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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Fox Run Vineyards

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


(Finger Lakes, New York) $18 (750ml)

A recent trip to the Finger Lakes of New York left me stunned. I knew the area made cold climate rieslings that were good. But I didn’t realize how good. These are rieslings howling with freshness and spring loaded with energy. Pure, precise, and minerally, they are as lithe and taut as a ballerina. Fox Run, in particular, makes some of the most exquisite ones. Utter beauty… for under $20. (11.6% abv)

91 points KM

Available at Fox Run Vineyards

A buttery flavor in wine is most often the result of:

  • A. Bâttonage
  • B. Extended lees contact
  • C. Malolactic fermentation
  • D. Oak aging

Scroll down for the answer!

“The first obligation of any wine is to be delicious.“

—Eileen Crane, founding winemaker/CEO of Domaine Carneros, Napa Valley, California


Made primarily from the white grapes coda di volpe and verdeca and the red grapes piedirosso and aglianico, grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, Lacryma Christi—Tears of Christ—is one of Campania’s most recognized wines (red, white and sparkling versions are all made). There are several stories behind the name. One says that as Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, he looked down at the beautiful Bay of Naples and cried. His tears landed on Mt. Vesuvius, where vines miraculously sprang up. Another story suggests that when Lucifer fell from heaven, Christ was sad and cried tears that landed on Mt. Vesuvius, again producing the miraculous vines. A third, far less miraculous story recounts that local monks, lacking modern filtering equipment, passed the wine through canvas, causing it to fall in drops (like tears).


A compound in oak barrels that is ultimately imparted to wine as a flavor and smell reminiscent of vanilla beans. New barrels have more vanillin than older barrels, and hence wine stored in new barrels has a more pronounced vanilla character.

C.While many people think that buttery flavors in wine are derived from new oak, they are actually the result of diacetyl, which is a byproduct of malolactic fermentation. (For its part, malolactic fermentation is the process by which crisp malic acid in wine is converted to softer lactic acid). Chardonnays that have undergone malolactic fermentation often have considerable diacetyl and therefore a pronounced buttery taste. Bâttonage means lees stirring in French, from bâton French for stick.



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