Retronasal Smell in Tasting Wine and Virtual Brands with Jim Duane of Inside Winemaking Podcast

Mar30th

Introduction

How can tuning into the retronasal aspect of smell take your wine tasting skill to the next level? What makes the sense of smell so fascinating? What does it mean to be a virtual wine brand? What do grapes & M&Ms have in common?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Jim Duane, winemaker and host of the Inside Winemaking Podcast.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

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Join the live-stream video of this conversation on Wednesday at 7 pm eastern on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video.

I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?

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Giveaway

If you live in the United States you can get 10% of Jim’s Terratorium wines using the code NATALIE.

Highlights

  • What’s the story behind Seavey Vineyard having both grapes and livestock?
  • Which unusual cow-specific winemaking tip does Jim follow every harvest?
  • How did 15 tons of crushed Pinot Noir grapes go missing and end up in a parking lot?
  • What’s it like to work a harvest without power?
  • How did Jim go from totally avoiding Rosé to making three vintages by 2021?
  • What makes Riesling the hardest wine to ferment?
  • What led to the aha moment in high school when Jim first became intrigued by fermentation?
  • How are off-dry, dry and sweet wines classified depending on their sugar levels?
  • Why does Jim consider himself a gardener at heart?
  • What’s unique about working with Seavey Vineyard?
  • Why was Jim terrified about going into a career as a winemaker?
  • What was Jim’s inspiration for creating his podcast, Inside Winemaking?
  • How was working at Stags’ Leap winery was like a university of practical winemaking for Jim?
  • Why is mastering logistics a critical part of becoming a successful winemaker?
  • What were Jim’s biggest takeaways from working at Robert Mondavi Winery?
  • Why was Jim excited to have access to the To Kalon vineyard?

 

Key Takeaways

  • I enjoyed hearing about what winemaker wannabes and everyday wine drinkers can learn from Jim’s podcast. Even if you don’t want to become a winemaker, understanding the process can deepen your appreciation of what you’re drinking.
  • The retronasal sense of smell is a game-changer when it comes to detecting specific aromas in wine. It’s a subset, of course, within the fascinating world of smell that we’ll continue to explore on this podcast in future episodes.
  • Jim’s comparison of grapes with M&Ms was helpful in understanding texture and ripeness.
  • I also was interested in Jim’s explanation of virtual wine brands.

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About Jim Duane

Jim Duane studied biology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington then worked at Brancott Vineyards in New Zealand. Hauling rocks in the vineyard, he says, helped him get ready for graduate school at the renowned University of California at Davis oenology program. In 2004, he moved to Napa where he’s been ever since.

Jim is now the winemaker at Seavey Vineyard in California’s Napa Valley. Prior to that, he worked at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Robert Mondavi Winery.

In 2014, he launched a podcast called Inside Winemaking, which is ranked one of the most popular wine podcasts. In 2021, he launched Terratorium Wines as a direct result of his podcast and winemaking classes. Jim and his wife Erin have two daughters that keep them busy. Recently, he notes, they logged four pulled-teeth in a 36-hour period.

 

Resources

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Thirsty for more?

  • Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
  • You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
  • The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.

 

Transcript

Jim Duane 0:00
Pay attention to what’s the flavour coming in. And then what is the flavour as your mouth is closed and you’re slowly breathing out through your nose. You can get so much more of an experience of wine if you’re paying attention to that. You get more of an expression of the retro nasal flavour when you have those secondary and tertiary characters an older wine opening up, that really builds retro nasal in a big way, especially with your tobacco and your leather and things like that. Or sometimes microbiologically you can get flavours that come up that way. So if they’re wine has a little bit of brettanomyces, a little bit that horsey sort of band-aid character, that can be a very nice component of wine. But you don’t necessarily smell and feel so much of that upfront. But in that retro nasal experience, you really can have that evolution of those secondary flavours, those microbial flavours

Natalie MacLean 0:57
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Oh, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 174. How can tuning into the retro nasal aspect of smell take your wine tasting skills to the next level? What makes the sense of smell so fascinating? What does it mean to be a virtual brand? And what do grapes and M&M, that’s the candy, have in common? You’ll hear those stories and more during part two of our chat with Jim Dunane host of the Inside Winemaking Podcast. You don’t need to have listened to part one from last week, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of polishing my new wine memoir. The job of a book title is to entice a potential reader to pull the book off the shelf in a store or click on it online. When my publisher suggested Red, White and Drunk All Over for my first book, I was appalled. I thought no one’s gonna buy a book with that title. And I’ll be laughed out of wine writing circles.

