|Tuesday, 24 April 2012||Things Are Winding Down|
As we discussed previously, red wines are left to ferment on their skins in order to extract colour, tannin and flavour. Once the fermentation process is complete and no fermentable sugar is left in the wine, it is separated from the skins, which are then ‘pressed’ dry.During the last few days this is what I have been busy with. It is a rather messy but also an extremely rewarding process where I have the chance to really feel close to my new wines. It might sound odd, but when wine is in a tank or barrel, there is a degree of separation. During the pressing process I get the first real glimpse as to what I will be dealing with over the next year or so as they mature. There are a few of these ‘points of contact’ during the winemaking process, but pressing is my favourite.
This year, for the first time, I have had the opportunity to press my reds in a basket press (as opposed to the bag press I use for my white and rosé wines). Red wines are far less susceptible to oxidation and can actually benefit from judicious, well-timed doses of oxygen. The modern incarnation of the original basket press has been making a comeback in recent years and for good reason. It is simple, effective and very easy to operate and ‘cut’ when the wine becomes ‘pressy’ (highly sophisticated jargon).
SeanSkibbe is a winemaker at South Hill Vineyards in the Elgin Valley. Follow him over the next few weeks as he shares his view on how his 7th vintage is panning out.Visit www.southhill.co.za to find out more about what's happening at the estate.