Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Trialing times. Finding out more about English wine

Over the years I have been teaching winemaking at Plumpton College, I have slowly but surely been setting assessment tasks which can engage the students.  One of the assessments that I particularly enjoy setting is the vinification trials. Here year 2 students team-up to make wine that explores a set of vinification treatments using English grapes. They need to research the treatments, help design the trial, carryout the winemaking & analysis and then finally conduct a tasting of the trial wines with the class.

Muller Thurgau

This year we are investigating the following areas:
  • Protecting and enhancing aroma in Muller Thurgau wine using enzymes and yeast derivatives.
  • Examining the influence of maceration times on Dornfelder red wines
  • Investigating the role of yeast strain on Acolon Rose wine
  • Investigating new yeast strains on Reichensteiner white wine
  • Developing thiol aroma in Bacchus white wine
  • Assessing the impact of cold maceration and enzymes on Dornfelder red wines  

Acolon Rose yeast trial
Most of these trials are now underway, with just Reichensteiner to inoculate

Besides examining the impact of the treatments the students get a taste of managing wine ferments which include making correct additions, taking timely and accurate measurement as well as ameliorating potential problems such as hydrogen sulphide and volatile acidity.

Beside the vinification trials we also have a few student project wines being made.  So we also have trials underway that look at different vineyard planting densities of Regner vines, Non-sacchromyces in Pinot Noir to name a couple.

Pressing Regner planting density grapes
So the Rathfinny research winery is being well utilised, with students popping in and out all hours of the day and on weekends tending their ferments, and getting them used to the demands of a vintage.

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