But as we discussed it, I came to understand that a title has to stand out from millions of books published each year, so bland and safe doesn’t cut it. It also has to encapsulate what the book is about. The subtitle is like Best Supporting Actor in amplifying it. The subtitle was A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. My second book had a much less provocative title Unquenchable, with the subtitle A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Wines. The book did well but not as well as the first one. And I believe that title played a role in that, among other factors. The original title of my memoir was The Wine Witch Must Burn with the subtitle, How I Rose from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression and Defamation without becoming an Alcoholic. It since morphed into Wine Witch on Fire with the subtitle Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression and Drunk all over. I like the implied strength of Wine Witch on Fire, which also feels as though it has more agency than the Wine Witch Must Burn. This is still a working title and ultimately the publishers sales and marketing teams will decide on the final title and subtitle because they need to be confident they can sell the memoir to book retailers. The title is an important part of the package. I’d love to hear what you think of this title and subtitle and potentially if you have a better one to suggest. I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the shownotes at nataliemaclean.com/174. And this is where I’ll share more behind the scenes stories with you about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know that you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at natalie@nataliemaclean.com. You can also let me know if you’ve got a better title for the book. In the show notes, you’ll also find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with Jim, links to his website and podcast, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/174. Okay, on with the show.

Now let’s go back to your podcast. We talked about why you started it because you wanted a resource that you couldn’t find yourself. So who’s the target audience for your podcast?

Jim Duane 6:29
I didn’t know at first be honest, Natalie. So when I took this job in 2011 at Seavey, I’m here alone, I have to harvest interns during harvest, but outside of the year, I’m alone and I’m working in a cave. So I’d like to joke when people come to visit but I do spend six months of the year by myself in a windowless cave. So it’s a bit of a hermit job, which kind of suits my personality because I get to go to the vineyard and work in the cellar and sort of get all my introverted in this out of my system. But I was longing for the technical interaction that I had a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Because when I left Stag’s Leap, they had been purchased and it was a joint venture between the Antinori family out of Italy and the St. Michel Wine Estates Group out of Washington State. And so we were having the enologist from the Antinori or conglomerate come to work with us and blend with us three or four times a year. We had winemakers from all the various brands and Washington and Oregon coming down. And it was this nexus of like, technical information, and I loved it. It was the one of the greatest benefits of that job. I learned so much just from these other people’s experiences and their willingness to share. So then I took this job at Seavey and I was alone. And that got cut off of that. And so I part of the reason for starting the podcast was to increase my network and to build that technical sort of connection that I had been longing for. You know, I could ask a winemaker to coffee and they would answer a few questions for five minutes. But the podcast was really a way for me to leverage to get people to sit down take it more seriously and then have a long form conversation where I get to ask all those questions that I’ve wanted to ask not just like the top thriller ones, but the hard ones and then like you do Natalie, like stop people when you’re not satisfied with the answer and dig in more.

Natalie MacLean 8:12
I love this. It gives us an excuse to get nosy and I ask questions, you know, I could never do just as you say over coffee or dinner. I’d just been monopolising a person to advice. What about this? And what about that?

Jim Duane 8:25
Never get invited back.

Natalie MacLean 8:28
Exactly. A bit obsessive. But you’re right. I love that long form conversation. It’s far more satisfying to me. It’s the audio equivalent of writing a book. There’s nothing like it. Like there’s no satisfaction to me in Facebook videos. It’s just like, people pay attention for 30 seconds, and then they’re off. But this, I can tell the listeners are involved that they stay and the most people listen to 90 plus percent of the episodes even when they’re long. I love it.

Jim Duane 8:55
Super cool. Yeah, but I didn’t answer your question the target audience was. And that’s because I didn’t know who it was. So I made these episodes, like a podcast, you know, I just put them on all the platforms. And so  they’re free. And so wherever wants to listen, can listen. And over time I’ve come to learn that like there’s a segment of the audience that is in the industry, you know, especially in the West Coast. So there’s a segment that’s wine industry, and they’re listening to their friends. They’re just interested because they’re interested in winemaking. There’s a small segment that’s like the sommelier, you know, the crowd that’s working in wine sales and marketing and things like that are just interested in learning about wine, but that’s not really my main audience. A big part of the audience now are aspirational winemakers. So people, especially outside of California, that are interested in starting their own brands, which is really starting to become a big thing in the US. There was sort of this big boom breweries over the past 20 years micro breweries, and now wineries are starting to have their own thing and it’s not necessarily a great opportunity, if you’re going to try to do that. Napa or California. But if you’re in Iowa, and you have a local crowd, a loyal audience, or all these other states that don’t have a lot of wine industry where it’s unique, and you can make a nice wine, those opportunities are really out there. And I’m so excited that I get connected to a lot of us people. They’re wanting to learn about wine. They’re not going to go back to school. They don’t have the time or the money. Or they’re just at a point in their life where they’re not going to do that. A lot of them want to listen to that podcast because they want the practical know how as fast as they can get it so they can be successful in their own work.

Natalie MacLean 10:34
Absolutely. Oh, so many parallels. Like I’ve been binge listening to publishing podcast, because I’m going into publishing my third book. And it’s such a great way to learn, like, you can be multitasking and still learning. But yeah, I can imagine because, you know, with wineries I think as wine consumers, we love the small, unique artisanal local story. So your podcast and the information that you’ve got on it fits right into that for people who are aspiring to be winemakers. I think it’s just a great target for you.

