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Monday 5 September 2011

Sampling the Airén

I went out to the vineyard in Carabaña (Madrid) yesterday (4th September) to take samples of the white Airén grapes. First the low-down data, then the anecdotes!

The quality is incredible this year - not a single bunch that is bad in any way or infected with mildew or oidium or anything else. They are all clean and healthy. This is rather unusual, extraordinary even, as most years there are a few vines that are affected in some way.

Healthy Bunches of Airén

Healthy Bunches of Airén (2)

Healthy Bunches of Airén (3)

After looking really hard for something to complain about, I can say that the animals have eaten more than their fair share this year, especially round the edges of the vineyard. perhaps because the grapes are so appetizing! Or perhaps because we haven't taken any measures at all to prevent them. Maybe next year we should hang up some shiney CDs or something.

Vine Eaten by Animals

The quantity was also looking OK. Unlike the Tempranillo, of which there was very little (see this previous post). There were also a few vines that were looking a bit weak and not very vigourous. I think that this year we definitiely have get a lorry-load of manure in.

Incredibly Vigorous Vine (Airén)

I did a semi-rigorous sample this time, ie not quick-n-dirty, but not ultra-rigorous either. Looking through the refractometer, I got a probable level of alcohol of 11.3%. And using the mustometer, 11.5%. For the last 8 years we've always harvested when we get a probable level of 12%, and we're going to do the same this year. If the weather stays nice-n-hot-n-sunny all week, we'll probably harvest over the weekend, after doing another few samples during the week.

Nice Bush, Weak Vine (needs manure)

This time I managed to get out to the vineyard quite early, at 9:30, so it was nice-n-cool! I saw a couple of rabbits eating the grapes but they were too fast for me to take a photo. I remembered to take a pair of socks this time, but forgot my shoes! In Madrid, I usually wear sandals from April, and put away all my socks and shoes till about October - except socks and shoes for working in the vineyard/bodega, but for some reason I stored these ones too and haven't got round to fishing them out.

I also forgot to take a container to hold the grapes that I was picking! I was thinking of what to do, as there was absolutely nothing in the car that I could use. Then I saw something white in the middle distance lying among the vines, and it looked like some litter (shock, horror) so I went to investigate. And was it not a plastic bag! Perfect for holding samples!

Then I went to the bodega and crushed the grapes and did the analysis. My last task of the day was to stick some labels on a lot of wine that we bottled a few months ago. It was the Garnacha 2010 with about 4 months in old oak. Only 4 months and old oak so that the wine doesn't get dominated by the oak flavours and keeps its original aromas and tastes. Just enough to "round it off" a little.

I printed the labels myself, as it would be too expensive to do proper labels at a printers - there are only 300 bottles of this wine (267 bottles as of yesterday!).

Even though a barrel in theory holds 300 bottles (225 liters), in practice we only get about 290-295, because the bottom always contains too many lees to bottle. Especially in our case, as we don't filter our wines. I've only sold 4 of these bottles so far, so that means we must have drunk about 20 in samplings and tastings!

Our Bottle Rack

Our 'bottle rack' is a bit precarious to say the least! It consists of plastic crates piled up 3-high in a tiny space between the wall and the oak casks in the barrel-room. At least the temperature is good!


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