Monday, 15 January 2018

Bottled. Our 2017 vintage.

Left to right, Trebbiano (Puglia), Gemischter Satz (Thames Valley), Moscato (Puglia)
 The ancients thought there was something miraculous about wine. After all you just needed to queeze grapes and collect the juice in an amphora and after a while, it turns to wine. That is more or less what we did in 2017 with two grapes sourced from Puglia through Chris Lisney-Smith's company 'Wine Grapes' of Hatfield and our own assortment of white grapes (and a red one, Rondo of which more later). These whites consisted mainly of Bacchus with some Solaris, Johanniter, Goldriesling, Souvignier Gris and GM 8107-3.

Moscato being racked prior to bottling

We reckon there is no more miraculous a stage of the process than the clarification of the fermented juice. Fermentation tends to take place sooner or later. Having said that we needed to give our Moscato a kick-start this year - it just didn't seem to want to ferment.

It is the clarification that appears never to happen. Week after week, the juice was dark and cloudy. We started to wonder if we shouldn't have added egg-white at fermentation (not really an option for white wine), Bentonite during or Isinglas (made from fish bladders) at the end. 

And then as if by magic, our Trebbiano and Moscato started to look clear.

Trebbiano dregs

So we bottled these two from Puglian grapes without any further delay. There would be subsequent aging in bottle. A satisfying amount of sludge was left in both carboys.

Moscato bottles

Trebbiano bottles

the micro Rondo harvest

Gemischter Satz topped up with Rondo. Note unattractive colour.

The Gemischter Satz had been picked and pressed 4 weeks after the Italian grapes so we had to wait at least another 4 weeks before we could expect clarification there.

Our quantities were enough to fill a 23 litre carboy and one 5 litre jar plus almost another 5 litre jar. What could we use to top that up? We had a desultory amount of juice rom 2 little rows of the red Rondo the birds had left us so taking our cue from the promiscuous Greek wines we had encountered: Paros Red which is 80% (white) Monemvasia with 20% of the local Mandilaria red and Glinavos's 'Paliokairisio' which is a blend of the white Debina with red Vlahiko.

That Gemischter Satz with the Rondo is on theleft.
Amazingly, the jar with the Rondo clarified to almost the same color as the all-white one and didn't taste very different. A miracle indeed

Gemischter Satz in bottle.

Taste? Ah yes, the Trebbiano and Moscato were judged a success. The Gemischter Satz was problematic from the start. The raw grape juice wasn't pleasant. We worried that there were too many chemical residues in it. The Bacchus and Goldriesling had been sprayed 8 times with varying products in the vain attempt to stave off mildew. In addition some of the varieties were overripe (Solaris for example) and the GM 8107-3 underripe.

Worse, the juice had developed a strong smell of Sulphur after fermentation so we treated it with Camden tablets (Sulphite) which we had never used before. This removed the bad egg smell. Apparently it might have gone away of its own accord but we wanted to try the tablets out as the majority of winemakers use sulphites in greater or lesser quantities.

Tasting the Gemischter Satz at different times, it seemed at first rank peculiar and although this unpleasant weirdness started to wear off we didn't have much hope for it.

Indeed, we even wondered if putting the wine in our 3 year old 20-litre French oak barrel might help but we were advised against that at this stage of the proceedings.

So we have bottled this beverage and hope that with aging it might mature into something drinkable.

Who knows, miracles can happen.


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