Jim Duane 11:05
Natalie, I want to how stressful is it to write a book? It’s not something I think I could ever take on. But you’ve done this before you’re doing it again, how much work is it?

Natalie MacLean 11:12
It’s a lot. It’s like fermenting Riesling.

Natalie 11:17
Like the acid in the sugar, it’s got to balance the humour of the dark to keep people’s interest. But you know, I’m looking forward to talking on your podcast about this as well. But it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And my first two books were adventures along the wine route, like Kermit Lynch really inspired me and I would go visit winemakers and get their stories, and maybe even help out with the harvest or do whatever to get deeper insights. The third book I’m working on, though, is a wine memoir. And it’s more about being a woman in the wine industry now for 20 years. And wine is definitely a part of it. But it’s a much different animal from the first two books. So yeah, it takes all of you. I mean it takes every ounce of you. All of your emotional energy. All of your mental effort. And physically as well. So it’s everything. I’m sure there are many, many parallels to making wine.

Jim Duane 12:07
And I gotta ask just for my own issues. Is it going to be an audiobook? Can I listen to this?

Natalie 12:12
Yes. I’m audio first to Jim. That’s why one of the reasons I started podcasts because I’d fall asleep reading books or my eyes would dry out or whatever. And maybe it’s a childhood thing of listening to my mother read to me. I love listening to books. And I finally come around to the fact that it is real reading to listen to a book. And so yeah, for sure, like we just negotiated the deal with my publisher. And because they weren’t going to exploit audio rights right away, we kept the audio rights. And now we’re going to market that to audio only companies like Brilliance or Audible or whatever. So definitely audio will come out with the book.

Jim Duane 12:51
Are you going to do the audio. You’re going to read it.

Natalie MacLean 12:53
I want to, yes.

Jim Duane 12:55
I hope you do.

Natalie 12:56
Well, thank you. I mean, it makes sense because I have a podcast. I did the audio version of my first book  Red, White and Drunk All Over so now I gotta do the second one. But this one I definitely want to do it on launch like not after the fact. Yeah, well, people recognise your voice. Exactly. And I think especially for a memoir, I know where to cry and where to laugh.

Natalie MacLean 13:18
Gonna be very dramatic. Anyway, we should get back to you, Jim. So you’re teaching classes as well. And that came as a direct result of your podcast. How did that happen? Did people wanted more from you? Or how did that take place?

Jim Duane 13:35
Yeah, so I started podcasts in 2014. It was really a slow start. I kind of realised I had to build up a catalogue of episodes before it was really going to be a real resource for anyone. I’m the main podcast, I do our interview style, much like like yours. There was some pressure I was getting feedback by email, you know, people asking questions, and wanting sort of topic conversations. And so I’ve done a couple episodes on like sugar and alcohol and winemaking or pH and TA. Some real sort of technical deep dives. And I honestly I loath doing them. It’s like having to do a book report for me. It’s like going back to school and the worst part all the anxiety of writing and it’s not what I enjoy doing. So find that kind of found a way where instead of me having to do it, I would bring in people that we’re good at that, have certain skills and you know, technical skills, and just pepper them with questions and make them kind of do the teaching just by me sort of queuing them up with questions. But over time, I had this just mountain of information and questions by email. And finally, at some point, people on the street would say “Oh, I actually listened to your podcast” and it was kind of shocking at first, but they would give me feedback. And at some point I was like, there’s a lot of people out there I find the writing nice but want to learn winemaking. A lot of my audience does the UC Davis online certificate programme in winemaking. It’s a great course for people don’t have as much time or they’re remote, but it’s expensive. And so I thought, what can maybe I can offer some sort of class that’s going to be really focused on the practical. We’re not drawing structures of anthocyanins or any of this technical stuff that honestly, the day to day winemaker doesn’t need to know. Like, I was hoping to just sort of synthesize, like, how could we teach? How can I teach winemaking in just the most practical way, in one or three days as possible. And I had this idea to do this class. And so in 2017, I just put it out there. I said, okay I’m going to do this class in August in Napa, in person. It’s gonna be three days. If you want to come, we’re going to go to vineyard, we’re going to go to wineries. We’re going to go to labs, we start at a cooperage. We actually go to the cooperage where they’re, you know, eight in the morning, they’ve got their fires because they’re toasting all the barrels. And it’s just like this exciting way to start the day. And get to see this real craft in we just happen to be lucky because then now other two cooperages that are working full out right before harvest. And I thought I will see if anyone wants to come if no one wants to come it’s not a thing. And I’ve got a small group of people, I got I think eight people, which is what I can fit in a sprinter van. And we did this three day course and people loved it. I had a good time. I’m not an event planner. So the hardest part for me was just getting the lunches and dinners and all that sorted out. But to this day we do this. I have this class called Deep Winemaking which I run every year in early August. Three days. And it’s 8am to 8pm vineyards and wineries and cooperages. And then we do blind tasting. And I just tried to pack as much winemaking as I can into three days. And so it’s a lot of people coming from all over the US. And it’s less and less California these days. And then people are going back to their wineries that they’re building in Georgia and South Carolina and Indiana. And so for me, it’s been a lot of fun and it’s exciting to help people make wine.

