Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Wine Effect: OMG... shocking how wine makes me feel... A Pop-Art meme

The Wine Effect: 

OMG... shocking how wine makes me feel... 

A Pop-Art meme

The Wine Effect - "OMG... shocking how wine makes me feel..."
- Speech balloon by ©LeDomduVin 2017-2019

The Wine Effect "OMG... shocking how wine makes me feel... so good... I nearly forgot my date... Oh well... He will wait..." by ©LeDomduVin 2019

I love this meme that I created back 2 years ago, with special thoughts for all the women in the world who enjoy having this special type of moments for themselves: drinking wine (or anything else that you would want to put in a glass like the one on the picture), while totally forgetting about their date (male or female alike, but more men I think...😊)... isn't it great? I think it is...

I call that "The Wine Effect", yes, wine has this kind of effect on people, more especially after a long, stressful day at work or anywhere else or for whatever reasons you did not feel great about that day... 

Who does not like to occasionally have this kind of selfish moment (only for yourself and for yourself only), when for a few blissful minutes (or longer), while sipping wine (or another drink), you completely forget about everyone and everything, relax your body and mind, take it easy and think about absolutely nothing else than how satisfying it is, not to be disturbed by anybody or anything, and how pleasurable this wine is on that particular moment, don't you? I do... I do very much indeed love this kind of moments...

And to really express how I feel about this kind of forgetful moments, I will even apply to these specific moments the quote of "The Merovingian" (Lambert Wilson), in "The Matrix Reloaded", when he says: 

"Château Haut-Brion 1959. Magnificent wine. I love French wine, like I love the French language. I have sampled every language, French is my favorite. Fantastic language. Especially to curse with. Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculé de ta mère. It's like wiping your arse with silk. I love it." (*)

What he says in French in this quote, which I will not translate as it sounds so much classier in French, while will be totally vulgar in English, is exactly how I feel about this type of forgetful and blissful rare moments of selfish satisfaction.....  (more especially with Château Haut-Brion 1959 in my glass preferably...)

And I would like to dedicate this "meme" to all of you, Ladies, as I'm certain you perfectly understand what I'm saying....  as, in my opinion, and more especially due to the fact that women, in general, experience significantly higher levels of stress than men on daily basis (due to being more involved in your relationship, in caregiving to your children and/or your elders, juggling between job and family responsibilities, as well as suffering from fatigue, anxiety or depression due to constant annoyance, indifference, discrimination, verbal and/or physical violence, and other unpleasant things at work and/or at home and/or even in the street), the need for this kind of moments applies to you more than us as men I believe.... (surely making some enemies once again by saying such things....) 

That said, let's go back to the "meme"...

I found this "comics-like" picture/drawing of a woman holding a glass of wine, about 2 years ago on the internet, and loved it right away. At first glance, probably like most people, I thought that it was a drawing by Roy Lichtenstein, but then I realized that maybe not after all, as I could not find any reference about this specific drawing associated with his name.

I downloaded it on my cellphone and immediately created a "meme" by adding the speech balloon (or speech bubble, as I prefer to call it) and wrote the text into it, which, surprisingly enough, came to me pretty much instinctively seconds after looking at this picture for the first time. Instant inspiration.  I gave this meme the most obvious title that came to my mind: "The Wine Effect"   

Some people who have seen the first version of this "meme" that I first posted on Facebook and Instagram back in June 2017, had to "pardon my French" because the first version of the text contained spelling and grammatical mistakes, and it read as follow:

The Wine Effect - "OMG... chocking how wine makes me feel..." -
Speech balloon by ©LeDomduVin 2017

"OMG... chocking how wine makes me feel... so good... I nearly forget my date... Oh well... He will wait..." by ©LeDomduVin 2017

It is in fact, only 2 years later, in February 2019, after re-posting this incorrect "meme" on Facebook and Instagram for Valentine's Day, that a very helpful lady was nice enough to write a comment below the post (on Instagram I believe... or was it on Facebook...I do not remember anymore) to tell me that she loved the post but more specifically to point out the fact that it contained spelling and grammatical mistakes: "chocking" instead of "shocking", and "forget" instead of "forgot". (.... how embarrassing.... yet, I'm French (naturalized American, yes, but still French too), so I have an excuse.... 😊)

NB: Note that he took 2 years for someone to let me know I made some mistakes; sadly, it shows you how low and to which degree the level of acceptance for spelling and grammatical mistakes in written English has become over the last 10 years... 

I corrected the speech bubble immediately and reposted the "meme", this time the corrected one (refer to the first picture above posted in February 2019), which made me feel much better. 

The strange thing is that, during these 2 years (between 2017-2019), as I still wanted to try to find who drew this Lichtenstein-like comic/drawing, and while doing some research, not only I was unable to find anything about the artist (and still not yet to this day), but also, I could not find anymore the original picture that I downloaded to create the "meme" in the first place. It is as if it disappeared from the internet, and of course, I cannot retrieve the website from which I downloaded the picture either. The only one I could find and constantly reappearing (probably due to the interest it generated and the increasing number of clicks on it) was my incorrect "meme"...

