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Filtering: All blurry to me, gov!

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Hier geht’s zur Kurzfassung auf Deutsch.

The 2012 wine is coming along very nicely and had to be tested whether it goes cloudy in heat: We had to test whether your nice 2013 summer wine would suddenly look ‘faulty’ (ie, cloudy), if we enjoy hot temperatures that we can only dream of at the moment, and if we didn’t ‘stabilise’ it.

To kill the suspense: The little protein-flakes did appear in good numbers, as soon as the bottle was put into the oven. So, in a common, if unwelcome decision, bentonite will be applied to the wine to stop the flakes (below) appear.

The test task was seemingly thought up by Sisyphos, since our original test bottle was cloudy, due to the yeast that’s still floating in the wine. So, we had to filter that bottle to make it look like a squeaky clean bottle we were about to serve up, only to push it to go cloudy again.

And so the task became a good training session in filtering: what reference point do I use to check that the wine, after the filtering, looks as clear as you would expect it to be when you buy it. I used a big yellow “A” on a hot chocolate tin: how clearly can it be seen through the glass, after the first filtering, and after the second?

The pictures from our little test-filtering thus serve as a demonstration of a topic that could be discussed well into the night: What is the expectation of the customer? How clear and free of bits does the product have to be? Is what vintners apply to the wine driven by that expectation? And is filtering detrimental to the taste? (The last point being the reason why many high-quality wines are left to clear on their own accord, something we are not yet able to do, – but look out for updates on this.)

Looking forward to discussing your view online or in person.

How clear is that wine? (First Filtering done)

How clear is that wine? (First Filtering done)

One Filter Run (on left) vs Two Filter Runs (on right)

One Filter Run (on left) vs Two Filter Runs (on right)

How clear is the letter “A” on the tin behind the glass?

Vergleich durch s glas

Compare from Top (No Filtering) to Bottom (Two Filter Runs)

Same question: How clear is the letter “A”?

Vergleich-von oben

As above, from Top (No Filtering) to Bottom (Two Runs)

The finished filtered – and very clear looking – bottle hits the heat: radiator (followed by oven):

Clear, - but not for long.

Clear, – but not for long.

Shortly afterwards…., – clarity has all gone to pieces:

The heat adds snow flakes to the wine, - not the best effect on a summer evening.

The heat adds snow flakes to the wine, – not the best effect on a summer evening.

Harvest. Botrytis. And…

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…a highly financial day in the life of a Mini-Wine-Producer/Blogger:

Financials? The suspense! I know!  Did we invest in pumps, filters, a press even? No. I just followed Jimmy Wales’ request and gave a tiny amount to Wikipedia. Why? My appreciation for their no-ads rule is growing, as the battle of my ad filters against pop ups intensifies, never mind those freaky ads that remind  you of a google search you did yesterday (that’s soo yesterday).

But I can’t help but think that my “yes, I’ll sponsor”-click had more to do with wine and botrytis. But the basics first: Botrytis, a fungus, can turn the grapes into something very desirable (Noble Rot) or that has to be discarded (Grey Rot). But how do you illustrate the two? My “yes, I’ll sponsor”-click was made, I think, in honour of a fairly good illustration of the latter in its German entry, headed “Grauschimmelfaeule” (“Grey Rot”). Two things I love about this page:  It has a picture of a grey rot affected tomato plant that will put you off tomatoes for a long time: it looks like someone did a meticulous job of knitting a jumper round a tomato plant made out of some very bizarre grey wool. But it also lists the latin names: Botrytis cinerea or Botryotinia fuckeliana. Nothing to add to this.

That Botrytis “f…”s with the grapes is something Frank, Boris, Pascale, Hans, Astrid, etc will remember from our own Green Feather harvest, since we we spent a good deal of our time cutting out the rotten bits from each grape (see min 0.44 in the video). So, the idea that Botrytis can, on the one hand, create “Noble Rot” (“Edelfaeule”, “edelsuess”, in German), something that gives sweet desert wines such a special note that the price sky-rockets, but also create the bad rot, the “Grey Rot”, is hard to get one’s head round. This page is a good read on the subject.

Botrytis on tomato plant Grey Rot Noble Rot Wikipedia

image by Rasbak from Wikipedia shared under GNU Free Documentation License

During our own harvest we got to know each BUNCH of grapes, putting it into the ‘sweet’ bucket, or the ‘not so sweet’-one. That felt like a lot of attention given to each grape. So, how crazy is it to give that kind of attention to each individual BERRY? The effort involved in doing a “Beerenauslese” (“berry selection”) or a “Trockenbeerenauslese” (“dry berry selection”) appears in an entirely new light, after our harvest!  If we were JUST doing an “Auslese”, ie a selection, ie separating the sweeter grapes from the not so ripe ones, then the idea of doing that whole process for individual berries is just staggering: Imagine the long line of vines in front of you and you are standing there with two buckets, one for the berries with exactly the right type of Botrytis (or dried up), the other for the rest. That’s obviously what explains the price, – and what a bummer if after all that effort the fermentation then does not go well….

If you have heard of the French sweet wine “Sauternes” (I giggled my way through this 2011 harvest report) being made with Botrytis, but not yet of the German variety, here are some vintner sites that offer Beerenauslese: these were mentioned in a magazine’s recent tasting: coming from south Germany, Rheinhessen and Austria; I myself remember tasting a very nice Beerenauslese at Wittmann, one of the top White Wine vineyards in Germany (and a bio-dynamic one, too).

But before I consider shelling out for a Beerenauslese, as for financial commitments today, I thought I’d stick to sponsoring (Green Feather’s very own) Nick’s “Movember”-efforts of growing a moustache in support of prostate cancer awareness.  And create my very own wishlist for 2013, which includes taking part in a harvest for a Beerenauslese.

The First Green Feather Wine Fan Post

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The first fan mail arrived!

The first Green Feather Wine fan mail has arrived! It’s from Jim (no relations), sent via Franz (with relations) and caused surprised looks from the parrot. Why? I suspect that they like nibbling on bottle corks so much that a parrot and a cork merging into must have looked to them like a glimpse of nirvana. Jim writes: “… ten out of ten for a marvelous wine” and “ …much better than a lot of so called professionally made wines”. This distinction might be correct in one sense, in that we are beginners, but Green Feather Wine is a professionally done wine, we cannot claim that such a nice wine came together in our bathtub. Green Feather Wine claims it needs a professional “Fass” in the same way as “hospitals need vas-es” (to quote one of my favourite John Hegley poem);  (“Fass” being the German term for “wine tank”,  in our case a stainless steel tank.)

Ein wein fass vor der Reining wird von Papageien geprueft

A stainless steel tank or “Fass” has an inspection.

All in all, a parcel (and email) that brought a big smile to my face, – many thanks, Jim!