name="description" content="Terroir-expressing natural wine minimum intervention">

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Stuck Graciano Has Started Fermenting

Yes! yes! yes! Our two barrels of Graciano which had been stuck for about 6 days finally started fermenting today! Look, you can even see some CO2 bubbles (I think!):

Graciano skins (1)

Apart from the tender loving care, what we did was:

1. Put the casks out in the sun during the day, and back in the bodega at night.

2. Mix in about 1 liter of our Airén which was in fermentation and so full of active natural yeasts

Graciano skins (2)

Graciano skins and our "punching down tool"

I can't believe there no word in English for a "punching down tool"!!! I've looked (rather hurriedly) but couldn't find anything better!

More Graciano skins with PDT
Yet more Graciano skins
And that's about it. I'm so pleased :)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Status of On-going Experiments (Report Nº 2)

First the one that are working out fine. Then the ones with 'complications':

1. Airén (Carbonic Maceration)

This experiment is working out very well so far. Yesterday we opened up the tank that had been hermetically sealed 17 days previously. The whole clusters had started to ferment inside each grape as expected.

Bunches of Airén at bottom of stainless steel tank

We then crushed and pressed the grapes as usual; and the must is now continuing with it's fermentation. The aromas are definitely different from those we usually get from Airén fermented 'normally'; we smelled fruit salad or ripe fruit.

2. Airén on its skins

This experiment is also working out well so far. We pressed the wine off the skins and the fermentation is now basically finished. I think we just need to leave it alone and not do anything at all to it over winter. Time and low temperatures will round it off (I think/hope) and we could bottle it in Jan/Feb. On the other hand, it seems perfectly drinkable to me now, but I suppose it'll improve.

The colour is rather dark for a white wine - sort of browny-ambar-orange- and the armoas are also stringer, darker, more intense than in a normal white wine.

3. Shiraz (or Shirah?)

This is only really an experiment in the sense that it's the first time we're working with this variety. We destemmed, crushed, fermented it conventionally in stainless steel. yesterday we racked it off its lees into another tank. Nothing of interest to mention here really. Again, time and low temperatures will round it off. At some point during the winter, we'll have to decide whether to oak it or not, based on our own and others tastings.

'Gunge' at the bottom of the Shiraz tank

4. Petit Verdot

Here we had a slight complication - it wouldn't start fermenting! Maybe it was due to the colder weather. Nightime temperatures have dropped quite a lot recently here in Madrid and they've been reaching under 10ºC, and daytime temperatures inside the bodegas have been around 16ºC.

So a few days ago we started taking the tank outside into the patio during the day to warm it up a bit. And we also added a liter of our Airén which was in full fermentation, so as to add in some active natural yeast.

I think it's worked, because yesterday for the first time we could see a few tiny CO2 bubbles popping. And the skins seemed to be a little higher (ie being pushed up by the COs).

Two casks of Graciano and tank of Petit Verdot

5. Graciano

I've kept this strange case for last! Again we had/have a case of fermentation not starting, but with a strange twist in the tale!!!

We decided to ferment the Graciano in oak casks because 1) we wanted to experiment with fermenting in oak casks! and 2) because we had run out of stainless steel tanks!  So anyway, we duly destemmed and crushed the Graciano grapes and poured them into 3 oak casks, to about the 2/3 full level. The weird thing is that one cask started fermenting on schedule as expected, but the other two didn't! We had done everything exactly the same with all three: same grapes, destemmed and crushed at same time, casks filled at same time, etc).

There's only one difference that i can see, but can't imagine how it could possibly be the cause of this mystery: It's that the two stuck casks are from Seguin Moreau while the one that started is from Demptos!

Anyways, we've been puting the two casks out in the sun along with the Petit Verdot and we've also added a lites of Airén with active natural yeast. Still no sign of fermentation so far :(

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Status of On-going Experiments (Report Nº 1)

Experiment 1. Sparkling wine (Champagne, Cava, Spumante, ... need a name!)

We've made a lot of Airén in the 'normal' way, ie crushed, pressed and left to ferment. It's coming along nicely and there's nothing left to do here, except for one decanting to remove the dead yeast and other larger particles that will have sunk to the bottom of the tank.

We've left some grapes on the vine, to be picked in Nov/Dec, fermented separately and then added at some point in the 'champagne' making process, in collaboration with Alfredo Maestro.

