Tag Archives: Grenache

Pressing matters

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After the frantic rush of harvest time, and the heady days of fermentation, pressing time is a rather more sober and measured affair.

But when and how to press is very important.

Colour and tannins are extracted from the skins of the grapes during the fermentation, and as the alcohol goes up, it acts as a potent solvent for some of the more bitter element sometimes found in the skins and pips of imperfectly ripe grapes.

In some years, we might decide to press right at the end of the fermentation. When our grapes are not fully ripe, pressing straight away (before the alcohol extracts too much greenness) makes a lot of sense.

But when, as this year, the skins are thick and chewy, but completely ripe, and the pips are nutty and woody, and not at all green, a longer maceration can enhance the texture and richness of the flavours extracted.

So most of our barrels have been sitting for a full 3 weeks (some even as many as 5 weeks) with the grapes immersed in the wine, with a floating dish of sulphur and a clingfilm wrap keeping away the fruit-flies.

But now, after nearly a month of calm, the time has come to press.

A 500L barrel, or ‘demi-muid’ can contain 450 Kg of grapes (you could fit in more, but it would risk overflowing when the cap gets pushed up by the carbon dioxide).

When you pump away the wine, and leave behind the skins, you can usually pump out 220-250 Litres of wine.

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And if you press the remaining wet skins, you can extract another 60-90 litres of wine.

Which is a lot. And you can’t get at it without a good press. Put it into a muslin bag, and you’d be able to extract 25-30 litres. A small basket press should get you up to 50-60 litres, but a good bladder press should enable a carefully controlled pressing at a very even pressure, which will give you as much chance of extracting all of the wine as possible. And the skins that come out (or ‘marc’) are almost dry to the touch.

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So, out comes the spade, and the slippery skins slide down the stainless steel slope and into the press. Alliterations unintended.

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And three barrel’s worth of skins only amounts to 5-600Kg of skins which doesn’t go a very long way towards filling a 3 Tonne press…..!

We have now finished all of our pressing, and we’ll let each barrel settle, so as to allow the heavy yeast sediment to fall to the bottom, before we rack each wine into a new barrel, top up, and seal up for the next few months.

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The good, the bad and the ugly – a pre-harvest report from Justin

As harvest approaches, I have been out and about among the vines examining the ripening fruit. Everything that has happened since the beginning of the year has left its imprint…..

THE GOOD

We had a reasonable flowering this year, and so we have a good number of bunches. The grapes are pretty large and tightly packed. This is mostly a good thing, but can be a risk for rot if the weather stays humid and warm, with no wind.

Plenty of grapes in our Carignan vineyard

IMG_3969IMG_5262IMG_3976IMG_5150 This year’s grapes are much larger than normal…. on account of the summer rain

THE BAD AND THE UGLY

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Dead vines at the top of La Roque

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Grenache Blanc grapes that have been hollowed out by wasps

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We like slightly shrivelled grapes – they taste AMAZING – but these ones have gone too far, because the stem has died (possibly because of the wind)

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Sudden vine death syndrome. Happens to Grenache from time to time. Quite a lot this year. This vine was alive 3 weeks ago….

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The brown ‘burn’ on each leaf is a clue that the Downy Mildew in August has damaged the leaves. Some of the neighbour’s vines are completely brown though….

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Hector looks magnificent, as always….

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Some of the negative effects of the other kind of mildew ‘Powdery Mildew’ or Oidium. The grapes don’t ripen well, and split. We won’t pick these.

2 weeks to go to harvest – we are keeping our fingers crossed for warm sunshine, cool nights and a drying breeze.

At the moment, the Carignan has reached 13.5 degrees – but the skins and pips are not yet ripe, so we are hanging out for another degree, which should take us to about the 13th / 14th October

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This is a randomly chosen sample of one grape from each of 100 different vines in our Carignan vineyard.

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This is the view through the refractometer…. 13.5 degrees

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Last night, we had nearly 100mm of rain. Not what we are looking for, but if it stays dry from now on, we might be OK…. fingers crossed!

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World’s Best Sommelier choses ‘Les Genoux’!

I spent a few days in the South of France in February – checking out the progress of the terrace that we are extending in the garden, and the repairs to stop the leaks on the roof terrace.

After less than 24 hours soaking up the peaceful atmosphere at Borde Neuve, I sped up to Montpellier for 2 days of frantic tasting and talking at the most important wine fair that happen every year in the South of France.

I was absolutely delighted when the lovely Marlene from the Grenache Association rang me to tell me that the great Paolo Basso – a sommelier of huge reknown, who was awarded the title of ‘Best Sommelier in the World’ in 2013 – had chosen our single vineyard cuveé ‘Les Genoux’ 2011 in a line-up of top Grenache-based wines from around the world.

Pailo Basso at Vinisud

We were in very good company, and I was a bit worried about how our little-known wine would fare alongside some of the world’s famous names from Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Paulo conducted a live tasting for about 50 people, and spent 4-5 minutes discussing each wine. He was very complimentary about ‘Les Genoux’, and many tasters ranked it as one of the best wines of the line-up – including Gerard Basset MW MS (and a previous holder of the ‘Best Sommelier in the World’ title)

For those of you who are interested, here is the full list of wines:
Stag’s Hollow Winery Grenache 2012 – Okanagan, Canada
Castillo del Rocio Garnacha 2011, Carinena, Spain
Domaine of the Bee ‘Les Gemoux’ 2011, Cotes Catalanes, France
Domaine Vaquer – L’Exigence 2000, Cotes Catalanes, France
Les Clos Perdus – L’Extreme (Blanc) 2012, Cotes Catalanes, France
Guillaume Gros – A Contre Courant (Blanc) 2011, Cotes Catalanes, France
Chene Bleu – Abelard 2007, Vaucluse, France
Chateau Jas de Bressy Rouge 2010, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France
Domaine de Cristia, Renaissance 2010, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France
Domaine de la Mordorée, Reine des Bois 2011, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France
Chateau Trinquevedel, Vendanges Oubliées 2012, France
Epicure Wines – El Mago 1928, Terra Alta, Spain