Putting a cork in 2006

A Case \'o PeugeotSomewhere around 10pm last night, we stretched the last label over the last bottle of 2006 Peugeot, drawing to a close that plucky vintage. It’s kind of like putting the last fin-fold on a paper airplane and then flicking it into space — it could crash, it could sail, but aside from the momentum you put into the construction and the toss, its destiny is now pretty much out of your hands.

Based on what I tasted last night, though, I think it’ll float on the breeze quite elegantly for a while. Into a holding tank, we siphoned half of each of the barrels we’d put the blend into back in the fall, and then added half of the stainless steel container that held the rest of the blend. After bottling that, we siphoned what remained in each of those containers into the tank, bottling until the last dregs dripped through the hose. A pain in the ass, but the idea behind it was that each barrel probably evolved a little differently over the last 7 months, so bottling them one after the other would result in different wines. More critically, the wine stored in the stainless — because it had no further oak exposure after blending — was indeed tighter, so it at least had to be spread around.

We’d never bottled this much wine at one sitting, so while we knew it would be a slog, we didn’t really know how much of one. A few volunteers came early to think through the system, get it set up, and begin the first blend into tank, and then the full complement came a few hours later at 3. While the two blends into tank added to the time, it was, as always, the labeling that took for-effing-ever. We’ve got to figure out a better way to do that. If George hadn’t requested his cases come un-labeled, we might still be sticky with glue.

All in all, though, I think it was worth it. The Peug was remarkably fragrant in the tank, and it laid gracefully in the mouth with lovely ripe fruit, subtle tannin, and a good spine of acidity. Before we added the first portion from the stainless, it tasted round, full, and ready to slide down the gullet; after the tighter product from the stainless, it clenched up again, but it says to me that after a year or so, this one should be exceptionally lovely. That’s borne out by the 2005 Peug, which blossomed about 3 years out.

Mmmmmm… when is 2009 again? Pics from bottling after the break…
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Amore per le macchine

“Imbottigliamento,” she whispered in my ear, her husky voice the sensual texture of soft tannins. “Pigia…” — she paused, taunting me — “diraspatrici.” My palms began to sweat. I’m a married man, but who among you would not also have been swayed? I took out my credit card…

Si, si, la mia amore. Now that last year’s harvest is safely hibernating in the cellar, it’s time to turn our attention to the finer, more stainless steel things in life: a better bottler (imbottigliamento; and specifically una riempitrice (filler) in the Italian native to the best manufacturers of them), if not a stemmer-crusher (or pigia-diraspatrice). Doesn’t everything sound better in Italian?

It certainly did to me. Before the dollar plummeted any further against the Euro, a lusty voice inside told me to buy and I did, picking up a new 5-bottle filler in advance of our epic bottling later this spring. Courtesy of Enotecnica Pillan, an Italian company headquartered in the heart of the Veneto, northwest of Venice, behold what beauty can be captured in 304-type stainless steel:
Our new Enotecnica Pillan 5-spout filler
From the English version of their website:

With the handicraft tradition “of the done good things” work from over 50 years in the manufacture of several models of crushers, destemmers, presses for the grape, filters for the wine and machines for the working of the fruit.

The Babelfish, has it not the bringing of us to greater closeness?

Actually, that bit in the quotes is “delle cose fatte bene” in the original (ancora, più bello in Italiano, si?), which is probably better translated as “of well-made things,” or more loosely, a tradition “of making things well.” This filler of the bottles is no exception. For a previous bottling or two, we’ve had the good fortune to borrow one from a friend who works for Edgefield. It easily surpasses the test of a great tool: once you get the hang of it, it stops being an inanimate, herky piece of hardware and becomes into a fluid extension of whatever you’re doing. Beautiful.

Now, uh, how do I get this lipstick off my collar?

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