02 November 2010

Time for an Experiment

As I think I mentioned in my last post with less fruit coming in I should have more time to experiment and try out some new processes and this weekend I got to do the first of those.  In a normal year we drain the wine from the fermentation totes directly to the barrel, this is called going to barrel 'dirty' and there are two reasons we have done this in the past, one is because we can use gravity flow.  It is a gentler way to move the wine, and actually quite easy.  The other factor is space.  I like to keep each of the fermentations separate so that I can watch them develop in barrel and see which enzymes and yeasts I like for each vineyard in a particular vintage.  Trying to keep each ferment separate would mean that it needs to be moved to its own vessel, allowed to settle and then moved to barrel.  Time is another factor but a less important one.

So this year having plenty of both space and time I decided to try draining the fermentations to new totes and then pumping the wine to barrel.  I was able to use gravity to drain the fermentation bins and the press like normal but did have to pump the wine after the settling to the barrels.  Pumping is actually an easier way to fill barrels than with gravity because the flow is controlled by a remote and there are fewer overflow mistakes.  The reason for going to the hassle of settling the wine now before going to barrel is that the gross lees that I had to rack the 2009 pinot noir off of back in March never gets into the barrel.  There will still be some settling of lees as the wines are far from clear and I plan to rack the wines again after ML is complete but what I hope is that most of the reductive aromas that can become a problem will never get a chance to form in the wine and I won't be having the treat the wine later.  I think this is a good example of my hands on/hands off philosophy.  I can handle the wine less now but it may cause me to have to be harder on the wine later.   As it turned out I am really glad I settled the wine first because already in two of the totes the lees that had settled had some off aromas.
Sorry I forgot to take a picture so you could see the lees sitting in the bottom.  Look at the sides of the tote I am emptying, you can see both tartrates that have precipitated out and the lees that have gotten caught on them.The whole process will have to be modified for a normal year.  I settled the wine in the barrel room and there was barely enough space to work around the totes.  The trade off may be that I'll pump the wine out of the fermentors and the press and allow it to settle upstairs and then will be able to use gravity to fill the barrels downstairs.  The other thought is that I may have to make the decision to combine some fermentors upstairs beforehand so that I don't need quite so many totes to settle the wine before going to barrel.  I'll have to think on this some more.  So to sum it up the wines are done fermenting, have been allowed to settle after pressing, inoculated for ML, and racked to barrel.  They are now tucked into the barrel room and the little ML bugs are hard at work converting all that malic acid to lactic acid.  What fun!  ML sheets here I come.
As for the whites they are bubbling along at a very cool 54F and quite happily though it means I need a space heater in my office as I write this.  Unlike reds I want to whites to stay cool to preserve aromatics and to increase in complexity and mouthfeel.  At this point they are about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through their sugar and will take about another month to finish to dry.  I think everything I have this year I will ferment to dry, I hope.  The yeast tend to start giving out sometime in December and I usually have to start cheering the ferments on at that point.  I am sure you will get to read about me complaining about them later.  But for now they are going at just the right speed and smelling great.  Isn't is great the different patterns the ferments make.

No comments:

Post a Comment