Back in early September, when Sinead and I were planning our respective trips for the Harvest, the plan was that Sinead would come first to harvest and vinify our own Sipon (Furmint). I would then arrive about 10 days later and harvest and vinify some Modra Frankinja we had agreed to buy, as we don’t have any MF vines ourselves. But Nature again conspired to change things a little and it turned out that the MF reached optimum maturity earlier than the Sipon, so Sinead found herself immersed in sticky red stuff rather than sticky clear stuff!
We had decided in advance that we would vinify it in different batches – primarily to look at how different fermentation procedures impacted on the final wine. The grapes were de-stemmed and split into two batches:
- About 250 kilos went into a steel tank that we wanted to undergo a pre-fermentation cold maceration. This would delay the fermentation and allow for a more gentle aqueous extraction (rather than alcoholic extraction during fermentation) of the colour, tannins and polyphenols from the skins. Sinead and Miro worked their wonders with some hosepipes and got cold water circulating through the tank that would keep the must lower than 15 Celsius for the next 3 days. I had also wanted to try gently bubbling some Co2 through the must – something that Emmanuel Rouget told us he did – to try and add some “lift” and “elegance” to the maceration. Again, a make-shift device was assembled and sure enough, some CO2 worked its way through the cold must – until we promptly ran out of CO2!
- The second, slightly larger, batch went into a 500 kilo plastic “box” – the way that many local producers would ferment their red wines here – including Pinot Noir. The box is can be covered to protect the must, but can easily be opened for punchdowns. Crucially, this box was also left up at ground level and so settled down at a much higher temperature quite quickly – around 20 Celsius.