Vinification is the process that transforms the grapes into wine. The process of vinification differ from region to region, financial state of the winery and the grape types. The harvesting time and the type of oak used for aging are based on the region in which the wine grapes are grown.

Wine making process involves the following stages:

  • The first step in wine making process is Harvesting or Picking. Grapes should be harvested at the right time in order to make good wine. Harvesting can be done either mechanically or by hand.
  • The process of separating the grapes from the stems and cluster parts is called Destemming. Some of the wine makers keep some fragments of the stem to increase the wine tannin.
  • After destemming the grapes are crushed to extract the juice from the skin. This is done before the fermentation process begins. In the olden days bare feet is used to extract the grape juice, now a day machines like crushers are used.
  • Separation of grape juice and the skin is named as pressing. After crushing the grape juice will flow freely, selected wineries use pressers to make sure maximum juice is released.
  • Once the grapes are pressed they are introduced into the process of fermentation. During this process the grape juice are converted into alcoholic beverage. The yeast interacts with the sugar in the grape juice and converts them into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
  • Once the wine is purified and refined, they are preserved with sulfur dioxide or potassium sorbate. During the natural process of fermentation a minimum amount of sulfites are produced, but more is added for the use of commercial preservation.
  • Wines are aged for a particular amount of time to get more welcoming wine. Once after purification, the wines are moved to wooden barrels for aging. Metal vats, concrete vats and glass carboys are also used in some cases to increase the flavor.
  • After aging, the wines are bottled. During the process of bottling a final dose of sulfite is added to the wine to prevent it from uninvited fermentation in the bottle. The bottles are then sealed with cork and screw caps.
Irish Bordeaux
The Bartons of Château Léoville Barton were one of many Irish families in Bordeaux.

How the Irish created the style of Bordeaux wines we know today...

The post Anson: Irish influence in Bordeaux appeared first on Decanter.


Irish Bordeaux
The Bartons of Château Léoville Barton were one of many Irish families in Bordeaux.

How the Irish created the style of Bordeaux wines we know today...

The post Anson: Irish influence in Bordeaux appeared first on Decanter.

Irish Bordeaux
The Bartons of Château Léoville Barton were one of many Irish families in Bordeaux.

A few weeks ago, I had a private history lesson in my kitchen. The teacher was Charles (or Chad) Ludington, a professor at North Carolina State University. I first got to know him when he lived in Bordeaux a few years ago.

Ludington’s current studies focus on the role of the Irish in creating not the demand but the taste of today’s most sought-after Bordeaux wines. He has spent the past year in Ireland and is now back in Bordeaux, digging into local archives of the city and of key merchants and wine producers.

The Bartons of Château Léoville Barton, as you might imagine, feature heavily, and are in fact the only Irish family to be still standing after close-on three centuries. In the mid-1700s there would have been close to 80 Irish merchants buying, ageing and selling the wines from the Chartrons quays, around one quarter of all the négociants in the city.

The Irish, it turns out, were particularly enthusiastic proponents of the art of ‘cutting’ or blending Bordeaux wines with others from more robust areas. We have long known it happened, but what Ludington has uncovered is that it wasn’t just in bad vintages, but every year, and that while French, German and Dutch merchants were less keen to carry out such adulterations, the Irish merchants argued that without these additions, they would have had trouble selling the most expensive wines of the region into the key markets of the time – namely Ireland and Britain, where clients were prepared to pay at least twice as much as in northern Europe.

It was no secret. In 1810, when ordering wine for the East India market, James Nisbett asked merchant Nathaniel Johnston for 20 hogsheads of claret, ‘observing the greatest care and attention that the wines have a good strong body, colour and high flavour, a good dash of the Hermitage’.

Even René Pijassou, one of the great French historians of the Médoc, wrote that the estate manager of Château Latour in the 18th century, ‘was in frequent contact with the merchants of the Chartrons…who adapted the tastes of the wines for their essentially English clientele, by blending with Rhône and Spanish wines’. And cutting didn’t just mean mixing in outside wines.

Ludington found a warehouse ledger from the early 1840s that stated the Johnston-bottling of ‘Lafite 1837’ was made of mostly 1837 Lafite, ‘but contained lesser amounts of 1837 Léoville, 1837 Milon, 1837 Léoville Barton, 1837 Montrose, 1837 Duluc, 1837 Calon Ségur, and 1840 Hermitage’.

Ludington found evidence of this in countless archives. While it’s easy to dismiss this as a dark, even embarrassing part of Bordeaux’s history, to do so would overlook one hugely important fact – that it was these very wines that made the reputation of Bordeaux in the markets that were prepared to pay the highest prices of the day.

There’s no doubt that many historians have resisted this interpretation (and they are not alone; the Bordeaux parliament expressly forbade the practice in 1755), but it’s fascinating to see that the 150 years since have actually seen the real unadulterated Bordeaux wines catch up, with many of the same characteristics.

‘Irish merchants in Bordeaux began to make a style of red wine akin to what we think of as Bordeaux wine today,’ is how Ludington sees it. ‘But they did so before grape-growing and winemaking techniques allowed them to make it from Bordeaux juice alone.’

Ludington argues that this practice of blending did not cause the best Bordeaux wines to lose their identity in the 18th and early-19th century, but instead established their reputation among the finest wines of the world.

‘We’re becoming obsessed today with the idea of purity,’ he says, ‘but in many ways these merchants were blending to a modern taste. More colour, more body, higher alcohol. Sound familiar?’

This was first published in the August 2019 issue of Decanter.


See also: The three Léovilles of Bordeaux

The post Anson: Irish influence in Bordeaux appeared first on Decanter.


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Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Laurel Gray Vineyards

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