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Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast
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Why is everybody scared by spontaneous fermentation? Winemaking tip of the day: management of indigenous yeast

My first time with indigenous yeast was in 2010 (I have broadly talked about techniques, doubts and experiments here). It has been true love between us since that very moment, a sweet romance that I do hope will never come to an end.

People say a lot of bad things about wild yeast.

Some snobby winemakers call it “wild”, as they don’t trust it to be seriously committed in pushing the fermentation through its very end.
Some say it’s insubordinate, disobedient beings, that it hides swarms of Kloeckera apiculata and other frightful allies among its ranks, all trying to turn your fragrant scented must into a sour tart juice as soon as you look away. Some say you won’t tell a California style Chardonnay and any acidic grüner veltliner apart after you set it free…

Not to talk about its lack of attention and indolent character: some will swear to God they have witnessed epic fermentation stops, totally unable to restart the magic bubbles flowing not with brutal pumping-overs nor with the help of dibasic ammonium phosphate, a Red Bull energy drink of some sort that you would supply to yeast suffering of low blood sugar syndrome.

Surely because it feels my affection, my indigenous yeast has never been so bad to me...

I collect the yeast early in the morning, when the grapes are fresh and turgid.
I cut the most beautiful clusters, which I will squeeze by hands in small stainless steel and thoroughly sanitized cans.
Because it has slept all through the winter and I don’t want to abruptly wake it up, I plunge it into a bath of mineral water and a 10% of alcohol, which will impede bacteria to grow - and they are so mean!

Then I loop play the XX - if they do good to me they do good also to it, I suppose - and wait.

Usually it takes from two to five days to awaken: a bit more with waning or full moon, much less with waxing or new moon.

Mum says that moon phases are just my personal obsession. Though I observe every year the same behaviour in yeast’s growth, I can’t exclude she may be right. This year it was collected on August 1st and started fermentation on the 6th, on the first day of new moon, and this is something, right? It grows so happily that I need to keep it quiet with a temperature not above 61F until the real harvest begins.

It ferments for a few days with its skins, stems and some of the most flexible branches (no leaves). Then I will discard the branches and keep skins and stems until the manual pressing, when the starter is poured into the tank for the real fermentation.

But that'is a different story, maybe I will tell you next time.



On air: xx - Crystalised
 

Tags: lieviti indigeni, fermentazione spontanea, vinificazione, lieviti selvaggi, vendemmia

THE SHORT STORY

THE SHORT STORY

Grape variety: Inzolia grown in Dietro le Case vineyard
Soil: clay soil with calcareous components, very rich in limestones and sea minerals
Vineyard: planted in 1960s, head-trained bush vines
Winemaking: skin contact for 48 hours in steel tanks
Alcoholic fermentation: spontaneous, with wild yeast
Malolactic fermentation: spontaneous
Refining: 4 months on fine lees, in steel tanks
Aging: one oak barrel, where it ages in perpetuum with its sediment
Average production: a few dozen bottles every some years

Download wine sheet

WINEMAKING

The grapes are handpicked the first half of September, when they are fully ripe. The traditional pruning system - called "a pezzo e spalla" - and the age of the vines, allow slow constant ripening cycles and a great aromatic concentration.

The fermentation is spontaneous, with 2 days skin contact. After soft pressing, the fermentation continues for 8 days in steel tanks. After malolactic is completed, the wine refines on fine lees for about 4 months and is then racked into one single oak barrel, where it ages in perpetuum with its sediment.

The wine is bottled directly from the barrel no more than 2-3 times every decade.

TASTING NOTES

Altrimenti has a bright amber color, enlivened by golden hues. Its nose is predominantly tertiary, where fruity notes of apricot and ripe figs blend onto an intense and aromatic herbal background, enriched by roasted and dried nuts.

It is dry and full bodied to the palate, with a distinct savory personality that harmoniously meets a tannic finish.

SERVING TEMPERATURE: 54 - 58 °F
Pour Altrimenti in wide glasses, at a fresh but not chilled temperature.
Please avoid freezers and blast chillers, as well as a prolonged time in your home refrigerator: this wine is not filtered nor fined, and any temperature below 40 °F will mortify its complex aromas.

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