Happy Leap Year!

Winter has been more than kind to us this season: not too cold, not too much rough weather. Thankfully February has not been too long. Kind of like aging wines: not too short, not too long.

Aging wines in the bottle brings some deposits in the bottle. While these deposits may not be pleasant to see, they are perfectly normal. Recently, some wine deposits have been found in some of our red wine. As red wines age, the tannins slowly soften and change and the wine becomes more pleasant to drink. Such is the case with Chambourcin, which will have a “tang” in aroma and flavor when young, that softens with age. The 2017 vintage now has been bottled for 20 months, and is losing its “baby fat” (tang) and maturing into a nice, round, supple red wine. The tannins drop as a slight sediment in the bottle. If it happens simply let the bottle stand upright overnight, and then pour off the clear wine from the solids, or “decant” it.

Often if you look at the bottom of a bottle (if stored upright) or the low side of a bottle (if stored sideways)you’ll see a light green/yellow/purple/brown/red sediment. The green and yellow colors come actually from the green glass bottles. The purple/brown/red colors are coming from the tannins softening and dropping. Could we process these deposits out of the wine in the winery? Well………yes, we could,
Every time you process a wine, you will lose something in terms of aroma or bouquet, flavor, taste and body. We constantly try not to over-process the wines, but let them develop naturally on their own in the tanks, in the barrels, and in the bottles. These slow changes over time are what makes wine drinking interesting and fun. Too young, too harsh. Perfectly-aged, just perfect. Too old, over-the-hill. It’s like preparing food: neither under or overcooked, but just right.

Another area is cold stabilization (I’ve written about that in the past). Excess potassium and natural acidity from grapes will form crystals (cream of tartar) in tanks, or bottles when the wines get excessively cold. We presently chill our wines to about 26°F in tanks, so you don’t get crystals in your bottles. If you chill your wines below that, you will get crystals.
(CAUTION: freezing wine at home below this, it WILL solidify, the cork WILL push out of the bottle, the alcohol won’t freeze but WILL make a mess in your freezer. Not recommended in my household.)

My assistant winemaker and I recently spent time learning about a new chemical process and compound to take care of tartrates “saving both time and energy”, but we’re not quite sure if we want to use the chemical or implement the process. For the past few years the natural “traditional” method has been working particularly well for us.

York County is now listed in Pennsylvania’s list of quarantined counties. Please exercise care!

That’s all for now. Enjoy your changing wines in good health!

Steve Bahn