When it has been decided that the contact with the skins has been sufficient, the next step is racking, the separation of the fermenting must from the skins. All the must drains out through the valve, passing through a sieve that catches the small skins or seeds that come down with the wine, assuring that they don’t clog. The sieve is often made of copper, an important precaution for wines like Dogliani that tend to reduce, since this metal captures sulfur compounds, making them insoluble. This is an old host’s trick, that of fishing the wine out of the barrel with a copper pitcher before bringing it to the table, to make the defects vanish and leave only the aroma.
ivan gallo AZIENDA gallo
The racking can take place, depending on the producer’s goal and decisions, at the end of the fermentation, when the sugars are exhausted; it is called “warm” racking because the must has conserved the temperature of vilification. Or, it can be done sooner to have a wine that is more immediate and lower in tannins. Or it can take place after a post-fermentation maceration that is used to cede to the skins a portion of instability in color and tannins – called a cold fermentation because if you put your hand in the tank, you will no longer feel heat.
When the wine no longer flows out of the valve, it is time to open the door, collect the must that remains at the bottom and then begin to pull out the fermented skins that need to be pressed in order to recover any wine that remains. It’s a tiring job – you have to use your hands to open a gap in the wall of pomace compacted by its own weight in order to slowly try and bring it toward the door and pull it, using a pitchfork with curved teeth and a hoe. Then with a shovel you can load the press. It’s perhaps the only moment in which you can really get your hands in the material of a wine, feeling that it comes from the earth even if by now it is something made of aromas and colors that you can no longer hold except in a glass.
MAURO gallo AZIENDA gallo
When we remove the marc from the tank, we can finally fully assess how the skins have been processed by fermentation, also in relation to the health of the grapes we brought to the cellar. The quantity, dimension, and ripeness of the grape seeds that were deposited on the bottom of the tank, are also now visible. Much of the tannin of Dogliani comes from this and an accurate evaluation of their ripeness is essential for successful winemaking. It is in a sense the proof of our ability to evaluate the vintage and vinify it in the right way. An excessive crumbling or exhaustion of the skins can make some producers fear that the fruit of the wine has been weighed down by hints of pomace. You can make assessments of the sprinklers and pumping over, or of the crushing, and wait patiently for the only opportunity to experiment that we have each year, in the harvest to come.
francesco boschis AZIENDA boschis
The pomace extracted from the fermentation tanks can be pressed either with a standard press or with the membrane press which is usually used for the vinification of white wines, a kind of lung that swells and gently presses. In the first case, the pressure is always applied in the same places because the marc isn’t moved after it is loaded; more pressure needs to be applied, and you run the risk of breaking the seeds and releasing vegetal aromas. But on the other hand, by not continuing to break down the marc, there is less oxidation. In the second case, less pressure is needed because the marc is crumbled and mixed, always presenting a new pressure surface, but it is constantly in contact with oxygen, promoting oxidation. All this to recover wine from the press, that would be a pity to bring to the distillery and that manages to add something to aging wines.
FAUSTO CELLARIO AZIENDA cellario
The fermented and pressed marcs must be taken to the distillery because the producer is obligated to give a certain quantity of alcohol to the state in relation to the alcohol produced during the winemaking process. The pomace will undergo distillation for the production of grappa. Lately, however, the producers have been given the opportunity to use the pomace and lees as organic matter to be redistributed in the vineyards, making this provision obsolete. Instead of being bagged to be sent to the distiller, the skins are loaded on the rotary cultivator to be returned to the rows, or, if they’re lucky, used to age cheese.