Natalie MacLean 16:56
That’s great. Do you ever get any Canadians or people from other countries?

Jim Duane 16:59
Yeah, I’ve had a couple people from Switzerland and there’s someone coming from Canada this August. It’s starting to grow little by little.

Natalie MacLean 17:06
Are you fully booked yet?

Jim Duane 17:08
I am Yeah. So.

Natalie MacLean 17:09
Okay, so you got to sign up in advance. Well in advance.

Jim Duane 17:12
I’m going to do a one day winemaking harvest prep course I think in August as well. But I have to balance my life and it could potentially be a drought year this year. And so we could be pulling in grapes in mid August this year, so gotta make sure I’m not double booking myself harvest.

Natalie MacLean 17:28
Sure. And all those daughters with all those teeth, who knows what might happen.

Jim Duane 17:32

At some point all the teeth gonna fall out right?

Natalie MacLean 17:36
Root canals? No, God forbid, they don’t have to do that. Did you teach why making in a prison? Or if I get that mixed up?

Jim Duane 17:44
Oh, no. I learned winemaking from Russell the guy that I was telling you about in New Zealand with the Pinot Noir in the parking lot. Russell spent a lot of his time in various prisons in New Zealand. So he was a tough dude?. He was a very tough dude. And yeah, he explained to me how to smuggle prostitutes into his minimum security prison at one point. Like he would just talk like he never stopped talking. And I just, I you know, I would do my Sauvignon Blanc and try and focus on that. He explained to me that he knew how to make wine because he’d spent so much time in prison that he knew how to make hooch in the ceiling above his cell because he wasn’t like a scary criminal. He did a lot of, you know, DUIs and things like that. And so he’d been in minimum security prison, but he would learn to save all of his fruit. All the guys would save their fruit and put it in a bucket and hide it in the ceiling. And he was explaining to me that, like he knew all about fermentation because he’d done this for years before. And oranges were the best thing to ferment. I remember him saying that to. Oh, well. Okay. But I’ve tried to stay out of prison. That’s not really conducive to my lifestyle.

Natalie MacLean 18:49
He probably taught you that, too. That’s great. Have you had a favourite guest on your podcast?

Jim Duane 18:57
No. I was excited to get Dave Phinney. I think he was on the podcast back in 2015, or 2016. Dave’s the guy that started Prisoner, the brand Prisoner, and then sold that off to Hernaiz, and then started Orin Swift. And that’s become a big programme that got sold off to Gallo a couple years ago. He also started the Locations brand. If you ever seen the wine bottles that have the country flag on them. And so he’s just been this successful serial entrepreneur. He’s a guy that doesn’t have a technical background in winemaking, but it got him on the was able to get him on the podcast in 2016. Sat down in his office. He had a John Deere hat on. And the first thing he said to me, it’s what’s a podcast? And I said, okay, I mean, he’s the guy that doesn’t have a computer, doesn’t use email, everything’s on the phone. Very successful. I was really excited to have him on the podcast. He was super cool. And then, years later, my brother does some of my web site metrics, because that’s kind of his world, and he goes, do you know that 50% of the people coming to your website are just searching for Dave Phinney. That one page that one episode is responsible for 50% of your web traffic. Oh, my goodness. I had no idea. That’s great. Yeah, he was probably the biggest. I don’t know, I’m not really going after celebrities and celebrity winemakers. I think other people do that very well. I’m more interested in real technical stuff and people that people might not necessarily know about.

Natalie MacLean 20:22
Sure. Sure. Sounds interesting. Well, we should taste your wines or I would like you to taste through for us. We’ve got two wines there today. They’re both Terrainium

Jim Duane 20:33
Terratorium. Oh, Terratorium. Okay. All right. Yeah. Terratorium

Natalie MacLean 20:42
the Earth. Yeah. So.

Jim Duane 20:43
Terratorium is a word that was kind of born out of the word terroir. And so we’re very interested in exploring different places. So we’re not making wines from Napa and Sonoma. But we’re really looking for value sites outside of the major winegrowing region. So this is a Rosé of grenache.

Natalie MacLean 20:59
Yeah, we’ll get these in the show notes linked in the show notes as well. But yeah,

Jim Duane 21:03
One of the things we’re excited about in label design, we have what we call these emojis on the back. And so for everyone, we have four flavour emojis that kind of describe what is in the wind. So for this Rosé, it’s grapefruits, lemongrass, strawberry, and cucumber. And those emojis in their colour are reflective of the colours on the front label there. We just really wanted to show to the customer, what’s going to be inside, we want people to have a good idea of what the wine is, and not the obscure.

