Monday, 26 October 2009

Racking the fine lees and how regional politics interferes with my wine

Yesterday, two days too late for my liking, I racked the fine lees. Using my trusty tube, gravity and my 250l tub, i siphoned off the wine until I got to the lees. Tipping the dribbling, ochre-coloured slop (and five oak chips) at the bottom of my tank into the drain, the tank was hosed out and the tartrate crystals scrubbed of the sides before the wine was bucketed back in with a few grams of potassium metabisulphate. I now have clear juice and I'm ready to fine it with the aid of some bentonite given me by a friend in Rueda.

The reason I had to postpone the racking is thus: Two days ago, our little village received a visit from the regional health and safety inspector.

Now, the village sits on an aquifer, which provides untreated, beautiful, clean, soft water from the ground. No one has died from it and we all have wonderfully soft hair. But in order to ensure that the village passed the health and safety tests, the water would have to have chlorine in it. So the villagers put chlorine in it.

My little winery uses this water and, as any winemaker will know, even a tiny amount of chlorine in contact with wine opens the door to TCA (cork taint). Great.

So I had to wait two days for the chlorine to pass out of the water system before I could use the water to wash out my tank. Local government, eh...

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Stirring the lees

Nearly two weeks have passed since the two ferments were blended. Despite the addition of sulphur at that point (to ward off oxidation and stop any further fermentation), it appears that the wine was reluctant to finish until it was done. In the two days that followed, I was finding wine on top of the lid of the fermenter.

In the last 12 days, the wine has remained on lees. A white winemaker friend of mine in Rueda told me there was no need to add any sulphur post-ferment as the lees will protect the wine from oxidation. At regular intervals (about once every five days) I've given the wine a stir with a large household whisk. Not ideal, but the best I've got.

I'm expecting that yesterday's stir will be the last. Now I have to prepare myself for more racking, and get the bentonite.

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