Day 6 – Watching the temperature

September 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Slowly the emphasis of our work starts to shift from outdoors to indoors, as we have fewer grapes left on the vine, and more juice in our tanks. As with all wine making, temperature is the key, when we start to impose our own individual character on the fruit that we collect. In a way, it is like being a chef – yes, you need to start with the very best raw ingredients, but then the individuality of the final dish, or in our case wine, will very much depend on how we handle our fruit.

Obviously, there are many steps in the wine making process, but in each there is very little margin for error. If Gordon Ramsay does not like the piece of fish that his Chef de Partie offers up to him, he will simply chuck it in the bin and start again (and probably swear a lot in the process!). If we make a mistake in our cellar, we cannot start again, we only have one chance to get it right. At this moment, there are really two important factors that will influence the final outcome – heat and oxidation – these are our enemies, and have to be avoided at all costs. This is one of the reasons that I make such a big fuss about our cooling system – it’s an important piece of kit for us!

In mentioning temperature, perhaps I should make a small comment about the weather. So far it has been really kind to us, as we still enjoy brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine. In fact, thinking back over the last few years, I don’t think I can recall a vintage with absolutely 0% precipitation – perhaps I am wrong.

In view of this continued good weather we will stop picking a little early today, to give the final plots a chance to drop a bit of acidity. (We may not resume again until Monday, as the forecast for the next couple of days still looks very good). But even if we did produce an odd tank with a slightly higher acidity, we can always use small amounts for blending with other tanks in the future – like adjusting the pepper and salt in your final dish (to use my cooking analogy once again).

Oh, and by the way, the photo shows my little post-it notes stuck on the control panel – with so much movement of must around the cellar this simply gives me an at-a-glance reminder of where everything is – not very high-tech!

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