Rondo tends to be the first variety we receive from our own site. It has masses of pigment so produces deep red wines, but my favourite use for it is as a component of our still rosé.
We need to manage Rondo quite carefully to ensure the colour remains elegant and not too dense. Picking takes about three days, so we take the first day’s fruit for the rosé as it tends to have less pigmentation.
First the grapes pass along our sorting table, where we can remove any bunches that don’t meet our standards. From there they are transferred directly to the press as whole bunches, rather than being crushed and destemmed. The latter option facilitates easier extraction of the juice, but also transfers more colour. When we press whole bunches we minimise the time that the juice spends in contact with the broken skin of the grape – less time means less transfer of pigments, meaning paler juice.
The press cycle takes about three hours, during which pressure is applied to the grape bunches in steadily increasing increments. The higher the pressure applied, the more you take from the area around the skin of the grape – meaning more colour. We monitor the juice leaving the press and at a certain point we decide that further extraction would compromise the quality of the rosé we’re trying to make. At that point we continue to press, but redirect these hard pressings to a separate tank, from which we ferment a base wine that is destined to become gin!
Hope you enjoyed – in the next post we’ll return to this batch of juice, which we’ll be clarifying prior to fermentation.