Splash-racking the Monte Rosso Zinfandel

October 17, 2011

Last Saturday we began the process of splash-racking the Monte Rosso Zinfandel. Once a red wine has been pressed off of the skins, we let it sit in tank for around a week. During this time the yeast cells and grape solids left behind by fermentation and pressing sink to the bottom of the tank, and when the week is up we rack the clarified wine off the solids.

During racking of reds, we like to use an aerative process known as ‘splash-racking’. To splash-rack, we draw the wine out of the racking valve and let it pour into a sump.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see that there is a thin copper screen in the sump that the wine is passing through as it splashes. The reason for this is that copper binds up certain classes of off-aromas (sulfides and disulfides, that can smell like rotten eggs or onions, or even skunk) that tend to form in small quantities towards the end of the fermentation as the yeast become more stressed. Aeration serves the same purpose, as it is also possible to remove these compounds by oxidation.

From the sump the clean, slightly aerated wine is pumped to a receiving tank. This is a good opportunity to smell the wine and see how it is developing, as the splashing lets a good whiff of aromatics up into the air. Right now, the Zin is smelling intensely of black raspberry, with just the barest hint of coffee and chocolate.

The solids left in the bottom of the tank are collected and set aside for later disposal. We will repeat this process four or five more times over the next few months, after which it will be time to put the wine down to barrel.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.


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