Smoke taint 2020...

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B. Buzzini
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Smoke taint 2020...

#1 Post by B. Buzzini » August 20th, 2020, 6:14 pm

How long does it take? Here in the Central Valley Ca. we've had a layer of smoke and ash for the last couple days now...pretty heavy as you can see the ash and smell the smoke persistently. I would think Lodi is getting this...and am wondering about the other wine areas? How much of this does it take before we start seeing the effects in the grapes? And...does heat play any part in how much absorption the grapes take in the smoke...as it's also been 100+ here for the last week or so?
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#2 Post by Andrew K. » August 20th, 2020, 6:38 pm

Why are you buying CA wines anyway? [tease.gif]
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#3 Post by blarmston » August 20th, 2020, 8:05 pm

Unfortunately, this looks like a repeat of 2017. Prolonged heat speak approaching Harvest and the fires. At least in 2017, the vast majority of the fruit had been picked and was safely in tank. This time around, none of the cabernet has even been picked yet. Add this event to the entirety of 2020, and, well......
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#4 Post by William Segui » August 20th, 2020, 8:38 pm

Smoke has been hanging out at elevation. Air quality in Napa has been better than Sacramento & San Francisco. Duration & wind direction will ultimately dictate how this goes but incredibly premature at this point to be drawing any conclusions.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#5 Post by Jim V a n P e l t » August 20th, 2020, 9:00 pm

William Segui wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 8:38 pm
Smoke has been hanging out at elevation. Air quality in Napa has been better than Sacramento & San Francisco. Duration & wind direction will ultimately dictate how this goes but incredibly premature at this point to be drawing any conclusions.
Good insight. Thanks!

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#6 Post by Andrew K. » August 20th, 2020, 9:17 pm

Good insight or blind hope... Only time will tell.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#7 Post by Roy Piper » August 20th, 2020, 9:29 pm

I just sent this to my list an hour ago but made the blog "public." Anyone interested can watch. It covers the fires and taint in the first 1/3. You can skip my berry tasting in the middle, if you want. The last 1/3 is the map of the fires and where we all are by comparison.

Summary... the fires are right up on the ridge and out to Vacaville, but it's close to blue skies in Napa much of the time. Visibility is miles. Except for a couple hours a day, not even the smell of smoke. We have been lucky. In 2017, it was fires and smoke all through the valley for ten days. This is nothing by comparison. We just have to hope it does not change. Right now, I have no "taint" fears at all. So far.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#8 Post by Eric Lundblad » August 20th, 2020, 10:34 pm

This situation is different cuz there aren't the strong winds the the prior years had, which made matters much worse. For the places I'm paying a lot of attention to, west of Sebastopol to the coast (and roughly south of Graton), and the east bay (where I live), things are surprisingly good for most of the day. The problem is the late afternoon/early evening when the winds shift direction. Smoke blows through for a bit early in this cycle (from late afternoon, to early/late evening, depending on the location) until it blows through.

Smoke taint comes from time and concentration of exposure...just like Covid, which is sadly appropriate...but also, the amount of time from the moment of the burn to the grapes exposure is important, the more the time the less, or no, impact on the grapes (from an aussie research paper, the kings on this topic). I'm thinking the critical time is the first 12 hours, but it's been a couple of years since I read this stuff, and if I weren't tired, I'd refresh myself on it. Maybe someone out there knows before I get to it.

The situation up in the foothills doesn't seem so great right now. It seems terrible in fact. The only glimmer of optimisim is the sensors are more sparse up there, so might be better than I think. We'll see.

