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Spanish Secrets: Nature's Melody

“The vinicultural symphony begins from allegretto to allegro, with the orchestral gasses bubbling to the surface and bursting with song. Within a week the melody has changed. The musical score now calls for calando, gradually fading until the barely audible murmurs have ended…’’ Did you know that sounds accompany the fermentation process? Craig Briggs writes joyously of the process of turning juicy fruit into wine.

Within two days of being crushed, our grapes, these juicy pearls, are literally singing with joy. The fermentation process has begun. This audible anthem reverberates from within the stainless steel vats, like the digestive rumblings one might embarrassingly suffer after over-indulging at a dinner party.

The vinicultural symphony begins from allegretto to allegro, with the orchestral gasses bubbling to the surface and bursting with song. Within a week the melody has changed. The musical score now calls for calando, gradually fading until the barely audible murmurs have ended.

Accompanying these dulcet rumblings are the heady alcoholic aromas and the rising temperature from this naturally produced, yet restrictively managed, chemical reaction.

With this year’s harvest starting quite late in the calendar, the vine leaves have started their autumn metamorphosis. As if mourning the loss of their cherished fruit, their continued growth has become inconsequential, hastening their withered transformation. Unbeknown to them, the responsibility for the care and development of their fruit has now passed to me.

With the natural fermentation complete, it was time for the next phase of the process, separating the wheat from the chaff, or in this case, the liquid from the solids.

Last year at this stage we simply opened the valves on the vats, catching our young wine in several large buckets. With all the wine drained, we cleaned the vats and returned the wine. This year we’d decided to add an extra procedure of filtration. Not just single filtration - we were intent on double filtration.

Having made casual enquiries earlier in the year we’d decided on a process of natural, rather than chemical filtration. Muslin is most people’s preferred choice. Having bought four muslin sieves, two for the red and two for the white wine, we began.

The first stage of filtration was from vat to bucket, the second, from bucket to cleaned vat. Not exactly the most technical operation ever undertaken in the wine industry, but it’s natural and to a certain degree, it works.

Before the end of the year we’ll repeat our double filtration process. All that remains for the moment is to wait and enjoy the changing autumn landscape.

The diversification of tree species in this area of Galicia, Spain, is most apparent at this time of year. Some species are in the latter stages of their brief autumn, whilst other deciduous varieties show no signs of change.

The birch is one of the first to exchange its green foliage for a shimmering aureate canopy. Fluttering leaves caught in a shallow breeze, wave a final goodbye before gently floating to the ground forming a rusty mosaic.

Above the tree tops, a migrating grey heron enters view. A distinctive yet curious looking bird which, in flight, posses a grace and elegance far exceeding its visual quirkiness.

Its elegant flight is broken momentarily as it lands high in the branches of a Spanish oak. This briefest of landings is cut short by a squadron of pursuing magpies, squawking loudly as the heron takes flight.

The long, hot and dry summer has abruptly ended. From now until spring, the warming rays of the sun will be at a premium.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

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