Like fate’s turning wheel, my burgeoning Barbaresco cycles to and fro between the glass carboy and fermenting tank, uncertain of its future. For the last week, the Chitosan bonded with the Kieselsol pulling the proteins, dead yeasts and excess junk to the carboy’s bottom. Inches of debris now colored the base purple. So I racked the wine, hoping to not need filter pads.
Many winemakers take pride in avoiding filtration. They believe that it thins wine and removes complex flavors that could develop if left to age in bottle. That, and my wine already seemed thinner than any Barbarescos that had ever passed my palate.Racking the wine too many times, however, does risk ruining the end product. If you splash it too much or let oxygen froth into the tube, you get vinegar. So I did my best to be gentle. The grime left at the bottom = success.
The next day, I racked it again.
Although Barbaresco has pedigree, it bears little relation to the wines it claims from antiquity. Not only has the process modernized into a chemist’s wet dream, the end products could not be further apart. The wine of antiquity saw massive extraction and addition of spices, honey, fruit and other inebriates like opium. Much was boiled down in lead tanks to increase the sweetness and weight. This sugary, alcoholic monster (akin to Madeira, PX Sherry or Port), was often diluted with water (unless you were a barbarian).No more digressing. Me knocking Barbaresco or antiquity won’t make my Canadian Welches taste any better. All I know is that this racking makes me sleepy. Kneeling nearly prostrate before my bucket-o-wine altar I realized, at the heart of crafting wine lies patience, attention and mostly luck.Luckily, the only slough left this time fit into one glass.
I had to taste it. What if the nightly gassing with CO2, Argon and Nitrogen didn’t keep oxidation away? What if all the shellfish glue, preservatives, dead yeasts and kitty litter killed the fruity, grape-y decentness that came maybe from Italy, maybe Canada? What if the apartment was too cold or too hot? The bouquet told me that I hadn’t screwed up. No mustiness or yeast, just red fruit and floral notes. The appearance lacked haze. Going down everything seemed fine, if a bit bland. Light notes of dried red cherry, cranberry and pepper dust came and went. Alcohol and acidity presented themselves but only to flank the slim-bodied fruit.
Who knows? Maybe re-racking and bottling won’t kill it.