So, I just wrote this post on my wine blog for 2 main reasons: 

The first one was to be able to share with you the little story behind this "meme" that I created and love, and which represents (in my opinion) the perfect Valentine's Day post... Men, you have been warned, this meme is a subliminal message, basically saying that "Ladies love their wine better than you and you are totally forgettable" (there, here it is, I have said it.... and frankly that's not surprising.... not sure if I'm gonna make me some friends by saying things like this....😇) 

The second reason is that I'm still searching for the author/artist who drew this comic to credit him or her for the drawing and say thank you for this very inspiring drawing too. So, if any of you reading this post have any info/clues/ideas about the author/artist of this drawing, it would be very nice of you if you could please let me know by writing a comment below this post. I will really appreciate. 

Thanks in advance for helping me in my search for the artist/author of this drawing. 

And don't get me wrong, this Pop-Art comic-book-like drawing could be a Roy Lichtenstein, but so far I have not found any clue or info that would confirm it. 

And at the end of the day, Roy Lichtenstein is surely THE most famous artist who used this type of comic-book-like drawing style during the Pop-Art era in the 1950s and more especially the 1960s, but he was not the only one. Remember that American comic book artists and authors started drawing like this as early as the mid-1930s. 

Nevertheless, I'm a huge fan of Roy Lichtenstein works. To me, he represents and remains an icon, or should I say a beacon of the Pop-Art era, along with famous artists Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist. 

And Roy's comic-book-style drawings are true masterpieces that have inspired countless other artists who have been drawing with the same style ever since. Therefore, this drawing could have been made much more recently. Not sure, and I still don't know.... but maybe you do know, do you? 

That's all folks for today, please let me know if you know the name of the author/artist who did the drawing of my "meme", and in the meantime "Love Pop-Art!!!"

Santé! Cheers!

LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël) 

(*) I just wanted to correct a global misconception, Lambert Wilson (as "The Merovingian" in "The Matrix Reloaded") at the end of the quote cited above, does not say: "d'enculer ta mère" (like in most websites on the internet where you can find this particular quote), but, (and you can distinctively hear it when you pay attention to it in the video above), instead, he says: "d'enculé de ta mère", which is still as vulgar in French, but has a totally different meaning, which does not involve "ta mère" ("your mother") the same way and does not imply the same thing.... a very important point in my opinion (as I really believe they will not have authorized the former to be said in such a popular and large audience oriented movie). And no, I won't translate it...   

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wine Bottle Weight (Full and Empty)

Wine Bottle Weight (Full and Empty)

Wine Bottle Weight by ©LeDomduVin 2019

Did you ever wonder how much a bottle of wine weight? In kilos or pounds? 

Well, one of my colleagues asked me this question recently, which prompted me to write this little post on the subject to transcribe my answer to him for you all, just in case you'll be interested to know. 

First, let's clarify a huge universal misconception.

Basically, it is common ground to believe that 12 full regular bottles of wine weigh about 9 kg (kilos) or 19.842 lbs (pounds), as their volume per bottle is 750 ml (millilitres) and because 1 ml = 1gr, therefore 750 ml = 750 gr (grams) or 0.75 kg (kilos) or 1.653 lbs (pounds); so

750 gr x 12 bottles = 9 kg or 19.842 lbs (pounds)

1 kg = 2.20462262 pounds (usually rounded at 2.205 pounds)
but check the "Kilos to Pounds" conversion table below for more references.

Kilos to Pounds Conversion Table by ©LeDomduVin 2019

This universal misconception is purely and simply incorrect. Worst, it is completely wrong. It is wrong as 9 kg (kilos) or 19.842 lbs (pounds) would only be the weight of the liquid inside the bottle (the content only), not including the weight of the bottles (meaning without the container).

For the purpose of this post, I'm not including the combined weight of the capsule, the cork and the label(s), which usually only account for a few additional grams to the fully dressed up bottle. Even if I know that, obviously, the capsule made of tin or wax, (which are usually heavier than the ones made of heat-shrink plastic, PVC, or aluminium), as well as the long and full high-quality natural cork (usually heavier than agglomerate and synthetic corks), could evidently be adding a tiny, yet significant amount of weight that should be added to the total weight of the bottle. But I won't take it into consideration for this post if you don't mind.   

Therefore, to answer the question that opened this post (and we will only focus on A for this post):

The weight of a bottle of wine = A (wine weight + bottle weight) + B (capsule+cork+labels)

But wait, it would be too easy if it was that simple (and that's where it usually gets more complicated), wouldn't it? 

Yes, it would be that simple, if all regular wine bottles had the same shape and weight. However, that is not the case, and that is why it is so difficult to answer this question, as there is not one simple correct answer, but thousands of them. 

Not only bottles of wine come into a countless amount of shapes, but they also come into a countless amount of weights due to the heaviness and thickness of the glass used for the bottle. 


