While the wine remains in contact with the skins, seeds and whatever else is in the wine there is a more complex mix of materials that can both infuse into the wine and absorb from the wine. We know about some of the reactions that can occur in this chemical soup and their impact. Many though are a matter of experience with your fruit and tasting!
Sometimes it’s only through trial and error, scientific experimentation, and, careful observation combined with dumb luck, that we stumble across methods to enhance our wines.
Just like any step in the winemaking process the variables are infinite. You have to choose, when to press, what to press with, how hard to press, how long to press for, whether you’re going to break up the cake and put it back in the press and press it again.
We are focusing on complexity, intrigue and texture as our wines progress through fermentation and any period of post-fermentation maceration.
The timing of pressing will depend on the specific ferment. We have the whole bunch ferment, two whole berry ferments to work with.
The whole bunch ferment was the most advanced starting & heading toward finishing alcoholic fermentation first. There is no arbitrary number of days, sugar level or any other quantitative factor in choosing when to press. We have the luxury of not being forced to empty fermenters early just to make space for incoming fruit.
When we tasted the whole bunch ferment with about 20% of the sugar left it looked like about the right time to press. It had a lovely perfume and it felt like extra time in contact with the stalks was not going to be of much benefit.
So we pulled the trigger and pressed it.
Pressing gently and slowly using a basket press, a very gentle way to press a wine. For future vintages, we pressed even slower and more gently.
Initially, we separated the pressings component, the last of the liquid to come out of the press to take our time assessing making sure it wasn’t too hard before blending it into the rest of the wine. Just a few litres of pressing can make a dramatic difference to the quality of the finished wine both positive and negative.
The remaining 2 ferments would wait for much longer before pressing as we looked to build texture and complexity in the wine. A case of the total being greater than the sum of the parts.
Check out future posts exploring post-fermentation maceration to learn more about this.