Naturaliste Vintners invested in a Delta Oscillys destemmer and mechanical sorter for the 2016 vintage. The sorting and removal of petioles, shot berries, and other material other than grapes from the grapes was what we considered to be the greatest opportunity for across-the-board quality increases in our winemaking. We invested around $100,000 into both the Oscillys and an elevator to gently feed the grapes into the de-stemmer and sorter.
The amount of MOG (matter other than grape) removed from most harvests is staggering and has to be seen to be believed. The absence of petioles leads to better quality extraction of tannins from the skins, as well as not extracting the phenolic compounds and flavours from the petioles. We are convinced, from a sensorial basis, that our red wines have seen huge increases in quality due to this investment in equipment. The tannins in our red wines appear softer and more complete, and we appear to have lower presence of green and herbal flavours, as well as bitter phenolic’s. We are seemingly capturing better fruit aromatics and tannins with the increased attention to detail with the fruit sorting, and believe that our temperature and humidity controlled wine barrel storage is also an important factor, as it is now our fourth year of full control of humidity and temperature in our barrel shed.
We have finally had the chance to asses the wines from the 2016 vintage, both in bottle and those still in barrel, which were the first to be made with the advantage of our state-of-the-art sorting of the fruit as well as were aged in perfect humidity temperature control. Our conclusion has been that we are seeing better fruit expression, greater clarity of flavour and tannin, and a substantial improvement the fundamental nature of the phenolics in the wines.
The evaporation from barrels has been reduced to around 3% per annum, which is an amazing result in terms of wine savings, and we also believe the wine quality has dramatically improved as we have the wine on head space in barrels for shorter periods due to less evaporation from those barrels. These are all small details, however they are massive in terms of assisting wine quality.
It is always hard to draw complete conclusions on limited data, however Blind Freddie could pick this one. We are delighted with this investment in both sorting equipment and humidification, and hope that it is assisting in the quality of your wines, and their success in the marketplace.
The cooler and wetter nature of the 2017 growing season placed far greater importance on the removal of MOG containing green and herbal elements than in a warmer year, with longer hang-times leading to a greater incidence of senescence in most blocks at harvest time.
We are sure that our investment in the Delta Oscillys will translate through to increased quality in both red and white wines, but you will be able to taste this for yourselves.