The wines from the 2014 harvest are currently “resting”. After they finished both fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic), they were racked off their lees and transferred into different tanks, along with a slight readjustment of the sulphur level to prevent oxidation and control microbiological activity. The wines were then left to settle even more.
When I take samples, the wines are now already looking clean, there is no more of the typical haze that can be seen just after fermentations. Now is the time for fining trials where I try different fining agents and assess how they affect the wine. The principle of fining is to remove undesirable components of the wine by agglomeration/flocculation and then sedimentation.
Fining helps to get the wine clear and the removal of targeted particles can be either preventive or curative. Preventive fining (which is our situation this year, and will hopefully be the same every year!) removes particles or components that would eventually be detrimental to the wine’s quality. Such components include the polyphenols, which would cause a white wine to brown after a certain period of time. Other components are proteins, which left in excess could create a haze after the wine being accidently exposed to heat. Curative fining would be done in the event that no preventive fining occurred.
In this instance, the wine might become oxidised and/or undesirable components might yield organoleptic defects in the wine. You can see here how the molecules flocculate and start to sediment at the bottom of the bottle with the use of a fining agent:
That being said, some wines can do very well without fining at all. Since each batch of wine is different, a decision on whether or not to fine is made on a case-by-case basis. After the best fining agent is selected, it will be added to the wine and after a couple weeks the wine will be ready to be racked off its lees and cold-stabilised.
While these wines are not available yet, you still have time to go to the Gun Room and take advantage of the sale which ends at the end of the week!
Jonathan Médard – Winemaker