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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Big Table Farm

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed


(Willamette Valley, OR) $85

To say that this chardonnay is closer to great white Burgundy than any other American wine I have ever tasted is true; but it may not give the wine enough credit, for Elusive Queen is an otherworldly ascent into complexity and hedonism. The wine, rich and languorous, seems held together by shimmers of energy. The golden flavors, laced with minerals, are impeccable and intriguing. This is not a typical chardonnay; this is exquisite and daring music.

98 points KM

Available at Big Table Farm

A barnyard, horse blanket, or sweat-soaked leather aroma in a wine may be a sign of:

  • A. Sulfites
  • B. TCA
  • C. Volatile Acidity
  • D. Brettanomyces

Scroll down for the answer!


A fascinating new study has just been released from the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The research suggests that continual sensory training and practice (like the kind that somms get in the course of their work) may positively impact the physical structure of the brain. Continue reading…

“Oak should fit into a wine like a shoulder pad in a coat–barely there. But if the guy is too scrawny or the shoulder pad is too big, the whole thing looks stupid.”

-John Kongsgaard, Kongsgaard Wine, Napa Valley


Scientists in Australia have invented a so-called “electronic tongue” that can analyze and measure compounds in a wine and then mathematically formulate a “fingerprint” of the wine. According to Dr. Xavier Ceto Alseda, a research associate at the Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia, the electronic tongue can even identify the type of barrel in which a wine has been aged. The electronic tongue operates in much the same way we taste—by recording sensations of sweetness, bitterness, acidity and so on, and then synthesizing those sensations into a coherent impression. The researchers hope to soon be able to use the electronic tongue to predict sommelier’s and critic’s scores of any given wine.


Used as a verb, to crush means to break the grape skins so that the pulp oozes out and fermentation can more easily begin. As a noun, crush is the general term used for all of the steps, including harvesting, that take place just prior to fermentation.

D.Brettanomyces (aka Brett) is a type of yeast that causes aromas and flavors politely known as “barnyard.” Brettanomyces can exist in cellars, barrels, and hoses, and from there, migrate into wine. Because it is a yeast, Brettanomyces can grow in the wine, causing a more severe barnyard character with time. Critics of brettanomyces say it robs a wine of its true flavors and has no place in winemaking. But supporters find that small amounts add a certain complexity to wine, and can give it an aged flavor.


Someone is stealing the great grapes of Burgundy, according to the Burgundy wine bureau (BIVB). As reported in Decanter, there have now been four separate reports of thefts of grapes across the region. A possible motive underlying the crimes: the 2016 harvest, which has been so devastating (severe frost and hailstorms) that some vintners have 50 percent to 90 percent fewer grapes than in typical years.


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