October 30, 2009

With harvest done, elevage begins

This evening saw the final wine go into barrel, the last fermenter cleaned, everything tidied up and put to bed for the season. For the Vincent project anyhow. There's lots more going on at the winery. I'm just glad to say my wine is safely in barrel and now elevage can begin.

Yes, elevage, the name of this blog, the education of the wine. It's the time between primary fermentation at harvest and bottling a year or more later, when the wine undergoes its malolactic fermentation and essentially "cures" into finished wine, much like aging meat or cheese.

A common question is, "when is the wine ready to bottle?" The simple answer is when it tastes right, and perhaps when you need the space and the barrels for more wine next year. Determining when a wine is ready to bottle is a personal decision, a matter of taste and style you are looking to present. I figure most of this wine will be bottled just before next year's harvest, in part for space issues and to have wine ready for people to drink. But mostly, because I think the wines of 2009 will not make for old bones in the cellar, so they'll likely reward an earlier bottling. We see how they taste as we go, but a year from now I expect to have some delicious wine in the bottle just about ready for market.

To celebrate, I enjoyed a lager from Hopworks Urban Brewery here in Portland, courtesey of their keg bike that showed up across the street for a party celebrating the handmade bike show this weekend. Two kegs on a long, gorgeous, delicious bike. What will Portlanders think of next?

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