Last night we had our first few (dozen) tastes of the Syrah, and I’m feeling confident that it is going to be really beautiful wine.
Unfortunately, I forgot the camera this time, so I’ll bring it in for the Petite press next week so that you can get a sense of what the press is all about. But basically, a forklift raises the fermentation bin up in the air and gravity does the work of sending the “free-run” juice down a hose and into the barrel.
Then, the grapes are dumped into the press, which squeezes them at increasing pressures. We did a side-by-side tasting in classy plastic cups of the free-run juice, the press juices at .2, .4, .6, and .8 bars of pressure, and the final mixture in the barrel. There’s an incredible difference between all of them, with the press juice getting consecutively more tannin-y and even a little green-tasting at the highest pressure.
Now, the wine enters its second, malolactic fermentation in the barrel, which leads me to this, the gorgeousness that is the zebra barrel:
The purpose of these beauties is to control the amount of oak flavor in the wine by alternating staves of neutral and new oak. You can choose either 33 or 50% new oak. The above aren’t actually photos of my barrel, but they look pretty similar, so you get the idea.
As you might have guessed, these barrels were the inspiration for our fabulous brand name, Zebra Wines. We liked the idea of using something so new, so very California to represent our fresh, young label, and we think it presents a really interesting contrast between the young, hip feeling of our company and the elegant, traditional, Rhone-style wines we’re making. Now, I can’t make an official brand name announcement until I’ve gotten the trademark, so suffice it to say that we hope to be called Zebra Wines, and the lovely and talented Ms. Jenny Feller (see her link, at right) is helping us design a kick-ass (yet elegant) label.
P.S. I just learned that, unlike horses, zebras don’t neigh, they bark! Who knew?