Some French Wine Bottle Shapes by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see, a picture is worth a thousand words... 9 different shapes already in this collage with 9 different thickness and heaviness of the glass used for the bottles... (sigh)

So, to refute this common (wrong) believe, let's apply some simple arithmetic to find an answer that will satisfy even the most sceptical ones.

By experience, I can say that a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine weighs about 20-21 kilos on average (which is far above the common believe of 9 kilos, wouldn't you say?). Let's take 21 kilos for this example.

Approximate Weight of a case of 12 bottles of wines by ©LeDomduVin 2019

NB: Please note that I took round numbers for the case weight for the pounds (i.e. a wooden case of 12 bottles may weigh between 40 and 50 pounds), as it was easier visually and for the calculation too.
However, also know that, in fact, some wine boxes/cases may weigh as low as 18.5 kilos (or 40.786 lbs) and up to 23 kilos (or 50.706 lbs) or more.

As detailed in the table above, you can see that if a "Heavy Weight" wooden case of 12 regular Bordeaux bottles weighs about 21 kilos, then the weigh of a bottle of wine (including the wood weigh of the case) is about 1.75 kg or 3.75 lbs (including the wood weigh... important to repeat it for those who may have not understand it in the table above).

Now that we clarified this point, we still have the issue of the wood weigh included in the bottle weight (in the calculation above). So, I could have applied so simple arithmetic there again to determine the wood weight and the full bottle weight, but as mentioned above, bottles of wine come into a countless amount of shapes, but they also come into a countless amount of weights due to the heaviness and thickness of the glass used for the bottle, and therefore, it is very difficult to apply a formula as each bottle has its particular shape and weight.

Consequently, I played a little exercise for this particular post, I weighed some empty bottles I have around the office and in our headquarter's cellar, and I just added to their respective weight the content of the bottle - the volume of the wine if you prefer (750 ml = 750 gr or 0.750 kg or 1.653 lbs if easier to understand, refer to the conversion table above if needed).

To anticipate and prevent from the annoying questions of the sceptics, and other non-believers of all sorts, I took some pictures while weighing the bottles, to show you how I obtained the various weights, that I took as references for the numbers indicated in the column "Approximate Weight Empty Bottle" in the table below.

I compared the following:

Pictures of empty bottles on a mini scale to obtain the weight of each bottle
(Bordeaux, Burgundy and Loire) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

The wines in the picture above are:

  • Clavis Orea Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015
  • Petrus Pomerol 1961
  • Haut-Brion Graves 1982 
  • Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin 2014
  • DRC (Domaine de la Romanée Conti) Romanée Conti Grand Cru 1966
Loire Valley:
  • Domaine A, Cailbourdin Pouilly Fumé "Les Cris" 2015

Pictures of empty bottles on a mini scale to obtain the weight of each bottle
(Champagne, Napa, Tuscany, Germany) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

The wines in the picture above are:

  • Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs NV 
  • Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1969
  • Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé A 1947 (A. de Luze et Fils label, I believe, but TBC) 
Napa Valley:
  • SLOAN Rutherford 2004
  • SOLDERA Toscana 2006
  • J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1988 

I put the weighing results in this "Wine Bottle Weight" table below, for a better visual.

NB: Please note that the weights of the bottles in the pictures above (transcribed in the table below) are just a few examples for reference only, and therefore, may not constitute definite or accurate numbers for other bottles than the ones I weighed, as each wine bottle has its own shape and weight. Meaning that even 2 bottles of the same producer, same wine, same vintage, same volume, and even in some cases same bottle lot number, may present slight variations in shape and weight. (Needless to say that even scales can have slight variations too, so these weight numbers are for reference to these specific bottles only)

Wine Bottle Weight (Empty and Full) by ©LeDomduVin 2019

So, as you probably realized (looking at this table above), an empty regular bottle of wine (of 750ml) can weigh anywhere between 500 and 950 grams, with the lightest as low as 475 gr, and the heaviest up to 1012 gr.     

Interesting, isn't it? Personally, I find this fascinating, but not everyone can be as passionate by the wine and the bottle details as I am, a bad professional habit, in fact, as, as a Wine Quality Control Director, I spend a lot of time daily studying and scrutinizing wine bottles.

However, I hope that this little post is helping you to better understand that there is no simple answer to the question  "What is the weight of a bottle of wine?" or "How much does a bottle of wine weight?"

In any case, if we base ourselves on the number above, starting with a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine weighing about 21 kilos (or 46.297lbs) we can separate each component and conclude the following:

A.    If a case of 12 bottles of Bordeaux weight = 21 kg
B.    Then, 1 bottle of Bordeaux weight (including the case's wood weight) = 1.75 kg
C.    Example of an empty regular Bordeaux bottle weight = 0.824 kg
D.    Wine volume weight (per 750ml bottle) = 0.750 kg

Therefore, (B - C - D) = E (Wood weight per bottle) = 0.176 kg

And consequently, (C + D) = F (Full Bottle weight without the wood weight) = 1.574 kg

Here is another table to make it easier for you:

Full Bottle Weight Calculation Example by ©LeDomduVin 2019

And remember, as stated previously above, that the combined weight of the capsule + cork + labels (front and back) was not taken into consideration for this exercise. However, you can definitely add a few more grams to the full bottle total weight if you want, knowing that a tin capsule is about 3-8 gr, and a cork between 3-6gr.

