View Full Version : The Sun Sets on Our White Vintage

Mick Pacholli
13th July 2013, 03:11 PM
As summer gives way to autumn, the last few days have seen our final white grapes arriving at the Wolf Blass winery, bringing the first part of our white vintage to a close. Yet as one stage ends, another begins so I’d like to throw some light on what happens once the grapes have all been picked and crushed.The most immediate task is to make sure all the juice finishes its fermentation into wine. We continue to taste every ferment daily to check its progress and health, as any problems that develop unchecked here are much harder to resolve later in the finished wine. Once a wine finishes ferment (which is when the yeast has converted all the sugar from the grapes into alcohol), it will either be ‘cleaned up’ (e.g. removing the yeast lees to give a clear wine) or left on those lees to develop a more textured mouthfeel. Generally the delicate aromatic varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling will be cleaned up straight away to give fine, elegant finished wines, whereas fuller bodied varieties such as Chardonnay may spend several months on lees (or sur lie*as the French like to call it) slowly building structure and complexity. Again, these wines are tasted regularly to make sure they are developing as the winemaker intends, otherwise they can be cleaned up ready for their final blending.
http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Stuart3.ashxHere at Wolf Blass all our premium Chardonnays are fermented in barrels, and once these have finished fermenting the barrels are topped up with wine (to prevent any air remaining in the barrel which might cause the wine to lose its freshness) and sealed with a bung. The wine is then stirred in the barrels every few weeks to help the yeast lees contribute to the intensity and creaminess that is the hallmark of a great Chardonnay.Once we are happy with the state of these fledging wines, we go through an intense process of grading and allocating the wines. Every wine (and we will have about 500 individual parcels of white wine by this stage) will be tasted blind by a panel of winemakers, and given a quality grade and allocated to one of our wines. So a parcel of Chardonnay may be of solid commercial quality and become destined for Yellow Label Chardonnay (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/yellow-label/chardonnay.aspx), but if it shows more premium characteristics it will head to Gold Label (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/gold-label/chardonnay.aspx) or even our flagship white wine, the White Label Chardonnay (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/white-label/chardonnay.aspx). As mentioned, its an intense process and there’s always plenty of discussion and debate, but its a great feeling to look at all the wines that have been made during the previous few months, and see that the blood, sweat and tears were all worthwhile!Once the wines have all found a home, some will be blended and finished ready for release in the next couple of months (e.g. Rieslings, unoaked Chardonnays), whereas others will continue to develop and be blended later in the year. Blending and fine tuning the wines will be covered in a future blog post, as its such a vital and rewarding part of the winemaking year.

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