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Thursday, 22 October 2009

Pressing Time!

We are 'Pressing off' this morning chez Jean-Charles and once again, just like at harvest, we are spilling out of the tiny garage across the pavement and into the road!

JC and I drained all the wine from the fermenting vat early this morning to another clean vat leaving just the skins behind whilst ‘Papy’ (Grandad) assembled his ancient press (we're not allowed to!).

Once all the free-draining wine has been transferred, you are left with a big wet sponge of grape skins full of plenty more top quality wine. So we slowly open the door of the tank ready to catch the skins. As the door is opened the skins fall and, without hitting your funny bone on the vat behind, you begin to shovel the skins into the cage of the press and begin the pressing.

As we press the wine (or more accurately, gently squeeze the wine) I continually taste it as it runs from the squeezed skins. Once I start to taste the slightest bit of bitterness, usually from the pips splitting, I decide to ‘cut the press' and stop, much to Papy's bemusement!

Then we're off to Chami in St.Paul de Fenouillet to take the 'marc' for the distillery. The ‘marc’ is the pressed skins and they still contain good alcohol. When mixed with a bit of water and distilled, good skins, like JC’s, make excellent grappa or eau de marc. The skins have a value, not much mind you, but a few extra centimes are well worth the effort for these guys!


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3 comments:

thickedge said...

Sounds like fun. But you have tasted it - how would you describe the difference between the three 'qualities'? And then again is it certain that the first pressing will produce the best wine?

Mark Hoddy said...
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Mark Hoddy said...

2009 is a vintage where a lot of tannin and weight has been removed early from the skins into the wine so I believe the free run (1st) will be the superior wine. As a comparison the 2008 was the oppisite and the press wine was extremely structured.