Riesling on the brain…

September 2nd, 2010 | Posted by

riesling experimental tanksJust a shot of our 2500L tanks which we use for small batch fermentation and for experimental lots here at Sandihurst. Our 2007 trophy winning Riesling was a blend of 7 of these tanks, all dealt with in a slightly different way to add some complexity and interest to the final blend.  This photo is in fact a shot of me cleaning the tanks. Not a job for the mind that but it has me thinking about Riesling. The tank in the middle holds one of my more exciting experiments from the 2010 vintage. A portion of the Riesling harvested from our Georges Road Waipara vineyard was given a massive 35 hours skin contact before pressing. Skin contact in Riesling is normally frowned upon for the high level of phenolics that can be extracted along with the enhanced aromatic potential however there are a small number of producers in Germany, such as the legendary Klaus-Peter Keller who have been making such a style with extended contact very successfully.   Ripe, high health grapes are essential to begin with and you must be prepared to lose up to 2g/L of acid during the process (I picked earlier to retain some vibrancy). Also I soaked the skins without the use of any sulphur dioxide at all (although they were inside the press under a CO2 blanket). The resultant pressed juice was amazing. I would say there is a trade off to be had in this process with there being less fruit character and far more body and texture in the wine. Which is something I really value in Riesling anyway, texture. Anyone can make fruit juice but getting a wine to be balanced, with texture and length is something I strive for. The wine has been on full fermentation lees for 3 months now and I am beginning to think about taking it off onto fine lees for a further period before blending and bottling. We will see. As with any experiment, there is no set plan and things can change at any moment. All I can do is constantly taste the wines progress and decide from there. Stay tuned as 'the journey' continues. Meanwhile, back to my cleaning...