Last week, while we were busy catching up on happenings in the vineyard, Rob and Lucy were at the winery (in their newly set-up Covid-safe tasting room – pictured) putting the finishing touches on a couple of our 2021 wines.
Now… I did ask Lucy to give me a run-down of what happened. Having been at one of these tastings myself, I empathised with her when she said that wouldn’t be possible as her brain was still trying to figure out exactly what happened! At the time, the information in her brain made as much sense as Rob’s notes (below)!
You see, it takes a winemaker with 50-plus years of experience to do what Rob does best. So why not let him tell you all about it?
Over to you Rob…
Pinot sparkling 2021
This is the base wine that is nearly ready for “triage bottling”.
Triage bottling: when the wine is bottled with sugar (about 23g/l) and yeast so that it will go through secondary fermentation and generate all those lovely fine bubbles
The wine has been through full malolactic fermentation and needs to be checked prior to being cold stabilised, filtered and then into bottle.
One of the absolute non-negotiable characteristics of our sparkling base is that it should be very soft and fine on the palate. Terms such as coarse, broad or rough must never be applied to our sparkling. Just prior to bottling is our last chance to make any adjustments to ensure all the above applies to our wine.
Fining agents are a marvellous tool to get the wine to its best possible state. Two that we use almost constantly in white wines are casein (milk) and PVPP (an insoluble, nylon-like additive). The fining agents do not dissolve at all in the wine. They do have a useful effect though – both offer a surface area that attracts particularly polyphenols (tannins and anthocyanins, which are coloured) as they gradually fall to the bottom of the tank.
For the sparkling base we used 100ppm casein and 10ppm PVPP. These are very low rates but enough to have a very nice softening effect without pulling back flavour. A possible negative effect of fining is a reduction of aroma and flavour if the fining is overdone, so gently does it!
Loving our blog? Sign up for weekly updates straight to your inbox…
All the above applies to the chardonnay as it too is about to go into bottle – but not with yeast and sugar this time!
The chardonnay is a much bigger, richer wine than the sparkling base, so the fining regime can theoretically be quite different. Doing trials is by far the best way of assessing what finings to use, and at what rate.
To do a fining “trial” you just line up a heap of glasses with a set amount of wine in them and then add different fining agents at different quantities. Then Rob tatses them all to see which is the best fit for the style of wine he is aiming for.
Casein and PVPP were again chosen as the finings to trial – casein from 0 to 250ppm and PVPP from 0 to 50ppm. After much tasting and spitting (mmm… delightful!), we agreed on 150ppm for the casein and 10ppm for the PVPP. Together the casein and PVPP seem very complementary. The chardonnay, whilst still lovely and rich, has a roundness to it that makes it very “morish”.
So the wines will have the finings added, stirred and then chilled for a few days to cold stabilise. They’re then filtered and off into bottle!
And if all goes according to plan the Chardonnay will be on its way to Boutique bottlers in the Barossa on Friday. So, watch this space next week for news of its return to the Cellar Bar!