December-January Issue #340 NEWS. The Low Down on our New Look Touring the Lucky Country Do Vintages Matter? AUSTRALIA S BUDDING WINEMAKER

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1 December-January Issue #340 NEWS The Low Down on our New Look Touring the Lucky Country Do Vintages Matter? AUSTRALIA S BUDDING WINEMAKER

2 CONTRIBUTORS ALEXANDRE GUAY As Marketing Manager, Alexandre is at the forefront of all things innovative at Opimian. Whether it be throughout his career path 4 in marketing or in his own kitchen (he is a notorious foodie), he always likes to experiment and try new things. It is therefore normal that we asked him to say a few words on the evolution of the Opimian logo and its new form. Read all about it on page 4. SNEAK PEAK JANE MASTERS MW Jane joined Opimian back in She tastes, selects and writes about all the wines featured in Opimian s Cellar Offerings. Based between France and London, 5 UK, Jane personally knows the winemakers and visits every region offered. She passed the Master of Wine exams in 1997 and is now Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine. We have a fresh new look! Three copper rings in the shape of a barrel and the Cultivate your Curiosity tagline embody the rebranding that sweeps over Opimian. Learn more on page four about our new visual identity and the logo s evolution since our beginnings. CHRISTOPHE JASMIN With a background mixing writing and wine he poured his fair share working in restaurants for a decade Christophe takes 6 to fulfilling the role of Opimian s copywriter like a duck to water. When he is not sipping on a glass of Riesling or Pinot Noir, he likes to indulge in wine storytelling. Immerse yourself in his latest write-up on page 6 and 7. CARL BIRD Carl s been a fixture at Opimian for over 15 years. He started out as a member, then took over the Northwest Territories 8 (well, Opimian s chapter there) as Area Representative. In 2015, he moved to Montreal - his hometown - and joined the team at the head office as Area Representative Liaison and Opimian Wine Concierge. He answers members questions and shares them in Answers UnCorked. ABOUT THE COVER The up-and-coming winemaker Gwyn Olsen and her loyal assistant Spencer posing in front of Briar Ridge winery. 2 Opimian News

3 COMMUNITY NEWS NEW AREA REPRESENTATIVE FOR KITCHENER/WATERLOO CHAPTER Michael has been passionate about wine his entire adult life. So much so that, in addition to completing a number of food and wine courses at Niagara College (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers CAPS), he has successfully completed his Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) Level 3. On the practical side, Michael was a professional event planner for 10 years, responsible for coordinating the City of Stratford s downtown business events, including Canada Day Celebrations in Market Square. He also developed and executed many wine tasting dinners for the Stratford Wine Appreciation Group (SWAG). He is co-founder of foodie walking tour, Flavours of Paris, held in Paris, France. Michael s a small, ever-growing personal wine cellar includes many Opimian wines as well as those discovered as he travels the world. MICHAEL LUTZMANN A POSTCARD FROM BEAUJOLAIS FOUR OPIMIAN MEMBERS ON A VISIT TO ONE OF OUR PRODUCERS After our introduction from Opimian Wine Concierge Carl Bird to Bernard and Blandine Perrin, we sent several s directly to Blandine, and they graciously invited us to join them at their home for a wine tasting followed by lunch. August 23 was a beautiful day; we had an excellent tasting of many of their wines, plus fresh local bread from the bakery. We did the tasting on their verandah overlooking the vineyards and the Beaujolais countryside. Boyd and Gail Russell, Conrad and Mary Porth, Opimian members Blandine and Bernard Perrin Les Vins Bernard Perrin After the tasting, we went to the winery, where Bernard labelled three bottles of the wines we liked best, boxed them and gave them to us as a gift. We all then travelled across the valley to the top of the hill and onto Le Donjon restaurant where we enjoyed an outstanding lunch accompanied by more of the Perrin family wines. Next, we took a long drive back to our hotel and visited the little walled town where Bernard went to school. Everyone had a great time. We finished the day in Lyon for dinner. Once again, we have to thank Carl in Montreal for setting up such a wonderful day for us. Opimian News 3

