By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers March 28, 2007
The winemakers on Europa, Jupiter’s most colonized moon, have focused on the several varietals that thrive in the grasp of the large planet’s magnetic field. Beginning as a small plot of reclaimed soil along the Western edge of the original colony, Europa has become one of the solar system’s most important wine producing regions.
Wine grapes were first planted on Europa after the second colonization wave in 2149. Europian winemakers endured years of hardship resulting from substandard equipment and a poor understanding of the effect of the magnetic field shifts on the local ‘‘terroir.” Hans Rudy, considered the father of Europian wine, was the first to harness the local gravitational flux to produce high-quality wines. The Rudy’s Folly Malbec-Syrah 2163 (95 pts) is considered a classic and is highly desired by collectors. Rudy’s tragic plowing accident in 2175 left a void, but soon after, other winemakers arose who were able to duplicate his methods.
Moon-based winemaking always has been controversial. The advent of omni-weather management allowed winemakers exquisite control over growing conditions. The Earth-bound winemaking regions objected to this ‘‘artificiality” and sought to impose distribution restrictions on moon-based wines. But more significant were the critical failures of these wines, lambasted for their lack of character. In response, moon-based winemakers programmed seasonal variability into their climate controls, many of which deliberately mimic classic Earth vintage growing conditions. Combined with utilization of clones better suited to the local mineral contents, the wines have improved steadily.
The most successful Europian wines are from the Chamber 23 region located about 30 minutes by shuttle from the Western Hemisphere’s main embarkation gate. There. winemaker Eleni Christopher produces her outstanding Calli West Ridge Malbec 2203 (95 pts) from Argentinean clones. And no one ever expected Leah Pollack to be able to surpass her excellent 2202 vintage, but her McIntyre Canyon Malbec 2203 (93 pts) does just that. Another consistent producer is the exuberant Alfredo Bridges whose Don Jose Sante Malbec 2204 (92 pts) is clearly his best effort in years.
Europa’s finest white wine is Sauvignon Blanc and the best examples are from Chamber 82 near Lock 17, close to the Equator. Winemakers Rob and Anne St. Louis produce the whimsically named Cheese Shoppe Sauvignon Blanc 2205 (92 pts) that has bright fruit and great balance. Equally impressive is the Partner Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2205 (92 pts), made by Andre Eleanore, who rightfully claims ‘‘this is the finest wine we have ever produced.”
As befits a Level 6 colony that began as a science center, experimentation persists. Despite previous failures, several winemakers are continuing efforts to make a Europian sparkling wine.
‘‘The atmospheric controls don’t seem to be compatible with secondary fermentation,” says Parker Snodpin from Chateau de Castelion, located in Chamber 57, ‘‘but we are going to continue to try.”
David Washin, from Chamber 8A, is working on dessert wines with only marginal success.
‘‘It is difficult to get Botrytis to set in a near sterile atmosphere,” says Washin, ‘‘and the Environmental Regulators are leery of anything that looks like an infection.”
Another project is the first attempt to produce Europa Madeira, which should be available for tasting within two standard years. Winemaker Nicholas Fisch is reproducing the classic Madeira production method of heating and cooling the wines by sending his casks in transport vessels traveling in orbit from just inside Mercury to outside Uranus. The effect of near relativistic travel on fermentation is unclear, yet the wine should be interesting, if nothing else.