The closest I have been to a harvest was crossing La Rioja by the highway some year in September. It is one of those things that was spinning somewhere deep in my mind but never came true. Not long ago we published an article on an Orange Wine Pepe Moquillaza is doing in Peru and one day he told me that his partner Matías Michelini, the Mi in MiMo, was coming to Spain to do produce some wine in Galicia, so I said, “Why not?”
Matías is one of the best winemakers in Argentina. He owns a winery with his brothers called Super Uco and he also makes wine in Chile and Peru with Pepe. He has a line of Orange wines called Vía Revolucionaria using varieties Bonarda and Torrontés among others, which we will talk about in the future. This year he decided to make wine in Galicia with his Spanish partner Sergio Cortés. The chosen place was the area of Ribeiro, where in this first harvest he will make five wines: two of them will be oaked young and three of them aged. The two young ones are a blend of Treixadura and Godello and on the other hand, a Garnacha Tintorera. These wines are to be bottled around April 2018. The grapes stayed overnight in a steel tank before pressing, then the must went to used oak barrels.
In addition, Matías will make three single-varietal wines with an ageing of about 18 months, bottling time around April 2019. The wines will be a Treixadura, a Godello and a Garnacha Tintorera. Same as before, overnight maceration, press, fermentation in oak barrels.
Talking to Matías before his trip we agreed to exchange some wine, and as it could not be otherwise, I took some Spanish Orange Wines. Those elected were Tenta2 of Ismael Gozalo (MicroBio Wines) and an Orange wine Juan Piqueras of Bodegas Pigar from Utiel-Requena (Valencia) produced last year as an experiment using Tardana and Moscatel. Matias really liked both wines and one day he told me: ‘let’s do an orange wine too.’ My eyes were like those of Marty Feldman, especially when he said later: ‘and we will buy two amphorae to age it. I said he will do five wines but as you c can see, it will be six wines. So the sixth wine this year is an Orange wine produced with Treixadura and Godello aged in amphorae. Simply amazing.
That was the plan, of course, but before starting producing wine, harvest had to be done. After making a preliminary inspection of the vineyards on the previous day, we got up the pruning shears and we off we went.
It is truly romantic contemplating a vineyard full of bunches of ripe grapes ready to be harvested and thinking how good this wine I will work on will be. But when you already have a couple of vines harvested under your belt, the romanticism vanishes away. The hand labor is cool, of course, after all it’s related to winemaking, but hey, sometimes it seems that grapes never end. We began harvesting the Treixadura, in a vineyard that was next to the river Miño in a slight slope. Large clusters filled 15-kilo baskets with some ease and according to habit we left the baskets under the vines for the tractor to pick them up. Evidently, all the vintage was done by hand. We were three of us plus one of the sons of Matías, Estefano.
Then more people joined. When we had already made a few rows between all of them we were told that the tractor would take time to pick up the boxes, so we had to make the decision of what to do. Take the grapes to the cellar. The boxes were in the vineyard, the van on the road, uphill. And there were four of us. Romanticism completely finished. The boxes had to be brought by hand from the vineyard to the road. There were about 36 boxes in the van, so several trips had to be made. Of course, this was not load the van and hope to return. It was in the van to go to the winery, download the grape, although the grapes, put the grapes in the despalilladora, load the boxes into the van, back to the vineyard, keep cutting grapes. So until we finished the vineyard. Among those were done right, but the tractor just made a trip, the rest was in furgo at hand. Shortly after lunch we finished with the Treixadura. If memory serves me out 2. 400 kilos that were already in the warehouse. Now he touched the vineyard of Godello, which was situated inland. The vineyard was smaller, but had a negative side. The cluster of Godello was much smaller than the one of Treixadura, so it was necessary to harvest more plant to fill a box, reason why it was necessary to move the box with the you go more than in the morning. You could have half a row, but the box was still in the middle. This vineyard had narrower streets than the morning, so tractor nothing. All to monkey again. Charge the van and the cellar, download grapes, weigh grapes, despalillar grapes.And of course, once finished, had to clean the boxes to not have problems the next day. And all the used area of the warehouse, of course. Of the Godello there were in total about 1,200 kilos. We did not collect all the grapes, of course, that although I am the center of Bilbao, they do not. We have help, because if not, we would still be recovering. I already did a calculation of what I sold, and it did not look bad, but just in case I will not comment. We finished past 9pm.
Once all the grapes in their deposits, we catap the wort. Both were very good, with the Treixadura giving about 12 degrees and the Godello something above 14 and with a very good acidity. Maceration pre-pressed pellet of about 18 hours, since the pressing was made the next day in the early afternoon. Once pressed, the wort was passed to used barrels. The wine that will be the young man was already mixed in the barrel.
The Garnacha was harvested a few days later, since in the vineyard still it was around 10 degrees. I had to go back to my daily chores so I did not stay.
Now wait until April to bottle the two young wines and see how the orange wine evolves. Moment no forecast how long it will be macerated with the skins or how long barrel. That will be seen.
We just can’t wait enough.