It’s possibly one of the most rewarding feelings when I finally have the wine “racked” and barrelled. All the hard work that has gone on throughout the year lays still and visually it’s very rewarding to stand back and actually see the wine, sitting there.
Racking, also known as filtering or fining, is a method where I move the wine from one vessel to another using gravity rather than a pump, which can be disruptive to the wine. In all I “rack” the Pinot Noir three times throughout the wine making process. It’s purpose is aimed to leave any sediment behind in the original vessel be it barrel or tank, in doing so it assists in fining the wine from sediment which may effect the taste profiles
Wine sediment is mostly a result of the wine making process itself. Usually called “lees”, this all-encompassing term refers to the dead yeast, bits of wine grape skin, crushed seeds, stems and various proteins that form during crush and fermentation.The lees impart complexity and body to the wine. They settle at the bottom of the barrel, where they can be removed in a number of ways, one which is racking.
The first rack occurs after the wine has been pressed to tank and allowed to settle for 48 hours where it is then racked to barrel. There will be two further rackings, the first in December to get the wine off the residual grape and yeast lees and the second, from barrel to tank, just prior to bottling.
We’re not quite there yet but seeing the wine racked always gives me a second wind as I know that the Lion’s share of the year’s work is over. There’s little to do but watch and wait and let the wine run its course. Having said that, I best get back to the vineyard and continue laying new chardonnay shoot growth along the cordon – but that’s a story for another time.
Who said there’s ever little to do, in a winery the cycle never stops – just the way I like it.