4 ALL THINGS WINE THE EVOLUTION OF THE OPIMIAN LOGO Since its creation, Opimian has evolved significantly, growing from a Wine Society founded by four British-born amateurs unsatisfied with the liquor boards to the countrywide wine lovers community it is today. Opimian s logo has changed to reflect this evolution and the increasingly diverse membership. A logo must, above all, encapsulate an organization s identity and vision. After 43 years and standing at a key crossroads of our journey, we thought the logo needed a revamp in order to put forth the founding values as well as our vision for the present and future of Opimian. THE HISTORY The founders of Opimian shared a passion for wine and also a love of history. They chose to name the Society after Lucius Opimius, Roman Consul in 121 BC, during whose term is said the finest vintage of wine was produced. The wine was then transported in amphorae to the homes of Roman citizens. This was a simple, yet defining vision for the Opimian Society when it was founded in 1973: to source the finest wines selected by a Master of Wine (the highest level of educational achievement in the wine industry) and deliver them to wine lovers. Consequently, all written communications featured related symbols and imagery the amphora, Dionysus, the Bacchus cherub and the Kylix cup. THE NEW LOOK Like Opimian encouraging our members to mature their palette, aging wine in oak barrels is an important step in the production of high-quality wine. To represent this, we settled on barrel-shaped copper rings. They unite wood and wine in the same way that Opimian unites the vineyards, producers and wine lovers. Moreover, the rings hint to the O of Opimian. The tagline, Cultivate your Curiosity, is an invitation to take part in an adventure that goes beyond mere wine drinking. It conveys the fact that an Opimian membership is greater than the sum of its parts, limitless just like human curiosity. NEW LOGO Endowed with a rich past, we re turning toward the present and future. The new logo represents Opimian s stance as an accessible yet savvy wine community. Copper rings in the shape of a barrel and the Cultivate your curiosity tagline surround a restyled name. FOURTH LOGO Fall of 2008, a graffiti-inspired bottle maintains the burgundy colour from the previous logo and uses a Roman style typeface to stay true to the origin of our name. SECOND LOGO From 1981 to 1997, the amphora and Dionysus were placed inside an oval encircled by the laurel and our name. THIRD LOGO In 1998, the Wine Society of Canada was trademarked; the name was placed separately, allowing the use of just the name and trademark, or the complete design. FIRSTLOGO The logo in the founding year, This includes an amphora, Dionysus, laurels, barrel and a somewhat irreverent cherub. 4 Opimian News

5 MASTER S CORNER BY JANE MASTERS MW A LITTLE BIT OAKY As a consultant, I am regularly tasting, comparing and scoring wines matured in different types of oak. Most great wines (with notable exceptions such as German Rieslings and Chablis) have been crafted with some use of oak. Its use may be very obvious or merely add an extra layer of complexity. For many years, barrels have been used as transportation receptacles and for the storage of wine. Different types of wood have been used including chestnut, cherry wood, acacia, redwood and even pine, but it is oak that has generally won the day. Oak containers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, the traditional 225L barrels, 228L in Burgundy, 300L, 500L, demi-muids, large casks, foudres and fermentation vats. One of the latest innovations is the 2,000L egg-shaped Ovum developed by Taransaud and used by Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac Leognan for white wine fermentation. My first first-hand experience of oak barrels was as an intern after university at Camus in Cognac and subsequently with Hennessy (where I remember tasting cognac distilled in 1800 straight out of barrel). After distillation, pure, colourless eau-de-vie spirit high in alcohol content is left to mature in oak barrels for many years, becoming mellow in flavour and dark in colour. At that time, Camus employed a cooper principally to repair and maintain the thousands of maturing barrels but very occasionally, he would make a new barrel. The cooper would build a wigwam looking structure from oak staves held together by metal hoops at the top and would light a fire inside. Around the base of the structure, the staves had a wire looped around them connected to a winch. As the oak heated (up to 2000C internally) he sprinkled the inside with water and the oak became malleable so that the base of the staves could gradually be drawn together, creating the barrel shape and the metal hoops hammered down to hold all in place. Oak for cognac comes from the Limousin forest east of Bordeaux and is the Quercus Pedunculata species, which has a coarse grain. However, for wine, the finer grained, less common oak, Quercus Petraea, is used with the dominant European source being the French forests of Allier, Tronçais, Nevers and Vosges. Oak, particularly new oak, brings flavour to a wine.aromatic components such as vanillin, whisky lactone (coconut), furfural (caramel), eugenol (cloves), guaiacol (smoky) and a whole host of others that are still being discovered, are present in lesser or greater amounts. The concentration of each depends on the source of the oak, the seasoning it has undergone and the level of charring inside the barrels. The American species Quercus Alba (white oak) is rich in whisky lactone, giving its characteristic coconut aromas. As wine is aged in barrel, these components leach into it adding flavour. But not all the flavour compounds present in oak are positive. The natural wood also contains a number of bitter and astringent components hence the importance of the seasoning either naturally weathered in the open air or the faster kiln drying process. During this time there is a reduction in the astringent ellagic tannins and hydrolysis of bitter coumarins to more neutral forms. Oak cedes tannins to wine and so has an impact on the structure and texture of the aged wine. Of course, first-use barrels will give maximum flavours and tannins. The ratio of oak surface in contact with wine is important with smaller barrels having a higher ratio and giving more flavour. The longer a barrel has been used, the less flavours it has to impart. This is not the only impact the use of a barrel has on wine. Oak is porous. During aging in barrel, a small amount of oxygen permeates through to the wine across the oak, between the staves or through the bung (although widespread use of silicon bungs has certainly reduced this). This slow ingress leads to a series of chemical reactions and polymerization of polyphenols that impact on wine flavour. The aging wine will itself have an impact in particular its alcohol content on what is extracted. How and when oak is used also makes a difference. Generally white wines fermented in oak are considered to have better integration between the oak and fruit flavours than a wine merely aged post-fermentation. Many red wine producers prefer to carry out Malolactic transformation in barrel for similar reasons. The topic of oak is vast and that is without even mentioning the use of oak staves and chips. Suffice to say that research on this subject is being carried out by coopers, winemakers and researchers alike. For my part, I will continue to taste and drink the results! This edition of Masters Corner originally appeared in Opimian News #311. Opimian News 5

