The dark side of the moon

October 13th, 2009 | Uncategorized
You can just about see the moon’s horizon, but earth is not visible

Yesterday was probably one of our busiest days in the cellar – plenty of wine making action, not to mention a visit from our Australian importer, and an Australian journalist – travelling seperately, but both, totally by co-incidence, arriving with us on the same day….. Oh, and by the way, it was a public holiday in Spain just for good measure!

The only option, in order to accomodate everything, was a very early start, and doing as much as we could before they both arrived around lunch time. We had already made clear, very early on, that going out for lunch was not an option, and that they should either eat before, or bring a sandwich! I have to say that we are usually much more friendly and hospitable than this, but unfortunately at this time of year it is the rapidly emerging wine that dictates our timetable – time and good wine waits for no man.

One of our current jobs in the cellar is adding a fining agent to the fermentation in the shape of Wyoming bentonite. Bentonite is a special type of clay that was first named in Wyoming in the 19th century, and is distinct from other clays in that it is formed from volcanic ash. Without trying to get too technical, it is a negatively charged substance which when hydrated and added to wine, will attract the positively charged particulate in the wine. As bentonite hydrates and swells it becomes like a sponge, and after mixing it thoroughly into the wine, the positively charged matter in the wine attaches to the bentonite. The weight of the molecules then cause the matter to drop to the bottom of the tank and become what is known as ‘finings’.

There you are, clear as mud, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Anyway, my picture today is not from a moon landing as the title would imply, but is merely the surface of the bentonite solution after it had been hydrated. Pretty…..

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