If you want to track the smoke, the best site is the following. Make sure that only 'PM2.5' (aka smoke particles) only (not Ozone or PM10) is turned on. It's updated every hour or two (sometimes more slowly than I'd like).

https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/?tab=0&cl ... layer=none

Unfortunately, I don't think the 'Purple Air' (home based air quality sensors) based data is useful or worth paying attention to (the data from the above link is from commercial air quality sensors). That's not entirely true...getting your own Purple air device can be helpful, cuz you can get to know what reading levels are problems and which aren't...even tho the data from machine to machine can be quite variable if they haven't calibrated to a standard.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#9 Post by Brian Tuite » August 20th, 2020, 11:43 pm

William Segui wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 8:38 pm
Smoke has been hanging out at elevation. Air quality in Napa has been better than Sacramento & San Francisco. Duration & wind direction will ultimately dictate how this goes but incredibly premature at this point to be drawing any conclusions.
+1, the smoke has been blowing East, air quality in the Valley has been excellent.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#10 Post by Joe B » August 21st, 2020, 5:27 am

This is the greatest vintage.....

since 2017.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#11 Post by Marshall Manning » August 21st, 2020, 9:31 am

It depends what you're smoking, Buzz!
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#12 Post by Jim Cowan » August 21st, 2020, 11:27 am

The real difficulty for those in the biz is that the customer will perceive this as a smoke taint year, even if it winds up having no or little impact.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#13 Post by Chris Seiber » August 21st, 2020, 11:38 am

Jim Cowan wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 11:27 am
The real difficulty for those in the biz is that the customer will perceive this as a smoke taint year, even if it winds up having no or little impact.
Best, jim
Possibly, but I'd guess that years from now when the wines are released, if there didn't turn out to be a real smoke taint problem, consumers won't make that connection in their heads.

Having said that, I DEMAND A 50% PRICE REDUCTION IN MY 2020s DUE TO RISK OF SMOKE TAINT!!!!!!

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#14 Post by lleichtman » August 21st, 2020, 11:51 am

Smoke taint is only one of their worries. Fires are moving towards Healdsburg and one West Side Highway winery Passalaqua has been trimming his trees and spraying the roofs of all of his buildings with water as a hopeful fire break,
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#15 Post by Anton D » August 21st, 2020, 12:47 pm

Smoke taint is just a part of terroir these days.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#16 Post by lleichtman » August 21st, 2020, 2:42 pm

Anton D wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 12:47 pm
Smoke taint is just a part of terroir these days.
Want to go LOL but it's not.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#17 Post by AndyK » August 21st, 2020, 2:57 pm

The stupid-response-density has been especially high on this thread.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#18 Post by A G Aguirre » August 21st, 2020, 3:24 pm

AndyK wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 2:57 pm
The stupid-response-density has been especially high on this thread.
You can add your completely-lacking-in-contribution post to that number.

Still a lot of uncertainty about this will all play out (as others have noted.) Esther’s note in the SF Chronicle this week highlighted an interesting point. Apparently grape skins are particularly vulnerable to penetration by smoke compounds and so winemakers might opt to make more rosé this year:

“So it stands to reason that if smoke taint is a problem primarily of the grape’s skin, then whites and rosés would be much less susceptible to damage than red wines, simply based on the amount of time that the skins remain in contact with the fermenting liquid.”

Link to the article (paywall): https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 496413.php
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#19 Post by Berry Crawford » August 21st, 2020, 4:48 pm

Eric Lundblad wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 10:34 pm
The situation up in the foothills doesn't seem so great right now. It seems terrible in fact. The only glimmer of optimisim is the sensors are more sparse up there, so might be better than I think.
Its horrible up here

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#20 Post by andrewkao » August 21st, 2020, 5:02 pm

Hopefully Napa spared, but some in SC Mountain AVA looking to be less lucky - https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2020/ ... er-threat/

"He [Owner of Big Basin Vineyards] said that with the dense smoke, there is a chance the estate will be unable to use its fruit from this vintage."
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#21 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 » August 21st, 2020, 5:38 pm

Have yet to notice anything in the 2017 CA wines I've drank. Either I'm fortunate or my palate does not care; or both. We'll see what 2020 brings.

And I think that Mike Judge would approve of the prodigious use of taint in this thread.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#22 Post by Alan Rath » August 21st, 2020, 5:43 pm

Rich K0rz€nk0 wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 5:38 pm
Have yet to notice anything in the 2017 CA wines I've drank. Either I'm fortunate or my palate does not care; or both. We'll see what 2020 brings.

