As an artisan winemaker in Napa Valley, I am able to customize our fermentation plans to be creative in a desire to make wines of pure elegance. This year, a growing number of vintners are fermenting in wine barrels, both those barrels used only one time as well as brand new oak. By removing the heads and standing the barrels upright, we can basically complete a cold soak, primary fermentation and extended maceration all in the same oak vessel.
Wood fermentation is experiencing a renaissance in modern winemaking. Barrels have often been used in for white wine fermentation, especially for oak influenced wines such as Chardonnay, to achieve more integration and complexity earlier in the life of the wine. However, they have recently become more popular for red wine fermentation.
The advantages of barrel fermentation include earlier tannin polymerization and earlier integration of tannin, which leads to a smoother mouthfeel on the finished wine. The characters imparted on the wine from oak barrel fermentation are different than if the oak where only present during the aging process. Because yeast can metabolize or transform certain characters present in the oak, the wine will finish with less of the vanillin character that new French oak can impart in the wine.
There are increased costs of managing a wine number of small fermenting lots: costs associated with removing and replacing the barrel heads as well as the labor costs with punch downs, cold soaking and extended fermentation in these small lots, but the labor of love and the finished product is worth the investment.
This is one way to “Celebrate Life”
Harvest is in full swing here in Napa Valley - many of the white wine grapes are coming in as well a few varietals of red grapes. At Bourassa Vineyards, we will be getting Zinfandel in first around October 1, followed by Syrah and Merlot mid-October and ending harvest with our Cabernet Sauvignon about October 20th.
The next few month will be hectic as we are bottling the 2011 Zinfandel, the 2010 Harmony3 and the 2011 Chardonnay from Rutherford on September 27th. All the grapes coming in will be open bin fermented after cold soaking with dry ice for 1 week, then hand punched down for approximately 2 weeks. Extended maceration will last for 2 weeks before gently pressing and settling in tanks for 4 weeks before putting it in barrels. A special yeast is selected for each wine varietal - a lot of research goes into each selection, with experimentation, winemaker consultations and lab input. And what happens in the next few months is just the beginning of the two year journey to producing fine wine. We are ready to get started on this new vintage!
With the onset of veraison in much of the Napa Valley, I have written a basic primer on grape growth in the vineyard:
1) Grape growth in the early spring is started with BUD BREAK, this is defined as the first growth of green shoots at the growing position on the Cordon that was pruned in late winter. The Cordon is the stem that parallels the ground about 3 feet up.
2) The next month all the shoots or CANES have grown 3 to 4 feet up, then BLOOM will occur, this is when the flower is formed that later becomes a cluster of grapes. There is a 3 day window when we do not want heavy frost, rain or nasty wind, because any one of these three weather occurrences can damage the fruit set and make a mess of the future grape growing process.
3) After fruit is stable on the lower vine the cells in the embryo (each small green grape) begin to split and duplicate themselves resulting in a small growing stage, this lasts for 4 to 5 weeks.
4) Once the cells have finished duplicating the cell then gets fed from the vine and each one becomes larger and thus the grape gains in acid and carbohydrates, this can take 4 to 6 weeks. So the grape now gets even larger, this is when it is important to pull leaves off the vine near the grape cluster and near the cordon to allow sunlight to warm the grapes.
5) We now see the grapes begin to change color from green to light burgundy, this is called VERAISON and is the beginning of sugar forming in the grapes, derived from the remaining grape leaves and stems as well as the cordon. As sugar increases in the grape over the next 4 to 6 weeks the acid level decreases. Ripeness occurs when the winemaker determines the grapes are sweet enough and the pH level is perfect for making great wine.
There are some things that go together perfectly and here at Bourassa Vineyards we believe wine and golf are two such things! This is why we have teamed up with the good people at Eagle Vines Golf Club, which is nestled in the foothills of the Napa Valley, to run the second annual Wildcats Golf Tournament.
This event takes place on Friday, April 29th and benefits the American Canyon Middle school (Home of the Wildcats!). The tournament is sure to be a fun day out with golf being played on an exquisite course followed by a dinner where Vic will be pouring some delicious Bourassa wines.
You can find all the details below including how to RSVP and yes, you read it right, you could also win a new 2011 Mustang courtesy of Napa Ford!
November 20, 2012
October 3, 2012
October 1, 2012
September 13, 2012
August 30, 2012(35 Comments)
- November 2012 (1)
- October 2012 (2)
- September 2012 (1)
- August 2012 (1)
- July 2012 (1)
- June 2012 (2)
- May 2012 (2)
- April 2012 (2)
- March 2012 (1)
- February 2012 (1)
- January 2012 (1)