On the ground in Marlborough: The winery (part 2 of 2)

Australian Ant Moore (pictured) plies his trade in New Zealand, making some of the most distinctive whites of the Marlborough region, and vibrantly fruity, yet rustic and complex reds of Central Otago. Here, in the second part of this two part series, his right hand man Craig Murphy talks us through the winemaking process.

This is a continuation. To view the first post click here.

We add the yeast to the Pinot Noir. Still on skins, it has been soaking for 3 days. The colour of the juice is now deep purple and it’s time to ferment. I like to pour the culture into a little nest. Start it off slowly, because when the reds take off fermenting it’s all done in days. And all the way through the cellar hands are plunging. Four guys to a tank, four times a day. Every day, every tank until done. Then we let it soak some more. Time to extract the tannins and develop the palate of the wine.

The Sauvignon Blanc is now settling in a stainless tank. The cooling is set at 8 degrees. All looking good. Time to let gravity do its thing. 2 days later we test the racking valve to see if it is clear. Perfect, as clear as water and still tasting fantastic. Time to rack the tank. One of the cellar hands hooks up the pump, sets up the lines and cleans everything. The destination tank is gassed and we let it go. All valves are opened and the clean, clear juice flows into the next tank. Three hours later the door is opened and we finish the racking. All we can smell is full on Sauvignon aromas that are just pouring out the door.

The Pinot has been soaking post ferment for 5 days, we have tasted every day and finally time to press the wine off the skins. The cellar hands set up the gear and drain the wine off the tank. Then, when wine is not flowing anymore and the free run tank is looking full, it’s time for the best job in the winery. Digging out the reds. The rookie cellar hand is told to get their boots on, harness up and they are handed the red shovel, and they are told to dig. Six tonne of Pinot Noir needs to be dug out and loaded into the bins then tipped into the press. Good chance to show how fast you can go and the records for fastest time are openly boasted about in the smoko room later that day. Time to clean out the tank, and get ready to load it with the next truck load of Pinot Noir that has just arrived.

The Pinot Noir now needs time in oak; we go through and select which clone is going to go to the best suited Barrique. All wine has been inoculated with malo to give some more complexity on the palate. Once the oak is full, they are moved into the warm room and left. Stirred every couple of weeks and then topped as each barrique loses some volume… the angels share.

Now what… which yeast are we going to use for the Sauvignon? Which yeast will enhance the structure and produce the best ferment? Yeast is mixed up and left to hydrate. Good fermenter this one, the culture is strong and the yeast smells good. Fresh baked bread, we add a little Sauvignon just to get it used to the extra sugar in the juice. Then we tip it into the tank, “Go forth and multiply little yeasties” is the prayer offered as the last of the culture is added. And now we wait. Two days and the tank is starting to prickle and the tell tale signs of CO2 are being released, well through the lag phase. Now onto the growth phase, 12 hours later the temp is lowered as the ferment is rolling over. Foam and CO2, and a fantastic aroma of tropical fruits, capsicum and cut grass are floating out the top of the tank. Temperature set for 12 degrees and the tank is perfect. We taste every day and make sure that all is looking good. Finally, after 15 days the ferment is done. All the sugar has been fermented and the alcohol is present. We now have wine.

Multiply this by 30 other tanks of wine and we have a vintage. Now for the best part. Blending.

Blending can make or break. I like to taste everything. Get an idea of what the vintage is like. Then it’s all on. 8 am let’s start tasting, 10 am and we have tasted 30 wines. I know what I want now. Mix this with that and taste. Try a little of this tank. Have to make sure the others are keeping up and the blend has been written down. By midday all the whites are done.

Generally a big day and by the end we are tired and are looking forward to a steak and cheese pie from the bakery. The blends are completed. A decision has been made. Time to finish the wines, filter and get ready for bottling.

The Pinot has now had 4 months in oak. Malo is complete and the wine sits and ages. We stir, we top, we taste, we stir some more, and so on. Then in February we need to blend and then the process starts again.

Bottling, 4 months from harvest the truck rolls in and we load the transport tank and watch it drive out the gate. The Sauvignon Blanc is prepped and then 6 am the next morning I roll into the bottling company and one final taste and the final sign off, everything is gassed off. No air around here, the labels look good, and the guys are keen to get rolling, big day today.

I watch as the glass rolls down the line, a blur of glass and wine, the colour of the labels as the bottles whizz past and then into the cases. But it does not stop there. Time to get it to market.

Winemaking in Marlborough, where Sauvignon Blanc is king and we do the best in the world.

Get up to 25% off the Ant Moore range before midnight Monday 30th April.

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