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Monday 9 September 2013

Surprise Harvest and Other Vinous Anecdotes

Albillo Harvest

In the end I am going to make some wine with Albillo. I had given up hope of finding any Albillo grapes this year, as there's not much of it planted, and what there is, is already allocated. I was biding my time, as it were, and hoping that during the course of the year, I'd make some contacts and so be able to buy some next year. But by happy chance I was able to buy about 600 kg.

Here are some pics of the vineyard where it's from, about less than a mile from El Tiemblo, where my new bodega is located. (BTW, I've just updated the Wikipedia article!)

The reservoir known as El Charco del Cura

Looking south from the vineyard to El Tiemblo
Nice vineyard. And rocky!

My intention is to make a simple wine to be drunk young, and I'm not going to put it in oak, which is what my fellow winemakers from the Gredos region tend to do with their Albillo wines. Maybe I'll try that next year, assuming I can get hold of more Albillo!

Albillo grapes harvested in the vineyard; in small stackable crates

The same Albillo grapes in the bodega...

...being weighed on an ancient weighing machine

After crushing the grapes with a small motorized crusher, borrowed from fellow winemaker Rubén Diaz Alonso, who makes wine up the road in Cebreros, I let them macerate for 48 hours in the big tub directly under the crusher. I kept the grapes cool, by inserting 6 or 7 bottles of ice.

Rubén's motorized crusher
Then I pressed the grapes off and put the must into a 500 liter stainless steel tank.

Using two manual basket presses at once
Close-up of the must running out

Albillo must

But I filled it up too much. What on earth was I thinking about?  I've been making wine for 11 years now and I 'know' that you only fill tanks up to a certain level for fermentation. This was the result two days later:

Overflowing tank of fermenting must

So after cleaning up the mess, I took some of the must out, about 50 liters or so to reduce the level of the liquid in the tank, but the next day it overflowed again!!! Only a little this time, and no actual liquid came out - just a bit of foam.

Nice and clean, but still too much liquid and foam!

This is what happens with short, hot fermentations. I didn't want to keep it cool. Maybe next year. We shall see.

Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard, Visit to Ruben, Forest Fires

The other day I went with Daniel Ramos to see a man about buying some Sauvignon Blanc grapes from a lovely vineyard about 15 minutes drive from El Tiemblo.

Sauvignon Blanc vineyard

Unripe Sauvignon Blanc grapes

More unripe Sauvignon Blanc grapes - about 2 or 3 weeks to go!

On the way there we drove past an area that had been burnt in a forest fire a few weeks ago. Not a pretty sight. I think this summer has been quite bad for fires in Spain in general, because it was a long wet winter and spring and so a lot of grass grew, which subsequently dried out.

Scorched earth, blackened stones, damp ash: there was a fire here once. Our testament (An appropriate haiku by Andrew Jefford)

We also popped in to see Rubén and give him back his crusher.

A basket press, ... with some extra bits!!!

Interlude in Italy

Before all of the above, I was in Italy, relaxing before the storm!  I usually just hang out in the old part of Barga, especially at the Enoteca Colordivino, where have a glass of wine or two and post the pics on FB or Twitter, and I don't generally go any further afield. But this year I managed a trip 10 km down the road to visit Macea, an organic winery in Borgo a Mozzano.  They also make olive oil and have holiday apartments for rent.

They have lots of old vines of tradtional local varieties like Ciliegiolo, Malvasia Nera, Montanina, Bracciola, Tannet, Barghigiana, Malvasia Bianca, Colombana, Trebbiano; and also some newer vines that they planted themselves in 1999: Sangiovese, Sirah, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio.

Macea's vines. Trellised, as the climate is very rainy

Is that a slatey soil?

The winery and house, some bits from the XV century!

The barrel room

In the fermentation room

Now I'm back in Spain, and I'm waiting for the storm to break. The grape harvest is about 20 days late here in Spain; I expect to start harvesting and buying in grapes in about 10 days or so, ie around the 20th September. But who knows? :)

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