The white wine

Hello all,

In my last post I described what happens in most white winemaking. Today I will tell you what happened to the tanks that will eventually make up my wine.

Crushed and destemmed

As is usual in white winemaking we crushed and destemmed some excellent quality Arinto grapes. However, less usual is the fact that we pumped this mix of grape skins and juice directly into a tank rather than sending it to the press.

We kept this must in a tank which was chilled to 10ºC. It stayed there for 24 hours and then it was pumped to a press as normal. We did this to extract more flavour from the skins. The skins of the grape is where most of the flavour compounds reside so I wanted to get some of this flavour into the wine before I fermented it.


A Balseiro. A big wooden tank with cooling capabilities.

After pressing, the juice was chilled for 24 hours in order to let any sediment settle out then it was racked as normal into a wooden tank called a Balseiro and the temperature of the juice was allowed to rise to 13ºC. 


The Balseiro acts like a wooden barrel in that it is made of oak so can give some oak flavours to the wine. This Balseiro holds 5000 litres and a normal barrel holds about 225 litres which means that the ratio of wood to wine on a Balseiro is much less than with a barrel. Also, this Balseiro is one year old and had been used to store a fortified wine in which has stripped a lot of the wood flavours. All this means that we are not making a heavily oaked chardonnay here but a very refined wine with the merest merest hint of oak that will add a touch of complexity to the wine.

The other great thing about a Balseiro is that it has cooling plates in it just like a stainless steel tank which means I can keep my fermentation temperature between 13 and 15ºC which is how I like it.

Inoculation and fermentation

When I was writing about the wine I made in Catalonia, I wrote a post about the pros and cons of using wild yeasts which you can read here.

From this you will all know that I am a fan of using two different species of yeasts in sequence so that we can get some of the interesting flavours of a wild ferment with no risk of spoilage yeasts being involved in the fermentation. So this is what I did, the two yeasts  worked  together in happy harmony to make a very nice fruit driven wine which tastes of fresh pears and white peaches.

Malolactic fermentation

At this point my wine had finished fermentation using two yeasts in one Balseiro tank. I really liked the wine as it was but I also knew that adding malolactic bacteria to the wine would result in a softer, rounder wine, with some notes of dried fruit and a creaminess on the palette (I say a bit more about malolactic fermentation here). This sounded pretty good to me but I was very much in love with the fresh pear aromas that I was getting and I did not want these to be masked.


I decided to divide the fermented wine into two tanks with equal amounts of 2500 litres in each. One had the malolactic bacteria added to it and one was kept as it was. Writing in January, this is the stage that these wines are at. One very crisp and fruity wine and one with dried fruit notes and a creamy texture.

I should remind you all that I am only making 1000 litres of wine but I was also commissioned to create a top quality white for the Cooperative I have been working for. The Balseiro of wine that has now been split into two will form the basis of both my own Cunning Anchovy wine and the new wine for the Cantina Vitivinicola do Pico.

What will make the two wine different is the proportions in which I blend these two very different tanks of wine. I have done some preliminary tests and was able to try two different bottles at Christmas time.  I was very happy with the results but I have not made a final final decision yet. When I do I will let you all know.

Tchau for now






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