July 14, 2013

When is it time?

Carefully evaluating the 2012 Pinot Noir
People always ask the most interesting - and often hard to answer - questions about the winemaking process. I love that they're so interested, but I wonder if my answers satisfy.

Where is your vineyard? I don't have one, but I work closely with growers. Where is your winery? I don't have one, but essentially rent space in a shared facility. I thought you said you were a winery, how's that? A winery is a business, and a winery is a facility. I have a winery business but rent space in someone else's winery facility. Blah, blah, blah.

Some questions can annoy, even if they shouldn't. When do you put the pepper into the wine to get this peppery flavor? I taste blueberries - when you put those in? I practice being patient and friendly in these situations. People just don't know much about something I'm totally obsessive and geeky. Doesn't make it easier though.

And there are questions that I never thought I'd get (I'd heard about the added flavor questions from friends). The one that I think about the most? When. When is it time to bottle the wine? And how do you know when it's time?

Good questions. Some things you just know. One, that something is good. Two, that it will go into bottle as a particular cuvee. Three, that there are no deadlines in winemaking, but there are reasonable conclusions we can make about what and when certain things should happen.

When is a wine ready? When it's ready. That is, when it's done with its chemical changes through two fermentation processes, when it's fallen clear (or mostly clear anyway), and that it's ready to begin consuming or begin its continuing maturation in a glass bottle, or both. In short, when the particulars are established about the quality, stability and clarity about a wine, it's at least close to time.

For me, wines go to bottle after about a year of maturing, after careful evaluation of each barrel. Over time I'd like to experiment with holding some wines in cask longer. For now, I know this - the time is close. And I'm very excited.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you just have to be patient. You will know when.