Posted by Brian Loring
October 31: We picked the Mourvèdre yesterday, just a few hours ahead of a rainstorm in the Paso Robles area. We’d originally scheduled the pick for today, but once we saw the forecast change, we moved the pick up one day. I’m really glad we did!
When we got back to the winery on Thursday, we decided to wait to process the fruit on Friday. Peter Cargasacchi had seen the weather forecast as well, so he picked his late-harvest Pinot Grigio ahead of the rain as well. We let him go ahead of us and press his fruit since the Mourvèdre would be fine overnight in our truck with the temperature set at 35 degrees. Pressing and crushing the same day is difficult when you only have a handful of people around. Winemaking is as much about logistics as anything else.
We spent a long time sorting the fruit before we de-stemmed and crushed it. Despite all the fruit Erich Russell had dropped in the vineyard, we still got some clusters that had unripe berries. Since Mourvèdre clusters are so big, we were actually able to hand de-stem some of the clusters with mixed ripeness—a totally new experience for us.
I had a feeling that we’d get a lot of jack stems from the fruit, so we started crushing into the tray from our press. That turned out to be a good call since the tray was full of the little bastards. Since we knew the fruit was going to be pretty high in Brix (a measurement of the sugar content), we decided to let some of the juice run out of the hose connection port on the tray as a passive saignée. For fun, we collected it in buckets to see how much we bled off. The final amount was about 25 gallons. I’m guessing we’ll have to add that much water back into the fermenters.
We add an enzyme to the must as we crush to help break down the skins. We’re not looking for more extraction, but rather hoping to get our extraction earlier, during the cold soak (a pre-fermentation technique to extract water-soluble color and flavor compounds). Despite how ripe the fruit came in, there are still enough green seeds to make me think pressing before fermenting completely dry might be a good idea. That way we get the green seeds away from the alcohol, which tends to break them down, potentially releasing harsh tannins. Getting extraction during cold soak is a good thing!
James Molesworth — November 7, 2008 3:27pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 8, 2008 4:17pm ET
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