Racking in progress
Believe it or not there is no quiet time of year in the Bodega. Since the beginning of the year we have been busy in the vineyards with pruning and tying the vines, whilst indoors we have just started another big job…..
During the winter we have been tasting our tanks of the 2006 wines on a regular basis, and this is not just because we like Albariño. Since fermentation, the wines have been sitting on their lees (the exhausted yeasts), developing character and accumulating more complex flavours and aromas. One of the critical points in the wine-making year is to pick the optimum moment for racking (drawing the clean wine off the lees). This is decided by both taste and experience – once the wines are completely nourished by the lees, and before the wine shows signs of ‘reduction’ that can lead to bitterness and off flavours.
The length of time that an Albariño rests on it’s lees is not fixed in stone, but is actually determined by the healthiness of the lees themselves. If the lees are not clean they will pass on unpleasant flavours to your wine in a very short space of time.
The racking is a big step forward towards the release of the new wine, but there is still more work to do before it can be deemed ready for bottling.
Although the lees may look like a rather disgusting, dirty-brown porridge, there is a wonderful aroma of yeast that permeates the air during the racking process, making our cellar smell more like a bakery.
Footnote: If you are puzzled by the title of this post, it originates from the Spanish word ‘desfangar’, which means ‘to rack’. For me at least, a desfangador sounds more like a Spanish guy in tight black trousers brandishing his castanets than a piece of equipment we use for racking – Sorry, just my strange sense of humour!