Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Sweet Stuff

If you have read my earlier posts, you may remember I raved about tasting a fortified Verdelho that is being trialled, made from a mix of vintages all the way back to 1957 (see:  http://vinetovintage.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-perks-of-job.html).

Therefore, I could not believe my good fortune when I was asked to assist with some additions in the Fortified Shed.  Due to the age and value of these wines, it remains under tight security, so I felt very privileged to assist with this task.

The work required utilising a technique called battonage, which involves stirring wine whilst it remains in a barrel on its yeast lees.  This is achieved using a curved metal 'arm' with some chains hanging down.  You insert the rod into the barrel through the 'bung hole' and then twist it in a circular motion so that the chains provide a dragging and mixing action, which allows contact between the lees on the bottom and the clear wine above.

Here are some pictures to demonstrate the technique and equipment used:

The earthy, oaky smell of the old barriques (wine barrels) in the Fortified Shed was beautiful and then the sweet, sticky smell of the verdelho when each barrel was opened made it almost intoxicating.  I wish all the work I did at the cellar was this fun!