6 FEATURE THE RISING STAR OF HUNTER VALLEY I t s almost harvest season and the weather gods are unleashing their wrath over the whole Hunter Valley region. Downpours just like this one sweep into Australia s Briar Ridge winery every other day, drenching the vineyards, showering the grapes and threatening to jeopardize this year s crop. Ranging from 400 to more than 500 mm in just two months, the rain represents Hunter Valley s biggest viticultural hazard though, paradoxically enough, the inverse winter drought phenomenon can also be a problem. Gwyn Olsen, the young Chief Winemaker, does not seem concerned whatsoever. If past years are an indication of what s to come, this harvest should lead to yet another critically acclaimed vintage for Briar Ridge and Olsen will be a big part of the reason for that. Along with Olsen, a new generation of audacious winemakers seems to have sprung up within the same breeding ground lately. Still busy spreading the gospel of Hunter Sémillon and Shiraz, these young guns are nonetheless experimenting on all fronts, planting new varietals and reinterpreting old-time classics. As a matter of fact, the region s wine landscape, which used to be all about those Two S (Sémillon and Shiraz), is now witnessing a rejuvenation that echoes throughout Australia. At the forefront of this wave of innovation stands Briar Ridge s 33 year-old Olsen. Barely three years in at Briar Ridge and it feels like she is a veteran, a surprising feat in a world dominated by middle-aged men. Glancing at her résumé, however, you understand she has a tendency to do things her own way and do them fast. Unlike many of her winemaker counterparts, she doesn t come from a wine family background and wasn t predestined for a future in wine whatsoever. Olsen actually spent a significant part of her childhood in Indonesia not exactly your definition of wine country. View of Briar Ridge s renowned slope vineyards 6 Opimian News

