Having experience some weeks of high temperatures we are pretty sure the red wine remaining in demijohns has finished fermenting and will not start up again. Bottling is best done when there is a descending moon or no moon. Experience has shown a big reduction in sediment when the timing is right. What ever doesn't get done this month will be attended to over the next two months. As long as all the botting is completed before January when the new vintage commences.
As with everything bottling is only one stage the next is cleaning up.
In only a couple of hours five dozen bottles were filled. A mix of corks and screw top seals. Corks for the bottles destined for longer aging.
Three wines today: Pinot Noir, Merlot and Shiraz. All three of these had extended time on skins and have as much of the goodness as possible extracted from the grape skins. Although its best drunk young before the goodness diminishes it will age very well and mellow.
In most vintages we experiment continually with different techniques to optimise or improve flavour as well as examine the effects of different techniques on the end product.
With Chardonnay and Semillon this year we used American Oak to compare against previous vintages where we used French Oak and occasionally no oak. With grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer the spicy flavours do not take to oak well and the experiments are limited to the amount of skin contact time and temperatures during fermentation.
The reds this year had the most dramatic experiment with skin contact time extending to 24 days in most cases and sometimes beyond. Each year the type of yeast is varied to try and match it against the specific qualities of the fruit and the conditions of the vintage. These conditions maybe hot dry weather, over ripe fruit, under ripe fruit etc. Also this year we mixed equal quantities of American and French Oak.
If the fruit is of particular quality we will keep a percentage of them as whole bunches during the fermentation to extract more tannins.
Chilling the batch to below 10 C adds more time to the skin contact period without risking premature fermentation.
Sometimes one variety or batch is ready for pressing earlier than another. In these cases we may put the pressed skins into another batch which is still fermenting for further extraction of tannins.
Another change in technique is rather than plunging the cap of skins we inserted a perforated plate in the fermenter so that the rising skins stayed below the surface. This reduces the need to attend to the plunging every 4-6 hours but does require juice from the bottom of the fermenter to be pumped or stirred to the top at least a couple of times each day.
As you can see there are so many options to choose from. We find it a hell of a lot of fun. The worst part of the entire process is hot humid weather during picking but at least for the last couple of vintages this has not occurred. Getting up at 4 am to make the hour drive to the vineyard can be a bit tiring but by packing breakfast and espresso coffee we make it a bit of an adventure.