June 28, 2010

Racking the 2009s

Here is a picture of the my nine barrels of 2009 Vincent pinot noir, getting racked at the winery in Portland. For those not clear on racking, that's the process of moving the wine from barrel to barrel to separate it from its sediment. It's also a nice chance to areate the wine a bit, which can help round out the flavors and texture. Too much areation and your wine will tastes oxidized. Too little and it can be a little "reduced" or stinky. This is the only racking before bottling, pretty traditional and useful especially for unfiltered wine.

The process is pretty simple but time consuming. Using inert gas like nitrogen or argon, you use gentle pressure to push the wine out of one barrel through a hose to an empty barrel. Since barrels are in pairs on barrel racks, you rack two barrels in to empties, clean the emptied barrels, then rack two more barrels into those clean ones. And so on. If you don't start with two empty, clean barrels to rack into, you can fill two small tanks. Then at the end, you pump that wine back into the final two barrels once they've been cleaned. Like most winemaking tasks, it's really mostly about cleaning. Cleaning beforehand, working and cleaning things as you go, then cleaning everything again. Mom would be proud.

All this work is in preparation for bottling at the end of August. At that time, we'll rack the barrels again into two tanks. One for the main Eola-Amity Hills bottling, which will be most of the production. The other for the Zenith single vineyard bottling, just 24 cases.

How are the wines tasting? You don't have to believe me, how can I be objective, right? But the wines taste really good. I'm excited for the freshness in the wines, something you don't always get from hotter growing seasons like 2009. All the barrels smell and taste good. A friend tried the Zenith and commented on the savoriness. That's exactly what I'm going for. No candy sweet flavors here.

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