Foot Crushing and Cold Soaking: Gently extracting flavors and colors
At Clos de la Tech, we take pride in applying the most high-tech engineering know-how when monitoring the making of wine. But we are also careful to preserve those classic, old school techniques because of their clear advantage.
Since we do whole cluster fermentation, our foot-crushing is a great example. This allows us to release enough juice from the harvested grape clusters to begin fermentation while leaving the majority of the clusters uncrushed (it is also the most gentle way to crush the grape clusters) there is nothing like the old way of getting in the vat and stepping down through the grapes, over and over. Valeta has been doing this arduous task every year, and for the 2014 harvest, she was responsible for crushing 40 tons of grapes in four weeks, with the help of just one assistant.
We believe in leaving the stems on for the specific tannins that result. Foot crushing means that the stems and seeds are just pressed, not actually crushed, and the grapes are gently broken. In fact, quite a few whole grapes make it through foot crushing. The resulting semi-liquid mush of berries, juice, stems and seeds, called the “must,” then moves into the cold soak stage.
The cold soak is another traditional step in creating a classic Burgundian wine. Right after crushing, the must goes into our specially designed tanks that are temperature-controlled allowing cold or hot water through the tank’s cooling jacket. Each tank is additionally insulated with our custom-designed neoprene jackets to maintain temperature more efficiently – around 45 degrees Fahrenheit – to delay fermentation. Cold soaking before fermentation gives the clusters a chance to yield very specific flavor compounds and tannins that would otherwise be lost.
We will generally let the grapes stay in the cold soak for about 5-10 days before heating the tanks by running warm water through the tank jackets, allowing fermentation to begin.
Watch the full grape crushing process and be on the lookout for the next part of this three-part series!
Clos de la Tech Pinot Noir is currently available for purchase here.