David Coffaro Vineyard
          and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow July 22 - July 28, 2012

Sunday July 22, 2012 

Wine stored or shipped in NOT perfect conditions: Some of you have heard or seen my rants about this subject so since I just opened a wine that was exposed to 110 degree weather I will relate two stories again.....

1) After 10 years, last night I opened a bottle of wine that was in 110 degree conditions for 2 days back in July 2002 and the wine was fine and expressed Bordeaux characters. Here is what I wrote back then:
Sunday July 14, 2002: 

I need to report on how a bottle of our 2000 Aca Modot tasted. As reported Friday Brendan found 6 bottles of 2000 Aca Modot at the bottom of a recycling bin. This bin was stored outside exposed to full sun for one week. The temperatures for everyday last week were over 90 degrees. Two days, the highs reached 110 degrees. I opened a bottle of this wine yesterday and a bottle that was stored in my cellar. No one could tell any difference in the taste of the two wines when tasted blind. A few could tell a slight difference in the smell. Actually the bouquet might have been better. I tried the two wines blind as well as Pat later that night. I could detect a slight caramelized smell in the cooked wine, but I also could tell no difference in taste. I am convinced that this wine will age well for over 10 years. 

2) Back in 1997 there was an article about my operation and winemaking in the Wine Spectator. The mention helped me get noticed and I started making more wine. One of the wines was a 1996 Zinfandel. At that time a small distributor begged me to sell him wine so he could distribute the wine in Chicago. He got the wine to many of the high end restaurants including Charlie Trotter who poured my 2006 Carignan by the glass. He also sold it to the biggest wine shop, Sam's. At home I consumed many of my 1996 Estate Cuvee wines and also the Carignan. I found I was down to my last bottles so I contacted Sam's to see if they had any left. I was happy to hear they had 5 total cases left after a year so I asked them to send the wine back to me. In all it cost me twice as much as what I sold the wine to the distributor for. I put the wine down in my cellar and a week or two later I pulled out a 1996 Estate Cuvee. I was amazed that it tasted much better than the last time I remember having it open. I did not think much about it until the second time I opened one. This time I was very happy again. I then looked at the back of the bottle and saw a bar code. The wines I had stored for over a year in my cellar had no bar code so I knew the wine came back from Sam's in Chicago. Of course I went down and brought up a bottle without the bar code, stored in my cellar at 60 degrees for over a year. A blind taste revealed that I was right: the wine with the bar code from Sam' was a better wine. It had more complexity and better balance. I know now the reason the wine from Sam's showed better was because it was heated up and the temperature had fluctuated in shipment both there and back to our winery.

I have experienced similar events with wine. I have found wine stored in my cellar in my house at 60+ degrees over a year show better than the wine in our storage building where the temperature i closer to 55. I have also come back with wine from a trip and found they are more mature because the temperature in my car over two weeks or so fluctuated. Thus I believe controlled temperatures at 55 degrees is not necessary.

Below is what I wrote about this subject back in March 2000:

Friday March 24, 2000

I have been tasting premium wine since 1969. I started with Bordeaux and moved to California wines when we moved to this vineyard in 1979. I had heard that great Bordeaux wines tasted different in Europe compared to their long ship travel to the States. I really didn't feel that even if they had warmed up somewhat during their travel time, this could make a great deal of difference. In the last few years I have changed my mind on what the influence of temperature can have on great wine. I have stored my remaining Bordeaux at an average temperature of 63 degrees over 30 years. These wines are still tasting fine. They certainty have not gone bad. I still believe that constant temperature is very important and if you plan on drinking great wines you sure don't need to store them at 50 to 55 degrees if you plan on drinking them in the next 30 years. I have heard that if wine is kept at 45 degrees, aging might be nonexistent. 

