go through the specifics of how talhas are made – and by whom – and how the wines are produced in this age-old tradition. Yet more importantly, we’ll talk about the culture that surrounds talha wine, and why it can be hard to find it in a bottle.

Alentejo is a diverse region climatically, and although much of it is hot, dusty plains, we’ll also cover the fashionable Porte Alegre sub-region, and the south-western tip of Alentejo, where it meets the Atlantic ocean and conjoins the Sétubal region.

We’ll mention a number  of key wineries, large and small, and some recommended wines to seek out and taste. They’ll range from the giant Esporão, to more boutique operations such as Cabeças do Reguengo or Herdade do Cebolal.

Presenter: Simon J Woolf

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.

Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.

WSG members still enjoy a discount on Simon's book "Food Trodden" ! Get your discount HERE

Published in Other Wine Countries

Why is it that Portugal tends to get pigeonholed as just Port wine, or cheap Vinho Verde? This small but important European wine nation offers a huge diversity of wine styles across the whole length of the country. The vineyards span an incredible variety of differing climates and terroirs, and teem with fascinating indigenous grape varieties.

What’s old is new in Portugal – many ancestral winemaking methods have not just survived, but are growing in popularity again. Fashion has caught up with Portugal, as wine consumers around the world crave greater authenticity and sense of place in their wines. Portugal offers these qualities in spades, with many interesting and unique styles.

We’ll look at some key Portuguese wine concepts: the importance of the field blend, why foot treading grapes is the best method of extraction there is, and why making wine in clay pots is having a renaissance in Alentejo and elsewhere. Plus a brief guide to some of the country’s more important indigenous grape varieties.

You’ll discover many of Portugal’s lesser known gems, along with some of its more famous still wines. The regions covered will include:

  • Vinho Verde- so much more than just a simple fizzy quaffer
  • Douro – there’s a new breed of winemakers taking this region’s still wines in a new direction
  • Bairrada – not just sparkling wines, but innovative winemakers who are taming Baga
  • Dão – the forgotten heart of Portugal, boasting amazing field blends and classical wines built for ageing.
  • Lisboa & Ribatejo – a powerhouse of young winemaking talent with fresh whites and reds
  • Colares – unique wines that age forever, but vineyards that nearly succumbed to property development
  • Alentejo – the renaissance of talha winemaking and the rise of more artisanal producers and diverse styles

NOTE: This webinar will not cover fortified wines (Port, Madeira, Carcavelos) or the islands of Madeira and Azores

Presenter: Simon J Woolf

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, will be published in October 2021. "Foot Trodden" is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.

Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.

WSG members enjoy a discount on Simon's new book "Foot Trodden - Portugal and the wines that time forgot"! Get your coupon code HERE to pre-order the book

Please note, there is a small error in the spoken presentation. When talking about the grape varieties commonly planted in the Bairrada region, Simon mentions that Cercial is the same variety as the Sercial grown on the island of Madeira. Simon later advised us that this is incorrect. The Sercial of Madeira is called Esgana Cão in mainland Portugal. Cercial (also known as Cerceal Branco and confusingly as Sercial) in Bairrada is a different and genetically distinct variety.

Published in Other Wine Countries

HAVE YOUR SAY!

Did you enjoy reading the Great Debate on Natural Wines by Simon Woolf and Andrew Jefford? Now it is YOUR chance to HAVE YOUR SAY with our two debaters.

We are following up their written debate with a live one, and encourage you to share your opinion or ask your question directly to Simon and Andrew. No matter what side of the debate you are on, this is the chance for you to make your voice heard on one of the Great Debates of our wine world today.

So take a look at the debate again and share your questions and thoughts. In order to make the most of the live debate, please comment on the Great Debate post on Instagram or Facebook with your question or comment at least three days before the live debate.

If your question or comment is selected, you will be contacted to present it yourself, and of course there will be plenty of chance to post your opinions or ping off further reflections on the day via the chat box.

Get involved and have your say -- Andrew and Simon are looking forward to hearing from you!

READ "The Great Debate: Natural Wine with Andrew Jefford and Simon J Woolf" FULL ARTICLE HERE

Published in Vinification

It's become one of the hippest and most contentious niches in wine, often poorly understood and derided by the more traditional sectors of the wine trade. But what exactly is natural wine? Is it just fault-ridden hipster juice, cloudy and smelling of cider as some claim?
We’ll explore where this movement came from and why winemakers in some parts of the world felt that they had to turn their backs on the establishment, plus how the movement has developed over the last few decades.

How does natural wine overlap with existing certification schemes such as organics and biodynamics? What attempts have there been at certifying or classifying natural wine? We’ll talk about the current state of play, and the detailed definitions that have been proposed for natural wine by various organisations.

Why do natural wines taste, smell and look different? What are the differences in production and philosophy compared to conventional wine? We will of course mention the recent “clean wine” fad and how this relates to natural wine.

A few of the movement’s pioneering winemakers and growers will also be discussed, together with some recommendations for tracking down and enjoying great natural wines from different parts of the wine producing world.

The aim of this webinar is to imbue you with enthusiasm for what can be a fascinating and innovative corner of the wine world, and to help you make sense of the smorgasbord of exciting flavours and aromas to be found in the best natural wines.

Your sense of adventure is the only limit!

PRESENTER: SIMON J WOOLF

Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English wine and drinks writer, currently based in The Netherlands.

An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he contributes regularly to Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.

Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns. He is currently shortlisted for a Roederer interntional wine columnist award in 2020.

Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking.
Simon is also active as an editor, wine judge and translator.

WSG members enjoy a discount on Simon's book "Amber Revolution"! Get your coupon code HERE

Published in Vinification

Wine is full of spirited debates, but few can argue that any subject matter generates more intensity these days than natural wine. Should sulphur be allowed or not? Do natural wines reveal terroir better than conventional wines? Has natural wine changed our notion of flaws?

Perhaps most controversial of all is the definition of natural wine in the first place.

These questions are constantly challenging everyone from wine critics and sommeliers to casual students of wine. We decided to bridge the topic with Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor and long-time columnist for Decanter and World of Fine Wine, Andrew Jefford, as well as Simon J Woolf, the noted natural-wine writer and author of Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine.

Published in Blog

Sign up to receive our latest updates