And I think that Mike Judge would approve of the prodigious use of taint in this thread.
In 2017, most fruit was already picked by the time the fires started. Almost no fruit has been picked now. Also, our fires are much more widespread than they were in 2017.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#23 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 » August 21st, 2020, 5:54 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 5:43 pm
Rich K0rz€nk0 wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 5:38 pm
Have yet to notice anything in the 2017 CA wines I've drank. Either I'm fortunate or my palate does not care; or both. We'll see what 2020 brings.

And I think that Mike Judge would approve of the prodigious use of taint in this thread.
In 2017, most fruit was already picked by the time the fires started. Almost no fruit has been picked now. Also, our fires are much more widespread than they were in 2017.
Thx, that makes sense. I just recalled that 2017 was prolonged with the fires, had friends out there I checked in on. Prolonged doesn't mean much if the juice is in a tank.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#24 Post by Wes Barton » August 21st, 2020, 6:16 pm

A G Aguirre wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 3:24 pm
Still a lot of uncertainty about this will all play out (as others have noted.) Esther’s note in the SF Chronicle this week highlighted an interesting point. Apparently grape skins are particularly vulnerable to penetration by smoke compounds and so winemakers might opt to make more rosé this year:

“So it stands to reason that if smoke taint is a problem primarily of the grape’s skin, then whites and rosés would be much less susceptible to damage than red wines, simply based on the amount of time that the skins remain in contact with the fermenting liquid.”

Link to the article (paywall): https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 496413.php
Still, if there's a risk of taint in the skins, it's not worth employing some techniques with whites that might extract some of that, so it takes options out of the playbook that might normally help make a better wine.

2008 was amateur hour. Such a broad ignorance on the issue. People just winged it, employing techniques they thought would work to remove it, only to have it come back, and so forth. I've talked to people who look at me like a conspiracy nut, because they simply can't imagine how unprepared and unknowledgeable the winemakers were and how proper guidance wasn't readily available. Even services in the business to assist winemakers and treat wines didn't seem to know what they were doing. These days the labs are ready and can test the grapes before harvest, how to actually treat the wines is known, a whole array of techniques and options are in the tool box to make the best decisions.

There are a bunch of threads on this currently active as well as archived. Timing of the fires matter, as the grapes need to be ripening to be affected. The compound does drop out of the air over time, so it can be smoky without the possibility of contamination. Also, it's a compound that's in oak. Depending on the wine, a certain level wouldn't stick out, though you'd want to avoid adding to that level with a bad oak choice.

Think back to 2011. The press focused on all the disastrous stuff that happened, but most of that meant no crop. Then there was declassification. Of what was left, a lot of the goofy wineries were forced to make their best, most classic wines. With 2020, I think the better producers will either have no crop or wines that are just fine.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#25 Post by Eric Lundblad » August 21st, 2020, 6:38 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 5:43 pm
Rich K0rz€nk0 wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 5:38 pm
Have yet to notice anything in the 2017 CA wines I've drank. Either I'm fortunate or my palate does not care; or both. We'll see what 2020 brings.

And I think that Mike Judge would approve of the prodigious use of taint in this thread.
In 2017, most fruit was already picked by the time the fires started. Almost no fruit has been picked now. Also, our fires are much more widespread than they were in 2017.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#26 Post by Nate Simon » August 21st, 2020, 6:57 pm

Anton D wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 12:47 pm
Smoke taint is just a part of terroir these days.
LOL a Board member actually tried to tell me that, when I called out a Board darling for selling horrifically smoke-tainted Pinot from 2008. Hopefully we don't see a repeat of that vintage.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#27 Post by b. c@stner » August 21st, 2020, 7:16 pm

There were several wineries that I know of, a couple rather prominent come to mind, that bottled and sold some of their 2008 knowing full well of the taint problem. However, they acknowledged the taint, sold them as such, and the wines were sold strictly out of the tasting rooms as I knew it to be.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#28 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » August 22nd, 2020, 8:41 am

Smoke settled into the valley yesterday, at least around St Helena. Not super thick but not super fun.

