PIGSKIN… What does that have to do with wine?
Based on the title above you are probably thinking I have gone a little mad. However, bear with me and you will see my rational.
As you may recall, in the 2016 vintage we decided to have a bit of a play around with Pinot Gris and ferment it on skins. As a white variety, Pinot Gris is usually harvested, the grapes crushed and then the skins separated from the juice in the press. This method of production means the juice picks up very little colour and no phenolics. Phenolics are chemical compounds in the skins that make the wine a bit grippy – a bit like too strong tea.
With our experimental Pinot Gris, we crushed the grapes and popped the juice, skins and seeds in to a tank for fermentation. We basically did nothing else. The juice fermented naturally using the yeast living on the skins of the grapes. Once the fermentation was complete, we left the wine in contact with the skins for about 3 weeks, during which time it underwent malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is the bacterial conversion of the appley malic acid to the soft, creamy lactic acid. This has added texture and creaminess to the wine. At the end of the 3 weeks, the wine was run to barrel without any sulphur dioxide.
All very interesting, I hear you say, but what has any of this got to do with Pig skin. Well, as you can see below, we wrote on the front of the barrel PIGSC for Pinot Gris Skin Contact and somehow this has always transformed in my mind to Pigskin.
I posted a photo to Instagram a few weeks back asking people to tell me which wine was our 2015 Rose and which was the Pigskin.
Most people said the Pinot Gris was the wine on the right when it is actually the wine on the left. Pinot Gris translates as Pinot grey and is a pink skinned variety – a mutation of Pinot noir. There is obviously quite a lot of colour in the skins and we have used this to our advantage to produce a complex, rose coloured wine. We bottled the wine, unfined and with only a coarse filtration, today – Monday 23 January. We are still developing labels for the wine but look out for it in cellar door and fine wine restaurants. You will have to be quick though – we have only produced 250 bottles!