On Wednesday of last week we racked all of the barrels of the 2009 Match Butterdragon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the pre-harvest racking. It would be the third time the wine has been racked since we fermented the 2009 last September and October.
The reason we rack just before harvest is to basically harmonize all of the different barrel flavors that we’ve derived over the last few months. [W]e buy a multiple collection of barrels from different coopers so that we have some particular barrels, flavors, and styles that blend well with other ones when they are all homogeneously put back together in a blend. [We used] six different barrel manufacturers.
We bull-dogged racked the wine which means that we used a device in each barrel that basically pressurizes the barrel with nitrogen gas thereby forcing the wine out through hoses to a tank that had been gassed also with nitrogen. That would just really eliminate basically all of the potential oxygen pickup. A little bit of oxygen pickup at this time is not bad but we don’t want very much.
Once in the tank, we checked the free SO2 and added a small amount of SO2 to bring the free SO2 back up to around 35 PPM. The wine was pumped back to barrel and topped and back in the stacks on their racks… a good, successful racking.
We also racked the Baconbrook Cabernet Sauvignon, basically utilizing the same techniques we used for the Butterdragon. [We] bull-dog racked using nitrogen gas to a tank. The barrels were cleaned and then allowed to drain. The free SO2 was checked. A little bit of free SO2 was added to the wine and then the wine was pumped back to barrels.
Both wines show a very nice set of flavors that really are the style of the vineyards. The hilltop Baconbrook vineyard has a little bit more Cabernet style to it. It’s a little bit more aggressive and because of its extra tannin that it has, it will age for an extra 5 or 6 months in barrel before we bottle it as compared to the Butterdragon which is a softer, more luscious style of Cabernet, a little bit darker in color, but not quite as dramatic and forceful as Baconbrook.
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