Monday 21 August 2017

21.8.17 Harvest is in Full Swing

Santi García and photographer Miguel Ángel González of Diario de Jerez shadow Manuel Valcárcel, oenologist at Fundador, as the grapes arrive at the lagares.

The lagares (press-houses) are working flat out as thousands of kilos of grapes arrive constantly from the vineyards. Fundador is processing six tons a day. Things have changed, and not only with respect to mechanical harvesting, but also in the lagares where spotlessly clean equipment can process the harvest more efficiently than ever before. Another advance is the speed of transportation as it is very important that the grapes wait the absolute minimum time for processing to avoid loss of juice and oxidation.

Before leaving the vineyard the grapes are classified into grade A or B and only grade A will be used for wine production. When they arrive at the lagar they are discharged into one of three stainless steel hoppers with Archimedean screws which transport them to the appropriate destemming and pressing plant. One hopper is reserved exclusively for grapes arriving from the firm’s vineyards in the Pago Macharnudo, while the other two receive grapes from their Pago Santa Barbara vineyards and those from contracted suppliers. Fundador has eight horizontal rotating plate presses, four of them exclusively for Macharnudo grapes.

Pressing takes about two hours and is divided into three parts. The first pressing (or yema) releases 60-65% of the juice and is the finest quality, destined to be Fino and perhaps fine Oloroso, the second pressing (segunda yema) releases a further 20-25% of the juice and will produce fuller bodied blending wine, while the third pressing is destined for the distillery and will never be used to make Sherry. Now the juice (mosto) is pumped to the temperature controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks. The must ferments quite violently for the first four or five days, giving off lots of carbon dioxide and growing in alcoholic strength. As the fermentation slows, the mosto is racked into other tanks to finish the fermentation. This stage needs careful attention to temperature and sugar levels and once complete, the new wine can go to the sobretablas stage to begin ageing.

Manuel Valcárcel says that the grapes this year are very healthy with good sugar levels which average about 12° Beaumé, and some were as high as 13°. Fundador was the first Spanish bodega to win the IWC Best Wine in the World for Harveys very fine old Amontillado VORS, and the grapes came from the Macharnudo. Manuel says that this pago gives something special, something other pagos do not, the grapes give incredible structure. It is for this reason that Fundador makes such an effort to keep these grapes separate, and can assure the customer of the quality, flavour and essence of the Macharnudo.

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