By Janet Perry
“Mouthfeel, or how a wine feels on your cheeks and tongue when you taste it, is one of the most important sensory aspects that communicates ‘quality’ in a wine,” says Alison Crowe of Plata Wines. “If a wine looks great, smells wonderful but then disappoints when you put it in your mouth, then we’ve let the consumer down, and they won’t be as likely to buy another glass or bottle. Having a style-appropriate mouthfeel is absolutely critical in having a wine that hits on all cylinders. You won’t have a successful brand, or a well-scoring one, without optimizing the mouthfeel of your wine.”
Crowe says to help develop mouthfeel in her wines she will focus first on having the right fruit, then the correct fermentation conditions, depending on if the wine is red or white. “The next step is to think about building richness in texture during malolactic fermentation immediately afterwards and coaching the wine through it’s ’young development‘ stage with the considered use of elements, including lees stirring, barrel selection, oak products, enological tannins and even mannoprotein sources.”
As a wine “approaches bottle, the ways to influence and optimize mouthfeel dwindle but become more impactful and targeted,” says Crowe. “The best mouthfeel is achieved when you take a 360° whole-lifetime view to building and maintaining texture in your wines.”
Crowe will be a panelist in the Wine Mouthfeel Workshop at the 2018 North Coast Wine Industry Expo and Conference (WIN Expo), along with Lucas Meeker of Meeker Wine and Tami McKay of Ray’s Station Winery. The Mouthfeel session will be moderated by Libby Spencer of Enartis. A cutting edge world leader in enological coadjuncts, Enartis has been running trials to determine the best way to address problems as they arise. Joined by the local winemakers, the trials will be tasted and discussed, along with the best techniques for great mouthfeel.
“It’s unfortunate, but quite often, our most valuable lessons are learned from mistakes,” says Spencer. “In any given vintage, many winemakers will have 1 or 2 troublesome lots that require her to seek solutions outside of her current toolbox. Our role at Enartis is unique in that winemakers never call to say how good their wines might be; we get called when things go wrong. As a result, when you compound 100 winemakers having 1 or 2 troublesome fermentations, we get awfully good at troubleshooting. Some trials are simply a tool to verify we understood the winemaker’s need or direction of the wine. And to prove the proposed solution is the most appropriate fit.”
“Enartis is one of a group of suppliers from which I pull expertise and winemaking supplies,” says Crowe. “They’re a great resource from lab services to fermentation additions to internal expertise. I’ve used many of their products over the years; they’re a go-to for so many winemakers in the U.S.”
Crowe explained, “Mouthfeel, as a stand-alone issue, hasn’t been addressed in quite a while at many major industry conferences, and I think it’s an important topic whose time has come. There are many techniques that can be applied throughout the winemaking process to optimize mouthfeel in red or white winemaking.”
“I believe that winemakers, and aspiring winemakers early on in their career, always have new things we can learn from each other,” said Crowe. “The wine industry is a very sharing community. We like to get together and geek out over new techniques, new products, new equipment, the list goes on.”
Crowe said, “Industry conferences like WIN Expo are a great opportunity to taste some wines and get the most up to date information and expertise from not just folks like Enartis but especially each other.”
The 7th Annual North Coast Wine Industry Expo Conference and Trade Show will be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Thursday December 6, 2018. For more information visit www.wineindustryexpo.com/conference.php.