Friday, September 21, 2007

Pigeage et Remontage

When I last posted the vats were filled with sweet crushed grapes, but it is now 12 days since the harvest ended and the smell of fermenting wine pervades every corner of my house and winery.

The grapes were surprisingly slow to start fermenting this year, but now that the yeast are busy I too have lots of work to do. My main job is keeping the grape skins in contact with the wine. The carbon dioxide released by fermentation carries all solids (skins, pips, etc) up to the surface of the bubbling liquid. The colour of Pinot Noir is contained exclusively in the skins so these need to be submerged regularly to maximize pigment extraction. There are basically two methods for submerging the skins…
Pigeage, shown above, simply involves pushing the floating skins back down into the fermenting wine. Traditionally this is done by climbing into the vat, naked, and splashing around with one’s hands and feet. I prefer to remain fully clothed, outside the vat, and to submerge the skins with the stick pictured (un pigeou)

The second method, remontage, is to draw the wine from the bottom of the vat and pump it to the top, above the skins. It the photo I am also allowing the wine to splash into a small tub to aerate the wine and give the yeast a breath of air.

Early days yet, but the colours are actually surprisingly deep considering the cool, damp summer we ‘enjoyed’.


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