Most wines contain fewer than 20 parts per million gluten, which is a legal requirement in the UK and the US for food to be labelled as gluten free.
Above this level, producers would have to alert wine lovers on bottle labels.
Gluten is a potential allergen, like sulphites.
Ageing and fining are two instances where gluten could come into contact with wine, but generally not at levels considered harmful to the majority of coeliac sufferers.
© Chamboule |
The genesis of one of Sonoma County’s most intriguing wine projects came from a failed real-estate speculation in Canada.
Chamboulé winery is ambitious, idiosyncratic – and very well-funded. Its owners managed to acquire three tracts of land in Sonoma and Napa Counties that was previously unused for vineyards, and are planting from the ground up. In the meantime they’re making wines from purchased grapes that could be as polarizing as the ones from the same owners’ Canadian project. Some are beautiful; others are unusual.
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«I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the old guys about the old ways,» says vigneron François Morissette. «It’s about learning to make wine the old ways. But the knowledge is not as available as it was. I want to grab it before it disappears.»
Early in its existence, Chamboulé’s Pinot Noirs are already exciting. Like all of Chamboulé’s red wines, they’re made from whole clusters of grapes, including the stems, and they taste wild and brambly.
Chamboulé is also making promising Cabernet Sauvignon from purchased fruit on Diamond Mountain, rather indistinct Cabernet Franc from purchased fruit from Coombsville, and downright weird Chardonnays that get better if you leave them sitting open for several days.
At Morissette’s urging, I performed an experiment with Chamboulé YTE Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014. I opened a bottle, poured it into a decanter, and left it open on a counter, tasting it every day for five days. No cork, nothing; just a paper towel over the top to keep fruit flies away. My apartment is not climate-controlled and one day the temperature went above 80 degrees Farenheit (27C).
I didn’t love the wine on day one; liked it on day two, and thought it peaked on day four; it had lively passionfruit notes and vibrant acidity. A bottle of Shiraz I had resealed with a Coravin screwcap sitting right next to it did not survive as well.
Morissette has strong ideas about everything: the types of concrete he uses for tanks, the way vineyards should be planted (of course), and, most unusually, how much oxygen wines should touch – this is why the Chardonnay holds up after opening. In Canada he’s a little more outré, but in Sonoma County he is working with local winemaker Matt Taylor, a biodynamic believer and former winemaker for Araujo Estate, who may be a stabilizing force.
«Now I’m going to be more of a consultant and Matt is going to be the feet on the ground,» Morissette says. «Matt and I have an extremely good relationship. Now we’re embarking on a new phase of it.»
Morissette is from Quebec, but he learned to make wine in Burgundy, where he became entranced by the natural wine movement. Toronto Star wine critic Carolyn Evans Hammond called Morissette a «bristly zealot» in an article last year, and that captures his reputation as a winemaker in Ontario. Some sommeliers love him; some locals, not so much. He has fought with Ontario’s Vintners Quality Alliance, which refused to approve several of his wines. That could be a problem in Canada’s heavily regulated wine market, but Morissette embraced the rejection and put a Black Ball sticker in place of the VQA seal of approval.
Most importantly, Morissette has the backing of a very deep-pocketed financier, developer Mel Pearl. It’s a long way from western Sonoma County, where Chamboulé shares a ramshackle building with a marijuana grower, to Pearl’s business of building condos in Toronto, and the two seem like an odd couple. They can thank one of Pearl’s projects that failed for bringing them together.
© Chamboule | In 2002, the Canadian wine giant Vincor and French partner Boisset (now a big player in California) announced that they would build a Frank Gehry-designed winery in Ontario’s Niagara region. Pearl bought 50 acres adjacent to it, imagining that the winery would become a major tourist destination. But the project never got built, Vincor was sold to a US wine company, and Pearl was stuck with 50 acres of undeveloped land. He decided to get into the wine business.
Why exactly Pearl chose Morissette to run his business is hard to explain. Moreover, though Pearl told the publication UrbanToronto about condo development, «I don’t think you can do this business unless you are very hands on», he gave Morissette free run to build the winery from scratch his way.
The result, Pearl Morissette, makes natural wines that have done better than most Canadian wines in entering the US market, albeit in small amounts.
«I don’t have much of an appreciated return on it, but the investment is solid,» Pearl told the Globe and Mail. «I’m happy to go on forever with it, unless someone offers some stupid money for it … This year or maybe next year, we could be in a break-even position. We don’t ever want to be a really big winery. But we want to create a brand, a certain quality, the integrity of the product.»
The expansion to California must have been expensive, but from a real-estate development perspective, it’s hard to argue with the added value right now of turning undeveloped land into vineyards. Chamboulé’s three parcels include two on the Sonoma Coast and one on Napa’s Mount Veeder.
«There’s an incredible complexity of soils and climate in this area,» Morissette says. «The potential in this area, even though it has a very long history, I see the potential as being untouched. My vision of the Sonoma Coast is the elegance of a Chambolle-Musigny with the elegant structure of a Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape.»
Winemaker Taylor is from Sonoma County, and like Morissette he did some training in Burgundy, and he also has an idiosyncratic side because it was in Burgundy that he fell in love with Napa Cabernet, albeit in a style few people are making today.
«I did a stage at (Domaine) Dujac,» Taylor says. «We did tastings at Dujac all the time. The wines that blew me away were a ’71 Ridge Eisele Vineyard and a ’79 Mayacamas. That’s why I went to work at Araujo. I was trying to capture what was beautiful about California Cabs.»
He eventually became both vineyard manager and winemaker at Araujo, but he says he was frustrated in his attempt to recapture the past glory.
«Certain lots would scream ’71 Eisele, but they would just be put in the blend,» Taylor says. «What we’re going for is to try to capture that structure but with elegance. With texture built into that structure.»
Taylor free dives for abalone in his spare time, and his dream is to visit Japan to dive with the ama, pearl diving women who traditionally worked naked. There’s a natural wine analogy there, and I will let you imagine it.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, has shown that older adults who regularly drink moderately are more likely to live to the age of 85 without dementia than non-drinkers.
There have been several studies on links between wine and dementia.
However, the latest research comes less than two months after a University of Oxford-led study said that both moderate and heavy drinkers had a higher risk of developing brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
The study, which tracked alcohol consumption and cognitive function in 550 adults over a 30-year period, also dampened the dementia prevention theory.
‘Results of research into the effects of moderate alcohol on the brain are inconsistent,’ said the study, published in the British Medical Journal in June 2017.
Moderate drinking was