Fears of smoke taint from a consumer perspective will be mostly unrealised. Testing has improved a lot in both coverage of smoke compounds and throughput of analyses. People can test grapes, musts, and finished wines. Winemakers will be able to make informed choices at picking, pressing, blending, and bottling.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#29 Post by timmy roos » August 22nd, 2020, 12:33 pm

We had grapes rejected in 2018 due to Mendo ranch fire. Much was misunderstood before and then everyone was an expert in 2 weeks I still have samples of our chard which has bitter finish. To my knowledge grape development plays a part as well as concentration of smoke
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#30 Post by Bdklein » August 22nd, 2020, 12:59 pm

b. c@stner wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 7:16 pm
There were several wineries that I know of, a couple rather prominent come to mind, that bottled and sold some of their 2008 knowing full well of the taint problem. However, they acknowledged the taint, sold them as such, and the wines were sold strictly out of the tasting rooms as I knew it to be.
Such as ?
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#31 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 22nd, 2020, 2:55 pm

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 8:41 am
Smoke settled into the valley yesterday, at least around St Helena. Not super thick but not super fun.

Fears of smoke taint from a consumer perspective will be mostly unrealised. Testing has improved a lot in both coverage of smoke compounds and throughput of analyses. People can test grapes, musts, and finished wines. Winemakers will be able to make informed choices at picking, pressing, blending, and bottling.
Thank you for an INFORMED voice of reason.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#32 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 22nd, 2020, 2:59 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 6:16 pm
A G Aguirre wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 3:24 pm
Still a lot of uncertainty about this will all play out (as others have noted.) Esther’s note in the SF Chronicle this week highlighted an interesting point. Apparently grape skins are particularly vulnerable to penetration by smoke compounds and so winemakers might opt to make more rosé this year:

“So it stands to reason that if smoke taint is a problem primarily of the grape’s skin, then whites and rosés would be much less susceptible to damage than red wines, simply based on the amount of time that the skins remain in contact with the fermenting liquid.”

Link to the article (paywall): https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 496413.php
Still, if there's a risk of taint in the skins, it's not worth employing some techniques with whites that might extract some of that, so it takes options out of the playbook that might normally help make a better wine.

2008 was amateur hour. Such a broad ignorance on the issue. People just winged it, employing techniques they thought would work to remove it, only to have it come back, and so forth. I've talked to people who look at me like a conspiracy nut, because they simply can't imagine how unprepared and unknowledgeable the winemakers were and how proper guidance wasn't readily available. Even services in the business to assist winemakers and treat wines didn't seem to know what they were doing. These days the labs are ready and can test the grapes before harvest, how to actually treat the wines is known, a whole array of techniques and options are in the tool box to make the best decisions.

There are a bunch of threads on this currently active as well as archived. Timing of the fires matter, as the grapes need to be ripening to be affected. The compound does drop out of the air over time, so it can be smoky without the possibility of contamination. Also, it's a compound that's in oak. Depending on the wine, a certain level wouldn't stick out, though you'd want to avoid adding to that level with a bad oak choice.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#33 Post by larry schaffer » August 22nd, 2020, 3:02 pm

Bdklein wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 12:59 pm
b. c@stner wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 7:16 pm
There were several wineries that I know of, a couple rather prominent come to mind, that bottled and sold some of their 2008 knowing full well of the taint problem. However, they acknowledged the taint, sold them as such, and the wines were sold strictly out of the tasting rooms as I knew it to be.
Such as ?
Navarro for one released a pinot at something like $12 that they acknowledged had some pretty horrific smoke taint.

Cheers.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#34 Post by Andrew K. » August 22nd, 2020, 3:18 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 3:02 pm
Navarro for one released a pinot at something like $12 that they acknowledged had some pretty horrific smoke taint.

Cheers.
I had that Hungry Hollow Pinot. It was bad, tasted like a bottle of campfire. I trashed my last few bottles when I was rearranging my cellars last year because I knew I was never going to drink it.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#35 Post by Uli K. » August 22nd, 2020, 3:20 pm

I’ll continue to buy at the winery, as long as we’re having an open dialog about the issue. I agree that a broad brush is of no use here.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#36 Post by larry schaffer » August 22nd, 2020, 3:21 pm

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 8:41 am
Smoke settled into the valley yesterday, at least around St Helena. Not super thick but not super fun.

