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Thu, 27 Oct 2011

The start of vintage

Vintage starts tomorrow. I am working as an intern/stagiaire in a negociant in Beaune (Remoissenet) thanks to the CFPPA's "Odyssey in Burgundy" course.

So far, no idea what to expect. I'm staying in the stagiaire's house. Accomodation is fairly basic, just a dormitory. Blankets would be nice....

No internet access there, so expect weblog posts to be somewhat intermittent. I'm looking into finding an SCP program for Android so I can type short posts on my phone and upload them.

Winery looks well appointed: lots of oak vats.

But I don't find out anything more until we start tomorrow....

posted at: 03:36 | path: /wine/vintage2011 | permanent link to this entry

Nearing the end of vintage...

The vintage is nearly over, for me at least. Next week I'll be doing a short course at the CFPPA, then that's it for now.

The vintage isn't really over: wines are still fermenting, and will be for a week or so more. I don't think any more grapes are arriving after this week, though.

The vintage didn't go exactly as I'd hoped: I spent nearly all my time on the sorting table, and ideally would have liked to help with a number of other things as well. Still, I think I've learnt quite a bit about how winemaking is done in Burgundy from talking to people, and watching how things are done in the winery.

After the course, I'm off for a brief visit to the Jura. I worry I might get there at harvest time, which might make it harder to visit smaller domaines. Still, I'll see what I can. And I'll post more frequent updates here...

posted at: 03:36 | path: /wine/vintage2011 | permanent link to this entry

The sorting table...

Not much to report, so not much blogging recently. The past few days I've been on the sorting table the whole time.

Sorting table
My view

It gets repetive, but it has its interesting points. It's certainly interesting to see grapes from different appelations come in. We've already had a few premier cru sites.

So far it's been only the Cotes de Beaune, but presumably we'll get Cotes de Nuits soon too.

Sorting has been quite aggressive, we're only keeping the good grapes -- no rot or unripe ones are tolerated. From this, it seems they're aiming to become one of the top negociants for quality (again, apparently they were during the 1940's and 50's). It will be interesting to see how the finished wines turn out: I think the insistance on stringent sorting will pay off in good quality wines.

Probably more sorting over the next few days. I hope I get to see some other aspects of how the winery works, too. I'm particularly interested to learn more about "spontaneous"/uninnoculated ferments (ie., using native yeasts, rather than cultivated yeasts). I'll have to see what happens.

posted at: 03:36 | path: /wine/vintage2011 | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 24 Sep 2011

CFPPA: Oddyssey in Burgundy

I wanted to blog about this earlier in the week, but never seemed to have time some how.

In Domaine Confuron's Cellars

Some interesting parts, and some not so interesting parts. A highlight was a visit to Domaine Confuron near Nuits-Saint-George -- some excellent barrel samples, and a taste of a 1993 Vosne-Romanee 1er cru.

Not so good was a trip to the Imaginarium in Nuits-Saint-George -- some really interesting old winery and vineyard tools on display, but the sound and light display was not very well done (though unintentionally funny...) and detracted somewhat from the whole thing. It would have been nicer to just be able to look at their collection at your own leisure. But then, maybe that would be boring for people who aren't winemakers?

Another highlight was a visit to Remoissenet, where I had worked. Again, we got to try some older wines as well as barrel samples. Older wines included a 1997 Nuits-Saint-George and a 1967 Volnay 1er cru (still very much alive, and surprisingly fruity...). Barrel samples included 2010 Montrachet and 2010 Clos Vougeot... so can't complain there either.

Fellow students were mostly Australian & NZ winemakers and viticulturalists (plus one from Chile, one from California and one from Washington). It seemed that I was the only one not currently working in the industry, which was a bit intimidating at times. I kept telling myself that I'll be working in the wine "industry" one day (I don't really like to think of it as an industry... great wines aren't made in an industrial manner).

Well, it was a good week and I'm sad it's over. But, next stop is the Jura. I have a couple of appointments with wineries already lined up, and can't wait to get there!

posted at: 16:26 | path: /wine/vintage2011 | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 01 Jul 2011

Waiting for Grapes

The first exciting installment of the semester. We've all gone down to the university's vineyards, and seen the grapes available. My group has three rows of Syrah and half a row of Mourvèdre.

It's been pretty hot in Adelaide this summer, so they're already ready in terms of pH, titratable acidity and brix/baumé (sugar levels). Sadly, they're not yet ready in terms of taste, they still taste green.

It's becoming an increasing problem in Australia with the hot weather, and the only solution seems to be to wait until they achieve full physiological ripeness and then acidifying to make up for any lack of acid.

