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Archive for December, 2011

Denis Malbec’s Thoughts on an Organic Wine Experience ~ An Educated and Trusted Palate

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Denis Malbec of Notre Vin:

I would like to share with you one of the highlights of our Christmas dinner [2011]. From Bernhard Ott, the best Grüner Veltliner I ever had in my life… An organic wine! — with May-Britt Malbec.

A bit about Denis Malbec

For Denis, being born at Latour allowed him to daily walk in between the barrels and bike through the vineyards. This was his neighborhood. As a result, he inherently learned vineyard and winery management with his father, Jean-Noel Malbec. Jean-Noel was also born at Latour, and worked there for 47 years. His tenure was from 1947 to 1994. Jean-Noel was cellar master from 1969 to 1994.

Winemaker Denis Malbec of Malbec & Malbec

Winemaker Denis Malbec of Malbec & Malbec

Denis’s grand father, Camille Malbec, worked in the vineyard from the 1920s until the end of the 1970s. Denis spent his childhood in the gardens of Latour with his grandfather. It is his grandfather  whom Denis credits as being the influential person that connected him to the earth’s bounty. He also developed a profound joi de vivre for nature at Latour, where he daily enjoyed the gardens, vineyards, and explored the majesty of the Gironde River, which is only 328 yards from vineyards to the riverbank. As a child, Denis was closely connected to nature: birds, fish, animals, dogs, and the air.

Leaving home to find his destiny, Denis first studied viticulture and enology in Bordeaux and later in Reims, Champagne. He completed his studies with a “Tour de France” of the vineyards through internships:

  • Château Haut-Brion – 1988
  • Château Lagrange – 1988
  • Pugnac Cooperative – 1989
  • Côte de Bourg, Léon Viollant – 1990
  • Owner and wine merchant in Côte de Beaune, Duval Leroy – 1990 & 1991
  • Côte des Blancs in Champagne
  • Calvet – 1992, negoçiant in Bordeaux
  • Started at Château Latour as one of the cellar workers in 1993
  • Took the position as Enologist and Cellar Master at Château Latour in 1994, making the vintages from 1994 to 1999

Roulé Rouge is delighted to be making an organic wine. We know how delicious organic foods are, including wine. Voulez vous  Roulé Rouge?

Do Organic Fruits, Vegetables, and Wines Taste Better?

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

It May Depend on The Palate.
If you grow organic fruits and vegetables, your palate probably tells you, “Yes.”

Critics, however, do challenge the ability of fruits and vegetables to have better flavors. Some will even suggest that it’s “grown locally” that has better flavors, versus the vegetables and fruits having better flavors than those grown with less care.

Some of us have very sensitive palates. They’re actually referred to in the wine business as “supertasters.” There is a physical difference for these palates, in that the supertasters actually have a greater amount of taste buds. This might begin to explain why some among us will argue in favor of organic, at every turn. What we pick up that others don’t, will help all of mankind. Super palates have this ability, and are here to serve those who don’t have this palate with so many taste buds. We taste what others cannot, including chemicals.

Organic Fruits

To help you better understand Roulé Rouge’s commitment to organic practices, you have to imagine the following:

Imagine a teaspoon of water; now add trace elements of a chemical pesticide, an herbicide, fungicide, and a chemical fertilizer. Is that water going to taste the same as fresh spring water?

Now imagine a vine, getting all sorts of chemical treatments. The flavors of these “cides*” are what also goes into that living plant, which will bear wine grapes, never mind what it’s also going to be doing to the environment.  Can these grapes possibly taste as good as ones that are all natural? [*cide ~ a learned borrowing from Latin meaning “killer,” “act of killing,” used in the formation of compound words: pesticide, homicide, according to]

Do you love the flavors that come from your tap these days, or are you filtering your water? And if you’re filtering it, why are you doing that? Perhaps for the same reason that supertasters will tell you that organic wine tastes better?

