In 2018 De Bortoli Wines is celebrating 90 years of wine history in Australia, and as a member of the third generation, Leanne De Bortoli has worked tirelessly with her winemaker husband Steve Webber to take the company to new heights. Growing up in Griffith where the business was founded by her grandfather, she and Steve helped establish their Yarra Valley-based facility in the 1980s and was instrumental in evolving the brand image to a more premium one. In a number of ways and at numerous times De Bortoli have been trend-setters in the wine industry, and as a member of Australia’s First Families of Wine they are well placed to continue producing outstanding wines and having a positive influence.
In a way, Ben Ranken’s wine career has come full circle. He grew up on a vineyard in Tumbarumba, a region in New South Wales famed for the quality of its chardonnay. Recently he and his wife purchased the Wilimee Vineyard in Macedon, another cool-climate region ideal for chardonnay. In the intervening years he gained considerable vintage experience in Australia and the northern hemisphere, and since 2007 has been making wine at Galli Estate, an incredible Sunbury-based producer that also has a vineyard in Heathcote. We chatted about his winemaking journey, his many influences, and also how important the Lorenzo Galli Scholarship is for educating the wine industry on the nuances of Italian grapes that they work extensively with.
I recently met Rory Lane who is going to be a future guest on The Vincast, and he gave me a bottle of this wine that he made in 2015 for The Craft & Co. The fact that it was made from an Italian grape, and it came from Heathcote, made this a no-brainer. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
The final stage of the winemaking is the bottling (labelling and selling isn’t winemaking as far as I’m concerned), and I was so grateful to have extra pairs of hands to help and make things smoother. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and get in touch if you’d be keen to buy a bottle or 12 😉
The fifth part of the Intrepid Winemaking Project 2016 was not one that I necessarily planned on. I was however encouraged by a few people to consider blending Bin X and Bin Y, in an effort to get more of one wine rather than make people choose, and also to combine the positive attributes of each component. Let me know if you have any questions about this step in the winemaking story!
Part Four of the Intrepid Winemaking Sangiovese Project 2016 is racking the two component wines. Racking is the traditional filtration process of separating the wine from the solids in the vessel. The solids are sediment, essentially dead yeast lees and tannins, and as they are heavier than the wine, will settle at the bottom of the barrel or tank. The completely natural way to perform this is through gravity, but the vast majority of wines are racked using a mechanical pump, being far more efficient.
Bin X had completely finished both the primary fermentation and the malolactic fermentation. It looks more mellow, round and savoury. The wine was racked, the seven-year old barrel was cleaned, and the then the wine was returned to the barrel.
Bin Y had completed the primary fermentation in tank, but had not completely finished the malolactic fermentation. This made the wine look a bit crunchier, brighter and intense. The wine was racked from the 300L stainless steel tank into a 500L tank, but it was not returned as it was consolidated with 30+ litres that was in a demijohn. Hopefully the introduction of some air through the racking process, as well as warmer Spring temperatures, will help it complete the malolactic fermentation before the wine is blended and bottled in the next month.
Part three of The Sangiovese Project is all about pressing the two bins and transferring them into their vessels. If you haven’t already seen part one and two, I recommend watching them before this video.
Bin X of the Heathcote Sangiovese that was foot-stomped and plunged daily, took about 10 days to finish its fermentation on skins. The skins were quite broken down and plenty of colour had been leached into the wine. The original 500kg of grapes fit into one basket press, and produced just over 300 litres of wine. It settled in a tank for two nights then was transferred into a seven-year-old hogshead (300L) barrel for its elevage.
Bin Y was left as whole berries after de-stemming. It went through a mostly carbonic maceration, and was not handled until pressing. Any juice in the bin was fully fermented, but there was still a lot of juice inside intact berries that was not fermented yet. Pressing included two top ups of the press, as the berries took up much more space. The wine was darker and fruitier. It was transferred into a 300L stainless-steel tank and a 34L demijohn to finish fermentation, and it will stay there.
Please note that the memory card was full towards the end of pressing so I missed a bit.
I hope you enjoy this next part of my first winemaking journey, thanks again to Alex for the advice and the help processing the wine. If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below.
If you haven’t watched Part One of The Sangiovese Project (processing the fruit), I suggest watching that first.
Part Two is all about fermentation. Two days after receiving the fruit, fermentation was under way in Bin X. It was important to plunge the cap of skins (and some berries) every day, partly for the gentle extraction of colour and tannin from the skins into the wine, but also to keep them wet to avoid spoilage.
Bin X converted the sugar into alcohol at a rapid pace. It went from 13 degrees baumé to one or two in the space of three days. By the fourth day you can see that there is a lot less activity in the ferment. With some advice I gave the bin a few more foot-stomps to squeeze more juice out of the remaining berries, which extended the ferment a few more days and extracted a bit more colour and tannin. After 10 days the ferment was finished, but daily plunging continued until pressing on the 22nd of March.
Bin Y had CO2 pumped into the bin and it was covered by cling-wrap. It was checked each day simply by smell, giving off a slightly candied fruit aroma. The weight of the berries gradually crushed the berries at the bottom of the bin, and the juice fermented dry. It was very crunchy and bright to taste.
The next part will focus on the pressing of the two bins, and their subsequent transfer into their vessels. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
If you haven’t already seen me share it on social media, I started my first winemaking project, tentatively called The Sangiovese Project. The idea was to purchase some sangiovese grapes from the Heathcote region that were of exceptional quality, and try some experimenting with it. This video, the first of several parts of the journey which I will be sharing, chronicles the processing of the fruit.
Two bins totalling one tonne of hand-picked grapes were delivered on a rainy Thursday evening (10th March). The fruit was grown by viticulture legend (and guest on Episode 65 of The Vincast wine podcast), Mario Marson. In this video you will see how the fruit was prepared for fermentation.
Recent guest on The Vincast Podcast Alex Byrne gave me a bottle of his Nebbiolo 2013, made from fruit grown in the Heathcote region, under the Liquid Rock ‘N’ Roll brand. I thought I might try a wine and food pairing exercise, as I was having a plate of vegetarian lasagne. What do you think is the best pairing wine for lasagne??
The Vincast - a Wine Podcast with The Intrepid Wino
Wine - Wine People - Wine Culture
A podcast about wine, wine culture and wine people. Every week a different guest from the wine industry joins host The Intrepid Wino (aka James Scarcebrook) for a casual chat about the world of wine.
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