Natalie MacLean 21:33
Sure, I’d love you to describe, those are obviously the aromas but the one thing you mentioned was maybe as your tasting, how you use the ortho nasal and the retro nasal.

Jim Duane 21:44
Sure, so a lot of people know about, they think of smelling the wine and they think of breathing in and that’s your just normal way of smelling and a lot of people don’t know about the retro nasal aspect to smelling. And so as you breathe in and you’re taking all those flavours, you get a certain experience of the wine. But you may not necessarily know this because you’ve ever thought about it, but everyone knows that when you’re eating, you do get flavour that comes up, especially through your nose. If your mouth is closed, you get that retro nasal lift of flavour. And so really try and pay attention to what’s the flavour coming in. And then what is the flavour as your mouth is closed and you’re slowly breathing out through your nose. You can get so much more of an experience of wine if you’re paying attention to that. And really, you get more of an expression of the retro nasal flavour when you have those secondary and tertiary characters of an older wine opening up that’s really builds retro nasal in a big way, especially with your tobacco and your leather and things like that. Or sometimes microbiologically you can get a flavours that come up that way. So if they’re wine has a little bit of brettanomyces it’s a little bit that horsey sort of band-aidy character that can be very nice component of wine but you don’t necessarily smell and feel some of that so much that up front. But in that retro nasal experience, you really can have the evolution of those secondary flavours, those microbial flavours. I’ve been really on a kick of wines from Brunello di Montalcin. They just have a lot of flavour that takes a little bit of investigation takes like, you get some some pretty fruit and some earth up front some spice. But if you slow down, and it does help if you’re eating, but if you slow down and pay attention to the wine as it’s like it’s in the back of your your nasal cavity and back in your mouth – doesn’t sound very sexy to put it that way – but if you just pay attention to the wine. Wines often have a lot more to give than just what’s up front.

Natalie MacLean 23:38
Yeah, like people.

Jim Duane 23:41
That’s a good point.

Natalie MacLean 23:42
Is it because once you get the wine in your mouth, you’re heating it up. It’s becoming more volatile,  so you’re going to get those molecules moving faster or they’re more tastebuds back there. Why is that? Why do you get so much out of the retro nasal?

Jim Duane 23:56
That’s a good question. I don’t know if I know all the answers, but I think warming it up certainly is key. So especially if you have chilled white wine or Rosé like you can’t taste as much when a wine is really cold, you really going to feel the acidity or the sweetness or the tannins a lot more. And that’s why you know, one of the reasons why you don’t want to have a big Cabernet or a big tannic wine cold because it really feels hard and astringent. So yeah, you’re warming those molecules up. They’re moving more so you’re getting some more volatilization. But also, I think there’s just I think you’re accessing different flavour receptors in a different part of you’re sort of working ortho nasal cavity that just maybe are more sensitive. I don’t know the science of it. I’ve been more of just a sort of a lover or someone who’s been trying to pay attention to that. But I think the whole science of scent is like, that’s to me is very fascinating. It’s the one sense that we don’t have a full knowledge of how it works. We know vision and touch and taste very well but scent is still very much a mystery for the most part.

Natalie MacLean 24:57
Yeah, it’s almost ancient and we’ve left it undeveloped. I’ve heard that we take in 80 to 90% of information visually, but our noses are so powerful if we just pay attention to what’s going on.

Jim Duane 25:09
If you’ve ever had a chance again, I hardly read books because like you I struggle to read books, but there’s a book called The Emperor of Scent. Oh, yes. Have you read this one? I think it’s Chandler Burr.

Natalie MacLean 25:20
Is that the perfume?

Jim Duane 25:22
Yeah, it’s very much about perfume. Yes. But it’s an exploration of what we know or perhaps really what we don’t know about how biologically our sense of smell works. It’s really fascinating book.

Natalie MacLean 25:34
Oh, that would be great. Yeah, I have to look for that. And the other book I want to read is the latest one by Harold McGee, the science food writer. The book is called Nosedive and it’s all about smell and scents. You might actually like to write that down.

Jim Duane 25:46
What was the author Harold McGee?

Natalie MacLean 25:49
Harold McGee, so he’s written a lot of food and science books. But his latest one is all about scent and smell. And of course, he talks about wine. He’s more known for food. But he would be a great guest. We both have to get him on our respective shows. So whoever gets him first, share an email address, please. All right. Thanks for that. Yeah, I think it’d be great.

