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Friday 16 September 2011

Pressing Tempranillo, and Crushing Graciano

Last Wednesday evening/night (14th September) we:

1) pressed the Tempranillo that we harvested two weeks ago (see this post), and

2) crushed about 500 kg of Graciano that we bought in from our friend and fellow natural winemaker, Samuel Cano, from la Mota del Cuervo, a small town right in the middle of La Mancha.

Lovely Cases of Graciano Grapes

We did both tasks a bit in parallel and a bit in series! First we set up the 'assembly lines', inside the bodega for the crushing and ouside in the patio for the pressing. For the crushing we had to position: the pallet with about 30 cases og Graciano grapes, the manual crusher-destemmer, a bucket to catch the stems, two buckets to catch the must/skins/pips, a clean stainless fermentation steel tank for the must.

Tipping Cases of Graciano into the Crusher

Meanwhile in the patio we had: the steel tank containing the Tempranillo wine, skins and pips (In 17 days, the fermentation was complete), one manual cage press, two buckets, another clean stainless steel tank. It took about an hour to set everything up, about an hour to crush the Graciano, and about 2-3 hours to clean everthing up. We did the pressing at the same time.

Manual Cage Press, Bucket, Full Tank, Bucket, Empty Tank

Top-down View of Fermented Tempranillo Skins in the Press

Tempranillo Wine Pouring out of the Press

Crushing really requires two people to do properly: one to tip the case slowly into the crusher while the other picks out leaves, damaged grapes, etc. In this case we owe Samuel Cano a favour, as the quality of the grapes was excellent (none rotten, none damaged, none over- or under-ripe) nor were there any leaves, twigs, earth or any other foreign matter. One of us turned the flywheel while the other held the machine steady, helped the stems and grapes come out, etc. In between cases, one of us would nip out into the patio and press the Tempranillo down another centimeter or two.

Scooping out Tempranillo Wine and Grapes
from the Tank into the Press

We've found that this is actually the best way to press manually, ie very slowly and over a long period of time. The slower the better. In fact, when we opened up the cage to do a second pressing, we found that the cake was already so dry that we didn't have to do it.

It's very difficult to press slowly! For two reasons: 1) because when people are helping us press, they're happy and exited and emotional and so they instinctively want press fast, as if they were pumping water out of a boat! And when we (Jaun and myself) do it ourselves, we want to do it fast so we can finish as soon as poss so we can go home to sleep at a not too unreasonable time! 2) beacause the press is usually quite close to the crusher, and crushing really is a fast and energetic task, and so that feeling infects the people working the press!

Some technical winemaking details:

There were 30 cases of Graciano, but we didn't crush all of them. We decided to pour 5 cases in as whole clusters, uncrushed, stems and all. Hopefully, these grapes will undergo carbonic maceration and fermentation will start inside each individual grape. The stems will also provide a bit of acidity - but no 'green' or 'veggie' notes as we made sure that they were well lignified and not green or unripe.

Posing with a Bottle of Airén 2010 Maceración Carbonica
(which apparantly went down very well at the Chambers St Wine and José Pastor Selections presentation/signing of Alice Feiring's "Naked Wine" that very evening

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