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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wine Making with Chardonnay

Most of today was spent working on the three batches of Chardonnay.

Batch 1 (B1) was pretty straightforward. It was all juice and the only job this morning after leaving overnight to chill down to below 10 C was to run it through another finer sieve. There was a lot of sediment in the bottom of the demijohn which was added to B2. I didn't bother filtering it as B1 was at the 10 litre mark and it didn't need any more volume.

B3 was still in the freezer at 10 C it will be 2 am tomorrow morning before it reaches 36 hours on skins. Having worked out that it meant getting out of bed there was some thought about doing it later today and making the test closer to 24 hours or leaving it until normal wake up time and making it 40 + hours. We will see what happens.

B2 needed pressing in the basket press. As there were other jobs to do elsewhere it was an ideal opportunity to do the right kind of pressing i.e. very slow. This slow method means less of the bitter parts of the skin are released. So all day it was just a few clicks on the handle of the press using just finger tip pressure.

As the juice came out and the pressure relieved it was onto the other tasks. Measuring out the yeast getting it ready to rehydrate. A sample of juice s raised to between 35 and 38 C and the yeast added. Once it has started bubbling the temperature is lowered with cold juice a little at a time and the yeast allowed to bubble again. Never more than a 10 C change in any one step. Once the yeast is working at a temperature within 10 degrees of the pressed juice it is added. The slow pressing meant the pressed juice was gradually rising in temperature and it need to be at or above the planned fermentation temperature of 15 C.

Also tested was the pH which came in at 3.55. The ideal pH is between 3 and 3.5. Aim was taken at the midpoint t3.25. To get there Tartaric Acid the largest acid type in grapes needed adding. There is a simple formula to achieve the desired result. After checking and double checking the calculations the acid was stirred into the demijohn. The calculation is a little tricky for B2 as the grapes are still being pressed and the final volume is only an estimate based on previous years yields. But by choosing a mid point there is some wiggle room.

When B1 started fermenting comfortably it went into the freezer at 15 C. B2 because of the much larger volume will not see much activity until the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Measuring out the yeast required

pH meter

Getting some juice at the correct temperature to rehydrate the yeast

Pressing Chardonnay B2

While waiting between applications of more pressure other jobs got some attention including a few trips across the river to setup and then fix an irrigator that was playing up. And which continued to play up. At least one patch of ground got a very good watering.

And the baby Roquefort needed the final application of salt.

Weigh each cheese and calculate the 2% salt and pour on top

Five little Roquefort altogether

Just after lunch confirmation was received that the Pinot Noir would be ready for picking on Monday next. This meant tomorrow (Friday) was free - well sort of.

 Our Chambourcin was close to picking. A couple of rows had readings of 21 Brix but lower down the slope the readings went much higher varying between 23 and 25. The aim was to get a final Brix of 23 to 24 if possible.

With the windfall spare day it was decided to pick at least the ripest rows and chill the fruit. Jean reminded me that our thermometer was showing 42 C. Much higher than the forecast.

Slow and steady picking and lots of water and breaks resulted in all but one row being harvested. The volume is greater than last year by about 20%. We can put that down to two factors. The first is the near absence of bird damage. The lack of bird damage was also mentioned when the Chardonnay was picked. This seems a valley wide phenomena this vintage.

The second factor is just a perfect season. Steady sunshine, good flowering and fruit set and a little added water at the appropriate times. Some vines had lovely full bunches. Something we don't often get at HHF on our rocky outcrop.

One last increase of pressure on the ongoing B2 and off to bed. Lets see whether passion for wine making will see a 2 am rising.

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