This week, we took the time to rack some aging wines. Racking entails transfering the wine from the barrel, washing out the sediment (lees), returning the wine to the barrel and topping off the barrel with extra wine. We transfer the wine by pressurizing the barrel with inert gas and pushing the wine through the hose to the waiting vessel. This method is very gentle on the wine and limits unnecessary exposure to the air. It’s nice not to have to use the pump for this process. As much as I like our little pump, it requires priming which can be a chore, especially for this job. The WineGirl was anxious to get started moving wine, so I cranked up the stereo and connected the bulldog to the nitrogen tank and got going.
With the wines properly racked off the lees and the barrels cleaned, WineGirl, Brother Ben and I returned the wine to their home barrels for some more months to age undisturbed. The 1 1/2 inch diameter hose can get heavy after a while of being filled with wine, but everyone was holding up fine until the last drop. I won’t forget again that I can’t clear the line of wine by pushing the gas through to the barrel. It seems like a fine idea until you see the result all over the wall or your brand new sweatshirt.
Brother Ben was a good sport about the eruption, our largest to date. He learned a valuable lesson about wearing new and/or light colored clothing to the cellar. I learned that time taken to clear the lines by gravity is better spent than by scrubbing the ceiling. The WineGirl was amused by the whole situation though, and it was she who was at the controls. She didn’t look too sorry, Ben.