Jim Duane 26:10
Can I share one quick story about this Rosé because this was, this was a special wine for us. So Terratorium launched in 2021. This is a brand that came out of the first winemaking class that I had in Napa in 2017. A couple of guys Ben Matthews and Cameron Grace were on this class and then went back to their lives in their their jobs and you know, had in back of the head that they wanted to start a brand. Individually, they had that and then they came together to make this partnership. And originally Terratorium was going to be a an urban winery in Cincinnati. And then as Ben was fundraising for that, and getting close to the pandemic hit, and so I came on as a partner to help with sourcing of grapes and wines and that sort of technical stuff, but then the whole brand had to shift to a virtual brand. So we launched a couple of wines back in April. So we’re just a virtual brand. We don’t have a winery or a tasting room. The wine are made in Sonoma and Napa, but 2021 was the first year we made wine from grapes. And for this Rosé we got some found these really nice Grenache grapes out in Eldorado which is just at the base of the Sierra hills on the foothills of the Sierra mountains outside of Sacramento. But 2021 was tough due because of the fires. I mean, every year is tough in some respects in California these days, but there’s the Caldor fire broke out in August. And this was just a couple miles away from the Starfield vineyard where we got these grapes. And because we were making Rosé we picked early and so we were picking in August. So I think they had a pick for some sparkling wine they were gonna make off the property, then we picked our Rosé. And then after that all the crop was lost because of smoke damage. So our heart goes out to them because they lost all their crop. They I think they had crop insurance, which is a big deal for anyone producing wine California these days. But it was kind of nice that just by luck of us picking early, we were able to get some crop off that vineyard and we’re able to, you know, give them some money for so their season wasn’t a complete loss in terms of growing grapes that were gonna be made into wine. But two days later, we wouldn’t have been able to pick these grapes. So we got lucky.

Natalie MacLean 28:17
Wow. Yeah, that’s a new twist. Usually I hear from winemakers that they picked between the raindrops but you pick just time before the fires. Yeah, that’s a big deal. And what would you pair this Rosé with?

Jim Duane 28:29
Swimming Pools. I think swimming pools are great. Yeah, obviously you’re not eating the swimming pool and hopefully you’re not drinking the water. With Rosé, I love salt. I love popcorn. So having like a truffle popcorn is great. Potato chips are always a great combination with Rosé. And then my favourite and I give credit to my friend Chris Kajani. She’s a winemaker for Saintsbury Vineyards in Napa. She came up with the idea for crab nachos. Oh, so nachos doesn’t sound real high class but you throw a little bit of crab meat on top and you can make your nachos a little fancier. That Rosé is my absolute favourite pairing.

Natalie MacLean 29:07
Oh, lovely. I do always love pink wine and pink food. So anything like lobster and Rosé and crab. You know, I think they go so beautifully together.

Jim Duane 29:17
In building a Rosé, it’s got to be bright, right? It’s got to be not searing with acidity, but it’s got to make you want to salivate and gotta be drinking and when it’s warm. So you are going to have the high acidity to cut through some of that fat or the salt that you’re gonna have with the food?

Natalie MacLean 29:32
Sure, absolutely. And what is the other one that you have? Also Terrarium.

Jim Duane 29:37
Let me grab this here. This is the Terratorium Cabernet Franc. This is 2018. So in order to launch the brand in time for 2021, we had to go out and source some wines in bulk. And fortunately I have a lot of connections to some great producers. And we were able to find just a few barrels of wines that we really liked. So this is from Alexander Valley, which is part of Sonoma. It’s actually just kind of due north of Napa. But with Terratorium, we didn’t want to necessarily make the everyday wines like the Cabernet Sauvignon. We wanted to be a little bit more interesting. And so Cabernet Franc was a flavour profile where unlike Cabernet Sauvignon or if you sort of compare the two, you dial back the fruit a little bit, and you get more earth in Cabernet Franc. And so we’re just really excited about that varietal. So in 2018 we produce this wine. You can see the front label here on the back the flavour emojis, clove, wildflowers, dried herbs and baking spices, which really does justice to what the wine is. There’s fruit to this wine, but it’s really about herbs and spice. And that’s the one thing that we were all excited about with Cabernet Franc with that profile.

Natalie MacLean 30:54
Yeah, we love Cab Franc in Canada, too. Its just so interesting in terms of the aroma profile. So when you’re picking these grapes for evaluation, I heard you describe it as interesting because you’re talking about it being more of a texture thing than a taste thing. I’m sure taste matters too. But even comparing them to cracking open an m&m or something. What are you doing when you’re testing these grapes in the vineyard to see if they’re ready to pick or not?

