Mailing List Allocation Tutorial VideoJanuary 31st, 2023
Follow our video tutorial for information regarding logging in to your personal account and acquiring allocations during the seasonal releases.
Club Shipment Tutorial VideoJanuary 19th, 2023
Follow along our video tutorial with tips for adjusting your shipment, changing your shipping address, and updating your billing information.
What Really Happens When Wine Ages?December 14th, 2022
We are frequently asked if wine really gets better with age. The answer is it depends.
Our winemaking philosophy is simple - craft wines that are enjoyable in their youth, but can mature with time, depending on the varietal. Aging influences a wine's color, aroma, flavor, and texture. Wines move from fresh, primary fruit to softer expressions with age. Ultimately, whether to age a wine depends on your preferences.
Aging can be broken down into two areas: aging before bottling and aging after. We begin with the aging process before bottling; however, the characteristics are very similar in both regards.
What is Aging?
Wine is a complex combination of many chemical compounds, which change as they interact with each other. Reactions between acids, sugars, alcohols, esters, and phenolic compounds influence the aromas, texture, and flavors in the bottle. When wine ages, we expect the wine to develop a mix of complementary flavors. As compounds react, they create new flavors, resulting in a wine that is both subtle, and layered.
Arguably, the most important element of aging wine is oxygen. Associate Winemaker at Coursey Graves, Matt Casalenouvo, notes that aging is, primarily, managing how oxygen interacts with wine. Winemakers manage oxygen interaction to 1) stabilize color, 2) smooth tannins, and 3) help build elegant flavors. All winemakers manage oxygen, but each winemaker has their unique style.
Coursey Graves wines mature in oak barrels, terracotta amphora, and stainless-steel tanks between 12 and 22 months before bottling. After bottling, oxygen is still the primary influencer; however, the amount of oxygen contacting the wine is limited. Glass wine bottles allow zero oxygen into the wine; while the corks allow a very small amount of oxygen to pass through. There are many styles and types of corks, but we use all-natural, whole corks. They offer an optimal level of oxygen transfer as the wine develops over time.
The most visual indicator of an aged wine is color. As white wines age, they often change from pale lemon to amber hues. As red wines develop, the color transitions from deep purple to a dusty garnet. Just as a cut apple changes color when it interacts with oxygen, wine does the same. In red wines, anthocyanins and flavanols bind together over time. When these compounds become too large, they fall out of the solution, resulting in a softening of color.
The texture is another property of wine that changes with aging. Grapes skins and seeds are a source of wine tannins. Since most white wines are made without grape skins, white wines have fewer tannins than red wines. Young wines tend to have more prominent tannins. As anthocyanin and flavanol compounds form, they affect the color and texture we perceive on the palate. Tannins appear gentler or more rounded as the wine ages.
Contact with dead yeast cells (lees) can also add layers of richness and texture to the wine. This process is known as sur lie aging, meaning 'on lees' in French. The 2019 Coursey Graves Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in French oak barrels on the lees. This process assists in developing the mouthfeel of the wine and contributes to the weight on the palate. Once in the bottle, wines that have been sur lie aged will begin to reveal layers of aromas and flavor, including pastry or toasted notes.
Many influences shape the aroma of the wine. Choices during the winemaking process largely contribute to the aroma in the glass (e.g., oak barrels, yeast, acid conversions). Additionally, reactions between acids, sugars, alcohols, esters, and phenolic compounds in wine play a large role. As compounds react over time, aromas merge, creating complex bouquets. Fresh, bright, primary aromas of fruit and floral begin to fade, giving way to a quieter expression. Secondary aromas (the result of the winemaking process) become more pronounced, offering notes of chocolate, cedar, or coffee in red wines.
Many flavors in wine are a result of the fruit as it grows on the vine. These flavors are referred to as primary flavors, and reflect fruit, floral, and herbal notes. Secondary flavors result from the winemaking process and stylistic choices of the winemaker. Oak barrels and the amount they have been toasted greatly influence the aroma and flavor of a wine. Our house cooper, Atelier Centre, steam bends our barrels, which offers a much more subtle toast influence, and allows the fruit and terroir to shine. Tertiary flavors result from aging and can include flavors of leather, tobacco, coffee, or dried or stewed fruit.
As wines age, primary aromas and flavors tend to soften resulting in a more sophisticated profile. A balance of primary, secondary, and tertiary flavors/aromas is a strong indicator of outstanding wines. When considering which wines to hold in the cellar, there are no right or wrong answers. Your preference is the answer. Do you prefer a bold, fruit-forward wine or a velvet-textured wine with deeper layers of flavor? Cheers!
Vine to Wine: Winemaking decisions after HarvestNovember 4th, 2022
Harvest at Coursey Graves has come to a close - a nearly perfect vintage! The 2022 growing season began with an unpredictable spring shower, followed by generous sun and cool marine influences. During the mid-summer months, thermal inversion provided ideal temperatures, with foggy mornings setting the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. A pair of late heatwaves kicked harvest into high gear with the estate team hand-harvesting clusters at optimal sugar and acidity levels.
Our Associate Winemaker, Matt Casalenuovo, will now guide the wine through fermentation, pressing, élevage, and bottling before it is ready for you to enjoy! While we wait, we are excited to share a beautiful infographic highlighting the winemaking process and all of the decisions winemakers make after the grapes come off the vine. Enjoy!
Why and How to Use an Ah-So to Open Aged Bottles of WineAugust 30th, 2022
Ahead of the Fall Release - a rare Library Vertical of the 2015-2018 BME Blend - we have made an instructional video sharing our favorite way to open aged bottles from the cellar. A two-prong cork puller (Ah-so) is a gentle way of lifting fragile corks from the bottle. If you don't have an Ah-so in your wine toolkit, we will be sending all of our collectors their very own with the Fall Release in September. Cheers!
To become a collector, join the Coursey Graves Allocation. The Fall Release will open September 12th and close September 19th.