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Fri, 01 Jul 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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