Tin Capsule and Cork weight examples
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

NB: add a few more grams to the tin capsule examples in the picture above as the top of the capsule is missing (the reason why I wrote about 3-8 gr)

Talking about particular shapes and weights 

It is interesting to notice that historically, shape and weight of the bottles and thickness and heaviness of the glass used for the bottles, changed over time, almost like a trend, meaning coming and going, depending on the availability, style and belief (or trend) of the moment.

Some Chateaux in Bordeaux had heavier, broader and longer bottles back in the 40s and 50s, then lighter and leaner in the 60s and 70s up to the 80s, to go back to heavier style of bottles with thicker glass (more Californian style) in the late 90s and early to mid-2000s, to once again and finally go back to less heavy, more conventional Bordeaux style bottles since the late 2000s and early 2010s.

These bottle weight and shape changes may also be attributed to history itself:

  • The earliest trace of known man-made glass found in Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt dates as far back as around 3500BC (or 2500BC depending on the source). At that time, black volcanic glass was apparently used to make weapons, amulets and decorative objects.  
  • 1550 BC - Ancient Egypt started their production of glass for various purposes but not necessarily as a vessel for wine (or maybe wine glass and decanter-like style of tools, who knows), they instead used amphorae, sealed with leather or clothes (clay and wax were maybe also used at that time), for the fermentation, storage and transportation of the wine. 
  • The discovery of faience accelerated the evolution of glass and by the mid-1400 BC, glass production was firmly established and further developed in Egypt, yet it remained a costly material, only accessible to the royals and the nobles or the rich merchants at the time. Shortly after, the glass blowing technique was introduced during the Roman Era.
  • The Romans and the Gallic having discovered the advantages of using barrels (previously mainly used for beer) instead of amphorae gradually extended the use of that new vessel for wine. Aside from leather and clothes, clay and wax were also in use as sealants, cork was apparently also in use as a sealant but necessarily to seal wine containers (like amphorae or barrels).        
  • By 3 AD, due to the abundance and proliferation of oak trees in Europe, the Romans had adopted the oak barrel as the vessel of choice for wine fermentation, ageing, storage and transportation. Aside from the other sealants, it is said that cork was also used as a sealant at that time (and even since Ancient Egypt, but it was not then the prefered sealant of choice for wine it became centuries later).    
  • Up until the late 1500s, glass was somewhat fragile, expensive and difficult to manufacture as the bottles and other vessels were hand blown at the time. Aside from leather, clothes, clay, wax, or even porcelain, glass stoppers were also in use but not favoured as a prime choice as each had to be created on an individual basis to perfectly seal their corresponding hand-blown bottle/vessel. A painful process. 
  • 1600s - The invention of the coal furnace allowed for the production of bottles with thicker and thus heavier glass, more difficult to break and thus safer than the glass vessels made until then. Although wine was still aged and transported in barrels during that time, glass bottles began to be used as a prefered container for wine, which was eventually transferred to individual glass bottles, easier for storage, sale, consumption and transportation too. The sealants cited above were still in use, including glass stoppers, but cork use was in rising as it proved easier, more versatile than other types of stoppers. 
PS: The 1600s coal furnace was used to craft glass materials and other tools, nothing to do with the first riveted-steel coal furnace built in 1885 for domestic use as a home heating device.
  • By the late 1600s, as creating more uniform bottles, in shape and design, was now more possible, cork became the sealing material of choice, as proved "somewhat" easier and less dangerous to remove from the bottleneck, compared to glass stoppers which often remained jam into the neck of the bottle and easily broke during removal. However, people struggled to remove the cork from the neck of the bottle as, although the mention of it can be traced as early as 1676, corkscrews did not exist officially until 1681. 
  • During the 1700s, glass bottles were widely used for all sorts of beverage (still wines, sparkling wines, beers, ciders, spirits, etc...), coming in shapes quite different than today's wine bottles: boasting shorter, sturdier bodies with rather large bases and shorter necks. Cork was by now established as the bottle sealant of choice. Yet, people still struggled to remove it from the neck of the bottle and had to wait nearly a century of trials later for easy-to-use corkscrews to be available, as the first corkscrew patent was only granted to the Reverend Samuell Henshall,  in 1795, in England. (*)
  • Early 19th century, roughly by the 1820s, wine bottle shapes had evolved and resembled more the ones we use today. Their production had increased drastically and although still presenting some defaults and asperities, consistency of shapes and design had become much better. And it took real craftsmanship and artisanal skills to create the elegant, stylish and  
  • 1920s -30s - Prohibition - heavy bottle with thick glass
  • 1939 - 45 - WWII -  heavy bottle with thick glass made from whatever glass was available
  • 1950s

💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢

It is also important to mention the bottles produced for particular vintages, occasions or other events. For example, some Châteaux produced special bottles with a different shape and/or heavier/thicker glass, embossed and/or with different labels for the turn of the century and/or the turn of the millennial (i.e. vintage 2000), or for the anniversary of the Château or the owners.  

