A short video clip of Pressing Day: contortionist John, shoveling Brothers, goodbye to the valiant grape skins:
Something about the day of press that always evokes a shiver.
It’s the time of year when that same neighbor reminds me of the young man who died trying to pull his father out of a vat; both were overcome by carbon dioxide, both found by the mother.
Yesterday I opened the lid of a high tank at the end of fermentation. That woozy sensation, precursor to the fainting-and-falling scenario, was demonic indeed.
To say nothing of that pneumatic press we used to rent – I shivered each time John’s feet dangled over the relentlessly churning, mangling “must” pump.
Fortunately, today we have a fancy, vertical hydraulic press. What a baby! Craftsmanship from Italy, hand curved wooden slats, virile, iron bolts and above all – that delicate touch.
This press is a real gentleman. Like in the olden days.
Yesterday John was back inside the tanks. I shivered less since both boys were at his side. Our gentle press requires a lot more human effort than the scary old one, and clearly demonstrates that muscles aren’t just cute, they’re actually useful.
We press the grapes three times to collect the juice, but stop before the pressure will extract too much of the tannins. Knowing when to stop is part of making wine that is smooth.
Pressing Day means the FA (alcohol fermentation) is finished. We’ve extracted the best of flavors, color and perfume and say thanks to the generous skins who gave their all. It’s funny, after all their companionship in the tanks, and despite his purple hands, John is always a little sad when the grapes take their leave.
The MLF (malolactic fermentation) now follows – another stage that brings smoothness. When it’s done, the red “juice” can officially be called “wine.”
So far, so good for La Tourbeille 2016. After an exceptional summer of gorgeous, dry and warm, all signs point to an exceptional vintage.