Usually this is around 13.5 Beaume (24 Brix or % sugar) with a pH of 3.5 and a TA of 6.5 g/l. These figures are usually achieved about the second week in April if the weather holds, however the decision to pick is always based upon natural flavour, the seasonal outlook, and bird attack. All grapes are hand harvested and refrigerated to 5 degrees Centigrade in preparation for de-stalking. As the fruit is normally clean and sound, and the picking swift, we only need to add around 15 parts per million of PMS (sulfur) as the destalked fruit reaches the fermenter. (15 ppm SO2 is about 30 grammes PMS per tonne of fruit.) This addition protects the newly crushed fruit from oxidation as the temperature slowly rises and the natural yeasts of the vineyard stir into life. Samples are again taken from the must to re-assess sugar levels, pH, and total acidity in tank and pH/acid adjustments are made if necessary at this stage. The tedious task of hand turning of the rising cap in small batches or gentle pumping over of the juice in larger ferments is carried out up to three times a day early in the ferment. This process has the dual function of improving colour extraction while keeping the cap moist. It also temporarily releases some of the heat of a vigorous (28 degrees Centigrade) fermentation while oxygenating the yeasts throughout the whole fermenting mass.
As desirable colour and associated flavour extraction is usually complete before the end of the primary alcoholic fermentation , we press the wine off skins after about 6 to 9 days when the remaining sugar level is down to around 1 degrees Beaume, however, more often than not, the Cabernet undergoes some post-ferment maceration. If malic acid levels are high, and an inoculation of malo-lactic bacteria is determined to be necessary, it is made at the end of primary ferment while the new wine is still warm enough to encourage this secondary bacterial fermentation. Once it is pressed, the wine is once again analysed and adjusted where necessary and transferred into a mixture of new and older French oak for the completion of malo lactic fermentation and initial settling. According to seasonal quality, we generally add the pressings back to the free-run juice .From the completion of the alcoholic primary fermentation and any malolactic bacterial fermentation to the eventual bottling of the wine, we aim ensure the presence of around 35 ppm of free sulfur to help protect the new wine from spoilage during maturation and handling. Over the course of cellar maturation, which may take up to 36 months, the cellar bright wine goes through a series of gentle rackings which are designed to separate it from its lees, naturally cold stabilize it and gradually improve its condition. Some controlled oxidation takes place during this process which also helps to naturally soften the tannins and integrate the wine. The final process is the assemblage of the various barrels into the final blend for the wine. This is perhaps the most challenging part of the process and one which leads to much tasting and discussion as to the consistency of style we are trying to achieve for Bloodwood Cabernet Sauvignon. Final analysis, adjustment and assemblage is carried out and the wine is sterile filtered, bottled and cellared on site ready for release after around 12 months in bottle.
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