18 Oct 2012

Vintage 2012 - Day 23

The amphora project continued today, with some more foot stomping and then pressing the juice to rack overnight before being put into the amphora tomorrow. I also used the new markings that I worked on to measure the volume of all the tanks that have wine in them at Nierstein.

Gorgeous view, with leaves changing colour all around.
Lot's of free run juice from the foot crushing.
Johannes is very happy that his plan is working. He is pressing the grapes for more juice.
An in situ setup in the vineyards where the amphora will live for the next few weeks as the wine ferments.

Vintage 2012 - Day 22

I managed to lose another day thanks to my back problems, and then worked two half days with reduced duties that wouldn't make my back worse again. Day 20 Johannes was in Oslo for one of the most inappropriately timed tastings imaginable, right in the middle of vintage. On the following day I was doing a fair amount of observing and not a lot of working, but on Day 22 I got to do something really interesting. Stomping grapes! Riesling grapes!! Stomping grapes is what several members of my family think I'm actually doing by working vintage. I never thought I'd be doing it with white grapes though. The fruit was from one of the Rotenberg vineyards and will go into the amphora in a few days for fermentation. It made for cold and sticky legs but some amazing and hilarious photos as I hope you agree.

Johannes prepares the yeast, mixing in a little juice from the tank to be inoculated.
Johannes adds the yeasts to begin fermenting a barrel of grauburgunder.
Dancing monkey!
Adding some dry ice (CO2) to protect the foot-crushed grapes.

14 Oct 2012

Vintage 2012 - Day Nineteen

Just when I thought my back was on the mend it decided it wasn't. It might have been exacerbated by working for two days and being on my feet, with the occasional lifting pushing or bending. By the end of my nineteenth day I was starting to get very stiff and had difficulty moving like before. Now I'm even worse and have resigned myself to see a doctor tomorrow. The few things I got to do before I called it quits for the day was draining the tank of silvaner that had started to ferment on skins, picking some riesling to be pressed and used to start wild ferments, plunge some spatburgunder and continue correcting tank markings.

Perfect time to begin harvesting.
Draining a tank the old fashioned way; gravity.
Johannes plunging the cap on a vat of schwarz riesling.
Action shot!

12 Oct 2012

Vintage 2012 - Day Eighteen

Not much more to report, most of the same. Johannes was away from Nierstein for most of the day and left me to continue the tank markings which I still don't understand how they managed to create such a mess to begin with. I took a few photos of Johannes putting some CO2 onto some vats of reds fermenting on skins to protect them from oxidation, and they looked cool.

Smoke on the water.
Camera obscura.

Vintage 2012 - Day Seventeen

After a two day hiatus spent mostly resting on my injured back, I returned to the cellars at Nierstein to continue the tank markings. Most of the red grapes were coming in from the vineyards and were being crushed for cold soaking and in then for some, a fermentation on skins. I also got the chance to plunge a ferment, but this time it was a tank filled with silvaner! My second cellar also went off without a hitch.

De-stemmed white berrries after a night soaking, ready to be pressed.
Johannes and Joachim discussing the plan for the day.
My first plunge.
But they're white grapes!
Soak away all you tannins.
Freshly de-stemmed and crushed.
Make sure everything is in order David.
The Anton is my friend.
Everything make sense?
Hello Nino!
Bunches of fruit, obviously!
Stems, sans grapes.

Vintage 2012 - Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen began quite auspiciously, as I managed to strain my back moving boxes of wine which then put me out for two days afterwards. Fortunately things still aren't busy yet, so I wasn't missed too much and I didn't miss too much either. It really is a shame that every day I miss something is a day I don't have the opportunity to learn anything. Most of the day ended up being spent correcting the markings on tanks at Nierstein, but Johannes did show me how to make the cellar run where each fermentation tank is checked for sugar, temperature and sensory analysis. At the moment it's not too taxing as there are only a handful of tanks with fermenting wine in them. Come the middle of vintage and the cellar run will take a lot longer.