Experiment 2. Airén, (Carbonic Maceration)

We have another lot of Airén that are fermenting. We put the whole clusters, uncrushed into a tank and sealed it about 15 days ago. By now each grape should have started to ferment internally, and should be at 1% or 2% alcohol. Tomorrow or next day we'll open the tank, crush and press the clusters and let it finish fermenting.

Experiment 3. Airén (on skins)

Yet another lot of Airén, we left macerating in their own skins for about 12 days. We pressed them a few days ago, and this lot is also coming along nicely. It has a sort of browny-orange-amber colour and smells more intense than the 'normal' Airén, we also have.

Experiment 4. Barrel fermentation (Graciano)

Last week we rocovered three old oak barrels that we found in the attic of the winery! Actually we tried to salvage 6 but three were so leaky, even after extensive soaking, that we couldn't use them. So we destemmed and crushed a lot of Graciano, and put it into the 3 barrels to begin fermenting. 
Old oak barrel, before being soaked

Non-Experiment 5. Petit Verdot.

This lot was going to go into the other three recovered barrels, but as we couldn't use them, we're using a stainless steel deposit. Not much of an experiment rally, except in the sence that it's the first time we've made Petit Verdot.

Our other wines this year are also in stainless steel, made in the same way we usually do, ie no unnecessary manipulations, or adding of 'substances'. This year we have:
  • Tempranillo (2 lots)
  • Airén (4 lots)
  • Garnacha
  • Shiraz
  • Graciano
  • Petit Verdot

Monday, 4 October 2010

Garnacha (Grenache) Tasting 2010

I should have posted this post a bit earlier as International Garnacha Day seems like it's in the distant past now, even though it was only 10 days ago!

I only discovered that Int'l Garnacha Day even existed on the Monday (20th) and it took me 24 hrs to realize that I could actually do something about it, and organize a tasting! So on Tuesday (21st) I called Carlos, the owners of La Cave du Petit (wine bar, wine shop, bistro) during the whole day, but no joy. So on Wednesday (22nd) I physically went there, and hit him with my bright idea. It was complicated, because on the Friday all his (4) tables were booked for supper, and the place was too small to do a tasting at the same time, though he liked the idea. But over a glass of Alfredo Maestro's Viña Almate 2008, inspiration came: we would do it on Thursday night (23rd) but we would make sure that the tasting ran through midnight, so 'technically' we could say that we did it on the right day (Friday 24th)!

So I got onto my mobile and Carlos onto his laptop and mobile and we began calling people up: producers willing to come with their wares, and wine-lovers willing to come and sample them. We called a lot of people and by the time we were done, the bottle of Viña Almate was done too!

In the end, only a few people came, as was to be expected given only 24 hrs' notice. However, lack of quantity was more than made up for by quality :)

Here's the cast of characters:

winemaker Samuel Cano
winemaker Alfredo Maestro
winemakers me and Juan
wineshop owner Carlos
wineblogger Ignacio Segovia
wine TV producer Eduardo Benito
winelovers Fermín, Julián, Dioni, Sergio and Ben and Courtney

And here's the list of props:

- Vinos Ambiz (100% Garnacha 2009) (AVIN6475421703467)
- Patio Ensamblaje 2008 (50% Shiraz, Tempranillo, Graciano, Petit Verdot) (AVIN8201428759293)
- 3 different wines from Alfredo Maestro (all Tempranillo)
- A French wine from Carlos ("Terraine"?)
- A German Riesling from Carlos

Hmm, it seems that there was only one wine with any Garnacha in it! Well, that's only to be expected too, I suppose, given the short notice. Anyway, nobody complained! The main thing is that we all had a great time, talking about wine for over 4 hours AND I got to wear my loud shirt with (mis)matching fractal geometry shorts, and stripey socks :)

Here are the links to some great videos:

- VinusTV (I understand now why Eduardo Benito took so long to send it to me - The quality is excellent! To be expected really as he's a pro. See the VinusTV web-site for other wine-related videos. There's a short "interview" with each one of the producers. I've seen the video but haven't heard it as the speaker in my computer is broken. I dread to think what I was saying!!!

- VenderVino 2 videos taken by Ignacio with his mobile.

I could't take any photos or videos because that day because I forgot to recharge and the batteries were flat :(

The interviews are in Spanish at the moment, but I'm working on subtitles in English.
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