Today is August 23rd in Costieres de Nimes and it’s time to gear up the winery. We’ll be vinifying the Viognier we picked last Thursday & Friday and that we put in cold storage over the weekend. We do this in order to get grapes at a nice cold temperature which prevents oxidation and allows for extended skin contact without extracting tannins. We keep them in 300 kilo bins.
At the beginning of this video you’ll see the dew from the difference in temperature between the grapes and the atmosphere. We pick the bin up with a forklift, making sure the bin is spotlessly clean, so that we don’t put any dirt or gravel onto our grapes. We then gently dump about 1 ½ tons of grapes into the hopper. From the hopper, the grapes will then be destemmed, brought through a crusher, and then pumped into a vat.
Now the vat we’re using for this is an oddly shaped vat built by Fabbri, a local builder. It’s a horizontal vat with a large bottom in order to have more drainage surface. We first fill the vat with carbon dioxide, which prevents oxidation, and then add the grapes which will sit together for eight hours before we start draining the juice. That way with the extended draining surface we get about 70% of the juice that is free-flowing. We then just have to open a valve and let it flow into the vat underneath. By using refrigeration, gravity, and free-flowing juice, we get a nectar that’s absolutely exquisite and totally protected from oxidation, the finest aromatics having been retained by the juice. So here’s a look at how we’re starting our 2011 harvest!