Wine Harvest 2019 at our winery Pago Casa del Blanco
Harvest time is the most important time of the year for our wineries. In Spain we say: ”La campaña de la vendimia”. This is the period from the preparation of the grape harvest to the fermentation process. We would like to take you on a short tour through our winery Pago Casa del Blanco during this exciting period.
Our winery Pago Casa del Blanco is one of the 14 wineries with the Pago DOP status. DOP (Denominación de Origen Protegida) Pago certifies that the wine comes from a specific geographical protected area with a particular microclimate and a specific soil composition. These are very high quality wines, the “Grand Cru” wines of Spain. The very talented winemaker Antonio Merino manages Pago Casa del Blanco for many years and he is responsible for the creation of these exceptional wines.
During the harvesting period the lab is very important. Before we start picking the grapes, we test the values of the grapes to check if they are ‘ready’ to pick. The eye and the experience tell a lot, but the lab results are decisive. 7 Days a week we test all the wines in the fermentation depots to ensure that all processes developed properly. The three most important values are: PH, Alcohol and Sulfite.
A lot of grape varieties such as Airen, Petit Verdot and Malbec are picked by hand.
There are also grape varieties that are harvested with a refined grape-picking machine. This machine works very precisely with soft latex materials in order to efficiently pick the grapes without damaging the plant. In the meantime, the tractor is waiting to transport the grapes to the bodega as quick as possible. Because the time between picking and pressing is minimal, no sulphites have to be added to the wine to prevent oxidation.
We sorted the grapes by hand, after that we separated them from bunches and stems. After the grapes are crushed the first most will be mixed with the skin of the grapes. This very intense and tasty most will be directly pumped into the wine depot. In this case we need approximately 18.000 kg for one depot of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a very small badge. The human team of our Pago wines works for many years together and share a lot of experience which optimizes this pure and artisanal process of wine making.
Note: The grape stems are removed to avoid excess tannin. This tannin gives the wine a bitter taste. The ripe tannin in the skin of the grape does add value to the wine and therefore is used in smaller quantities.
The fermentation process
The grapes and the must in the depot create the “sombrero” (top layer). After the harvest the natural yeasts (Vin Nature) are added to accelerate and guide the alcoholic fermentation (natural sugars are converted into alcohol).
Note: A correct temperature is essential for a good fermentation (between 22-26 gr) this is constantly monitored and adjusted when necessary.
During the fermentation process, the must is stirred regularly and the ‘sombrero’ is submerged to integrate the fruit characters well. The wine develops and fine, round flavours appear. After about 10-15 days, depending on the grape variety, the alcoholic fermentation will be ready and the malolactic fermentation will follow.
The harvest of another variety, the Merlot took place 14 days ago, at this moment the alcoholic fermentation is ready. We move the must from the depot into the press. The pneumatic press squeezes carefully by push and suck movements without damaging the seeds to avoid excess green tannin.
During pressing the must is roughly filtered. The “waste” of seeds and peels are valuable nutrients and will be used afterwards for enriching the soil, our Pago terroir.
We transfer the pressed must to another depot and the malolactic fermentation begins: the 2nd natural fermentation which makes the “bouquet” of the wine appear. Merlot 2019 phase 2.
Must becomes wine
After the fermentation the wine “rests” for about 5, 6 months in the depot, the taste develops and the wine becomes clear. In March, April we transfer the wine into the barrels for maturation in wood. The barrels are usually made of mostly French and sometimes American oak with medium toasting. It’s important that this taste of wood is subtly infused into the wine so the fruit tones will remain. After a certain period of wood maturation, the wine will be filtered and bottled for further maturation. The Pago QuiXote wines mature for 12 months in different barrels, and at least 24 months in bottle, before they reach the market.
Note: The duration of the ageing process depends on the type of wine desired; Roble, Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. In Spain each wine region has its own rules for the ageing process per wine variety.
The grape harvest is the most important moment for us as a winery, but it is only a fragment of many processes that follow before drinking a good glass of wine. A traditional natural product that is specially made to enjoy!