Rent a Vine Workshop 2; Clone discovery and tasting
This guest blog post is written by Eliesha Rae, a returning Rent a Vine participant, wine lover and writer extraordinaire.
Chardonnay lovers rejoice! The sun is out, the mercury is climbing and the forecast says 16º and sunny (hey, it’s Victoria in May, we take what we can get!). No DD’s today friends, in fact, no drivers of any kind – because it’s tasting day!
For those eyeing off a career in the wine industry, I think today is what a lot of people imagine. A lot of swirling and swilling and sniffing. Ruminating over the finer points of oak influence and levels of malolactic conversion, gazing out over the vines, just generally lots of life-is-good-ing. And while winemaking is sure as hell a whole lot more work (and just straight up farming) than anyone realises, this Rent a Vine workshop is literally about those finer points.
So let’s get into it; Rent a Vine Workshop 2; Clone Discovery and Tasting
We get to taste our non-malolactically converted fruit juice (for lack of a better word) against a barrel that has undergone second fermentation – to highlight the difference between the fresh primary (fruit) flavours of the single ferment versus the creamy texture and complexity of a batch that has gone through the second fermentation process.
We discover that malolactic bacteria may be the most expensive thing in a vineyard (potential burglars take note) – at around $800 per 250g, it’s not quite saffron, but it’s up there. We also learn that before you could buy a sachet of malolactic bacteria the process just involved… waiting. For maybe a year, or more. A year’s worth of storing those barrels and just hoping against hope that the second fermentation kicks off sure puts that $800 in perspective.
And once we’ve learned all about barrels and fermenting and the things that go along with making a fine chardonnay… we get to some serious tasting.
For those of you who don’t know what a vertical tasting is – it involves tasting a series of the same wine from different vintages (years).
Our Rent a Vine crew got to participate in a blind vertical tasting of Austin’s premium chardonnay from 2015 through to the as yet unreleased 2019 vintage. We swirled, we swilled, and we sniffed. We discussed and we came to conclusions. We threw around terms like “flinty” and “minerality”. We talked age and oak influence. We took random stabs in the dark at which years our wines were made, and we had to put our money where our mouths were and state our case in front of the whole room.
Unfortunately, our table did not win the “guess the most years correct” competition, but hey, we got to taste some ridiculously good wine that isn’t available to the general public and that’s a prize in itself. What can I say, I’m a sucker for anything “exclusive”.
After all that heavy lifting, lunch was definitely the order of the day and potatoes with creamy sauce, assorted charcuterie and raclette (that’s just straight up melted cheese in case you were wondering) was exactly what we needed to settle the stomachs. The fact that it was accompanied by our choice of Austin’s riesling or pinot noir didn’t hurt either.
I am reliably informed that our next workshop is definitely going to take a turn in the manual labour direction, but let’s say Workshop Two certainly didn’t do anything to dampen the winemaking fervour. Next stop, pruning!