Cellar Update: Racking & Blending
Hello from the Three Sticks cellar! We checked in with our Assistant Winemaker Ashley Holland to see what is happening in the cellar. We found the team quite busy as they are racking and blending the 2015 Pinot Noirs. See what our newest member of the team, Ashley, had to say about getting these wines ready for next year's release.
We have seven different Pinot Noir blends from the 2015 harvest - some from new vineyards that we are excited to share with you!
Now that the 2015 wines have been resting for several months in barrel, and fermentation is complete, it's time to "rack" the wine off the "lees" - the leftover yeast deposit from the fermentation process. We do leave a bit of the lees behind, as they add to the texture and mouthfeel, and you know our Pinots are all about mouthfeel!
Before we rack we taste through every barrel and take notes on what we like about that particular barrel & cooper (it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!).
In our cellar, racking is done by a "bulldog" system, which pushes inert gas into the barrel to displace the wine. This is a very gentle and protective process, and the inert gas protects the wine from oxygen exposure - which we definitely don't want at this stage in its development.
Once the wines are in tank, we taste again to see how the blend is coming together. The blending process is all about making a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. By blending early, we are able to craft a more harmonious wine, as well as adjust for oak influence by carefully choosing the barrel the wines go back into.
So from tank, the blends head BACK into the selected barrels to continue their aging process. Steam is used to ensure the barrel stays microbially sound, i.e. free of any microoganisms that could possibly affect wine flavor.
The appellation blends will stay in barrel for another 10 months, while the single vineyard wines rest for another 16 months. Patience is definitely a virtue in winemaking.
Overall, the 2015 wines are showing spectacular color and concentration, and the new vineyards are adding exciting new dimension in the blends. We will continue to taste and test as the blends develop in barrel. These wines are destined to be released to Three Sticks wine lovers in 2017!
Thanks for the update Ashley! For now - look for next week's release of some of our exceptional 2014 vintage wines.