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, 25 September 2014

Vintage 2014 part 3 (dancing to imaginary spiders)

Leah didn't expect the lizard to be on the sorting table. Neither did Vincent. The lizard, whatever its expectations may have been, probably didn't either. But there it was, stood among a mass of sticky Grenache grapes, vibrating away on the mistral, looking a bit dazed. Somehow it survived the rapidly spinning batons of the destemmer, and had not been discarded among the stems, but instead was selected among the fruit to ride into the must pump and become a part of this year's Mas Cristine Rouge. Awed but unperturbed, Vincent grabbed it from the grapes and repatriated it into the Muscat vineyard next to the winery. 

With variable fruit coming in, we've spent a lot of time on the sorting table, making sure nothing untoward finds itself in a tank or barrel (including lizards). We're all nimbly plucking stems and various bits of flora and fauna from the table and tossing them into a comporte full of discarded detritus. It's monotonous, and the table vibrates at high frequency to distribute the grapes as evenly as possible, which can shake the fillings loose a bit. There are various bugs and creepy-crawlies. Spiders, earwigs, wasps, bees, the odd snail and general invertebrates are inevitable. Some buzz around your head, while others try to hitch a ride on the fruit. 

Surrounded by this menagerie plays with the mind a bit. You flinch at wasps that aren't actually there, and dance to shake off a spider that doesn't exist. Every sensation you feel translates in the brain to something crawling on you or flying around you. I watched as Leah danced, flinched and juddered to the bugs and spiders in her mind, and did the same myself as I plucked away at the table. Of course, it's not always our minds playing silly buggers. The other morning, after a long session at the table, Leah found five earwigs in her hair.

That afternoon, back on sorting duty, we both danced and flinched a little bit more that usual. 

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