Jim Duane 31:21
You’re absolutely right. The texture is the guide for picking grapes. And to back up and say like I think when you’re picking grapes the single most important winemaking decision that you can make terms of style in terms of everything that cascades down from your pick decision, because you really choose in your your level of ripeness, your acidity, your potential alcohol, your flavour profile. But that texture is really key because this is maybe more specific to red grapes and red wine than the white wines. But the tannins that are in the skin are what you have to extract into the wine. And so you have to think about the quality of those tannins and the quantity of those tannins and as grapes ripen, they go through veraison. They change from green to red. As they’re early in the ripening. So this is, you know, ended July, early August before grapes are fully ripe. If you were to chew the skins of this red grapes, they’re horribly astringent. You know, some varieties, big tannin varieties more so than other varieties. But like for the Cabernet that I tend to work with day to day, it’s it’s very drying and astringent and unpleasant. And as the grapes ripen on the vine, in that sort of that runway all the way to your harvest date, those tannins are mellowing out. They’re taking on this refinement. And there’s a bunch of different chemical processes that are happening in the grape itself to refine these tannins. And one of the reasons that people often like in the old world say you can, you can watch for the birds when the birds come and starting in the grapes, that’s when you know, the grapes are ripe. Kind of doing the same thing. We’re just tasting the grapes everyday. And at some point, they’re going to start to not only taste good, not necessarily taste grape, there’s a lot of sugar and there’s not as much flavour as you taste ultimately in the wine. But that texture is something that you can really feel and you can feel that evolution from coarseness to something more of an elegance and refinement. And so there’s this analogy that came down from Michael Silacci, the winemaker at Opus One. So he had been a winemaker Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. And so that was kind of my mentor’s mentor. And this is one of those stories that sort of came down through that mentorship. But everyone knows what an m&m is like, we pop it in your mouth, and you have that hard candy outershell. And then as you let it sit in your mouth and melt, eventually you get to the milk chocolate. And that texture as you hit the milk chocolate and it spreads across your tongue and through your mouth. It’s a very soft, elegant milk chocolate texture. That’s kind of the goal. If we can get to that texture, that’s a cue that we can pick grapes. Now, Cabernet is not exactly ever going to get there. It’s not going to get that soft. And that blush especially not on hillside vineyards, but I’m working with. But it’s we’re getting close to that texture and I kind of know through experience like once there’s a hint of it, it’s time to pick. Because now, those tannins in those grapes, that’s what you’re going to be extracting in the cellar into your wine. And ultimately people are going to be whether they’re thinking about it like at the forefront of the brain or not. They’re going to be feeling this texture, there’s a weight of the wine, but then those tannins have it’s very tight and drying, that can work for a certain style of wind or for certain cuisine. But if you have big tannins if you have a lot of tannins, and you need the quality of than tannin to  have some elegance. So I often think of the vintages that I produce a Seavey is this balance between elegance and power. And certain vintages skew more towards one or the other kind of really depending on the growing season and the conditions at harvest.

Natalie MacLean 34:52
Wow. That is a great way to put it. Really helpful way to understand it as metaphors.

Jim Duane 34:57
And the best way to do it is is you ever get a chance won’t taste grapes. I mean, it’s it’s one thing to listen to it but like there’s no special tools that a winemaker has in their mouth. It’s just the ability to pay attention to feel within your mouth.

Natalie MacLean 35:10
Yeah, absolutely. What would you pair with this wine? Your Cab Franc.

Jim Duane 35:15
Oh, okay, so this is a bigger wine. So we have, like you said, there’s Cabernet Franc grown in a lot of places throughout the US, Canada, different places in France, obviously. And so Cabernet Franc is a very malleable varietal. You can take it from like a little ripeness to very high ripeness. And for us being in California being in Sonoma and Alexandria Valley, we’re going to get a real ripeness to it. This is not going to be like a Chinon from France. It’s going to be you know, a more dense wine. So it’s a pretty big wine. Got some fruit, but again, a lot of earth, a lot of spice and so I try to keep that in mind when pairing. So I’ve done lamb chops. That’s probably my favourite with like a garlic Rosemary sauce. Or just you know, like an oil in garlic and rosemary. Tried seafood. I’m still trying to figure out like what’s the best seafood for Cabernet France. Salmon can work okay, but I think other white fish might be better. But big, red meats do really well with this one because it is a big wine with a lot of flavour. That’s great.

Natalie MacLean 36:19
That great. That surprises me that white fish. I know salmon is a meaty fish.

Jim Duane 36:23
But I think if you get into like a fish with a lot of flavour, not necessarily fishy flavour but more of like you’re not flaky fish, but your. I’m trying to think of caught but what’s the one from South America? Oh, it’s escaping me, I apologise. But if you have a robust sort of big favourite fish, I think that works really well with the earthiness in Cab Franc.

Natalie MacLean 36:47
Interesting. Cool. I imagine it would also depend on how you prepared it. If you had spices or sauces or whatever. Yeah. Cool. Oh my god, I can’t believe how fast this time is going. This is such a great conversation. But I want to ask you some quick lightning round questions. Do you have a favourite childhood food that you pair with wine today?

Jim Duane 37:10
Pizza. Pizza Hut. Yeah, and I love cheese.

Natalie MacLean 37:11
Ah, there you go. All right.

Jim Duane 37:13
I don’t like the idea of people sort of diminishing wine saying oh, that’s a pizza wine. To me, like, I’ll bring out some of the best wines with pizza because you can make a very nice and fat goes really well with certain wines.

