Half in the Bottle

By Posted on May 25 2009 | By

img_0060_1Unlike professional wineries, home winemakers don’t typically bulk age their wines for extended periods. To do so requires extra storage vessels. Moreover, bulk aging for longer than a year takes precious space many amateurs do not have available.

Thus, my goal each year is have all twenty-four of my six-gallon carboys cleaned and ready to receive new wine by August. One six-gallon container produces thirty bottles of wine. In Virginia, white grapes are harvested throughout September and the reds in October, so this schedule gives me some breathing room before next year’s wines are ready to flow into their waiting cocoons.

With this pending pressure on capacity, I have now bottled all of my white wines and about twenty-five percent of my reds. Wine will age nicely in the bottle and most of my ’08 reds under cork will not be consumed until  2010 and beyond.  The 2008 vintage will produce a total of sixty-five cases, which sounds like a lot wine-and it is. But fortunately, all of my extended family enjoys wine, so a great way to recoup some of my production costs is to provide my “social lubricant” at parties and celebrations. A mixture of commercial wines and Hagarty Cellars bottlings can keep an entertainment budget in balance.

My ‘08 whites include a four-wine blend I dubbed, “White Quadrille.” It is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Verdejo and 10% Albarino. My other bottlings include Pinot Grigio, Seyval Blanc, Viognier, and Chardonnay for a total of thirty-two cases of whites.

There is an array of white wine styles. My personal preference is for the leaner, crisper style similar to many French offerings. These wines are wonderful thirst quenchers during the summer months and pair exceptionally well with food. I have almost ceased making oaky, buttery whites, and this year limited production to just two and a half cases of a lightly oaked Chardonnay. I enjoy mouth-watering acidity in my whites. Just as a juicy squeeze of fresh lemon on Mahi Mahi brightens the flavor of the delicate fish, so a nicely balanced white displaying crisp acidity turns an average white into an exuberant deck wine.

img_0027-640x480Reaction from folks who have tasted my ’08 whites has been positive. Of course, a decent little wine that is free is generally well received. Unlike the big boys, I don’t have to earn gold medals or make a profit to stay in business. Just another benefit of home fermentation. Sweet.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES