Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vintage 2009 Update

We had picked the Pinot Noir about 10 days ago at 12.5 deg Baume' and 3.6 pH.
Fruit quality was excellent with a minimal amount of botrytis infection which was easily removed.
We did come across a red bellied black snake in the vineyard during picking. He/she was "relocated"...............so to speak.
After open vat fermentation, including second use French oak staves, had just about finished we transferred the wine plus the skins and staves into a sealed stainless steel tank and alcohol macerated for a week under a CO2 "blanket".
This was to try to extract as much colour, natural tannin and fruit and oak flavour as possible.
Warm climate Pinot Noir is notoriously low on the first three components.
The Tempranillo was picked last week at 12.4 deg Baume and pH 3.7.
During the crush, an equipment malfunction caused considerable juice loss but we decided to go ahead with a quick open vat fermentation by adding a fermenter 'accelerator' or yeast nutrient DAP (diammonium phosphate) and a fast yeast culture. This seemed to work and fermentation was extremely rapid.

Yesterday was a busy day.
We racked the Semillon off its fermentation lees and returned it to the tank with an addition of bentonite to begin the clarification process as well as a protective sulphur dose.
Bentonite is a clay that is used in wines as a clarifier. It is possesses a negative electrostatic charge. This attracting charge, along with hydrogen bonding, causes suspended particles in the wine to cling to it as it settles to the bottom of the tank. The clear wine is later racked off the bentonite lees.
We drained and pressed the Pinot Noir and returned the wine to a stainless steel tank with a lactic acid bacteria culture to initiate malolactic fermentation together with a solution of egg white to begin the clarification process.
Malolactic fermentation converts the harsher malic acid in wine to the softer lactic acid. The process also increases the stability of red wine as MLF can occur in the bottle producing an unwanted CO2 "spritz" during storage or worse, "popping" corks and breaking bottles.
Egg white is made into a 10% solution (with a little salt) and is used to clarify red wines.
One egg per 100-200L wine seems to do the trick. The yokes are used for omlettes later.
There are a number of other products which do a similar job eg. milk and casein, PVPP, Kieselsol, gelatin, Isinglass (fish's swim bladder derivative) being the most common. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. We have found that egg white works best for Pinot, not interfering too much with the wine's taste, and it always leaves a hard to disturb deposit on the bottom of the tank which aids the racking process.

We dumped the still fermenting Tempranillo must on top of the Pinot Noir marc and pressed that as well. The result was a dense purple wine due to the very high skin to juice ratio of the must. As expected the pH had risen to 3.9 ( high K+ content of the skins) and this will be adjusted with tartaric acid in due course. This wine will be let finish fermenting and then treated with a MLF cuture and an egg white fining. Whether we let it remain as a stand alone varietal or blend it into our Cabernet Sauvignon is yet to be decided.
Then it was a matter of cleaning up all the containers and equipment and returning the dry pressed skins to the vineyard rows as soil conditioner.

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