With the warmer days upon us, and Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to drink ‘Aromatic’ wines from Tasmanian’s true cool climate. We love them here at Stefano Lubiana! We make small parcels of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and the quick to sell out Pinot Gris. We also make 2 alternative varieties, Gruner Veltliner from Austria and the newly available Malvisia from Croatia. It is fair to say that we adore perfectly balanced aromatic crisp white wines on a warm day and we know you will love them too!
We find the topic of aromatic winemaking a great conversation starter in our Cellar-door. People are intrigued to understand the method. Unlike red wine production where the grapes are destemmed and fermented on their skins, later pressed and barrelled into the cellar. White wine production is much more sensitive from the get-go.
It is crucial in all winemaking that grapes are picked disease free as well as free of bird damage. This stops often unseen, wine spoilage and promotes clarity and precision. At our gravity fed winery, grapes are picked into half tonne plastic bins and are emptied into a hopper and sorted by hand on a mechanical sorting table. The sorting table allows us to remove any damaged or imperfect berries, leaves, stalks and the odd spider (harmless money types).
Grapes slide into the press via gravity to prevent damage. We use a tank press; this technology is a very gentle process that squeezes the grapes gently with compressed air to release the juice. The juice then arrives in a tank where it is then syphoned to the underground cellar into a large oak fermenter called a foudre. As with all winemaking at Stefano Lubiana, oak selection is critical, and Steve has long been a fan of Austrian oak when making cool climate aromatic white wines. Foudres are large oak vats, usually 3000L naturally fine grained so that the flavour imparted is genuinely subtle. Wine that matures in these vats is more textured and the wine's natural acid is often softened.
Usually the natural yeast found on the grapes ignites the fermentation. We closely monitor and cool, if necessary, the ferment to ensure it does not get out of control. If fermentation is too warm then elegance, finesse and fruity aromatics are lost from the wine. When the fermentation is finished the wine is left on its lees. Lees are the sediment (dead yeast cells) that settles on the bottom, when stirred reinvigorating, charging the wine, making it cloudy again, washing through the wine keeping it fresh, reducing the need for preservatives. This technique has been used for hundreds of years. After a winter’s rest the wine is carefully retrieved from the underground cellar and is allowed to gather itself for a week or two before bottling. Once bottled the wine sits and recovers from that process before it is released for sale.