I’m back! Thanks for letting me have some time off last week… you guys are the best.
We’ll go through the holiday snaps slideshow later (it’s ok, there are only a couple of hundred photos…).
But first, let’s check in with what Rob has been up to this week.
2016 Sparkling Shiraz
Hands up if you’re a fan of our Sparkling red… I should see every one of your hands right now. It’s sensational!
Those of you with both hands up will be happy to hear that Rob has been busily working on the next Somerled version.
He’s had two barrels of 2016 Shiraz tucked away, waiting for this week when he put them together in the winery. This process of mixing them together gave him the opportunity to work on the wine as a whole. The risk of doing this though, especially on a 3-year-old wine, is that it is at a very fragile stage.
Exposing the wine to oxygen at this stage can be a killer. The last thing you want to do is oxidise this beautifully matured wine. However, wine-makers have a pretty cool trick up their sleeves that they pull out at times like this…
Yep… dry ice is added to the wine. Dry ice is heavier than air and sits on top of the wine creating a protective layer over the wine. Genius!
Check out this video…
Adding the barrels together in an open tub, Rob was able to do a few important things…
- smell all those amazing aromas floating up from the mature wine – yum!
- adjust the sulphur in preparation for bottling
- bring the alcohol content down using a process called reverse osmosis
Now, this last one is super important when it comes to making our Sparkling Shiraz.
A couple of things to remember first…
Before I go on to explain why it is so important, there are a couple of keys things you need to keep in mind.
- Rob starts with the same base wine which goes into bottle to become our “standard” (what a terrible word to use to describe Rob’s wines!) Somerled Shiraz. It has an alcohol content of around 15%.
- To make sparkling wine (properly – using the traditional method) more yeast and sugar (grape juice) is added to the wine in bottle. This secondary fermentation creates all the tiny bubbles you find in a good bottle of sparkling.
- Yeast doesn’t perform too well in the presence of high levels of alcohol
For those reasons, Rob needs to bring the alcohol down a little (to around 13%) so the yeast can do its all important job. You should also keep in mind that the process of secondary fermentation will create even more alcohol (around 1% more). So, if the yeast could do its job at 15% it would end up producing a VERY alcoholic end product (maybe not an issue for some of us?!)
Rob wants to give the wine a chance to settle down a little bit now. So, he has put it back in to barrel where it will stay for a couple of weeks. Then it will be off to the bottling line!
During bottling, the yeast and grape juice (dosage) will be added to start the secondary fermentation which will create the bubbles.
That process shouldn’t take more than 6 weeks. But how does Rob know when the fermentation is finished? Especially when it’s taking place in a bottle with a cap on it? Well, the simplest way is by testing the pressure in the bottle. As the fermentation progresses, the pressure in the bottle increases. From experience, Rob knows that at 40 psi, the ferment is around halfway through. He continues to check it until the pressure plateaus.
Once that has happened, he’ll then test one bottle from each bin to make sure they’re all at the same stage, before the disgorging process begins.
Cut to the chase!
OK, OK… sorry. I know all you really want to know is when you’ll be able to drink it! This little beauty will be making its debut appearance in late September or early October!
And fingers crossed we have enough of our current vintage to see us through until then! We LOVE sparkling red here in Australia. Rob told me that in his early days as assistant winemaker at Auldana (where all of the Penfolds premium reds were bottled) they made just as much sparkling red as sparkling white!
Now, let’s have a look at those photos. You’d better get comfy…
Mother’s Day with Souffle
Start panicking… Mother’s Day is NEXT WEEK! We have you covered though. Not only do we have all her favourite wines we also have this fabulous event. Why not treat Mum (or yourself!) to a day out…
Or add lunch…
Get your tickets now!