7 FEATURE Chief winemaker Gwyn Olsen in the Barrel Room HER ACHIEVEMENTS ASIDE, IT S HER CONCEPTION OF WINE THAT HAS SET HER AND BRIAR RIDGE APART. It s while working on fermentation kinetics during a biochemistry class at university that she stumbled upon the idea that fermenting things for a living could be fun. What better thing to ferment than grapes? she thought. Thereafter, Olsen decided to enroll in Adelaide s Roseworthy University Oenology program and, from then on, it was all about wine. Once out of winemaking school, she worked three vintages in France (Languedoc, Saint-Émilion and Burgundy) and then went to hold an assistant winemaking role at New Zealand s Villa Maria winery before being promoted to operations winemaker. In 2012, she was awarded the title of Dux at the Australian Wine Research Institute, paving the way to her becoming judge at six wine shows throughout the country. Her achievements aside, it s her conception of wine that has set her and Briar Ridge apart. From the onset, Olsen was determined to create wines with a strong sense of place that would reflect the soil from whence they come. In this regard, the total creative licence the Briar Ridge owners gave her played a crucial part. For once, there wasn t any marketing or sales department telling the winemaking team what varieties were to be used or what kind of wines were to do. In addition to the untouchable Hunter Valley Sémillon and Shiraz, Olsen could let her wine imagination roam free. That started off with the experiments she conducted with the Italian varietal Vermentino in some of her blends to add freshness and acidity. The culmination of her creative work, however, proved to be the metamorphosis of the house Chardonnay; turning what used to be a big, buttery and opulent white into something livelier, more focused on the expression of the fruit and soil. The result, as exemplified in Briar Ridge s 2015 The Squire Chardonnay, is a vibrant tension between the grape s natural acidity and the subtle notes of oak due to the partial barrel fermentation. The best of both worlds Old and New epitomized in a bottle proved to be a very challenging season in the Hunter Valley, reads the wine s tasting notes, characterized by very dry conditions at the start of the growing season [and] higher than average rainfall at the start of the harvest season. The wine s astounding balance really contains no trace of those harsh conditions but does help to explain Olsen s serenity in the face of Mother Nature s vagaries. However, it s with her appointment as Briar Ridge s Chief Winemaker and general manager her first time in either job that things really started to take off. To start with, the production of her career s first Semillon was crowned with success. Beating all the big boys, the wine collected three trophies and was named best Semillon in the Hunter Valley. Then, a wine she helped blend, the Briar Ridge Dairy Hill 2011 Shiraz was named best current Shiraz at the New South Wales Small Winemakers Show. Next up, Australia s most authoritative wine magazine, Gourmet Traveller Wine, named her as Australia s Young Winemaker of the Year. Finally, on a side note, she somehow found the time and energy to run her first half-marathon. All that in a single year. The main entrance to Briar Ridge Vineyard and Winery Sipping on yet another glass of that Chardonnay, you get the impression nothing can throw Olsen off her course to the heights of the winemaking world. Eventually, the rain over Briar Ridge s vineyards eases off, the clouds break and give way to a clear, bright sky almost as bright as Olsen s future. You can find the 2015 The Squire Chardonnay as well as four of Briar Ridge s other exceptional wines in the current Cellar Offering. Opimian News 7

8 ANSWERS UNCORKED BY CARL BIRD, OPIMIAN WINE CONCIERGE VINTAGES MATTER - SOMETIMES Q I was at a restaurant and ordered a bottle of a mid-priced Argentinian Malbec 2013; the waiter came back with the same wine but from another vintage asking is the 2014 OK? I wasn t sure how to react, but I said it was OK. How can one know if the right answer is yes or no? Anonymous The vintage of a wine the year the grapes are grown and harvested can make a significant difference in some cases. Weather conditions can vary from one year to the next, affecting the style and quality of the wines from that year. The most important time is the growing season, particularly when the grapes are ripening. Grapes can be damaged by extreme weather conditions such as hail, high winds, frost and floods that impact the yield and quality of the crop. Hail in particular can jeopardize a whole harvest. Once the skin is broken, the grapes become susceptible to rot, and not the kind that they like to see in Sauternes. Unusually cool or hot weather can also affect the style and quality of the wines produced from a given vintage. Vintages, however, are most important in regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy where the weather can tend to vary greatly from one year to the next. The wine laws in these regions make it much more difficult to offset the impacts of the bad weather by the blending of varietals or blending wines from different sites, villages or even regions. For example, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild cannot produce their Premier Cru classé wine from grapes grown elsewhere than on their property in the village of Pauillac. One very good example of where you might want to consider saying no to a replacement vintage is if a restaurant listed a 2010 Bordeaux from Médoc but offered instead a 2013 from the same region. The 2010 was an outstanding vintage while in 2013 the weather in Bordeaux was not very conducive to a good vintage and even included hail in some regions. New World wine regions, such as Argentina, which you refer to in your question, have more consistent weather. Their wine laws are also less strict and therefore allow for making adjustments to the blends and varietals. Under drought conditions, winemakers in most New World regions are permitted to irrigate during the ripening season, whereas this is not allowed in Bordeaux and Burgundy, for example. So in the case of accepting the 2014 Malbec instead of the 2013 Malbec, you did not err. Those wines would be fairly consistent from one vintage to the next. On the other hand, I would only replace a 2010 Bordeaux with a 2013 Bordeaux if the price was significantly lower. Vita Vinum Est, Carl Bird Opimian Wine Concierge Montreal, QC A If you have a question, please it to Questions may be used in future issues of Opimian News. Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. 8 Opimian News

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