Yesterday we pressed and today put the last of the 2017 wines in barrel. They were two lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from our Elevation vineyard. We would have been finished putting these wine to bed three weeks ago, except we wanted to do something extra special with them. That extra special is called extended maceration. What is that you ask? Well, it is where you increase the normal amount of time red grapes stay in contact with the fermented wine. We fermented for about a week like normal. Once the yeast has consumed all the sugars we closed the lid for another three weeks rather than pressing the wine off right away.
The first time I used this technique it was terrifying. After one week the wine tasted tannic and undrinkable. Oh god what have I done, I thought to myself. Two weeks in I wouldn’t wish this wine on my nemesis (now I don’t have a nemesis but it might be fun to get one). At this point I was thinking I might have ruined a perfectly good lot of wine and I was on my way to unemployment. The third week is where the magic happened. Those harsh tannins combined with proteins and precipitated out, leaving soft smooth tannins and a rich mouth feel. I am told this technique was originated in Bordeaux to add depth and complexity to their wines. I suspect it first happened on accident, though certainly a happy accident. Maybe everyone decided to go fox hunting and came back a few weeks later and discovered they had forgotten to finish off a vat of wine. However, the first extended maceration came to be, we love it here at Tertulia. It’s just one of the many old world techniques that make our wines unique.