Natalie MacLean 37:26
Absolutely. If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone living or dead. Who would that be?

Jim Duane 37:31
Oh, that’s good question. Probably André Tchelistcheff. He was a winemaker in California in Napa. From I think he was a winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard from the 30s up until the 60s. He was a Russian émigré. And he went to the Louis Pasteur Institute in France. And he is the man, this technical person who is most responsible for bringing California winemaking out of the darkness of prohibition, and really bring technical winemaking back into wineries. And so he was so influential and to many of the mentors that have ultimately mentored me. So like, I feel some sort of connection to him. He’s, you know, he’s passed away. But his influence on California winemaking is monumental.

Natalie MacLean 38:21
Wow. What would you ask him?

Jim Duane 38:25
He understood and he was working at Beaulieu Vineyard in a time where they didn’t have resources. So it was kind of the premier winery and wine brand in Napa in California through that period through the mid century, the previous century. Hewas the most well known, probably the most well regarded, but he didn’t have a tank. He could never get stainless steel tanks. He could just never get resources from the ownership. And so he was constantly working to do his best and a very limited capacity. I just want to ask he like, what are your frustrations and like, what do you think wines could be? Or if you could have all the resources in the world, what would you do? Because he made such great wines. And these are wines like, especially like the 1968 the BV Giorgio Latour is known as one of the best wines in California from that vintage to this day. Like he made such incredible wines in a kind of a tough situation.

Natalie MacLean 39:21
Wow. Well it sounds like there’s parallels. When vines are in a tough situation, they produce better wine. People produce better wine and actually write better books.

Jim Duane 39:30
I think it keeps us all from getting lazy and no one needs to get lazy.

Natalie MacLean 39:34
Exactly. Oh my gosh, this has been great. Is there anything we haven’t mentioned or covered that you’d like to mention now, Jim?

Jim Duane 39:42
I just mentioned it. I’m here at Seavey vineyard. And like I said, we’re out in the forest. But we do take visitors and so if anyone’s coming to Napa, we’d be happy to host you here.We’re small. And so we do tastings by appointment only, but check us out. I know you’re gonna have all the links in the show notes. But if you’re Napa come and visit. I’d love to say hi and show you the property. It really is a spectacular place. Other than that, it’s been a lot of fun.

Natalie MacLean 40:05
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And of course people can find Inside Winemaking wherever they’re listening to this podcast, and what is the best website to check out for you?

Jim Duane 40:14
Yeah, just InsideWinemaking.com is kind of my hub for everything.

Natalie MacLean 40:18
Great. Well, Jim, thank you so much. This has been fascinating. I’ve learned a lot today. I love it. And I’m sure we’re gonna get lots of great feedback on this. So I really appreciate you taking the time today.

Jim Duane 40:28
Oh, and I should mention that Terratorium Wines, which is that’s the website as well.

Natalie MacLean 40:33
Terratorium wines. Okay, great. Look for that. No spiders. Just one. Sorry about that. I’ll say bye for now, Jim. And I look forward to chatting with you on your podcast.

Jim Duane 40:46
All right. It’s been fun, Natalie. Thank you so much. Okay, thank you.

Natalie MacLean 40:48
Bye, bye.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Jim. Here are my takeaways. I enjoyed hearing about what winemaker wannabes and everyday wine drinkers can learn from Jim’s podcast. Even if you don’t want to become a winemaker, understanding the process can deepen your appreciation of what you’re drinking. Two. The retro nasal sense of smell is a game changer when it comes to detecting specific aromas and wine. It’s a subset of course within the fascinating world of smell that we’re going to continue to explore on this podcast in future episodes. Three, Jim’s comparison of grapes with m&ms. I thought was really helpful in understanding texture and ripeness. And four, I was also interested in Jim’s explanation of virtual wine brands and how they work and are different from well, real, non virtual wine brands. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contacts, a full transcript of my conversation with Jim links to his podcast and website, and how you can join me on a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/174. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question. Want to be a beta reader? I’ve got a new title for my book at Natalie@NatalieMacLeanc.com. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with James Atkinson, host of Drinking Adventures, a really fun and lively podcast out of Australia. In the meantime, if you missed episode 75 go back and take a listen. I chat with Niagara’s vine Laureate and winemaker Klaus Reif. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Unknown Speaker 42:36
Good wine, in my opinion, is the harmony that I  always compare to an orchestra. You have an amazing piano player. And you have an amazing trumpet player or drum player. If you play out of tune, it is horrible. Its like wine you know when five elements together to play in harmony.

Natalie MacLean 42:57
That’s a great analogy, Klaus, because even if they’re in tune, but if the piano is dominating the whole orchestra, it’s not as beautiful as it could be with all the elements in harmony and you don’t go oh, there’s that trombone again. Everything has to work together so that there’s this greater sense of the whole with a piece of music or the wine than you would get with just a solo by one instrument. I like that. If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a Grenache.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMaclean/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.

 

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