Vintage Report 2013

Firstly, apologies if the website looks a little odd, I’ve been piecing it back together from cached copies on the internet after an injudicious click obliterated all traces of it from our server and our temperamental laptop. Now read on…

Having fought my way back into the inner workings of the blog from two weeks ago, I noticed that I promised to keep you up to date with what we were doing in the winery last week. I was miles ahead of the game and just about to send the completed work off to my editor (that’d by Lucy), when the laptop decided to pop off this mortal coil and took the blog and everything else with it (this happened before I trashed the website). What’s more, it turns out that my sub-photographic memory has taken an epic nose dive since we started making wine, so recalling all the passwords that it has been helpfully remembering for me for years and where everything is online has proven very entertaining indeed. And if that weren’t enough fun, trying to do all that while shepherding a couple of kids (who are currently attempting to kill us with a litany of diseases) and not teach them any new words or smash my newly repaired* computer into a thousand pieces added to our unbridled joy and inability to publish last week.

*That’s right, it wasn’t even good enough to break properly so I could go out and buy a shiny new one. Naturally enough, this didn’t stop me unwrapping the old “This will almost certainly happen again at any time if we don’t buy another one immediately” argument. The speed with which Lucy demolished my entreaty doesn’t augur well for the children when they are demanding the entire contents of the toy department for Christmas.

I digress. Now that we are publishing a week later, all of the wine has made it through the fermentation process and is sat in tanks awaiting some enthusiastic evaluation (tasting) so that we can start to make some firm decisions as to what to do with it before we bottle it. This is always a fun time of year as it means that the ravages of the season are over, the grapes are squished and their juice is fermented. And if anything is going to go wrong with your wine, during fermentation is the time that it is most likely to happen, so the pressure is off in the winery a little.

And guess what? So far so good. In fact, as we have had a bit of a Goldilocks autumn this year, the fermentations have gone through more smoothly than ever. The ambient temperature shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference as under normal circumstances we would have bought the heat exchanger than we promised the winery last year. But the circumstances were not normal this year. We had a sneaking suspicion that the harvest would be less than stellar, so knew that the fermentations were unlikely to get too hot (alcoholic fermentation is exothermic, so large tanks that are full of wine get hot, this causes lots of problems) so didn’t invest in a heat exchanger this year. It hasn’t escaped our attention that you can run the exchanger backwards and warm up your fermentation if it’s freezing cold outside, but I thought that we could breathe heavily on the tanks or set fire to the winery or something to get them going instead.

So what did we do with our underwhelming harvest? Lots of things. The German grapes that we removed first (Siegerrebe, Schonberger and Bacchus for the record) have been finished wine for the best part of a month now and are really starting to taste like it: the nose is magic and a month or two in the bottle should really finish it off nicely. The Chardonnay is the usual glass full of enormousness, even now, just after fermentation. While it’s still a little raw – it only finished fermenting last week – the ripeness of this year’s vintage is really starting to show through. There are some really excellent fruit flavours and just a hint of the single oak stave (one of the constituent parts of a barrel) that we added at the start of the fermentation. Now all that remains is a not inconsiderable amount of tasting to decide what we do with the whites.

It has crossed both of our minds before that it might be a good idea to blend the two wines as they are likely to compliment each other well – assuming that the Chardonnay doesn’t trample all over the rather more delicate Corbinian. Once they have both settled down a little, we’ll start literally forcing people to sit down and drink the blended wine and tell us whether they think that we should be mixing the two of them together. Assuming that the answer is affirmative, we’ll get on and blend them and sweeten the lot a little. Assuming that there is any left for us to blend.

The rosé is much more straightforward. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Of the reds, we picked a reasonable amount of Pinot Noir and just a little Pinot Meunier. Until we had taken the time to stand back and take a look at how much we had, our intention was to split it in half and make red Pinot Noir from one half and a Pinot Noir/Meunier blend of rosé from the other. As the harvest was on the small side, the pragmatic approach was to make one or the other. It wasn’t quite a toss of coin that lead us to making the rosé, but it wasn’t far off. We find making the red more rewarding, but the rosé is unbelievably easy to sell (most of it goes to my mother) so market forces made our decision for us in the end. And the super-ripe red grapes have made an absolutely cracking strawberries and cream concoction in a fantastic bright pink colour. We’ll be sweetening the rosé too, but not blending it with any white wine at all for any reason; because that’s illegal.

We may be attempting to erect a new wind turbine next week, which promises to be a Laurel and Hardy style comedy of errors – we had two a couple of years ago and ran one into the other one last time that we put turbines up – so I’ll make absolutely sure that I get a blog out next week if I haven’t killed the laptop by then. Oh, and we are moving to weekly Friday editions because Fridays are great. And it’s more convenient. But mostly because Fridays are great.

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