Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Pressing matters

This is the first time I've seen a pneumatic or membrane press in action. A team of 8, including me, took 7 hours without a lunch break to pick a full load of 30 hl. Whole bunches of Terret, mainly blanc with some gris, go on a conveyor to fill the press from the top. After a 2.5 hour cycle juice for around 2,000 bottles had been extracted.

Regis Pichon (Domaine Ribiera) and Emile Heredia (Domaine des Dimanches) load the conveyor
The machine is a cylinder that works by inflating a long membrane that gently presses the grapes against perforated ridges on the opposite side. The resulting juice collects in a tray underneath and is pumped away. For an excellent short explanatory video by Charles Simpson of Domaine Sainte Rose look here on YouTube.

David Caer (Clos Mathelisse) loads the press
The press is shared between several small wine makers in Aspiran, part of the Pézenas terrior. This model would cost over €20,000 even second hand so realistically isn't affordable for start-up vignerons.

The juice collects underneath and is pumped into a cuve.
For Domaine Ribiera this is the last harvest bar some minute quantities of late harvest Grenache and Clairette. Terret is a relatively late ripener, especially as most of these grapes were picked from north east facing parcels. The potential alcohol is just over 10% with plenty of acidity.

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