Here is the latest news flash on my harvest 2010!
When this picture was snapped, my grenache was 6 weeks into malolactic fermentation. As you might recall from an earlier post, I had conducted a paper chromatography test, which indicated that the process was only a little more than half way done.
Well, it’s about time to check again, but before I do, I am going to rack and separate the wine from the gross lees or deposit that has settled at the bottom of the carboy over the last 6 weeks.
As seen above, the process is quite strait forward. Wine from the carboy above is siphoned though a hose to the empty vessel below, with great care taken to stop/pull the hose before any of the lees is transferred to the new vessel.
So what is the purpose of racking? Well, there are two pretty important reasons to rack a wine in progress. The first is stabilization. Leaving the wine too long on the lees can lead to the formation of off flavors, for instance the rotten egg smell that is often an indicator of hydrogen sulfide.
The second reason to rack wine is for clarification. By the time a wine is ready to be bottled, a clear and relatively bright wine is generally desired..i.e.. from an aesthetic viewpoint you don’t want a murky product with particles floating throughout the bottle.
Once the wine has been racked from the carboy, this is what is left at the bottom. Lots of dead yeast cells as well as grape seeds, pulp, stem fragments and insoluble tartrates that collect and are deposited during the vinification an aging process.
What a brilliant pink-lavender hue! And guess what, the stuff smells like crushed roses with a whiff of cocoa. Casey Hartilp, the grower who supplied me with this Grenache from Eaglepoint Ranch, says that Eaglepoint lees often smells like chocolate covered cherries.
In the next several days I will conduct a second paper chromatography test to determine whether or not the malolactic fermentation is complete. More to come!