Time to get our tasty wine into barrel for its 16 months of aging before we blend and bottle in January 2009.
Yesterday we drained and pressed the must from our Rosella's fermentations. Basically this involves removing the wine that can be separated from the must by gravity or in our case a pump - this wine we call the "free run". The rest of the must, which without the free run, we now call the pomace is then placed into a piece of equipment which imaginatively is called a "press" and is placed under pressure. This releases even more wine that is inside the skins. This wine we call "press" wine.
In the "old days" a winemaker would slowly increase the pressure of the press as he/she tastes the wine coming out of the press at regular intervals until he/she makes a "press cut". This is the point where it is deemed that any more wine that could be extracted will have more negatives that will outweigh the positives of having more wine. As pressure is increased, and seeds are crushed, all sorts of unsavory flavors and tannins are extracted (next time you eat grapes, try chewing the seeds..yuck!). These days the computers that program the presses are sophisticated enough to never get to this point - extracting just the right amount of wine. Or most winemakers will stop the press (especially at the high end of Pinot Noir) well before one would ever need to make a "press cut". Press wine has a different flavor profile and it has a more viscous, mouth coating texture, which really works in the final blend.
Here I am barreling down the free run into a new Ermitage barrel. I really like Ermitage barrels, traditionally used for Rhône wines, especially on Rosellas 828. It gives the wine an exotic, spiciness which lifts the feminine, high toned flavor that we get from Rosella's 828. We also used a new Cadus barrel, which also delivers some spiciness and some creaminess which I love and also a new Remond Bertrange, which is just sex on a stick for Pinot Noir - voluptuous creaminess and a full velvetly mouth feel. Matched with these new barrels were two once filled Rousseau barrels (which deliver a bit of power, some iron fist to match our velvet glove if you will) and some neutral barrels (which impart no oak flavor since they have been used 3 or more times).
Some may think that once it is in barrel that wine kind of rests - in fact, it couldn't be further from the truth. Wine is an amazing living animal, always changing - sometimes asking for love, sometimes going through the wine equivalent of the "terrible twos". Our job as wine makers is to be open to "listening" to what the wine wants over the next 16 months and help each barrel to develop into the best damn delicious juice it can be!