Fears of smoke taint from a consumer perspective will be mostly unrealised. Testing has improved a lot in both coverage of smoke compounds and throughput of analyses. People can test grapes, musts, and finished wines. Winemakers will be able to make informed choices at picking, pressing, blending, and bottling.
I agree in general - but we still don't know all there is to know about smoke taint from a scientific standpoint at this time. Yes, you can tell if you have it in your grapes, and yes, you can tell if you have it in your wines, and yes, you can micro-filter and do other treatments to 'remove it' from affected wines - but it still may come back later as it binds in different ways than most compounds.

Let's hope that the smoke moves on faster than slower so that this is a non-issue . . .

Cheers.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#37 Post by Wes Barton » August 22nd, 2020, 3:33 pm

Here's a good overview I've partially skimmed: https://www.wineaustralia.com/getmedia/ ... search.pdf
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#38 Post by J a y H a c k » August 22nd, 2020, 5:25 pm

Eric Lundblad wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 10:34 pm
. . .

https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/?tab=0&cl ... layer=none

. . .
Ugh. If this is accurate, all the vineyards I care about are in the solid red area. What number is the "danger" level?
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#39 Post by Nate Simon » August 22nd, 2020, 5:31 pm

b. c@stner wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 7:16 pm
There were several wineries that I know of, a couple rather prominent come to mind, that bottled and sold some of their 2008 knowing full well of the taint problem. However, they acknowledged the taint, sold them as such, and the wines were sold strictly out of the tasting rooms as I knew it to be.
There were others, though, that sold it without disclaimer. Duckhorn was one such offender. I tried a seriously smoked-out Pinot of theirs at a tasting, and told the rep they should not sell it at all.
He laughed, and said that for every person like me who pointed it out, another would walk out of the tasting room with a full case. I shit you not.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#40 Post by Al Osterheld » August 22nd, 2020, 5:39 pm

It's true that some people are less sensitive and/or just view smoke taint as a nicely oaked wine. But, it's pretty risky to knowingly treat your customers that way. There were some wineries that thought they had fixed things. It appears that it may not be a problem that can be fixed, because it just comes back later as mentioned above. I bought wines from a couple of wineries in that category and I don't hold it against them. There just wasn't that much experience prior to 2008.

I've also been at large tastings where people were pouring smoke tainted wines, some of them massively so.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#41 Post by Wes Barton » August 22nd, 2020, 7:06 pm

Funny, I've correctly made the call of an '08 Sonoma Pinot in blind tastings, then after the reveal, with some impressed (and others having concurred before the reveal), there's "that guy" still insisting the wine isn't smoke tainted.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#42 Post by Alan Rath » August 22nd, 2020, 7:40 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 7:06 pm
Funny, I've correctly made the call of an '08 Sonoma Pinot in blind tastings, then after the reveal, with some impressed (and others having concurred before the reveal), there's "that guy" still insisting the wine isn't smoke tainted.
The compounds that make up the aromas of smoke taint are fairly similar to those responsible for Brett aromas. I don’t know how the concentration vs perception levels compare, but I would assume there are people more and less sensitive to smoke, just like Brett. I guess if you’re insensitive, you can enjoy a smoke tainted wine more than someone who is more sensitive.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#43 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » August 22nd, 2020, 9:09 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 3:21 pm
Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 8:41 am
Smoke settled into the valley yesterday, at least around St Helena. Not super thick but not super fun.

Fears of smoke taint from a consumer perspective will be mostly unrealised. Testing has improved a lot in both coverage of smoke compounds and throughput of analyses. People can test grapes, musts, and finished wines. Winemakers will be able to make informed choices at picking, pressing, blending, and bottling.
I agree in general - but we still don't know all there is to know about smoke taint from a scientific standpoint at this time. Yes, you can tell if you have it in your grapes, and yes, you can tell if you have it in your wines, and yes, you can micro-filter and do other treatments to 'remove it' from affected wines - but it still may come back later as it binds in different ways than most compounds.

Let's hope that the smoke moves on faster than slower so that this is a non-issue . . .

