Two weeks ago it was finally time for the wine harvest, the vines gave in to the suns rays and absorbed that golden hue. The grapes, all now a deep purpley blue, were ready to be transformed into our first home grown table wine.
The post-harvest celebrations included a full feast – with meat piled high – at El Toro Macho, which left all involved very content!
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After the harvest it was time to make the juice. Using some simple traditional grape pressing and crushing machinery we were able to make about 150L of verjus. The pressing machine is Italian with a beautiful slatted wood exterior. It is all hand powered with a bit of hydraulic pumping thrown in to increase the pressure on the grapes and get as much juice as possible out.
Prior to going in the press all the grapes are put through the crusher which washes them and breaks them down quite a bit. The final step uses our ‘high-tech’ filtering system to get out any residues before they go into the large canisters before bottling.
We all got up extra early and wandered dazed over to the far vineyards. The grapes were just right to harvest for verjus. We had been watching them closely for weeks…it is hard to time it correctly. The grapes still need to be green and not sugary but equally they need to be not too hard as we need the liquid inside to make the verjus.
Everyone worked together so we were all done by lunch time, the baking heat would not get us that day!
Andres Sanchez, the winemaker at Gillmore winery – our neighbours in the Loncomilla Valley, gave us the ultimate wine-tasting. We popped by just as he was in the laboratory determining the final blends for the 2010 reds before they are bottled in the next few weeks. It was such a treat to hear the award-winning winemaker talk about how these wines will taste after being in the bottle for a few years. The Carignan was very young and had some serious energy in your mouth, according to Andres this ensures it will develop a full flavour as it ages in the bottle.
It was also fun to see the science laboratory where the delicate blending happens.
A first at Fundo Meza—–this week the grapes were harvested early in the season and in collaboration with a Dutchman who is a winemaker in Chile, pressed to produce our first product—-Verjus. Verjus?? From the French vertjus or “green juice”, this nearly ancient (the Middle Ages) condiment was used in place of today’s lemon juice or vinegars. Modern cooks use verjus most often in salad dressings as the acidic ingredient—– when wine is served alongside. The mildly acidic, sour taste of verjus won’t compete with the wine or alter its taste the way lemon or vinegars will. It is sour, acidic, versatile and worth trying! Look for it in gourmet food shops.
We have 4 acres of certified organic ancient Pais vines, from which we primarily produce wine and agraz:
Our first product ‘Agraz’, also called ‘Verjus’, is a forgotten treasure produced from unripe grapes that are a by-product of the thinning process early in the grape growing season. It is a highly acidic grape juice with a real tangy bite – we have been trying it out in many different ways, from pisco sours to salad dressings and refreshing long drinks in the hot summer. It adds a delicate but intriguing twist to many dishes, kind of like vinegar or lemon juice, but much fresher, a subtler zing and very moreish. We have been doing some in depth taste testing trying many different flavours together – and we will post the combinations we love the most to give an idea of how to use agraz.
TINTE is a natural wine lovingly crafted from our dry farmed and very old Pais vines. We give you the raw flavours of our varied soil and nature’s yeast with nothing added to the organic grapes from vineyard to bottle. TINTE allows us to share with you the beauty and integrity of the land here at Fundo Meza.