After the madness and people for harvest have disappeared it’s actually my favourite time. It’s the winemaking. It’s a one person job: Well actually it should be two. You see fermentation creates lots of CO2 and that with having to climb up and down the vats makes the winery quite a dangerous place to be. Actually people die every year due to being overcome by CO2.
the first juice from the Merlot at 14% potential alchohol
Winemaking is part scientific process, part art. The science bit is well documented and provided that you understand the way in which yeast works; feeding on sugars and producing heat and alchohol then it can be controlled. We control this process mainly by controlling temperature and oxygen contact. its also interesting to experiment with the yeast variant used: we have experimented over the years with various cultured yeast that can enhance certain fruit flavours and minimise harsh tannins.
The art is in guiding the science bit to produce a final wine that is technically balanced ((fruit, acidity, tannin, colour and aroma) and is aesthetically attractive to the final consumer: Thats down the to experience and personal tastes of myself, Sarah and Ludwig. Not always a unanimous decision but thats what makes if fun.
ferment added to the must brings a new wine to life
Fermentation also extracts colours and aromas. here 1 week old Malbec.
It’s one man against the grapes in the vat. Experience helps but every year that I have made wine, the conditions have been a little different and therefore the process used is modified a little. For example, more sugar from more mature fruit can mean longer fermentation and a hotter must that can terminate fermentation a little too soon.
Of course the final product will not be consumed for some years. That makes the tasting of the wine at these very early stages incredibly difficult. You need a special skill and experience to know how a wine tasted now will evolve over a period of 3,5 even 10 years.
Maybe I just need another 50 years of experience.
Well the grapes have survived to this point. All that can go wrong now is me messing up in the winery: right?. I’m sorry, does that sound too negative? Sorry, but it’s about now that I pointlessly go over in my head all that things that I may have not done correctly this year, or at least all the things that I could have done better. You see they say that a good wine comes from good grapes: You can still make a bad wine from good grapes but you can’t make a good wine from bad grapes. So the pressure is now on.
The weather this year for harvest could not be better. 25 degrees and sunny by day 5 degrees and dry by night. So more important ripening sun and no dangerous night time humidity. We’ve waited a little longer than everyone else to take advantage of this ‘parent from the wine gods’. The Merlot and Malbec are looking great, the Cabernet Franc is looking good and the Cabernet Sauvignn to s still a little behind. Hopefully these last warm days of 2015 will ripen them fully before the frost starts.
Everything you do in the vineyard all year long counts when it comes to the final stage of making the win;so I’m driving down to Bordeaux now think of all the things that I might have got wrong. Nothn g I can do about it now but it seems t be part of the winemakers psyche.
A big problem now is getting an enthusiastic and loyal workforce. It’s a problem every year and I was complaining about this the other day whilst in a fab Cornish bistro in st Agnes called No4, run by Nola. I was chatting with ‘Cosmic’, a festival organiser. As if obvious, he suggested that as it was at the end of the festival season then there would be many people on the festival circuit that would jump at the opportunity. Brilliant! The result is here , the response was immediate and the prospect of the Civrac vendage festival now lives for 2016. Well that’s 1 less worry then…