Cheers.
For sure, there is still plenty we don’t know, but we’re getting better, including with the glycosides. Always progress to be made of course, and always better when we don’t have to worry about these things. Smoke spread low and thick into Green Valley this morning but fortunately cleared out again after a few hours.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#44 Post by David Baum » August 22nd, 2020, 10:20 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 5:25 pm
Eric Lundblad wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 10:34 pm
. . .

https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/?tab=0&cl ... layer=none

. . .
Ugh. If this is accurate, all the vineyards I care about are in the solid red area. What number is the "danger" level?
That's basically NYC to Jacksonville. When something happens in Jacksonville are you concerned in NYC? That's a big area showing red.

The temperature 100 yards down the street from my house is often 10 degrees cooler. So many micro climates out here. It's a folly to try to predict the winner of an extra inning game before the first batter steps up to the plate. Let's just hope our friends ITB get through this safely and trust them to do right by us after.

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#45 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » August 22nd, 2020, 10:30 pm

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 9:09 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 3:21 pm
Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 8:41 am
Smoke settled into the valley yesterday, at least around St Helena. Not super thick but not super fun.

Fears of smoke taint from a consumer perspective will be mostly unrealised. Testing has improved a lot in both coverage of smoke compounds and throughput of analyses. People can test grapes, musts, and finished wines. Winemakers will be able to make informed choices at picking, pressing, blending, and bottling.
I agree in general - but we still don't know all there is to know about smoke taint from a scientific standpoint at this time. Yes, you can tell if you have it in your grapes, and yes, you can tell if you have it in your wines, and yes, you can micro-filter and do other treatments to 'remove it' from affected wines - but it still may come back later as it binds in different ways than most compounds.

Let's hope that the smoke moves on faster than slower so that this is a non-issue . . .

Cheers.
For sure, there is still plenty we don’t know, but we’re getting better, including with the glycosides. Always progress to be made of course, and always better when we don’t have to worry about these things. Smoke spread low and thick into Green Valley this morning but fortunately cleared out again after a few hours.
Good luck to you. I wish there was something we could do to help. In Oregon we are all really, really hoping that all of you can get through this without major loss, although I already know a few people for whom that is just not a reality.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#46 Post by Wes Barton » August 22nd, 2020, 10:37 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 7:40 pm
Wes Barton wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 7:06 pm
Funny, I've correctly made the call of an '08 Sonoma Pinot in blind tastings, then after the reveal, with some impressed (and others having concurred before the reveal), there's "that guy" still insisting the wine isn't smoke tainted.
The compounds that make up the aromas of smoke taint are fairly similar to those responsible for Brett aromas. I don’t know how the concentration vs perception levels compare, but I would assume there are people more and less sensitive to smoke, just like Brett. I guess if you’re insensitive, you can enjoy a smoke tainted wine more than someone who is more sensitive.
There's quite a few potential compounds. I linked a good overview somewhere. Some are compounds common in wine, so it's the amount in the balance of the wine that could make them stick out, or not. Ashy and bitter tastes can come from smoke taint, too. But, the tell tale smoke, as if you added liquid smoke, being part of it is what makes it pretty sure. And yes, the particular wines this happened with weren't so badly affected to be unenjoyable to most. But, there's a difference between not "getting" something in a wine that everyone else picks up and telling them all they're wrong.

https://www.wineaustralia.com/getmedia/ ... search.pdf
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#47 Post by Arv R » August 23rd, 2020, 11:08 am

Nate Simon wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 5:31 pm
b. c@stner wrote:
August 21st, 2020, 7:16 pm
There were several wineries that I know of, a couple rather prominent come to mind, that bottled and sold some of their 2008 knowing full well of the taint problem. However, they acknowledged the taint, sold them as such, and the wines were sold strictly out of the tasting rooms as I knew it to be.
There were others, though, that sold it without disclaimer. Duckhorn was one such offender. I tried a seriously smoked-out Pinot of theirs at a tasting, and told the rep they should not sell it at all.
He laughed, and said that for every person like me who pointed it out, another would walk out of the tasting room with a full case. I shit you not.
Doesn't the smoky notes get worse over time? That purchaser of a full case might be a cranky consumer in a few years after drinking a few....
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#48 Post by Nate Simon » August 23rd, 2020, 12:27 pm

I can’t imagine anyone being cranky over it. The smoke was plenty apparent when I tasted it. Anyone who tasted it knew what they were getting.
Incidentally, there are no recent CT notes on this wine, though a number of people noted the smoke (though some did not!).