In fact, if we take the first growths, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild are very good examples of these changes over time, compared to their counterparts (Haut-Brion, Margaux and Lafite), which never really changed the shape of the bottles and/or the heaviness or the thickness of the glass.

Let's take Latour for example:

Chateau Latour Bottle Shapes and Weight Evolution over time by ©LeDomduVin 2019

In this "Château Latour" collage above, (that I made for a better visual of what I'm trying to say), showing the evolution of the shape of the bottle they used over time, you can notice that Chateau Latour's bottles have changed a little over the years:

  • The 1949 vintage is a tall bottle with broad shoulders larger than the bottom of the bottle 
  • The 1964 vintage is a smaller, leaner and straight bottle
  • The 1985 vintage is a modern version of the 1964 vintage, less lean, but still smaller and straight compared to the 1949 vintage
  • The 2003 vintage is bigger, slightly taller with broader shoulders than 1964 and 1985, but it is more straight than 1949
  • The 2011 vintage is back a what we call a more conventional Bordeaux bottle, taller and bigger than 1964 and 1985, but as straight as them, yet not as thick, heavy or tall as 2003 and definitely not as 1949  

As the scale of these bottles (on my collage above) may not be correct, let's have a look at some pictures of full and empty bottles of Latour I have at the office and in our headquarter's cellar. It might be a better visual.

Chateau Latour 1952, 1953, 1961 and 1982 bottles
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see in the picture above:

  • Château Latour 1952 and 1953 vintages have higher and broader shoulders than both the 1961 and 1982, the glass is also darker, thicker and thus heavier 

Once again, to prove it to the sceptics (who might not believe that I took these pictures and/or that I handle this type of old and rare bottles on daily basis, and, last but not least, for records and references purposes for future inspection, as I'm a Wine Quality control Director after all), I made some collages with pictures showing the weight of the empty bottles (not the full bottles as they are too expensive, but I might another day for the purpose of another post).

Chateau Latour 1950, 1961 x 2, 1982 empty bottles with bottle weights
- by ©LeDomduVin 2019

As you can see in the picture above, the weight of these empty bottles of Chateau Latour varies quite a bit depending on the vintage. And as already mentioned above, the weight may even vary between two bottles of the same wine and same vintage, like it is the case for these bottles of 1961 vintage.

  • Château Latour 1950 empty bottle weight is 628 gr (or 628 + 750 = 1,378 kg for a full bottle)
  • Château Latour 1961 (1) empty bottle weight is 569 gr (or 569 + 750 = 1,319 kg for a full bottle) 
  • Château Latour 1961 (2) empty bottle weight is 594 gr (or 594 + 750 = 1,344 kg for a full bottle) 
  • Château Latour 1982 empty bottle weight is 545 gr (or 545 + 750 = 1,295 kg for a full bottle) 

Let's do a graph to have a better visual:

Chateau Latour Bottle Weight Comparison by ©LeDomduVin 2019

PS: I will try to find empty bottles of these specific bottles to weigh them with the mini-scale and take pictures to show the difference in weight between these vintages and the difference of bottle shape and heaviness and thickness of the glass used. 

I will also do a collage (soon) with Mouton Rothschild to show you the difference

💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢


To conclude, and in order to give somewhat of an answer to the initial question, and based on the numbers in the various tables above, we can finally say that the weight of a full bottle of wine of 750ml (glass + volume) is roughly between 1.3 kg (or 2.866 lbs) and 1.8 kg (3.968 lbs), depending on the 2 main following factors:

  • The shape of the bottles (sizes variations due to)
    • Region
    • Tradition
    • Style
    • Design
    • Wine Type
  • The thickness and heaviness of the glass (depending on)
    • Trend
    • Design
    • Wine Type
    • Winery's owner/Winemaker decision

Fact: In this catastrophized time of climate changes, global warming, ever increasing pollution, weather control over Mother Nature (by spraying chemicals in the air to modify the weather; also called "Cloud Seeding", a process of spraying common chemicals, including silver iodide, potassium iodide and/or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), to dissipate heavy clouds and minimize the impact of hail storms and/or frost wave for example, or to simply prevent from rain to fall and maintain a blue sky and/or dimish the pollution in the air for certain events (e.g. 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing, China, for example) and/or for the venue of President or particular political personalities (occuring in Europe, USA, China, and probably elsewhere), and with men's failed attempts to change anything of his bad habits and behaviours over the last 70 years and the direct and indirect consequences these may have caused on the planet's environmental equilibrium, needless to say that the heavier the bottle is, the less "environment-friendly" it is (for the reasons you can imagine: production's energy and cost, weight, transport, logistics, etc...).