El Jefe taking me through the steps of testing a fermenting tank.

7 Oct 2012

Vintage 2012 - Day Thirteen

A half-day at Nierstein saw me attempting to correct the markings on tanks made by some of my predecessors. Somehow the measurements were incorrect so I have to try and calculate the volumes as best I can. It's taking a little more mathematics than you may think. It also takes substantially more elbow grease and finger-damage trying to get the old markings off. Before this we finished pressing the rest of the silvaner picked yesterday, and also Johannes put some of it with skins into one of his favoured pressure tanks for fermentation.

After a night macerating on skins the silvaner is pressed for racking and then fermentation.
Johannes took some of the pressed juice from the previous day and left it to settle in a couple of glass balloons. This is the juice being racked, before it will go back into a balloon for fermentation. It had a certain amount of skin contact, and he is trialing this method to extract more character from a generally basic variety.

Vintage 2012 - Day Twelve

Actual harvesting today!!! Some silvaner from a few different vineyards. It gave me another opportunity to get to know some of the pickers from the P countries of Europe. The Polish come across for the six week period of harvest, work everyday from eight until five and then head back home afterwards. Many of them have been doing it for years and know the vineyards as well as the Hasselbachs. The Portuguese all live here but head back for holidays to see the family, which I think I may have mentioned when I was there and saw all of the vehicles with license plates from various parts of Europe.

The lord of the land surveying in the early morning sun.
The view over the back of Nackenheim.
Ready for a full day of harvesting.
Nino is from the Duoro, and has been here for about 30 years.

Vintage 2012 - Day Eleven

On the ninth day I rested as I was struggling to shake a cold I had for almost two weeks, and the tenth day involved scrounging for things to do as the vintage still hasn't really got going and Johannes was in Austria. The eleventh day of vintage started with finishing the cellars at Nackenheim and checking the amphora for any leaks, and then heading over to the Nierstein cellars to get to know them better and also test some grape samples in a different laboratory.

Johannes taking me through the Nierstien laboratory.
The tanks need their numbers redone.
Hard to see, but we caught a Landrover 'swimming' down the Rhein River!

Vintage 2012 - Day Eight

Day eight didn't involve anything new in terms of work (more cellar cleaning), but I had the afternoon off which allowed me to get a haircut (not really happy with it but you can't expect much for 15 Euros), and then I took up an invitation to the Ingelheim Rotwein (red wine) Festival. It was somewhere between an agricultural show (without the competition element) and a fair, with lot's of wine and food with rides for all the kids just starting their holidays. Ingelheim isn't one of the best places in the Rheinhessen region for wine, but they are known for their red wines like spatburgunder (pinot noir). Ingelheim itself is a lovely town with an old city wall running around it.

A lovely old building in Mainz.
The main square in Mainz with the cathedral in the background.
One of the gates of the old city wall of Ingelheim.

Vintage 2012 - Day Seven

A week into vintage and there has been barely anything harvested. A lot of the fruit is just not quite ripe enough, but has promising levels of acid to ensure that when the fruit does come off it will be sensational. The fruit I was working with on my seventh day wasn't quite up to Gunderloch scratch, as I helped Johannes and some of his school mates pick a parcel of grapes they are fermenting for a project. We kept things pretty old-school with one of us wearing a large basket on our backs for the others to dump their buckets into. Perhaps this is something I can look forward to when I am in the Mosel in a few weeks. Unfortunately for Johannes and his fellow students the de-stemming machine at the school winery packed it in and they had to be done manually, something Johannes couldn't stick around for. In the afternoon I helped around the winery again, preparing and packing some wine.

Bright and early we harvest the fruit. That's what makes the difference.
Get right in there and don't miss any grapes.
Fine work from Johannes here.
Is it just me or do I look slightly confused?
Nice lens flare.
The grapes go in the bucket.
Then into the basket.
Then into the bin.
The wine pyramid at the Oppenheim Wine School
Bins of grapes waiting to be de-stemmed and pressed.