In the previous episodes we talked about the harvest and the first processing stages of our white grapes. We continue the story of the white vinification process as performed at the Tenute d 'Italia winery in the company of the production manager Ivan Lentini.
Hi Ivan, good to see you again! During our last meeting we examined the pressing process, until the must was obtained. Having arrived at this point, how do we proceed?
We can say that we are now entering the heart of the winemaking process, getting closer and closer to what will eventually be our finished product. The first operation that is performed after the pressing is the transfer of the must into our tanks to proceed with the first clarification.
This operation can be performed in different ways, but an absolute constant of our processing protocol is to reduce the temperature of the must: this simple trick allows us not only to avoid the start of a spontaneous fermentation, but also has the power to preserve the aromas and above all to facilitate the precipitation of the solid parts (lees), promoting clarification in an absolutely natural and minimally invasive way.
Always staying faithful to the principle of minimal intervention on our raw material, we try to exploit the power of Nature to avoid, as much as possible, mechanical operations or the use of adjuvants.
How long does this process last?
The must remains in the clarification process from 24 to 28 hours, always depending on the type of wine we want to produce. As a general rule, we can say that the more body you intend to give to the finished product, the longer the process, this to make the most of the aromatic contribution of the lees right from the start.
What happens after the clarification?
At the end of this first clarification we are ready to start fermentation. First we carry out a further transfer of the must to make a first separation of the lees (racking); then we proceed to one of the most complex and delicate operations, namely the inoculation of yeasts.
Why is it so complex?
We must remember that our must has undergone significant cooling, so at this time of the process it is at a cure temperature of 8°C / 9°C. The initial mass of yeasts that is prepared for the inoculation (the so-called mother-yeast) has instead a temperature of 37°C, optimal for the multiplication of these extraordinary, but very delicate, micro-organisms. To avoid that the yeasts undergo a literally fatal thermal shock, it will therefore be necessary to acclimatise our mother-yeast by progressively decreasing its temperature according to a precise pattern: 4°C every 20 minutes.
This is possible by taking small quantities of must from the tank to add them to the mother-yeast, and it is an operation that requires several hours during which the level of attention must remain very high! At the end of the procedure, the mass of yeasts will have increased their volume almost tenfold, adjusted their temperature, but will also have developed sufficiently to take prevalence over any other indigenous yeast inside our must.