Winemaking: The Hard Work is Done in the Vineyard

When it comes to winemaking for the Vinya Vella old vine Grenache the approach is simple: catch the fruit as it ripens to make a bright, elegant, lifted and medium bodied wine with texture and clarity.

The goal is to capture the fruit when it is ripening and crunchy, not letting it get too ripe, dark or baked. All my years working with high profile Pinot Noir producers has taught me that refining picking time and and minimising variability in the picks, results in wines that are more focussed, bright and detailed. Grenache is similar to Pinot in that regard I believe, though Grenache can be more forgiving, and if left to get "really ripe" it can still make an ok wine. For me the interest and nuance come early, as the fruit is building flavour and sugar, but before it gets too much sugar. This means tasting and separating sections of the vineyard and even adjusting crop-load and exposure on individual vines, in order to have the most balance and even maturity possible.

At the time of harvest further selection of the fruit is made and bunches that are showing anything less than perfect are discarded.

The winemaking for the first three vintages of Vinya Vella has been simple, to get minimal harsh extraction, but encourage infusion of the flavours into the juice. To do this we destem and place whole berries into the fermenter to a third full, then whole bunches are added straight from the picking bin to fill the next 
third, then the fermenter is topped up with more whole berries. This ‘hamburger’ approach is to allow some fermentation within the whole bunches to bring juicy fruit characters, and some spice and texture from the stalks. The bunches are not placed in the bottom of the tank as no yeast or nutrient is added, so the time for fermentation to commence is reliant on ambient yeast and I don’t want the stalks steeping in juice for an unknown period of time.

Under a protective cover of CO2, fermentation kicks off naturally, at first slowly and later when its picking up pace, a small pump-over of juice from the bottom of the tank to the top is undertaken. This is done to ensure the fermenting yeast has an even temperature and good air spread through the fermenter to avoid rank or dirty pockets. After this the fermenter is left alone with a loose lid on top. After 8-9 days the fermentation is slowing and the bunches are foot stomped and the juice pressed off to finish ferment in tank, after this the wine goes to the oldest possible large oak barrels for maturation.

Wine making is simple, gentle and aims to preserve the fresh bright characters we see in the fruit on the vine.

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