Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Sweet (And Slightly Yeasty) Taste of Patience

This glass of wine is murky because this is what was left after I spent the morning racking (siphoning) our wines from the 2010 vintage – our very first! I don’t mind tasting a little yeast when it tells me things about the wine (and tastes a little like bread/beer, which I also like). If the wine tastes good with the yeast, it should taste even better without it!

It took until noon to rack the 46 gallons of wine that have been sitting quietly in the dark underground garage since we left in late December. Of the four different cuvee, in increasing order of extraction and intensity, the rosato (rose’ juice left on skins only a few hours), salasso (juice strained without before being put in the press after 5 days), free run (what ran freely from the press when juice and skins were ladled in after 7 days fermenting), and press wine (what came out of the press when pressure was applied to that), all were siphoned off the lees (yeast sludge) in the bottoms of their demijohns and into new ones on the shelf. No mishaps this time! No broken demijohns! No lost wine!

When I started the process around 8:00 o’clock this morning, I was concerned about the rotten egg smells of sulfur from the salasso demijohn and alarmed to find that Alesio, the kid who looked after the wines during the winter, had poured paraffin oil, not sterile sulfite water, into the fermentation lock (which he also broke) and also on top of the wine. What a mess! I had to be extra diligent and sanitary.

On tasting samples from each of the four different wines – each an experiment to see just what our grapes, vinified using various ancient techniques, would give me – I found them interesting and delicious in their own ways. Most happily, there was no sign of the dreaded “horse blanket “or “wet dog” taint associated with the dreaded oidio plague or with the brett infecting my neighbor Giovanni’s wine (which he doesn’t seem to notice).

The rosato was fruity and fresh and will be refreshing during the summer heat! The others exhibited graduated intensities of red fruit from a palette of raspberry, cherry, strawberry plum, rose, violet and spice, with balancing hints of the slightly meaty-mushroomy savoriness I associate with umame (and find in my favorite Rhone wines). More Burgundy/Beaujolais styled, rather than Bourdeax-Rhone, these wines should age nicely in the short run. And though this year I don’t think I will age any of them on wood, they should drink nicely for the next 4 or 5 years when bottled, with food and without it.

Encouraged so far, I may go for a “big red” this year.