I guess 2016's vintage is winding down.
The winery still smells wonderfully of ferments. I'm not sure quite how to describe it; the beginning of life.
It must be the first year I haven't made any whites; but the 2015 Marsanne is still developing and I sneak a look once a while. It'll be ready for bottle in a few months.
It starts with the fruit, and most of it is down to luck and prayer. Or at least for me.
The vineyard is everything. Vintage... look, they're all different, but show the truth of a healthy vineyard in any given year and you'll have a wine well worth drinking. It'll just be different.
This year, I couldn't ask for anything better. Old vines, incredible site, clean fruit, naturally low crop yield.
New barrels. They're not cheap, but they're important. About 30% new oak this year. 228L Burgundy barrel. Medium toast, from a mix of forests.
1000L Variable Capacity tank, first one I've ever bought. Honestly, I'm torn when it comes to stainless steel. It revolutionised the world's wine industries when it was introduced. It made things cleaner and gave us more control over things like temperature.
It really is a good thing but I do not like it's inability to breathe. If I have 30% in new oak that's breathing, I want the rest in something that can breathe too; otherwise I fear the end product wont taste integrated. And I don't want clean wine, I want wine that is of character.
This tank however is magic as a short term storage vessel.
Mostly the other 70% of the wine sits in old barrels, but stainless is also good for maturing a small portion of the wine; just not too much. We want a dozen batches of wine developing in different ways.
Being stained red. Part of vintage. Honestly, plunging wine is one the really good feelings in wine.
This year I made frequent pilgrimages to the winery in the middle of the night to plunge the Pinot Noir. I want extraction and air exposure. And honestly, I just want to smell it. The constant reassurance that it was healthy and happy was good. Worth sacrificing a little sleep for.
In the middle of this photo is a pneumatic press. Essentially a big airbag that inflates and gently presses the grapes. The old school way used to be to use a basket press, but it was a lot rougher and bruised the grapes, and risked over extraction. To be honest, pneumatic or airbag press has to be better. Some guys still use a basket press though, sometimes to very good results. Each to their own; but for me it's all about a soft touch.
In the foreground. Eh... a large portion of pressing is just a matter of keeping an eye on this thing and making sure it doesn't overflow. There is work involved, I swear; but a deck chair and beverage are essential tools too.
One of the many other ways in which I'm lucky in this venture is that I get to play with a lot more fruit and wine than I actually make. My parents own a tiny winery in Seville, Brumfield Winery and most of the equipment I use is theirs.
The above is, I think, from a morning of picking Shiraz, or Sangiovese; it's odd to say that the days all blend in together. Sleep deprivation from vintage, maybe.
Though father and son are polar opposites in winemaking. I think we help each others wine quite a bit.
Their wine is worth checking out at the link above.