I have changed my mind, however, to believe that even a short time variation in temperature can change a wine very substantially. Since I have the luxury of having an abundance of my wine, I can taste the same wine over and over again. My first experience with my wine stored in two different places was in 1997. We had sold 38 cases of our 1996 wines to a distributor in the Chicago market. I found out in the summer of 1997 that Sam's still had 5 cases of my 96s unsold. I bought my wine back at twice the price I had sold it for. I was very low on my stash of all my 96 wines!! A couple of weeks later I pulled up a bottle from one of these cases of 1996 Estate Cuvee and was amazed at how well it tasted. The next week I decided to compare the traveled Sam's wine with one I had stored in my own cellar at 65 degrees for almost a year. There was a dramatic difference. The one stored in my cellar had more fruit. But don't panic!! I preferred the traveled wine because it was smoother and more balanced--much more aged. What caused this change in the wine? Temperature!! The traveled wine was exposed to a higher degree of temperature either during travel or storage in Chicago. I suspected that older wines stored over a long period of time could be different, but I was surprised that such a young concentrated wine could taste so different in such a short time. 

Recently I experienced an even more surprising tasting of three of my wines. Three different samples of my 1997 Zinfandel, stored on my property were tasted blind. Two were stored in my cellar at 65 degrees (one with supreme cork and one with Altec). The third wine had been stored at bottling in our new green storage building across from the winery. This last bottle had experienced several months of cold temperatures. At least one month under 50 degrees. Some of you may have this wine if you took possession after January 1999. You will find a small amount of sediment on the cork or more accurately some tartrate crystal formed from a certain amount of cold stabilization. This sediment is harmless. As a matter of fact we have found that the PH and total acid on all three wines were the same. To go further, many of you have tried to convince me and others that they can taste the flavor of our Altec corks in our wine. I can't. (for other reasons we are switching to an all artificial cork called Neocork)Both the Altec sample and the Supreme sample stored in the same environment to my tastes were exactly alike. The wine stored with an Altec in our new storage building definitely seemed much younger. Obviously, storing wine at lower temperatures for even a couple of months can have a dramatic effect on the taste of the wine. Do they taste better? I don't think so. I just feel the wines stored at higher temperatures are more mature. Since we bottle our wines after only 9 to 10 months of barrel aging, I think somewhat higher temperatures (not over 68 degrees) may be of benefit. The next experiment that would be interesting would be to see if one day changes in temperatures even for a short time could change the taste of our wines. In other words, what if you transferred our wine in your trunk and the bottles reached 75 to 80 degrees for only a few hrs. If you brought that wine home unopened [maybe the people you brought the wine to, were unworthy (:-)) ], and then stored it back in the cellar for a few weeks, would it taste different?  

I want to make my opinions of wine and the exposure to heat a little clearer. The 2000 Aca Modot I tasted the other night was in good shape. I am not a fan of the artificial corks we were using in those days because they aged wine at a fast pace BUT this wine had no oxidized flavors out of the ordinary for a wine aged 11 years with these Neocorks.  Also I want to state that over the years I have compared the 2000 Aca Modot that was exposed to 110 degree weather for 2 days to the same wine stored in my cellar at 60 degrees and I have found no apparent difference. I am surprised because I would expect the cooler cellared wine to be less oxidized, but that was not the case. If a zinfandel was exposed to those conditions there may have been a different results.

9:00 Pm:

I drop off Pat tomorrow morning and then I will head over to the County of Sonoma to ask for an inspection. I will also bring in the Hardship form alluded to above.......expect little, because they know who i am. I am hoping for a surprise, good news but who knows, they could not be prepared for me.


Tuesday July 24, 2012 

9:30 Pm: It was very crowded.....OK I asked for Flo then I asked for Shems or Don. I told the people at the entry desk...... i have not heard back from all of them....I think they knew I was different right away. I said I am the owner and no one I have hired has represented the way i want so I am here. I want to ask for an inspection tomorrow and i am not sure it will be granted. They asked: Did the permit expire? I said I hope not. I was very impressed with the two ladies up front....within one minute they told me they would take care of it. Within 5 minutes one of the ladies came back to me and told me they got a hold of Shems and he was in a meeting but would be back in minutes to talk to me. There were about 15 people waiting and they were in no hurry from what i saw.  I assume they were being payed. A number was being called off every minute or two so I thought maybe i should go up and get a number. But

I was impressed that this all happened in less than 20 minutes total.....Shems came out and we went into a small office area and we talked for at least 10 minutes. He was completely accommodating like the last time I met him. He said let's look at this, I am sorry I did not get back to you. I sat down and asked whether I should close the door. He said: only if you are going to yell at me....nice guy....I assured him I would not get upset, just wanted to get this problem resolved. He told me at one point: Take advantage of me....I won't be around much longer. I asked him about retirement and I also said I have a passion for what I am doing. He said you are dressed the way you want...I have to wear what they want....nice guy...

