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Friday, 23 September 2011

Processing the Malvar Grapes 2011 (Part 1)

On Monday 19th we processed the grapes that we'd picked on the previous Saturday 18th and Sunday 17th from Villarejo. During the day we kept them inside (at about 25ºC) and at night we took them out into the patio, where the night-time temperature dropped to about 12ºC.

Malvar Grapes, Destemmed
We don’t usually do this but in this case we had no choice. Our usual procedure is to pick the grapes in the morning, stop for a long leisurely lunch, and then process the grapes in the evening.

Yes, I've become a flying winemaker and I'm off to the southern hemisphere in my biplane to do a bit of pruning!!!!

Before starting to process the grapes, we had to do the usual washing and cleaning and setting up:

Washing down the tanks

Washing down the "capazos" (baskets)

Washing down the Beast

with brushes and soapy water
We (my partner Juan and I) had many lengthy debates over the last few weeks about what kind of wine to make with these grapes, and in the end what we did was this: (I really don't know if this is a good idea or not, or if it's risky, or stupid or what! Like I've said before, during the harvest period, my brain doesn't seem to function 'properly'.)

Tipping grapes into the destemmer
Anyway, we destemmed all the bunches, using a very expensive machine, kindly lent to us by the other Juan, the owner of the bodega we're sharing this year. It works very slowly and gently, and destems the grapes in such a way that it doesn't break or crush the individual grapes (except for very few, say about 5%). Then we put these destemmed grapes into several small stainless steel tanks (700 + 700 + 300 kg) and sealed them hermetically. We'll leave them there for about 2 weeks for them to 'macerate carbonically'. Then we'll open up the tanks and continue with the fermentation process (the must/wine should have reached an alcohol level of about 2% by then).

Then it gets complicated! About half the quantity, we'll crush and press and let the must/wine continue to ferment until it's done. This should give us a nice, fresh, young wine, by straight Carbonic Maceration, which will be ready to release in December. About another half, we'll crush only (no pressing) and let it continue to ferment with skin contact, for an amount of time to be decided later (when my Brain 1.0 starts boots up again).

And lastly, as I'm determined to complicate my life, I'm going to ferment about 200 kg of these grapes with skin contact in a clay amphora that I found in the bodega, but for a much longer period of time - to see what happens!!! First, though, I have to clean it. And even before that I have to extract it from the corner from behind loads of stuff, including a 500 kg agricultural implement that will have to be dragged out of the way using a tractor!

And even more lastly, and so as to complicate my life even more, this year I want to make some grappa (or orujo or marc) using the grape skins left over after fermentation. I've already found a neighbour who has a still (alambicco or alambique), and the we have the raw materials; so all we need really is the time to sit around and watch a still distilling all day. I think that can be arranged in about 2 or 3 weeks.

¡Vivan las complicaciones! ("Long live complications!") Life is Short! The Future is Uncertain! Moments of Happiness! Me Cago en el Amor! From that great, great Italian philospher Tonino Carotone.

1 comment:

  1. Fabio...

    Thanks for sharing this! I look forward to experiencing the remainder of the process with you via the blog.

    I'll miss you at EWBC this year.


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