Last Tuesday’s tasting at De Grendel, led by CWG lumninary Charles Hopkins, was probably the first ever in which the chemical analysis charges exceeded the price of the wines. Occasioned by the observation that UK wine hacks can identify SA reds blind on their high IBMP content, the workshop attracted most of the Platter planetarium and a few outsiders like yours truly, Mr. Min and even the elusive bald lady Ma Nolte was there.
IBMP is 2-isobutyl-3-methoxypyrazine, a most potent flavour compound that is responsible for the green bell pepper aromas in some wines. It is of course acceptable, indeed expected, in Sauvignon Blanc for example, but not in red wines. As leading Bordeaux blend specialist Tinus van Niekerk noted “I am forever surprised about the ignorance about IBMP in SA, with my own Château wine in Bdx, and where I consult, IBMP and IPT readings are two Holy Grail paradigms in fruit management and selection, not even to mention in the final blending exercises.” Humans are incredibly sensitive to IBMP and can detect amounts down to 2ng/litre with anything greater than 10 flagged as “green” and by implication, a fault. IBMP comes from stalks (53%), pips (30%), skins (15%) with only 1% from grape flesh.
Charles poured us six wines. The least green wine was a 2008 Château Pichon-Longueville au Baron de Pichon-Longueville at 2ng/l IBMP while the Hillcrest Hornfels 2008 and Meerlust Rubicon 2007 were the greenest, clocking-in at 41 and 42ng/l, respectively. Asked to choose our favourite, only two tasters plumped for the Pichon, the most expensive wine and least green by far, while half (ten out of the twenty present) chose the emerald Hillcrest and Meerlust.
So the privileged palates of SA seem to like greenness. Although there is obviously much more going on in the Meerlust than IBMP as the Platter planetarium previously awarded it five supernova after the wine was nominated sighted. But if we wanted to fool the Pommes into giving us a fair shake and reduce greenness, how should we proceed?
Charles reported that thermovinification was the only chemical means of reducing IBMP. So let’s make the wines we export to the UK Kosher! But then I thought of Leonard Cohen in his green hat (above) in The Telegraph this weekend and the amazing anecdote concerning producer Phil Spector, currently serving time for murder.
“One night, Phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder, shoved the revolver into my neck, and said, ‘Leonard, I love you.’ I said, ‘I really hope you do, Phil.’” I wonder if Phil is a wine lover.