Sunday, October 12, 2008
Pressing and barreling: Lightner Syrah and Mourvedre
After all our hard work sorting and crushing the Lightner Syrah three weeks ago, I was glad to see the results of our efforts Saturday morning. We pressed the Lightner Syrah and the Mourvedre, and it was my personal first encounter with a wine press. The machine itself was an old-fashioned one, slowly pushing down on the goopy grape mush until deep purple juice trickled out. As glasses of pressed and non-pressed Syrah were passed around for sampling, I had the opportunity to notice the fuller more complex flavor that breaking down the fruit creates.
My job assignment for the morning was arguably the simplest but also somewhat stressful. After the grapes were pressed, the juice flowed through tubes into the barrels. I was directed to shine a flashlight down the small barrel opening and close the valve and yell "STOP" as the wine pouring in neared the top. For the first few barrels, I erred on the side of caution, leaving too much air room at the top. Mike came to the rescue, pouring in wine by the pitcher to top them off. Note to self, under no circumstances serve wine from a pitcher--it takes nearly all of the romance of wine. No wonder bars and restaurants serve by the glass or bottle. My timing improved with practice, but toward the end of the morning I became overconfident, allowing the wine to overflow on a couple of barrels. I felt better after Tracey reassured me that she'd stained a shirt or two herself when she was watching the barrels.
Both the Lightner Syrah and the Mourvedre pack a pretty powerful punch taste-wise at this point. But I know a good, long rest in the French Oak barrels should bring them to their full potential.
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