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Friday, 27 August 2010

Taking More Samples

I collected another sample of Tempranillo yesterday, though this time I did a quick-n-dirty job, ie around 30 berries only more or less at random from all over the vineyard. All done in 15 mins.

Sample of Tempranillo Berries

I just realized that at this stage it's not really necessary to be methodical and to collect a truely representative sample. It doesn't matter of we get a reading of 9% probable alcohol or 10%, as the grapes are obviously not ripe. In a week or two, though, it'll be very important to know of it's 13% or 13.5% for example! Duh!

It was 37ºC at 5 o'clock yesterday.

Wandering around the vineyard I came across this vine: see the incredibly long shoot/cane (what's it called in English anyway? it's a "sarmiento" in Spanish.)

"Oooo my! I've never seen one that long before"
(said the actress to the grape-grower)

Next, when having a rest, some water and roll-up in the car, I was attacked by a cloud of flies!! First I blew smoke at them, but no use. Then I tried rubbing oregano and thyme onto my arms and legs,

Oregano and thyme

but that didn't work either. Finally I managed to get rid of them by trying to take photos of them with my mobile. They must have an instinctive fear of social media! I could only get this one, all the rest disappeared!!!
A fly on my knee

And then, while driving to see a neighbour (fellow producer of organic grapes and wine), to talk about possibly buying grapes from him, (we have excess capacity in the winery and expect a small harvest of our own grapes this year), I took this photo from the window of the car. (I pulled over first!)

An ex-vineyard

That pile in the middle of the field are vines, that have been uprooted. There's been a lot of uprooting of vineyards going on in Spain over the last few years. The EU pays a few thousand Euros/hectare to vineyard owners if they uproot them.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sampling and Analyzing the Grapes

Even though it's very early on (harvest is still about 2 or 3 weeks away) we thought we'd start sampling the grapes now, so we can plot a nice graph and see how the sugar level goes up over time!

Link to YouTube: (short video from vineyard)

You need about half a kilo of berries, which you then crush and strain. I thought that you could just wander about the vineyard and pick a few berries at random, but it's more complicated than that - according to my partner Juan - if you want a proper representative sample!!! Here are some of the criteria: berries should be picked from all over the vineyard - if not from every vine, then from every "x" number of vines; from the outside of the vine and from the inside; from the N, S E and W of the vine; from the bottom, middle and top of the cluster; big, medium and little berries.

Well, I made an effort to be methodical and I complied with the criteria, more or less, even though it took me more than 2 hours to collect the berries!

Tempranillo clusters (1) (22 August 2010)

Tempranillo clusters (2) (22 August 2010)

Pretty strange! Some clusters haven't changes colour at all! Any thoughts?

Tempranillo clusters (3) (22 August 2010)

Tempranillo clusters (4) (22 August 2010)

Then at the bodega I crushed the grapes, strained the must and poured it into a test-tube type container: 10.4 on the Beaumé scale, which looked up on a conversion table gives 10.5% probable alcohol content if harvested now. I also put a drop of juice on the end of the spectrometer, held it up to the sun and looked through the other end; you get a view similar to what a U-boat commander sees when looking through his periscope before launching a torpedo at the convoy! The three readings in the periscope were: 19% mas sacch.; 79 º0e; and 16.1 ºKMW Babo; I'll let Juan figure those ones out :)

(Next time (in a few days) I'll take photos of the process. I forgot to take any in the winery)

Ideally we should also test the acidity too. Over time the sugar content goes up and the acidity goes down, and the trick is to harvest at the optimum moment. Too much sugar and the wine will be too alcoholic, flat and heavy. Not enough sugar, and the wine will be thin and acidic.

Does anyone know a way to measure the acidity? (that we can do ourselves, that is, without having to send off samples to a lab)

The above reading were for Tempranillo: I also did the Airén, which had a Beaumé level of 7, which converts to a probable alcohol content of 6.5%.
A lastly, some wild vines (ie, where the grafted varietal didn't take and the rootstock itself is sprouting):
Wild vine (1)

Wild vine (2)

As I say every year at this time, 'next year we're going to graft a varietal onto the rootstocks'!! We never seem to find the time - but this time we really must do it :)

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