Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No longer a 33 year old intern

I feel so bad not posting here in so long. The longer it got the more guilty I became until eventually I couldn't face it. Sorry...

Since I last posted I have done internships at Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley run by the great James Halliday and with his help I have been a stagiaire at Domaine Simon Bize in Savigny-lès-Beaune in Burgundy since 2009. While working at Domaine Bize I fell in love with the terroir of Savigny-lès-Beaune and I have now set up a "nano-négociant" in a garage in Savigny-lès-Beaune making villages rouge and blanc starting with the 2011 vintage. A true garagiste!

My wine label is called Le Grappin and I will be focusing on exploring the lesser known, amazing terroirs of the Côte d'Or — for every Chambertin, there are many hidden gems of vines; not only in Savigny but across the Golden Spike.

I hope you can come by and visit me blogging the beginning of a new wine label — an Australian trying to make his way in one of the oldest wine regions in the world at http://blog.legrappin.com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lack of Posting....

Sorry for the sparse posting. I have returned to the UK after harvest to my end of semester exams as part of my Bachelor of Wine Science degree as well as a house to move into - and next week I am off to Australia for two weeks at college doing all of this semester’s practical exercises and experiments.

As an interlude I thought I might post some humor from one of the must read wine industry blogs, Fermentation. Tom’s blog can be a little “inside baseball” but he calls it as he sees it. He had a post on why the chicken crossed the road according to various wine industry icons. Some of my favorites:-

The Wine Spectator
Non Vintage Chicken—The Road
This is a superb effort by the chicken that we haven't seen in a number of crossings. A lovely blend of supple movement and a robust gate propelled chicken across the street and to a finishing hop upon a smooth, well delineated finish. 94 Points

The Publicist
We wanted to create the greatest crossing ever! Our chicken is dedicated to hands-on crossings that highlight the terroir of the road. This is by far the finest crossing the chicken has ever offered.

The Wine Blogger
I don't care why the chicken crossed the road. I just blog about it for my own pleasure and to try to make chicken crossings more accessible to the average chicken. Before bloggers appeared on the scene the mainstream press ignored the average chicken crossing and focused only on Roosters. Bloggers are taking back Chicken Crossings and putting them in the hands of the chickens again!

Funny stuff!

Friday, May 2, 2008

I've done a photo of everyone else in a tank...

So I guess it is only fair to do mine. I am also rocking the traditional harvest beard at the moment (it is unlucky to shave during harvest, it angers the gods and stuff like that).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fighting Frost New Zealand Style

The biggest danger from these sub zero overnight temperatures is not damage to the fruit (the sugars in the berries lowers their freezing point far enough below zero to not be a worry) but the vine going "night-night". Two things can happen, the first catastrophic, the second kind of forcing your hand.

The catastrophe is frost - if the water inside the cells of the leaves freeze, the leaves will immediately die. Remember that water when frozen expands; the pressure from the expanding ice bursts the cell walls open and thus instantly kills them. Without leaves the vine can not photosynthesize any more sugars and flavor compounds and the grapes will not mature further. A real bummer if you still have "green" fruit.

The second scenario is that the vine believes it is now winter and starts going into dormancy. This process is less catastrophic since it is slower - leaves will gradually turn yellow, red and then fall off. A vine can still ripen fruit (although at a much slower rate) after 50% of its leaves have senesced and it may take a week or more to get to this point. Enough cool weather and this scenario is inevitable.

So what can you do? In New Zealand, some grape growers may water their vines when there is a frost warning - this is a double-edged sword since the water may prevent the frost from setting but the vine will then take up that water and dilute the flavors that it has spent all summer developing. Not many growers of grapes destined for premium wines would employ this tactic (one would hope).

The much more expensive option is to create wind. In Gibbston one often sees what look like windmills - but instead of harnessing wind to generate energy, these bad boys generate wind from energy. Usually hooked up to temperature sensors that will turn them on anytime that the temperature approaches zero, the wind they create moves enough air to prevent frost from setting in. At Peregrine we don't have wind machines so we need temporary ones - otherwise known as helicopters! Every morning when there is a frost warning, two or three helicopters show up at 4am to fly over the vineyard until 8am or so, again generating enough air flow to stop frost damage. Gnarly stuff!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Winery Recycling Tip #316: How to reuse beer bottles

Who needs expensive fermentation bungs when remnants of recent beer fines can do the trick!

NB: A beer fine (usually a six-pack) is assessed on the winery staff for making stupid mistakes - like for forgetting to turn the cooling on a tank of cold-soaking pinot. How else do you expect the beer fridge to remain stocked over harvest!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Germans are wimps. This is REAL cool climate winemaking!

The danger of making wine below the 45th Parallel was apparent yesterday when we showed up to work at 8am and the thermometer read 1° C. And it was snowing too - the temperature the whole day never got above 8° C. You don't know how cold it can get on a crush pad with water spraying everywhere - boy, oh, boy!

With the grapes still a couple of weeks away from physiological maturity this is going to be a race against Mother Nature. As my flatmate might say "this *%@# ain't going to get ripe!". Here's hoping for the best.

Anyone can dig a tank but how many can do "crow" pose at the same time

Yoga teacher and harvest veteran, Elizabeth Keys, digging out a Pinot tank. Om shanti.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to look fab and graceful when digging tanks

Ummm, not so much...

You say Pinot Grigio, I say Pinot Gris!

Last week we were bombarded with Pinot Gris - the "Grey Grape" and favorite quaff of housewives the world over. While being made from the same grape, in France the wine made from Pinot Gris is called Pinot Gris (surprised?) while in Italy it is named Pinot Grigio. Since the Italian style is more fruity, New World producers usually refer to their versions as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio depending on how fruity their winemaking style is.

Normally Pinot Gris is processed like most whites - immediately de-stemmed, crushed, pressed and then usually fermented in stainless steel tank (for some creaminess some winemakers may also ferment a small portion of the final blend in barrel). However Pinot Gris may also be left on its skins for a short period before pressing - the juice picks up some pinkish-grey coloring (which will fall out during fermentation owing to its instability) but it also develops some floral characters which is appealing.

Below are two press loads of Pinot Gris that we processed at the same time last week. The first press held grapes that were left on their skins overnight and the other was full of grapes that were pressed immediately after crushing.

Notice the very different coloration. I will let you know about any different flavors and aromas that develop after fermentation - I know I am excited whether you are or not is another matter!