Fermentation is really starting to kick off. Now we’ve got to start thinking about the best way to manage the extraction of colour, tannin, and, flavour. In addition we have to think about how we develop the wine.
In the middle of all of this we need to look after the yeast, make sure they’re healthy, and, will be able to finish eating all the sugars, converting them to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
So our option:
- Pumping Over: Cycling liquid from the bottom to the top of the ferment using it to irrigate the cap of skins, keeping them wet, and, helping extract all the good stuff. Gentle.
- Rack & Returns: Draining off all the liquid into another vessel and then pumping it back over the top. This often helps break the cap up a bit more. Harder.
- Using Heading Down Boards: We don’t do this, but, it’s common practice in Australia and many other parts of he world. Actual timber boards are used to hold the cap of skins below the surface of the liquid to ensure they stay wet during the entire fermentation. Gentle.
- Rumbling with Air: Injecting air into the bottom of the fermenter. Resulting a carbon dioxided from fermentation that has dissolved into the wine, bubbling aggressively out of the solution and mixing the skins and liquid. This also has the benefit of adding oxygen that helps keep yeast strong and healthy. Gentle.
- Hand Plunging, or, Plunging with a Mechanical, or, Manual Plunger: Using a device whether hand or machine to push the cap of skins down into the fermenting juice. Depends on depth of cap and method. Thin cap, gentle, thick cap with pneumatic plunger a littler harder.
We choose the option according to how the ferment tastes, our winemaking wisdom and experience with the fruit.
The variables for us are frequency of the cap management, length of management, eg do we pump it over for a few minutes or half an hour.
Next time we’ll talk more about temperature, it’s impact and how we introduce oxygen into ferments.