Monday, April 10, 2017

Vintage 2017 Final Update

The Semillon was racked off the fermentation lees and returned to the tank with 50ppm SO2.
The night before we had prepared a slurry of bentonite. To this we added some of the wine to make a solution and stirred this into the the tank for some time thoroughly dispersing it.
Bentonite is a special clay made of aluminium-silicate. It is distinct from other clays in that it is formed from volcanic ash.
Bentonite is principally used to remove proteins from white wine and juice, as it is a negatively charged clay colloid and reacts with positively charged proteins, precipitating them from the wine and clarifying it.
After it settles for a week or so, the wine is racked again and then checked for pH and free SO2 content in preparation for bottling at a later date.
For the Cabernet rose' we tried a different method. We added the bentonite solution to the ferment. The vigorous action of fermentation keeps the clay circulating through the wine, not letting it settle on the bottom of the tank, theoretically making it more effective.
After settling,  the fermentation lees and bentonite are then racked off together eliminating one production step.
We do not go through the cold stabilization process for white wine or rose' here. Tartrate crystal precipitation during cold storage eg. in the refrigerator, is a fact of life and, although not aesthetically pleasing in commercial wines, it is of little consequence quality wise. And it's one less process to subject the wine to in our oxidation prevention program.
All our red wines are fined with egg white.
The albumen is gently dispersed into 10 times its volume of water with a little salt added to help the process.
The solution is then gently stirred into the wine and left for a couple of weeks before racking.
French oak chips are added to each red wine in various percentages to impart the traditional oaky aroma/flavour. The wine is stored in the sealed tanks for about a year before bottling is considered. It is racked off sedimentation lees a number of times during this period and SO2 levels monitored.
So that was that for 2017.
What started out as a more than satisfactory vintage weather wise ended on a disastrous note.
We are happy with the quality of the Semillon, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo.
How the Cabernet rose' will turn out is anybody's guess. It was produced somewhat as an act of desperation to try to salvage a grape crop destined to rot on the vine so if we have to dump it at least we can say we tried.
In a few months pruning will start and we will be ready to do it over again for 2018.

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