Foggy, cool, wet weather on the coast paired with even colder snowy weather in the Interior has most wine drinkers thinking about red wine at this time of the year, and in many cases, the bigger, the better.
But what is a full-bodied red? Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its authoritative finish. Long, rich, persistent and sometimes warm (from higher alcohol). It is a wine that lingers on your palate long after you swallow it
Much of red wine’s structure, texture and mouthfeel comes from the tannin in the wine, and the tannins come from grape skins, seeds, stems, oak and, in some cases, additives to wine. Soft tannins, a buzz phrase in today’s winemaking, are making the hard, dry tannins of the past that leave your mouth puckered and your taste buds bitter a distant memory.
Tannin management has become an art over the last 25 years, starting in the vineyard where precision agriculture and picking at the right moment yields dense, ripe, soft tannins that bring structure to the wine without adding dryness and bitterness. Add to that gentle handling and less juice movement by mechanical pumps (think gravity), and we are getting more stylish tannins at the winery. The trick is to build texture, structure and mouthfeel without extracting palate-drying tannins.
Modern tannin management uses shade cloth to protect the bunches from sunburn and the grapes from shrivelling into raisins. Leaf pulling lets speckled light through the canopy for slower ripening. In some cases, we see a return to the old California Sprawl or “ballerina” canopy that naturally protected the berries from the harsh midday sun.
Vancouver Sun. Anthony Gismondi: Feb 04 2022