Monday, February 27, 2006

Vilafonte 'Babysitting blog' Saturday -day 21

From Mike: I just got off the phone with Adam Chase in Boston and had a good hour talking about viticulture and Vilafonte. Adam is studying for the MW in the USA and has been following the Vilafonte podcast and blog religiously since inception. We really had an in-depth conversation and he really drew on me to reach deep for answers. Good chat Adam!

Here is Zelma's update on all fronts:
Harvest planning: Phil has gone home to take care of his California clients (he came in mid January to get the vineyard ready for harvest). This morning Bernard is overseeing the sorting of Block E Merlot. So Julie and I walked all 7 of our Cabernet blocks. One, Block D, our "big, concentrated wine" block, is ready and will come in on Tuesday, we decided. The others are more or less neck in neck; tannins softening, seeds ripening, skin softening, and Bernard and I will check them on Tuesday to see which we want to bring in later in the week. I am told that we won't be able to harvest on Wednesday since it is a national holiday … it is Voting Day. Fortunately we won't need to bring anything in, and it is projected to be a cool week.
Weather: The weather has been perfect this last week; cool nights and warm days. Next week rain is projected for Tuesday and Thursday. We will see what really will happen! Weather changes frequently in the Cape.
Sorting: After the vineyard check, Julie and I went to help Bernard with the sorting. Block E had a lot of raisins; fortunately no small green berries (like we saw in the Cab Franc). But it took "heavy sorting" - Bernard and I doing cluster sorting; 9 women on the sorting belts, and Julie at the end, just before the grapes fall in, to catch anything we missed.
Fermentations: As of today we will have 2 tanks on cold soak (Merlot and Cabernet Franc); 1 actively fermenting tank (Merlot) just in the midst of fermentation; 2 tanks finishing fermentation (Merlot Z and Malbec) and one (Merlot AB - our first harvest) in barrels finishing fermentation. In addition to overseeing grape reception, destemming, sorting and crushing, Bernard oversees these fermenters, making sure their temperature what we want; that the mixing morning, noon, and night, is what we should do…(and it is different for each tank, both in timing, duration, and type…we decide as we taste together and discuss each morning).Other winery work:We anticipate pressing out the Malbec on Tuesday; today Bernard is organizing the barrels to be filled. I select the barrels for use based on my past experience with our Malbec. I have tried several types of new barrels and someolder barrels, and prefer the older barrels with this wine. It has so much fruit that we want the fruit to be forward, and it is so lush it doesn't need, or benefit from, the new oak.
Baby grape sitting: To the parents out there, it often feels like we are watching over our "babies" …some of them fermenting; some still "hanging out" in the field; and some being separated from their skins (pressing); but all needing daily and usually multidaily attention.
Zelma Long
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