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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#49 Post by Eric Lundblad » August 23rd, 2020, 1:31 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
August 22nd, 2020, 5:25 pm
Eric Lundblad wrote:
August 20th, 2020, 10:34 pm
. . .

https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/?tab=0&cl ... layer=none

. . .
Ugh. If this is accurate, all the vineyards I care about are in the solid red area. What number is the "danger" level?
As far as I can tell, everything connected to smoke taint is complicated...sheesh. I believe that one day's (or less) exposure to 'purple' level smoke will taint the grapes. I'm more vague about the red and yellow levels. But if I had fruit that got more than a half of a day of solid red exposure (less if it was high red level), then I'd get the fruit tested. Smelling the fruit during fermentation is also an excellent indicator of the taint.


Things that make it complicated:

- Figuring out the actual smoke level at a vineyard you're working with. David Baum's right that the actual smoke levels with in a colored (e.g. red/etc) area. This makes sense of course, but in practice the degree of variation can be surprising. I was walking home yesterday (not a planned/intended thing). When I got home I discovered I was in a red area...but, having become a connoisseur of smoke, there was no way the air was that smoke filled...either by the smell of smoke, or the haziness. I'm not doubting the region overall was tho.

I'm looking at the AirNow site, which has both the 'colored background' and 'colored dot' indicator...the dots represent the location of an air quality sensor...the background indicates the believed extent of a smoke level, of course. It's worth turning on the dots...if you click on the dot, a popup will appear that will have a 'plot' link, which will show the hourly smoke levels for the last day...nice to have! Currently the background for where I live is yellow, yet the sensor/dots say orange. What's the deal with that...a lack of teamwork between the AirNow sensor/dot team with the background team, or just politics :).

- Absorption: This is complicated, but generally the grapes will get the full impact starting a couple of weeks prior to veraison until they're picked. They'll absorb some earlier than that, but the earlier it is the less they'll absorb. Also, smoke taint has a time limit. After some number of hours after the smoke was formed, the smoke can't taint the grapes (I forget the number of hours, and I can't locate the report that discusses this...also they, the aussies, are still researching this area to confirm it and understand it better).

- Whites & rose can get smoke taint. The taint can get from the skins into the 'inner structure' of the grape and taint that, which in turn can taint the juice. I'm assuming that this requires more smoke exposure...tho I suppose less exposure but with more time might bring it out. Not a well defined area, but good to worry about.

- Glycosides: A wine flavor molecule can bond to a glucose forming a glycoside which renders the flavor molecule tasteless. After some period of time (months/years/decade) the two will part ways and the flavor molecule can be tasted. Side note: a similar thing can happen to anthocyanins (which gives wine its red color) and sulfur...when they bond together the anthocyanin no longer has a color...later when they split the color comes back. This can happen to Pinots esp...it's a neat party trick to open a bottle (that has this), pour it in a decanter and watch the transitition.

Anyways, smoke tainted wine can have the taint filtered out...the glycoside taint will remain in the wine tho. So, at some point the wine will become tainted again. So drink up fast.
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Re: Smoke taint 2020...

#50 Post by Anton D » August 23rd, 2020, 1:40 pm

Eric Lundblad wrote:
August 23rd, 2020, 1:31 pm


- Whites & rose can get smoke taint. The taint can get from the skins into the 'inner structure' of the grape and taint that, which in turn can taint the juice. I'm assuming that this requires more smoke exposure...tho I suppose less exposure but with more time might bring it out. Not a well defined area, but good to worry about.

Yes.

A year or two ago, we were handed some rose wines to taste blind and there were a couple from the 'fire vintage' that I could get faint ashtray notes (but I did grow up with Nevada bars and casinos, so I may be more adept.)

I would rather acquire wine from wet and cold years than from smoke years...it varies from palate to palate, I am sure.
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