Articles tagged with: wine education

Wine Almanac – December


December, the season of frosts and new activity in the vineyard as pruning begins, and of tasting in the cellar of both the new and the older wines. Apart from a few very late picking of grape for iced wine or late harvest styles. The vines will now be bare and looking very bleak and grimy in most areas. Depending on the regions, pruning begins in the second half of the month where you can find a bunch of people working away with clippers.

Every region has its own distinctive style of pruning, usually related to the grape variety grown as certain grapes respond to being cut hard (back to one shoot) while others do better with two or more. Very abbreviated pruning is known as spur pruning to form the ‘goblet’ shape of the vine and is the areas where the vines are not grown against wires or poles. Cane pruning allows the vine to grow fairly high against a support of wires or poles. Cane pruning allows the vine to grow fairly high against a support of wires or poles with one or two long spurs for next year’s fruit.

Talking about practicalities brings the question of planting the vines. The traditional gap between vines used to be about four feet, but this distance is being increased to cope with machine ploughing, spraying, and even harvesting. For machine harvesting the vines must also be allowed to grow taller. Vineyards are usually ploughed in December to break up the ground before the frosts come. Regions which specialize in very light, fruity wines will prepare some bottling by Christmas to keep the intensity of fruit flavours. Bur, remember that all wine should rest for a short while after bottling.




The Wine Almanac – November

wine almanac november

November Activities In The Vineyard

After the grape has been harvested the vine leaf colour is impressive from yellow to deep purple. In a few regions, there still be grapes on the vines, if the grower wants botrystis to take its full effect, or to extract ripeness from the very last rays of sun for dessert wines. But for most growers the harvest is safely in and the attention has switched to the new wine which must be carefully monitored after the first fermentation. Many wines now begin a secondary malolactic fermentation (conversion of harsh malic acid into mellow lactic acid), which is usually encouraged by the winemaker to ‘soften’ the wine. The new wine is racked off its lees. If the vintage has not been great or if extra tannin and depth are required it may rest on the lees for longer. Older wines may be bottled now in the cool of autumn. First, it will be fine, using eggs or a more modern concoction. The purpose of this step is to clarify the wine by encouraging particles to cling to the fining agent and therefore be separated from the wine. The remaining particles will be filtered to ensure the wine is perfectly clear. Some wines will then rest for a year or more before release while others will be released after just a few weeks. A wine to be rushed to market is Beaujolais Nouveau. It is produced by the carbonic maceration method (produce lighter red wines with fruitier aromas) for maximum fruit and then promptly bottled for the annual release on the third Thursday of November, on the stroke of midnight.

Out in the vineyards it is time for a certain amount of tidying up, trimming back the longest shoots and bundling them up as fuel. Winter ploughing begins if the weather is not too wet and soil is heaped around the roots of the vines as protection against frost. At this stage, some vineyards may be manured or have other fertilisers added to the soil.

With a few exceptions, most wine regions can be found ‘en fête’ at this time of year. Go online and check out the wine festival calendar in your region.