Nikki at RedHeads – what’s that falling from sky?

What’s that falling from the sky? And more barrels

Foreign stuff falling from the sky
Poured with rain last night – 3.5mm in Williamstown, plenty in Angaston and just 0.8mm in Nuri (Nuriopta). All half an hour’s drive apart. That’s the hills for you. Most of the grapes are in now so it’s no big deal on that front, and it might delay the picking of the Mataro a day or so but otherwise it is just a thankful watering for the rest of the vines that are mighty thirsty. For us, it meant finally, after a few days of wind and cloud, there was a return of clear blue skies. Lovely.

The delicate touch
Dan explained this morning that many of the ferments were just at a delicate stage. Fermentation is beginning to drop away, so less CO2 is being produced, the gas that’s been helping to protect the fruit from oxidation. As a consequence I needed to do a ‘hand plunge’ with most of the vats, bar the newest, just to ensure the cap remained wet.

happy barrels

Two ‘happy’ barrels, Dan had filled yesterday. Dan got me to lift the bung and have a listen. He was right, there was a happy ‘zizz’ to the wine in barrel, as it continued its gentle ferment

Missed it!
Biggest photo opportunity today was the bearded dragon standing vertical, basking in the new sunshine … and I missed it! They seem to be 10-a-penny here in Oz or I might have persuaded Dan to stop the Ute. In England, we pay a lot of money to put one of those in a cage!

Barrels – high-pressure cleaning and gently filling
The afternoon’s task at RedHeads was learning to pressure clean the barrels, ready for filling with new wine. Six in total. Hearing that if a part came lose of the high-pressure gear, it is likely to cause considerable damage (to your person), I listened hard and treated the machines with respect.

barrel filling

The six barrels we filled with the dark, spicy Malbec. Slight spillage, but we cleaned that up afterwards

After cleaning them, we needed to fill them – with that luscious Malbec we drained to tank yesterday. A bit more listening and watching hard to learn, then I was left to it. As my ‘landlord’ Mark, another winemaker, said, it’s 90% standing around watching down the bung hole to see each barrel fill, then 10 seconds of fear … there are about 2 seconds from getting to the right fill in the barrel to get to the pump and switching it off, before a major vinous spill occurs. Then there’s a little top up by the jug-full to minimise the ullage at the top of the barrel.

filling with jug

You fill the barrels as high as you dare with the pump, then do a little top up with the same wine from the pump-filled jug

 I didn’t do too badly. I certainly didn’t want to waste any of the gorgeous-smelling Malbec.

two new barrels

Dan was excited by the arrival of two new French oak barrels. They were delivered by a man with a fetching beard, a bit longer than Dan’s stubble for sure


About Laithwaites Wine

Laithwaite's began in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux... and fell in love with real wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share these delicious wines with friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that boutique wineries were soon queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from... including red, white and rosé, plus Champagne and sparkling, beer and cider.

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