Barrique & Puncheon: Barrels of 228 litres and 300 - 500 litres respectively. The larger barrels (puncheons) are seen to have a more gentle effect on the wine by virtue of their introducing less oxygen and wood flavour per litre of wine.

Batonnage: The act of stirring a young wine, usually in barrel, to re-suspend the bits of grape debris and spent yeast that have fallen to the bottom following ferment. Batonnage can add more complex flavours and help increase the texture or “mouth feel“ of the wine. Poorly handled it can prematurely oxidise the wine and deplete the fruit.

Dry: Usually refers to a wine with little or no grape sugar remaining after ferment. Sometimes a wine may taste dry even with some remaining sugar, if there is enough acid to balance out the sweetness with acidity. And sometimes a wine with concentrated ripe fruit flavours may taste quite sweet, even with little or no sugar remaining.

 

 

Dry Farmed: Grapes grown without irrigation.

Filtration - Coarse: The process of clarifying the wine to make a clear final product. It involves passing the wine through a filtration medium removing any debris that restrict the clarity of the wine. As a side note, clarity can sometimes be naturally achieved by spending a longer time in the cellar and letting the wine fall clear naturally.

Filtration - Sterile: The process of filtration using 0.2 – 0.45 µm filters. At this level of filtration all bacteria and yeast are considered to be removed. This is done to safeguard against any microbial spoilage or re-fermentation in bottle - of particular importance where wines still have residue sugars or malic acid.

Fining: The age old practice of adding small amounts of various materials to a young wine to clarify or soften it. Materials commonly used include milk protein, gelatin, egg white and isinglass (a fish product) but there is a wide range of available additions, each with its own particular effect. Fining agents generally act by binding on to particles or molecules, making them easier to remove by sedimentation or filtration. While fining can sometimes be useful to make a wine more palatable, there can be downsides to the practice, including the stripping of some of the beneficial, natural attributes of the wine. Suffice to say that wines resulting from thoughtful viticulture and gentle “hands off” winemaking without the need for fining agents, are likely to show greater precision, quality and finesse.

High Solids Ferment: Fermentation of white juice that has not been clarified. The resulting wines can show more complex flavours other than simple fruit.

Lees: The solids that sediment to the bottom of a container of juice or young wine. Juice lees contain grape solids and wine lees are composed mainly of yeast cells.

Malo-lactic Ferment: A secondary ferment carried out by bacteria (natural or added) that convert the naturally occurring malic acid (think unripe green apples) to the softer lactic acid, plus diacetyl byproducts (think buttery characters). Most red wines and some white wines, particularly Chardonnay, have been through this process. The wines taste less acid and can show an increase in mouthfeel or “roundness”. White wines may or may not show a buttery character, depending on how the wine is handled.

Minerality: A taste often described as that of minerals or river stones (think river bank stones after a light shower on a hot day). Often seen as refreshing and associated with juicy acidity. There is much discussion as to the cause of this character, and while it may be associated with particular vineyards, it doesn’t appear to be the direct taste of minerals or stones present in the vineyard. On the other hand it may be an organic compound produced during fermentation, resulting from the specific interaction between the grapevine and site.

Mouthfeel: A feeling of density or “fatness” in the wine. Some varieties have a naturally greater mouthfeel, but this can be enhanced by increased ripeness, residual sugar, malolactic ferment and greater time spent on lees post ferment.

Natural: Not a term that has a universally accepted definition in wine, although there is a certain amount of agreement starting to be seen. Strictly speaking, natural wines are wines that are produced without adding or removing anything during winemaking, although some growers add tiny quantities of sulphites at bottling. More recently organic/biodynamic practices are being seen as part of the equation. While no central body has yet spoken for the natural group, some industry commentators have put forward a list of rules. Decanter Magazine has done this in order to specify which wines can be included in their Natural wine tasting. Of note is their acceptance of 70 ppm potassium metabisulphite.

Minimal Interventionist: A broad definition encompassing the philosophy of a wine maker who aims to interfere as little as possible in the naturally occurring winemaking process. Although somewhat open for interpretation, a simple definition would be to only intervene if you really have to.

Orange Wine: Is a style of wine made by leaving the skins and seeds of white grapes in contact with the juice (skin contact), creating a deep orange-hued finished product. Simplistically it white wine made like a red wine.

Organic: A system of viticultural management based on specified organic production methods, and including the avoidance of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Wines or wineries may not be cited as organic unless their production has been certified. To be certified, producers must to be audited by one of a number of internationally approved organizations. Certification standards may differ between countries.

Oxidative Handling: The exposure of grape juice to the air during winemaking. May have positive effects by reducing harsh characters, increasing wine texture, stimulating yeast growth; can also have negative effects such as browning, reducing primary fruit characters.

Pied de Cuve: The addition of an active wild yeast ferment to a larger volume of fresh juice in order to initiate a prompt ferment. The allows more safety in the use of a local wild yeast ferment by testing out its characteristics first, helps prevent oxidation from a slow unprotected startup, and reduces the need for initial sulphite additions to the juice.

Racking: The gentle removal of clear wine or juice from the top of a vessel without disturbing the lees sediment on the bottom. A more gentle process than filtration to produce clear wine.

Reduction: A biochemical process that can occur in wine in the absence of oxygen. A range of Sulphur based off flavours may result, particularly in ferments and young wines containing a high level of solids. Some tasters enjoy the complexity resulting from a low level of reduction in appropriate wines; others view any sign of reduction as a fault.

Tannin: A complex range of compounds occurring widely in the plant world. Found in (mainly red) wine where they are extracted from skins, seeds and possibly stalks and oak. They contribute to the textural, astringent and bitter characteristics, and their importance is such that red winemaking is largely about tannin management.

Terroir: A French term with no single English equivalent, referring to the combined effects of the vineyard site and production methods on the wine. Factors include the soil type, aspect and climate, plus the viticultural and winemaking practices historically common to the area.

Whole Bunch Ferment: Hand picked whole bunches of red grapes are fermented either as the whole cuvee as a percentage of the ferment. Extraction on the stems provides aromatic tannins, and whole berries can give a specific aroma and taste from the internal enzymatic ferment. The berries also provide a sugar source late in the ferment as they burst.

Whole Bunch Pressing: Hand picked whole bunches of white grapes are put straight in to the press and gently squashed to express the juice. This produces less juice than pressing crushed grapes, but the juice carries less harsh phenolics from the skin, and fewer juice particles.

 

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