October 12th, 2010

Fermentation of all the various tanks is now finished. We started the pressing about 10 days ago with the first of the harvest – the grenache from the near side of the vineyard. After pulling out the ‘free-run’ juice (the juice you get before you press) we use a conveyor belt (tapis) to move the must of juice and skins and seeds from the tank into the press.

With one person inside the tank shoveling onto the conveyor, the other is at the press directing the must into the press. Once filled the press rotates and squeezes the must by compressing from the two ends. The juice then filters through the slats in the side of the press and falls into the resevoir below. We then taste that ‘press fraction’ to determine whether it should be combined with the free-run. Usually it is not an issue and the two are combined into the receiver tank. See how light-colored the must is in the press – this is because during the fermentation, the color is pulled out of the skins and into the juice.

The last of the three pressings – the “Old Vines” grenache from behind the house and between my house and the next- was finished just yesterday. That tank underwent about 10 days of extended maceration where we keep the wine and skins together even though fermentation is complete – to get that final extraction of color and fruit tannins that help to make the wine more robust. During that period we taste the wine every day and monitor its progress. Over this last weekend we (my oenologist and I) made the decision that it was ready, so into the press it went. But first, I took the ‘free-run’ juice from that tank, ‘the best of the best’, and moved it into barrels for long-term aging.

Like the 2009 before it, this wine will sit in barrels for about 1 year before bottling. As the wine went into the barrels, I re-checked the color, and I am quite pleased with the deep, dark red/purple coloring. We got very good extraction from the berries this year, and I think this will be a very good wine when it is ready in 2012!

So Crush is officially finished with the last of the pressing. Now the tasks at hand are to taste and blend the rose components (cinsault and grenache), and wait for the reds to complete their malolactic fermentaion (where via bacterial interaction with the wine it transforms the acid in the wine from malic (think apple) to lactic (milk) – to soften it out but retain its acidic nature. That will take about a month to complete, so we wait.

All in all I think this will be the best year yet for me here at la Lionne – the wines keep improving every year as I get more comfortable with my decisions..mostly that means being patient and not doing things too early. Hard for me because I get anxious and don’t want to screw up, but I am learning that the both the grapes and the wine really will ‘tell’ you when they are ready.