Editor's Note: Our Science Editor, Tom Mansell, explored the world of sour beers after a visit to the Great American Beer Festival. From fermentation to aging, Tom described sour beers as a bridge between the beer and wine worlds. This article is a must read for wine drinkers and beer drinkers alike who feel they just "don't get" the other side. –Ryan Reichert, Managing Editor
If you've never put your nose inside a few well-wrought barrels, it may be hard to understand just how excited winemakers can become about oak - and also, just how varied the contribution of oak to the profile of a wine can be. The range of smells, the different characters that jump at you, as you compare individual barrels, is simply astonishing.
There’s a reason that the Italian Trade Commission has held an annual wine fair in New York since 2009. Imports of Italian wines to these shores have increased enough that in 2010 Italy surpassed France to reach a market share of 30.3 percent compared to 24.5 percent for France, a country whose position at the top of the import heap was unsullied for decades. No wonder that the phrase often repeated during VINO 2011, held at the Waldorf Astoria the last week of January, was that we are in “a golden age for Italian wine.”
Passing through a guarded gate, my wife and I, on an anniversary trip to Spain, entered the bucolic 1000-hectare estate of the storied Vega Sicilia. This Bordeaux-style winery, founded in 1864, originally was a small village inhabited by the wineries’ employees and connected by rail to Valladolid, 40 kilometers to the west.