Making White: Don’t Try This at Home

I’m glad the Inspecteur du Travail wasn’t here yesterday morning. I’m not sure he would have appreciated the children being around so much dangerous kit.

We have now finished harvesting the white. How we make it is pretty straightforward but there’s lots to be done. Most of the work has taken place in the vineyard, including cutting out, by hand, any bunches that are tainted by rot, but attention to detail is needed now at every stage.

White wine is made by fermenting grape juice, whereas red is made by fermenting grapes. And because we’re fermenting juice, we need it to be as fresh as possible.

So the grapes are harvested at night or early in the morning, and we transport them to the winery within minutes, eliminating the risk of oxidation.

After de-stemming, we lightly crush the grapes and push them with a screw-pump into a large, chilled tank (below, centre). The juice will get some ‘skin-contact’ for up to 24 hours, depending on the health of the skins. 

We’ll then run off the juice into another stainless steel tank to settle, and we press the gubbins that’s left – tons of it – in the 5000 litre pneumatic press (far left). It has a giant airbag inside it, allowing us to press the pulp gently. The first pressings give us juice of lovely quality but we’ll taste check the last part, to see if we add it. 

Once the juice has settled in the tank – a process called débourbage when all the particles drop down – we’ll start the fermentation. The débourbage reduces the risk for excessive filtering later. We also filter the bourbes as we get a nice zippy juice, full of character, to add back in before the cool ferment.

Child’s play. For grown-ups.