On 24th April 2014, we siphoned off 10 litres of the red wine into a wine box. It had a good taste and we were pleased with how it had turned out.
Today I bottled, corked and labelled another couple of bottles.
There is a Spanish saying which says: “Para San Andrés, vino o vinagre es”. The idea is that on St. Andrew’s Day – 30th November – you should be able to taste whether the wine will be vinegar or wine.
A day later, on the 1st December, we tried our wine and it was not vinegar. It didn’t taste that great which I suppose is normal but at least we haven’t got 400 litres of vinegar for salad.
Our recipe for making wine was jotted down on a small piece of paper by the man in the shop selling the wine equipment.
The wine is started in four plastic vats, each holding about 150 litres. Because of the possibility of the wine overflowing when it starts to ferment, we decided to use a fourth one. The grapes are first destemmed and crushed by machine and then transferred over into the vats.For each 100ml,1 tablet of Potassium metasulphate is crushed and added to the liquid.
MACERATING THE GRAPES – MACERANDO LAS UVAS
The vats are then left for 7-10 days and and are mixed three times a day using a wooden pole nailed to a square piece of wood with holes drilled in it so as to thoroughly submerge the grapes that float to the top. This process is know as “punching down the cap”.
MACERATION is the process by which the tannins, colouring agents (or anthocyanins) and flavours of the grape are broken down from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the grape juice or must. Maceration occurs during the first stage of wine-making but also continues throughout the second stage of fermentation.
FERMENTING THE GRAPES – FERMENTANDO LAS UVAS
During the first fermentation, the grape juice is then pressed in a grape press and returned to clean, plastic vats. The vats are left for 30 days.
During FERMENTATION, carbon dioxide is released when the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol. The process of maceration continues during this stage.
After 30 days, the liquid is transferred to a stainless steel “always full” vat and left for a further 60 days. The idea of the “always full” vat is that has a lid surrounded by an inflatable tube which adjusts to the diameter of the vat. Whenever liquid is removed from the vat, the lid is then lowered and the tube prevents any air from entering.
The secondary fermentation or ageing process is slower and can take any time from three to six months.
This year we planted 125 petit verdot vines on the area of land that is to be our vineyard. It will be a good couple of years yet until they are ready for wine-making so we decided to buy some grapes from a local vineyard so that we could get our hand in at wine-making in preparation for when ours are ready.
To all intents and purposes, Petit Verdot is a red grape and good to grow at the cortijo because it is resistant and will put up with extremes of temperatures as well as drought. Although it can be used by itself, it is normally combined with other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Time will tell whether it lives up to its reputation. Originally from Spain, for many years it was grown in the Bordeaux region but it became increasingly unpopular because it ripened later than other grapes.
On Saturday 5th October 2013, we went to a local vineyard to buy some grapes. Generally speaking, you will get a 75% yield of the grapes purchased.Thinking that we would be producing about 400 litres of wine, we therefore bought 600 kilograms of a mixture of Tempranillo and Syrac.
For the records, the grapes weighed in at 670 kilos in 30 crates. So allowing for 2 kilo per crate the net weight was 610kg.
Once the grapes have been cut and loaded into crates on the tractor, they are weighed 5 crates at a time on a traditional balance scales.
We took the grapes home and after lunch we began the second stage of the process:
The grapes are passed through the destemmer-crusher twice: first to remove the stems, twigs, leaves and branches and the second, to crush the grapes.
For this amount of grapes, we used 4 large vats (each of 220l), transferring the contents of 7 crates of grapes into each one.
There are a lot of vineyards between our Cortijo and the next large town and the wine they sell is a pleasant Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rather than buy vines I have decided to plant cuttings. In December there were a lot of vine cuttings at the side of the road on the way to the nearest town and I threw a load of them into the back of the van. There was nobody around to ask so I don’t know exactly what sort of grapes they are. It looks like they are being grown commercially so I just hope they will make good wine.
I looked at several websites to see how to make the cuttings. In the end I cut about 90 of the vines into 30cm long pieces, dipped them in cutting hormones and then pushed them into pots of soil. This happened on the 12th Jan 2012. Some of the pots have deeper soil than others. If they take I will transplant them into individual pots or plant them into the ground. Most other websites say that you have to put them into a trench but I am using pots because we are down on the coast until March and they will be much warmer.
To be continued…….