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Portland Doctors Miles Hassell and David Ellis Tout Wine Consumption & Good Health An article by Michael Alberty appearing at reinforces the value of the Mediterranean diet that includes moderate alcohol consumption. This diet can help prevent, and in some cases reverse, a variety of diseases such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Hassell noted, “We think the preponderance of data suggests a moderate amount of red wine is associated with better health results, driven primarily by diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes.” Dr. Ellis echoed the importance of moderation. “The vast preponderance of data, cardiovascular and otherwise, would dictate that consistent moderation is the ticket for red wine or anything else.”

Polyphenols Associated with a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Four polyphenolic compounds known as flavonols found in many fruits, vegetables and grapes, were studied as a part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), an ongoing cohort study in Chicago begun in 2004. Annual neurological evaluations and dietary assessments were done on 921 participants without dementia. 220 participants (75% female) eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease. Participants who followed a diet regimen with the highest flavonol intake had a 48 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease compared to those who consumed the least. Consumption of the flavonol myricetin, which is found in wine, tea, kale, oranges and tomatoes, was linked to a 38 percent lower risk of developing dementia, and consumption of the flavonol isorhammetin, found in wine, pears, olive oil and tomato sauce, was associated with a 38 percent reduction rate. This study, recently published in the journal Neurology, adds to the growing evidence that moderate wine consumption is an important contributor to a cognitive-friendly diet.

The Lowdown on Hungarian Oak I recently reviewed a few wines from Bravium. Winegrower Derek Rohlffs combines Hungarian oak with French oak in aging his Pinot Noir wines with good results. Rohlffs explained why he uses Hungarian oak barrels. “About ten years ago, my eyes were opened to Hungarian oak during a blind tasting arranged by well-known barrel broker Mel Knox. I tasted the same Chardonnay and Pinot Noir raised in every manner of oak barrel and was drawn to wines aged in Hungarian oak. Research and a later trip to Hungary confirmed my sensory intuitions. As a result of the harsh growing conditions of the North Hungarian Range, the oak forests are composed almost exclusively of sessile oak or Quercus Petraea. Tight grained Quercus Petraea has a high aromatic concentration matched with low tannic content resulting in wines of complex aromas, enhanced fruit character along with tension and brightness. The Zemplen forest, in particular, produces some of the tightest grain oak anywhere, with a higher percentage of Patraea trees (almost 100%) than the renowned Troncais forest (80% Patraea) in France.” I think there has been a tendency to turn up our nose to wines made with Hungarian oak, feeling that it is cheaper and less successful for Pinot Noir. Derek and others are changing this misconception.

Wine Reviews that Leave You Asking, “Say What?” I recently received an allocation offering for 2016 Zena Crown Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noirs. Some of the wine descriptions left me puzzled. 2016 Zena Crown Vineyard Conifer: “Exemplifies summer with red fruit, floral femininity(?) and great acidity. Pine sap, plumb, lifted rose (?) and zebra stripe gum (?) aromas. The wine beads on the palate like morning dew on a bivouac sack (?). It is gracefully commanding and shaped like a fat arrow (?).” 2016 Zena Crown Vineyard Vista: “Folded like an accordion (?), the 2016 Vista opens with red fruit and citrus upfront…..Aromas of clover blossom (?), tamarind, pipe tobacco, and tangelo (?) lead to flavors of cranberries, milk chocolate, sage and marjoram on the palate. 2016 Zena Crown Vineyard Block 6: The 2016 Block 6 has invigorating acidity and flows across the palate like an umbrella covering the tongue (?). With Sizzler red licorice (?), champagne mango (?) and petunia aromas, and flavors of beetroot, dates wrapped in bacon (?) and squid ink (?), the wine is as fresh as a warm spring day.” 2016 Zena Crown Vineyard Block 14: “Light-bodied yet viscous like water with high mineral content (?), the 2016 Block 14 soars across the palate like a hang glider (?). The wine’s aromas of boysenberry, black licorice, and wild rose(?) lead to flavors of maple sugar, dark rye, and golden beet. The thirst-quenching, slightly salty Pinot has a texture reminiscent of juicy pomegranate and shiso leaf melange (?) with an everlasting finish.” The writer of these reviews had to strive for a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. He couldn’t be serious….could he?

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