Tips: Diminish/reduce your use of plastic products, for example, do not buy any more water in plastic bottles, buy a kettle water boiler (to boil tap water) and recycle a few of your empty bottle of wines (transparent if possible, like "Rosé" wine bottles) that you will refill with the boiled water on a daily basis (only once the water has cooled down, of course, please do not pour boiling water into a glass bottle as it may explode due to the heat - you've been warned). That is what I personally do at home, and as a family of 4, we easily drink 3 bottles of 750ml of water per meal (3 for lunch and 3 for dinner). That's about 4.5 Liters of drinking water a day!!! Evidently, you roughly know what you spend on drinking water in plastic bottles on a weekly basis, so imagine the savings if you were using a kettle... moreover, you will contribute to helping preserve the environment and at the same time you will reduce your carbon footprint by producing less non-recyclable trash and non-biodegradable waste... just saying...

That's all folks for today!

Stay tuned for more post like this one coming soon, and leave me a comment below if you feel like it. 

Santé! Cheers!

LeDomduVin (a.k.a Dominique Noël)

PS: This post comes as a complement to another post, titled "Bottle Dimensions", that I wrote 2 years ago and that you can read here

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wines (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Preserve the Planet!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Encounter with Chateau Mercian: A Japanese Wine

Encounter with Château Mercian: A Japanese Wine 

Chateau Mercian Logo - Courtesy of www.koshuofjapan.com

When you think about Japanese Wine, you usually think about Sake (or Saké), of course... What else could it be other than the famous Japanese rice wine? The one made by fermenting rice that has been previously polished to gradually remove the bran and thus obtains distinguishable Sakés of various aspects, aromas, tastes and textures. (*)

But, did you ever taste a Japanese Wine? And, I'm not talking about Sake now, I'm talking about wine made from fermented grapes. What? Well...What? Japan is producing real wine made from fermented grapes? Since when? Well, since quite some times... 

In fact, the production of grapes for consumption (and alcohol production), in Japan, has existed, (like in China), probably for (at least) the last 3000 years, yet the production of domestic wine using locally produced grapes only really began with the rise of Western culture during the Meiji restoration in the mid 1800s.

And another interesting fact is that, in Japan, due to lack of designation of origin and regardless of the types of grapes and/or even grains, the term "Japanese Wine" can be attributed to pretty much anything and everything that is domestically fermented (even if the grapes or grains have been imported); which is quite confusing, (and quite controversial compared to its "Western World" definition of "wine"). 

However, this last fact is actually changing as the idea of regulations on the designations of origin and the use of strictly locally grown grapes is emerging and will probably be soon put in place to regulate and clarify the situation, and, like in most other wine-producing countries, to establish a system protecting the designations of origin and regulate the use of specific indigenous grapes as well as specific viticulture and vinification methods. 

Even, if not as elaborate as the French AOC/AOP system, it will definitely be good to have an official way to differentiate Japanese Sake (technically rice wine called Japanese Wine) from Japanese's wine actually made from locally grown grapes.       

Because let's be honest, that's a real dilemma.... as we are now talking about Japanese Wine, which is not Sake, made with grapes and not with rice, and produced in a winery and not in a brewery, really confusing, isn't it? (funny and also pretty confusing to think that Sake is referred to as a "wine" made out of rice in a "brewery", while it has nothing to do with wine (except the fermentation maybe) and it is not a beer either.... sigh... go figure.... they definitely need regulations and a system to be put in place rapidly to avoid the confusion and define what is what 😊) 

"The Sake Dilemma" by ©LeDomduVin 2019

Anyhow, did you ever taste a Japanese wine? Yes? No? Well for me, I've tasted a countless amount of Saké(s) in my 28 years career in the Wine and Spirits industry on 3 continents, but wine from Japan (other than Saké, you see how confusing that is... sigh...), I believe that it was my first time last Friday.

I previously heard some of the names/brands and even seen labels of some Japanese's wines in Wine Fair and other wine events, but frankly, I do not think that I ever tasted one before this Friday. (or if I did, I have no real recollection of it, which is usually a bad sign for the wine...). 

Jameson, the Head Sommelier of Dynasty Garden (the Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant of the company I work for, located in our headquarters building, GFGC, in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong) told me: 

"Hey, I'm tasting some Japanese wines later on today with a distributor for a Japanese wine dinner I would like to organize at the restaurant later this month. Are you interested?"   

"Yes of course" I answered, as I had no intention to miss an opportunity to taste some wines, more especially wines made from grape varieties and from a region I never tasted before.  

My day at the office came to an end around 6.30 pm, and instead of going home as I normally do, I headed to the restaurant Dynasty Garden where Jameson and the distributor had already started tasting some wines, while the Chef was bringing some dishes sampled in preparation of the wine dinner that will occur a few weeks later.   

