Click on the link to see the latest video from Wine Saves Lives! about sampling for Barbera Rosé.
I took a walk this beautiful morning through our Barbera block to gauge how far along the fruit was. We use Barbera, a high-acid grape native to Piemonte in northwestern Italy, to make sparkling wine. We are one of only a couple of wineries in California that use this great variety to make a méthode champenoise-style bubbly because we love its naturally abundant acidity and fruit-forward quality.
I walk through the entire block of fruit and randomly choose clusters until I have a gallon-size plastic bag-full. I then crush the fruit and send the juice to our lab where we get measurements of pH, TA (rough equivalent of total acidity), and Brix (or sugar) levels. I use these numbers to confirm what I am tasting; they are only confirmatory, and our picking decisions are made based on flavor, acidity, and texture.
This morning, the flavors have reached a level of development that seem very close to being ready, and the acidity was abundant but not scathing.
Well, the numbers are in from the lab…and they confirm what I thought…time to pick. The decision isn’t as straightforward as it might seem…the acid number is slightly high and the pH, slightly low, but because of the challenges of finding labor, we can pick on Thursday or the following Tuesday (Labor Day is not helping!). We are expecting temperatures between 100-108 over the Labor Day weekend, and the heat can cause sugar accumulation through evaporation of water in the berries – this is not real ripening.
And because we are making sparkling wine, we have the opportunity of adding a touch more sweetness to the dosage we will add to the wine right before it is released and thereby mitigate some of the acidity if it seems scathing.
Ah…harvest is really here!