SUPERTASTER: A Matter of Taste: The Super Palate, By Rebecca A. Cooper on the The Harvard Crimson Website:

“Supertasters” are those who experience heightened sensations from food and beverages. They are extra sensitive to bitter tastes, textures, carbonation, and spice; tend to avoid foods such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and strong coffee; and often abstain from bitter beers and bold wines. They often refrain from eating rich and fatty foods because they dislike the sensation that slick, creamy foods leave in the mouth. They find the bubbles in carbonated drinks especially irritating.

The term “supertaster” was coined in the early 1990s by Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, a Yale University professor who specializes in genetic variation in taste perception. The supertasters, she believed, had an anatomical and biological basis for their elevated taste response. Scientists have long known that different areas on the tongue map to different taste sensations. Bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and savory (umami) all have their place on the tongue, and some researchers are now arguing that calcium-sensitive sites merit their place, as well. It makes sense, then, that having more tastebuds corresponds to a greater gustatory response in supertasters.

From the Organic Center:

The more intense flavors in organic fruits and vegetables probably stem from two factors: somewhat higher average levels of antioxidants, and somewhat lower average crop yields…

Organic produce tends to store better and has longer shelf life, probably because of lower levels of nitrates and higher average levels of antioxidants. The former can accelerate food spoilage, while antioxidants help preserve

the integrity of cells and some are natural antibiotics.

Super taster test:

Supertasters experience taste with far greater intensity than the average person. About 25 percent of Americans are supertasters, a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. If you love food more than most, you may have inherited supertaster genes.

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Evidence suggests that supertasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes and fattiness in food, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate.

Love salt? You might be a ‘supertaster’

( — If you love salty snacks and reach for the saltshaker like clockwork at every meal, you might think you have dull or underpowered taste buds that need a boost to get excited.

In fact, just the opposite may be true: A new study suggests that you may love salt because you’re a “supertaster” — a person who experiences tastes such as saltiness and bitterness more intensely than other people do.

“We’ve known for a long time that people don’t all live in the same taste world,” says the study’s lead author, John Hayes, Ph.D., an assistant professor of food science at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, in University Park.

“There are supertasters and non-tasters,” Hayes adds. “Supertasters live in a neon taste world — everything is bright and vibrant. For non-tasters, everything is pastel. Nothing is ever really intense.

So, what do you think? Could we actually find organic foods ~ and wine is a liquid food, don’t forget ~ to be more delicious?

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USDA sets national organic standards parameters, for which Roulé Rouge meets all criteria

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Wine Grapes

When we think of “organic” in the California wine industry, we immediately think in terms of table and wine grapes, versus other fruits and vegetables. This is only natural. Also, we find ourselves defining terms, like “organic,” “biodynamics,” and “sustainable” from what the California Certified Organic Farmers (COOF) decrees as acceptable definitions for our grapes, be they wine grapes or table grapes.

It’s the Untied States Department of Agriculture (USDA), however, that has set and continues to sets the standards for what’s acceptable as being “organic.”

From the USDA Website:

Organic Standards

The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic. Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances…

Organic crops. The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.

The regulatory process of the National Organic Program (NOP) develops ALL OF the laws that regulate creation, production, handling, labeling, trade, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. This process is commonly referred to as rulemaking, and involves input from the National Organic Standards Board. This is a Federal Advisory Committee made up of fifteen members of the public, and the public itself.

Organic Certification & Accreditation ~ Certification Versus Accreditation

  • Certification allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label, and represent their products as organic.
    • Certifying agents are accredited by the USDA, and are located throughout the United States and around the world.
    • Certifying agents are responsible for ensuring that the USDA organic products meet or exceed all organic standards.
  • Accreditation authorizes private, foreign, or State entities to certify farms or processing facilities.

Roulé Rouge is pleased to have received certification by the USDA and to have been accredited by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), meeting all standards of excellence for organic wine grapes and wine.