Eric C.C. Ng, the Director of "Hing Lung Food Place Limited"
at Dynasty Garden Restaurant - ©LeDomduVin 2019

Jameson introduced me to Eric C.C. Ng, the Director of "Hing Lung Food Place Limited", a food and beverage distribution company, historically founded by his father with a focus on meat distribution atop other food products, in Hong Kong, which evolved and changed its focus a few years back to supply a wide selection of Saké(s) from about 20 Japanese breweries.

Alongside the Sake(s), they also decided to carry some Japanese wines (made from grapes... again, see how annoying it is to always have to specify what is what... the Japanese really have to do something about this...) to enhance their portfolio and enable their customers to choose among various Japanese products (it makes sense to carry both in my opinion). So, after being approached by the winery to promote and distribute their wines in Hong Kong, they added Château Mercian to their portfolio, as exclusive agent for the HK market.

So, after shaking Eric's hand and being invited to sit down to participate to the tasting with them (Eric, the distributor and Jameson, the Sommelier), I started to ask a few questions to Eric about Château Mercian as I knew nothing about this winery and was eager to learn more about it.

You can always visit the website of Château Mercian to find out more details, but here are a few key points about this winery that Eric told me about:

Château Mercian

Chateau Mercian winery is located in the Yamanashi province, roughly about 100 kilometres west of Tokyo. 

Chateau Mercian location compared to Tokyo, Japan 
- Map courtesy of Google Map

The vineyard was established 142 years ago when "Dai-Nihon Yamanashi Budoushu-Gaisha" the forerunner of Mercian Corporation was founded in 1877. A turning point and the beginning of a new era in Japanese viticulture.
The brand "Chateau Mercian" was established in 1970, and planting of various grape varieties in diverse regions of Japan gradually occurred in the following years and evolved with the decades:
  • Merlot in the "Kikyogahara" region, in 1976
  • Cabernet Sauvignon at "Jyonohira Vineyard", in 1984
  • Chardonnay in the "Hokushin" region, in 1990
  • Cultivation started at the Mariko Vineyard, in 2003
  • Koshu wine was first released in 2005
The "Mercian Katsunuma Winery" was rebuilt with state of the art facilities and equipment and officially became "Château Mercian" in 2010. 

The wines are made from various grape varieties planted in several parcels of vines scattered in various regions as you can see on the map below:

Chateau Mercian Vineyards and Grape Varieties Map -
Original map courtesy of Chateau Mercian edited by ©LeDomduVin 2019

And the rest is history, as, since then, Château Mercian has become one of the leading wineries of Japan, producing exemplary wines that easily compete with their western world counterparts. Their wines have received numerous accolades and medals and recognition in many international challenges and wine expositions around the world. Their reputation is second to none and the quality of their wines is now well established, exhibiting cleanness, freshness and balance in all their "cuvées".


Wine Pairing Tasting

As soon as I sat down, Jameson poured me the first wine that they tasted, while they were already discussing and commenting on how it paired with the food the Executive Chef Fung (Man Ip) just served at the table.

Executive Chef Fung (Man Ip) of Dynasty Garden Restaurant 
-  ©LeDomduVin 2019

It is at this point that I understood that I will not keep the promise I made to myself earlier that day to "come, say hello, taste the wines and leave shortly after to go back home to my kids". I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my kids very much, but I could not miss this opportunity to taste these wines and the food served with them, more especially if I'm invited to not only taste but also comments and give my opinion about the wine pairings. After all, it would go against my epicurean nature and status as Sommelier to refuse such an invitation 😊. 

The menu that I saw and the food that was served that day, were slightly different from the finalized menu below, as the Chef modified some of the dishes based on our comments for the food pairing to sublime the wine and vice versa. 

Here is the finalized menu (as of today). However, it might be subject to some slight changes between now and the date of the dinner, you never know, but at least that gives you an idea: 

Chateau Mercian Wine Dinner (V3 June 22) courtesy of Dynasty Garden Restaurant

Nice menu, isn't it? Makes me salivate just by reading it...

The Wines and the Dishes

So, without further due, here are my tasting notes for the wines we tasted that day and a few comments on the food served with them. 

The first wine was 

Château Mercian "Koshu Kiiroka" 甲州きいろ香 , Yamanashi, Japan 2016

As on the menu above, the " Château Mercian Koshu Kiiroka 甲州きいろ香 " 2016 was served first and paired with a plate of 3 appetizers consisting of Marinated Black Fungus / Spicy Wagyu Beef Cheek / Chilled Bitter Melon.  

"Koshu" is a white grape variety, with a distinctive pinkish skin,
grown primarily in the "Yamanashi" Prefecture of Japan 

- edited for ©LeDomduVin 2019

For those of you who might not know, "Koshu" is a white grape variety, with a distinctive pinkish skin, grown primarily in the "Yamanashi" Prefecture of Japan (see the region's map above).

Mistaken at first to have European origin, it seems in fact to be a hybrid of Europe's Vitis vinifera and one or more Asian Vitis species. 

