18 February 2010

Riesling Tasting and then a Pinot Tasting and then . . .

I didn't write about it last week but I did attend a Riesling tasting for winemakers in the midst of moving wine, it was a welcome break.  It is always interesting and educational to sit down with a group of winemakers and taste each others wines and comment on them.  We taste the wines blind and discuss them and then reveal the wines afterward.  This type of format helps keep people more honest in their evaluation of not only others wines but of his or her own.  Tasting the wines outside of the winery also make it easier to notice especially flaws that otherwise might have been missed.

This week I did the same thing again, for Pinot noir this time.  A smaller group, only 8 wines to taste, which allowed a lot more time for discussion.  This is an interesting time to taste Pinot because it may or may not have completed malo-lactic fermentation, might have had its sulfur added and may be showing some flaws that will be fixed with time or manipulation depending.  It is important to be gentle but honest and remember that it may be your own wine you are ripping to shreds.  At this stage in their development reds have a nasty habit of changing to something unrecognizable it their brief time in the bottle on the road trip to the hosting winery.

In the vineyard the guys are almost done with the twist and tie.  I've included a picture of the a fore pictured Chardonnay plant so you can see a finished plant.  Yesterday and today have been glorious weather though unseasonably warm.  It will be interesting to see how it effects the plants. 

I am off on vacation starting tomorrow for a week so enjoy yourselves and I'll update you when we get home.  Paradise is calling! 

13 February 2010

Moving day or rather moving week.

At last blends have been decided and I am in the midst of moving wine.  I have to admit that now I have something interesting to write about and not much energy to write.  The process is rather simple though this year it took some planning.  I only had one empty tank and created a spreadsheet so that I would be able to move all the wine and create the blends needed without having to move any wine more times then necessary.  After deciding where everything needed to go I started pumping wine.  Moving the wine is quick, it takes about 20 minutes to move 1000 gallons.  Lots are between 900 and 4000 gallons in size.
Moving wine
Lees after I start cleaning

The slow part is cleaning the now empty tank.  This is the first racking since fermentation has finished and the wines have been left mostly untouched while the dead yeast and any solids in the wine settle to the bottom where they create some interesting looking and rather slimy feeling sludge that is a good fertilizer.  It can take several hours to clean a tank and I get to build my muscles hauling buckets of lees (the proper name for the a fore mentioned sludge) and then have a facial while I stand in the tank cleaning it with pressurized hot water.  It gets very steamy and I can't see a thing most of the time.  This of course adds to the difficulty of cleaning the tank.  Finally after I get the tank all nice and clean I fill it again with the next wine in line to be racked.

Clean Tank
Tartrate Crystals

 I thought you might like to see a picture of the tartrates I mentioned in a previous conversation.  When they precipitated out in the jars they weren't much to look at but as you can see this wine threw a lot and when it comes off it big flakes like that its easy to clean up.  Otherwise I have to use either hot water or chemicals to dissolve them off the sides of the tank.  You can also still see them in the second picture of the lees on the wall of the tank.  The white wines are now all in tank and recovering.  Next week I will run some lab tests, checking to see if they are ready to be bottled and if so I will start filtering.

04 February 2010

February is here with blending trials and lots of vineyard work.

Sorry I didn't write last week, I think I was just being lazy and didn't have a lot to share.  We have been tasting white blends, trying to decide on what the 7 will be made up of this year.  It's fun but definitely still work, especially when I don't get it right on the first few tries.  We are tasting iterations 6 through 10  today and hopefully one of those will leap out at us a yell "me, me, me!!!"  It's always helpful when the wine picks itself.  And when that doesn't work one of us beats the odd man out into submission.

In the vineyard the guys are almost done pruning and have started to twist and tie.  This means they very carefully wrap this year's cane around the fruiting wire and tie it in place.  Where the cane joins the head of the vine is a very weak spot, you can just see it on the left in the photo of Sebastian and it must be handled gently so that the cane isn't broken which will cause it to not produce this year.  It's slow work and wet and muddy as the rain has been coming down.  We have had some sun breaks but I am sure they aren't long enough for the guys.

For those of you who live locally please stop by and say hi to the new owners of Crush Wine Bar & Tasting Room in Monmouth: Joshua, JoAnna and Chris.  Crush is located on the corner of Main & Warren across from the park.  They pour from 3-11 pm, phone: 503-838-0399.  Please support them!  I dropped off wine last night so you are sure to be able to drink some Airlie if nothing else appeals!