In any case, we'll have to pick soon, as the weather starts to get hot from Friday, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday predicted to be 37°C, and Monday 38°C. Pre-cooked grapes is not what we want.

posted at: 01:50 | path: /wine/oenology_diploma | permanent link to this entry

The End of the 2010 Vintage

For me, the vintage is effectively over now. Okay, it's not really -- others will be processing Touriga Nacional for a port-style wine later in the week, though sadly I won't be able to join in. All of the wines I've been involved in making our now in barrel, and the chardonnay juice is now in the freezer and waiting for another group later in the year to make it into wine.

Empty oak barrels

I thought I'd share a few photos I've taken during the vintage period, and meant to post, though. Here is a very small Potter fermenter. We didn't end up using this, but I couldn't help wondering how long it takes a baby Potter fermenter to grow up to be big like the ones in the background:

Baby Potter fermenter

Also, I liked this baby airbag press:

Baby airbag press

Well, I've not been all that great at blogging this vintage. I'll continue to post bits and pieces as they happen, though.

posted at: 01:50 | path: /wine/oenology_diploma | permanent link to this entry

Picking the 2010 Waite Shiraz

Picking grapes

I helped out with picking the Shiraz (aka Syrah) allocated to my group from the Coombe vineyard on the Waite Campus today. We started picking at about 6:30, and I carried on until 10:00 when I had a lecture I had to attend. Others carried on until all our three and a half rows were picked, and we had around a tonne of fruit.

The fun part of this for me getting up at 5 am. It's something I can do if I have to, but I certainly don't enjoy it. It was worth it, though, once I got out into the vineyard.

Vitis vinifera 'Shiraz' vine

South Australia has experienced a really hot year this year -- again -- and this was particularly evident from seeing how some of the grapes were shrivelled on the vine. Here is the worst example I found:

Sunburnt grapes

... but that was the exception rather than the rule. More common were bunches where a percentage were burnt, and the rest were fine:

Bunch of Shiraz grapes

As the burnt grapes will be removed by the crusher-destemmer, we were told it was fine to include them with the picked grapes.

Grapevines   Grapes in bin

Also, we can haz tractor! Luckily for everybody, I wasn't allowed to drive it ;-)


Next week sometime, we'll pick the Mataró. I've got so many classes next week, I'm not certain I'll manage to do much towards that, which is a shame. I'm not the fastest picker by a long way, so I doubt it'll make much difference to how quickly the grapes are picked, but (in short stretches) it's an interesting thing to try.

Next challenge: actually making this into wine.

posted at: 01:50 | path: /wine/oenology_diploma | permanent link to this entry

Blogging winemaking

At the moment, I'm part of the way through a Graduate Diploma in Oenology at the University of Adelaide. I haven't written much about it here, but one of my plans for this year is to start blogging about it. This next semester is my second and final semester, and I'll be making red wine as part of one of my courses. I'll try and blog about that, and anything else of interest, here.

Should make a change from the sound of crickets chirping here. And it'll give me an excuse to get some more practice at writing...

posted at: 01:50 | path: /wine/oenology_diploma | permanent link to this entry

Pressing Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

Almost a month without a weblog post. Not that there's been nothing to write about, rather there has been too much and hence no time. Oh well.

Today I helped press some Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. I'm not going to be making this into wine, other students will do that later in the year. I benefited from this myself late last year, when I was able to use juice pressed by earlier students to make some white wine with another group in second semester -- a useful introduction to winemaking.

My group was the first to press today, starting at 7 am. I don't often go for walks at 6 am, as I did this morning to get to the bus, but I always I enjoy it when I do. The sky was just lightening enough to differentiate from the still dark land, and dark clouds were breaking up to show patches of lighter sky. There is a poetry to this time of morning which is quite unique. Certainly, it was a beautiful walk, and I was just sad I had to hurry to catch the bus.

Two groups pressed at the same time. We wanted to whole bunch press, but the grapes had been machine harvested so few were still in bunches. We did not use the crusher destemmer, though, so we sort of whole berry pressed I guess you could say.

Grapes being poured into the airbag press
Grapes being poured into the press

We used an airbag press, which can be less oxidative if used in conjuction with sulfur dioxide. Our group processed our fruit oxidatively (no sulfur dioxide at press, though we added some afterwards to protect against spoilage), the other did theirs reductively. It was interesting to see the differences.

What else? Oh, yes, as the grapes were machine harvested there was a certain amount of "matter other than grapes" (MOG). I can predict that this wine would pair well with escargot:

Snail shell in with the grape marc

Snail shell in with the grape marc

Well, the early start is really starting to have an effect on me. I think I'll be having an early night tonight. Anyone I've sent emails to tonight -- I've probably made some really stupid mistakes due to being half asleep! It's not a good idea to start emailing people when you're not really awake, I guess.

posted at: 01:50 | path: /wine/oenology_diploma | permanent link to this entry

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