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Pinot Briefs —Newsletter 9.46

Oregon Pinot Noir Tops All Other Varieties in Price According to Wines & Vines, the 2013 Oregon Vineyard and Wine Production Census, indicates that statewide growers received an average of $2,252 per ton in 2013 with Pinot Noir bringing in the highest average price per ton of $2,655. Chardonnay is the state’s second most expensive grape but some Chardonnay grapes have demanded more than Pinot Noir. The article points out that at 2 to 3 tons per acre, and at an average contracted price of $2,655, the risk is “breaking bad.”

Terracotta-fermented Wines in Oregon Read an excellent report on ceramicist and winemaker Andrew Beckham of Beckham Estate who is leading a revival of interest in fermenting and aging wines in terracotta amphorae. I have alluded to his project a few times in recent issues but the article by Katherine Cole goes into more detail. Visit

Wine that is Badly Kept Ages Four Times Faster An Italian study was reported at (August 11, 2014) in which scientists placed 400 bottles of Sangiovese wine in both a professional working wine cellar with a strictly regulated temperature and another in conditions that simulated the normal home environment. The wine kept “at home” was warmer overall and its temperature varied more. The researchers found that small differences in temperature can speed up chemical reactions associated with wine aging. They found that at six months under “at home” conditions, the wine was about as aged as a bottle stored for two years under proper cellar conditions. In other words, the home-stored wine aged about four times faster. The wine stored under “at home” conditions had fewer antioxidants and less red color as well as an inferior flavor.

No Relationship Between Wine Price and Enjoyment An article by Robert H. Ashton appeared in the most recent issue of the Journal of Wine Economics. This paper provided evidence that a significant number of wine consumers do consider price a useful clue to quality. Four blind tastings of 2006 red Bordeaux and 2009 white Burgundy with a price range of $20 to $119 was conducted, in which members of a wine club rated their extent of enjoyment of each wine. In three of the tastings, there was no relationship between price and enjoyment, while in the other the relationship was negative. At least among this group of wine club members, they did not find enjoyment to increase with price.

Inundated with New Wine Releases This time of year I have to really budget my money because my email is flooded with fall release offers and as most of you hopelessly devoted pinotphiles know, it is hard to resist ordering everything. I already have way too much wine to drink in my lifetime, but the lure of a new release is irresistible. When I see the wording, “Order the whole allocation,” it sends shivers up my spine, makes the hair on my neck erect, and I begun to shake like a leaf on a tree. Remember that allocation is a relative term, and you can more often than not obtain more bottles of a wine if you request it. The best advice I can give you is to cut up your spouse’s Nordstrom card, put your kids in public school, refrain from buying a new car for at least 10 years, stop shopping at Whole Foods (Trader Vic’s is a more economical substitute), and never, ever, ever, under any circumstances tell your spouse how much you are spending on wine. Have the wine shipped to your business, or preferably, to a wine locker. Gradually introduce your spouse to great Pinot Noir (don’t reveal the price), and once you have secured her love for the heartbreak grape, she will easily turn her back on $10.99 bottles of Pinot Noir at the supermarket. Just remember that you can always justify your Pinot Noir buys by knowing that great Pinot Noir in moderation is good for your health and sanity, and great wine that you drink defines you as a person.

Disposable Breathalyzers from Akers Bioscience The BreathScan® is a convenient, disposable, yet accurate measure of blood alcohol (BAC) levels. The units are in wide use in Europe and all drivers in France are required by law to carry them in their cars. The single-use devices are about three inches in length so handy to stick in the glove compartment or your purse or pocket. They can be bought individually ($3.50) or in packs of 4, 12, 25 or 100 and are but a few dollars each. To test yourself, you simply crack an internal ampoule of reagent crystals which change color from yellow to blue-green in the presence of breath alcohol. After blowing into the tube, the results are available within two minutes. Units are sold to specify BAC percentage of .02%, 05% or 08%. The breathalyzers are officially certified as an alcohol screening device by the FDA. A BreathScan® Pro is also available that gives a quantitative BAC. Visit

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