Sunday, June 11, 2017

Creating postmodern winemaking's structured wines -- after Clark Smith

I had promised that my next post in the series on Brettanomyces would detail Clark Smith's (postmodern winemaking) Integrated Brettanomyces Management schema but I have decided that it is impossible to discuss the topic without providing the reader an overview of postmodern winemaking fundamentals. I provide that overview in this post.

According to Clark, scientific enology starts with the idea that wine is a chemical solution; and it is treated as such, as shown in the figure below.

In this model, wine flavor is the sum of its parts and managing those parts allows control of the whole. Smith sees both the model elements and the approach as being "injurious to wine quality" and identifies a number of instances in the past which hinted at the model's shortcomings:
  • The limited solubility of anthocyanin, as shown in the 1970s work of Riberau-Gayon
  • His (Smith's) ultra-filtration work which shows anthocyanin (molecular weight of 300) unable to pass through a filter with porosity of 100,000
  • As indicated in the figure above, aromatic intensity should correlate to in-solution concentration but micro-oxygenation of Merlot will reduce the bell pepper aromas without a reduction of its pyrazine content.
The path to today's modern winemaking is illustrated below along with the dominant pedagogy. According to Smith, "modern day winemaking has been useful in eliminating gross defects but has done little to promote excellence."

Clark Smith:
From two decades of postmodern retrospection, an aesthetic construct has emerged that not only holds the solution model to be false, but considers the extent to which a wine deviates from "ideal" behavior to be a pretty useful working definition of quality. Solution model behavior is not just incorrect; it is undesirable.
Clark's "solution" to the solution-model problem is structured wines:
In structured wines, ..., tannins, anthocyanins, and other aromatic ring compounds, which are almost insoluble in solution, aggregate into colloids -- tiny beads of various sizes and compositions. It is this fine colloidal structure that allows interaction between the aqueous and phenolic regions in a wine, blending the aromatic properties as if the wine were home to all things.
The elements of this "fine colloidal structure" and the characteristics of a postmodern wine, are illustrated in the figure below.

One of Clark's key concerns around wine colloids is the size to which they can grow -- upwards of 100 nm. While this is not large enough to be concerned about removal by filtration, Clark believes that such a process damages the structure of the colloids, thus rendering them less effective at carrying out the aroma-integration function. 

With this background I will be able to more pointedly discuss Integrated Brett Management.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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