So much about Mega Purple in the news lately. Try googling it. What's in a name? plenty.
Mega Purple is a rock n roll name for a grape concentrate that adds color and flavor and fat to your favorite red wine. It's been an immensely popular additive since 1992. Corie Brown just ran a story in the LA Times quite similar to the one I wrote in 2001 for the NYTimes. But in my story, I didn’t out the proprietory name Mega Purple. I called the family of Mega Purple... grape juice concentrate.
People are awfully worked up about it. It must be the name. The idea that someone wants to add something called Mega Purple to a wine merely sounds specious, like its some some sort of radioactive substance. Now, how many people outraged by MP never care about eating leprechaun green mint ice-cream?
What the hell. Which reminds me of press releases.
Let's take yeast. Yeast is all over California press releases. It seems as if vinterns are really pleased with themselves with making a terroir-driven wine and then finding the correct aromatic yeast in which to ‘craft,’ their wine.
Take this one I got from Clos du Bois for a $12 riesling. The release states that Winemaker Eric Olsen “sought out a spectacular vineyard in Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands to craft a wine with distinctive floral aromas, …that are the hallmarks of this varietal.
Then it's written that the wine was made with the yeasts VL-3 and Cote de Blanc
Well, of course I wanted to know what those two yeasts do.
*** VL-3 was isolated by the Bordeaux Institute of Oenology following fundamental research done on enhancing varietal character and aroma in Sauvignon Blanc. The research led to the identification of certain aroma precursors that yeast could act upon to reveal specific aromas. Subsequent experimentation has found this to be true of other varieties, such as Riesling and Pinot Blanc. VL3 is adapted to aging on the lees and produces very low levels of volatile acidity.
***Cote des Blancs. AKA Geisenheim Epernay. A low foaming slower speed fermenter with low alcohol tolerance. This strain emphasizes fruit character in both reds and whites making it an excellent choice for fruit wines, especially apple. If fermented at cooler temperatures it will not ferment to dryness producing a sweeter wine with some residual sugar.
It's such a topsy turvy world! What a wild and crazy place.