BUT did he help me? I doubt it. He has to talk to several people to find out what is required.....................................................................

Thursday July 26, 2012 

I got an e-mail from Shems yesterday and he said he was busy but had not forgotten about me. I told him I am calling for an inspection for electrical on Monday for the new addition. I hope there is no hold on it. I expect a hold on it so I will give up if it happens THUS I will wait awhile and start finishing without their approval. I have a USE permit to legally store wine in the building so I will continue to do so.

9:00 Pm: Pat is away attending Giant games so i can cook what ever i want so I had fried gizzards tonight...virtually no calories because of little fat....if fried for only 2 minutes they are tender and pink.

I have lost 9 pounds in 4 weeks. I have averaged  50 carb a day and 1800 calories and 600 is in wine. It is an easy diet if you can stay focus. I like to stay up so I have no problem. I am looking forward to consuming more carbs in the future.....but not now

I did not here back from anyone in the County as expected.....they will forget me

I know I am a good person because everyday I think of what i could do better. I am always thinking about my flaws. I like input to improve.

Ok it is off to see Citizen Kaine in the movie room....and I am even reading Ayn Rand..................tomorrow is another day

Friday July 27, 2012

9:00 Pm: Pat has been away so I get to make what ever I want....like fired gizzards....look back a few weeks for a recipe. I am reflecting between the Giant game where Pat is and The Opening ceremonies for the Olympics. So

I went to my new intern for a check up. She made only one mistake because she did not remember me that well. She regrouped and I really like her. Everything was great in my blood work. I have lost 8 pounds back to close to be OK for normal......SO, my cholesterol and blood sugar was way down. I complained about pain killers because I wanted to pick the right one. We had a long conversation. I like her BUT after this conversation when I mentioned Celebrex...she prescribed me a prescription and i could see she really thought this would help me. I went over to Safeway and they already had it together. I was told it was expensive....WOWWWWWWWWW...$152 for one month. I have spent all day thinking about this BESIDES of all my winery related activities and THE COUNTY......

I found there were 2 options and the right one I will explain later.

1) I will pay $152 a month for Celebrex until October when I get a 30% deduction after paying to sign up for drugs through Medicare.

I get a bill today for The Hospital that provided  the facilities for my operation on my knee. $126,000 all paid through medicare and my supplemental at about $150 a month. I was so happy until today....why does this country pay for all of the operations but only half of the drugs............I need to do more research.,

2) I will switch back to I ibuprofen

3) I will withdraw and see if I have anymore pain.

I have decided to choose the later....tomorrow is another day.......

Saturday July 28, 2012 

I try not to criticize people since i make so many mistakes and admit it BUT I have to mentioned the queen..........

I tried to look at the opening ceremonies for the Olympics last night and could not get through it. I had heard Paul McCartney would come on so I waited and on the west coast time.......i decided to go to bed at 11pm without seeing him perform. This evening I decided to pull up what I had recorded last evening and I finally have the performance on hold for later.

I need to say I was very disappointed in the opening ceremonies compared to 4 years ago with the Chinese. I was expecting a lot. It was boring. All the transitions took way too much time AND the Queen!!!!!!

I have been around long enough to not respect the queen of England. I am sorry for a few of you who are from London and put up with her. She is a complete bore and and.......why does she not smile? Why does she not make an effort to at least look like she is happy? I heard many times during the ceremonies that she is cheering....why are these commentators being disgusting and saying something that is not happening.

I may be different than most of you. I dislike all English movies. I did not like my visit there and I do not like their humor or disrespect for anyone but themselves.

I can also dislike the French somewhat. BUT At least they have good food and wine. The English have nothing but tradition and snobbishness..

Matt and i are heading off for Livermore Monday. I had committed to speak at PS I Love You a lover's of petite sirah like I am. Matt and I will be there the night before and be at Wente Restaurant and will talk about our future. The next morning I will talk to several attendees to this conference. I am looking forward to it and will post what i say.


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