Stirring the Chardonnay

December 1, 2011



We put the Belli Chardonnay down to barrel just about six weeks ago. Once the wine is in barrel, the last little bit of solids (almost entirely dead and dying yeast cells) have time to settle out. This makes the wine nice and clear, but in fact at this stage we actually want the wine to get a little bit of contact with the remaining yeast cells. This improves the mouthfeel of the wine, and tends to add subtle warm, nutty characters to the mid-palate. As the yeast cells break down (a process known as autolysis that usually starts around six months after the fermentation is over) they also tend to generate a rich, creamy character that is highly desirable in our style of Chardonnay.

To keep the yeast suspended in the wine, we stir the barrels, a process also known as batonage.

This is the baton that gives batonage its’ name. Colloquially, it is known as a stirring wand. The wand is inserted into each barrel, and then it is drawn vigorously from side to side so that the hinged plate at the end drags along the bottom, stirring the yeast up into the wine.
With our Chardonnay, we like to stir the barrels once every week, so that the yeast never completely settle out and we have plenty of contact between them and the wine.
This wine was fairly clear before we stirred it earlier today, but notice how much the yeast have been stirred up off of the bottom of the barrel. This is how we would like the wine to spend most of it’s time looking during this stage of the process.
To visit the Amapola Creek winery main site, please click here.

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