Yamanashi Prefecture Map with regions courtesy of web-japan.org
edited by ©LeDomduVin 2019

The name “Koshu” is also a former name for "Yamanashi" and is still the name of a part of the "Yamanashi" prefecture (see map above).

Frankly, I did not know what to expect of that wine made with "Koshu" grapes. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at its "robe" and put the glass to my nose.

Château Mercian Koshu Kiiroka 甲州きいろ香 , Yamanashi, Japan 2016
- ©LeDomduVin 2019

Château Mercian Koshu Kiiroka 甲州きいろ香 " 2016
Very clear, clean, really pale yellow colour with silver and greenish reflects. Very expressive and clean, perfumy, zesty nose where mingle floral, honeysuckle notes and yellow fruit aromas like citrus and peach. Dry-German-wine-like nose in a way. The palate is dry, balanced and zesty, with a crispy mouthfeel enhanced by yellow fruit, peach and citrus flavours (like on the nose), and lemony acidity. I really loved it, more especially the combination of the presence of fruitiness without being sweet, and high acidity without being puckering. Really enjoyable and perfect to start the menu, the acidity generating the saliva in your mouth, it opens up your appetite. Although I did not think that it was necessarily the perfect pairing, it went quite well overall with the appetizers combination of Marinated Black Fungus / Spicy Wagyu Beef Cheek / Chilled Bitter Melon. To my palate and overall senses, this wine was a very nice discovery, not the most complex yet really pleasant, clean and cleansing. I will definitely keep an eye open for an opportunity to try more "Koshu" wines in the future. Definitely, a grape to discover. (©LeDomduVin - May 02 2019)

Château Mercian Koshu Kiiroka 甲州きいろ香 , Yamanashi, Japan 2016 (back label)
- ©LeDomduVin 2019

The second wine was 

Château Mercian "Mariko Vineyard" ソーヴィニヨン・ブラン Sauvignon Blanc 2015

This wine was served with a "Braised fish maw with minced salty fish in casserole". It was definitely a discovery day (for me), as I believe it was the first time that I tried "knowingly" "Fish Maw". I may have previously (during the last 8 years I spent in Hong Kong), but definitely not knowingly. I would have remembered otherwise, as, as weird as it may be, "Fish Maw" is the culinary term for "Dried Swim Bladders". 

I can already hear some of you swallowing hard in disgust and about to puke their last meal, just by reading the word "bladder", but be reassured that "Swim Bladder" has nothing to do with the "Urinary Bladder" (for sure some of you just puked right now....sigh...😉). 

The "Swim Bladder" is "an internal gas-filled organ that contributes to the ability of many bony fishes to control their buoyancy, and thus to stay at their current water depth without having to waste energy in swimming."  (according to en.wikipedia.org)  .... "Gas-filled organ"... hmm ... (oh no, please stop puking please.... sigh... 😊)

"Braised fish maw with minced salty fish in casserole"
- ©LeDomduVin 2019

However, what I did not know either, is that the "Swim Bladder" is rather tasteless on its own, but tend to absorb the flavours of the other components it is mixed with, for that particular dish, it was with mince salty fish (see picture above) and the result was really mouthwateringly delicious. And, believe me, or not, but it was even more astonishingly delicious when paired with the wine.    

Château Mercian "Mariko Vineyard" ソーヴィニヨン・ブラン Sauvignon Blanc 2015
(Front label) - ©LeDomduVin 2019

Château Mercian "Mariko Vineyard" ソーヴィニヨン・ブラン Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Very pale yellow, greenish colour. Typical (really flagrant) cat's pee Sauvignon Blanc nose with hints of green pepper and cabbage and subtle notes of lime zest. Green lime, with high acidity and good balance overall with flavours reminiscent of those of the nose, in this rather surprisingly light, super clean and refreshing wine and not showing its age for a 2015 vintage. I would have thought that it might show some signs of fatigue, but no, it was really vibrant for a Sauvignon Blanc that has already a few years in the bottle. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Sauvignon Blanc cannot age well, as there are beautiful examples of Sauvignons that have aged gracefully; yet in general, Sauvignon Blancs are at their prime within the first 5 years after bottling, after that they tend to lessen a bit in quality and/or age rather quickly. However, this one was really delicious and, surprisingly, really impressively well paired with the Fish Maw and Salty Fish. The saltiness elevates and enhances the taste of this Sauvignon Blanc. I was really blown away by this pairing. If such a thing as perfect food pairing exists in this world, then this paring was it. No doubt. I loved it. (©LeDomduVin - May 02 2019)

💥Work in progress.... to be finished soon 💥

That's all folks for today!

Stay tuned for more post like this one coming soon, and leave me a comment below if you feel like it.

Santé! Cheers!

LeDomduVin (a.k.a Dominique Noël)

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wines (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Preserve the Planet!

(*) I wrote a post titled "A little introduction to Sake: The Japanese Wine!" some years ago, if interested, you can read it here