We just tasted through the barrels and are winding down a quiet time at the winery, when the barrels from the 2017 vintage are maturing. What is happening now in the cellar?
1) Malolactic Fermentation- During harvest, primary fermentation converts sugar to alcohol. After that process is complete and all sugar has been converted to alcohol, we press the grapes off their skins and place the wine in barrels. This is when malolactic, or secondary, fermentation converts the acid from the malic to lactic acid. This is critical to the feel of the wine in the mouth, as malic acid has a tart and “sharp” profile similar to that which can be found in apples. Lactic acid has a softer profile.
2) Topping Off- It is important that wine does not have much "head space" at the top of the barrel so that exposure to air doesn't lead to oxidation or a prematurely tired profile. This is managed by topping the barrels off with wine on a regular basis so that it does not get too much air contact.
3) Blending Preparation- We taste through the barrels several times during the winter to monitor how each wine is developing. We start hypotheses of what lots (set of barrels from the same vineyard and likely with the same yeast type) could combine with others to add complexity to the profile.