Salt & Old Vines

By Richard W H Bray

A real taste of winemaking - true stories about a wine, the people who make it and the place it's made

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Vintage 2013 Part I

Think of this as like the bonus section on a DVD. It's stuff that doesn't make it into the final cut (because it's too late for that) but not without its own merit. 

It's almost a year to the day that Salt & Old Vines launched on Unbound. It's now fully-funded, written, rewritten, edited, rewritten again and in production. So it's out of my hands.

I'm back in France at the moment. I flew into Perpignan this morning. Andy picked me up and I changed in the car on the way to the winery. The press was running, full of Grenache Gris, while Adele and Olivier steam-cleaned barrels, getting them ready for new juice.

We upended some comportes and set one as the table for lunch; a couple of baguettes, some saucisson, jambon, tomatoes and some other bits and pieces. Andy brought out a bottle of Red Socks Carignan Noir 2012 and we munched away. It was a longer lunch than some as we couldn't do much until the press finished its cycle. The wine was brilliant.

The coffee afterwards tasted every bit as dreadful as I remember it. Our little corner of the coop had been given an epic scrub. The family of feral cats that hid amongst some of the older barrels had disappeared, but a family of swifts had taken residence in one of the rafters above the tanks. Mas Cristine seems to get more of its fair share of wildlife.

I winced down the coffee and set to work at my first task: sulphur-ing the newly clean barrels. This involves a straightened coat-hanger with a small hook at the end and something that looks quite similar to a yellow polo mint. It's actually a sulphur candle. You put the hook in through the hole, light the candle, dip the hook with the burning candle into the barrel and use the bouchon (bung) to hold the coat hanger there. It burns through in a couple of minutes and you've successfully prevented any microbial nasties from gaining a foothold in your barrel.

I'm unusually skilled at accidentally inhaling vast quantities of the sulphur smoke. 

After much manhandling of barrels and choking on fumes, it was time to load the press again...

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