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La Chertosa Wines

Acetic Acid:  This is the vintner’s enemy, but acetic acid, the first state of vinegar, is found in very tiny amounts in all wines.  Our task is to maintain it at low levels where it cannot be perceived by aroma or flavor.  Proper winemaking techniques and sanitation are our weapons against this type of acid.

Acidity:  Wine grapes contain close to a dozen kinds of fruit acids which are precisely measured.  The most common acids are tartaric, malic, and citric.  Acidity is a key to producing balanced wines that will keep and is detected in a wine’s aftertaste.  To us, acidity provides a wine’s backbone and structure.

Ampelography:  The ancient science of identifying grapevines by their physical characteristics.

Berry Set:  The conversion through cross-pollination of the tiny flower clusters into hard green berries occurring in late Spring or early Summer as a rule.  Berry set is the first sign of the potential quantity likely to come from the vintage.

Berry Shatter:  Failure in pollination due to in climate weather results in berries incapable of developing into grapes.

Bloom:  The appearance early in the year of the vine’s flower buds or floral clusters leads to cross-pollination or bloom which is one of the wonders of nature as some of the flowers are converted into berries.

Brix:  The unit of measurement for density, or soluble solids in ripening grapes.  Since sugar makes up nearly all of the soluble solids in fresh grape juice, and soluble solids give the juice it density, any measure of the density of the juice is also a measure of the "sugar content."  So, the simple act of measuring the density of juice is equivalent to doing a much more complicated chemical analysis of the sugar content in juice.  A reading of one-degree Brix equals one percent dissolved solids.

Bud Break:  The first appearance of green growth on the vines tells us that the temperature has awakened the vine from its winter dormancy and is setting the vine into its growth cycle.  When bud break is first detected is very important to the vintner.

Clone:  Vines that are propagated from a single Mother vine selected for it special attributes are said to belong to that clone.  A clonal selection program involves analyzing the merits of numerous clones available to vintners through nurseries.

Cluster Thinning:  When the projected crop size appears to be larger than our quality considerations warrant, we will remove a certain percentage of the clusters from each vine, cut them off and let them fall to the ground, to assure maximum quality and sugar/acidity/pH balance within those clusters to be harvested.

Cooperage:  Any storage or aging container holding wines within the winery is referred to as cooperage.  The term covers stainless steel tanks, wood barrels, and other tanks of all types and sizes.

Crushing:  The first stage in the winemaking process for most wines in which grapes are placed into a crusher that is designed to break the skins gently and fee their juices.  Simultaneously, the grapes are removed from their stems in a continuous procedure.  "The Crush" refers to the autumn season when grapes ripen and are harvested and fermented.

Dry:  Winemakers consider a wine to be dry when there is no more fermentable sugar left in the wine.  Yet dry is also a sensory perception varying with individual thresholds, so it is not an absolute by any means.  A wine that does not taste sweet is said to be dry.

Enology:  The study and science of winemaking is known as enology.  Those who make wines are enologists.

Fermentation:  The long, complex reaction generated by the action of yeasts of sugar in which the yeast enzymes metabolize the sugar to create roughly equal parts of carbon dioxide and alcohol.  When the sugar comes from the grapes, the result of fermentation is wine.

Filtration:  The removal of particles such as dead yeast cells through the process of absorption is accomplished by pumping the wine through a series of screens specially coated with an agent known to remove all particulate matter.  Filtration occurs often just before bottling and is the final procedure used to make a wine clear to the consumer’s eye and greed from spoilage microorganisms.

Fining:  Because some tiny particles in wine won’t fall out of suspension, we introduce an agent such as bentonite for most while wines and egg whites for some reds.  This agent absorbs the suspended matter and makes it collect at bottom of the tank or barrel.  Through fining, we can also remove excess tannins when they are present in red wines.

Free Run Juice:  The juice that flows freely, without pressure needing to be applied to the skis, is known as free run juice.  It tends to be less bitter that the juice extracted through pressing.  About 80 to 85% of each wine crushed is free-run.

Jug Wines:  Common name given to wines sold at modest prices in a 1.5-liter size or larger containers.

Lees:  The spent yeast cells, remaining skins, and other substances left in newly fermented wine that fall to the bottom of a container are known as lees.  We remove our wines quickly from the less since they often contain potential undesirable microorganisms.

Maceration:  The act of soaking grape solids in their juice for certain time periods prior to fermentation of the juice.  Generally the grapes are chilled to prevent fermentation from beginning.  This is also known as skin contact.

Malolactic Fermentation:  This is a bacterial induced reaction not to be confused with the alcoholic fermentation brought about by the yeast on sugar.  The malolactic often occurs naturally thought the presence of bacteria and it converts a portion of the harsh malic acid component into softer lactic acid.  The reaction reduces the wine’s total acidity, and is desired in red wines, but seldom encouraged for white wines.

Micro Climate:  A vineyard area or tiny parcel that enjoys a unique climatic condition in comparison to those adjoin it is known as a micro climate.  Sheltering trees, tempering water, elevation, and soil composition are among the other factors which create micro climates.

Must:  The results from crushing fresh grapes (before fermentation).  It includes pulp, skins, seeds, juice and bits of stem.

Nouveau:  Term used to describe a Beaujolais-like wine:  Young, fresh, fruity and neither wood-aged nor complex.  Nouveau wines are not designed for long aging, but are made for prompt consumption.

Oak:  A type of hardwood commonly used for building wine barrels.  American oak has a distinctive, bourbon-like flavor, but French oak flavor is much more subtle.  Both types of oak barrels contribute tannin and vanillin (vanilla) flavors to wines during aging.

PH: This number is the measure of the degree of relative acidity versus the relative alkalinity of any liquid, on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Winemakers use pH as a way to measure ripeness in relation to acidity. Low pH wines will taste tart and crisp, while higher pH wines are more susceptible to bacterial growth. Most wine pH's fall around 3 or 4; about 3.0 to 3.4 is desirable for white wines, while about 3.3 to 3.6 is best for reds.

Phenolics:  This term describes some of the chemical compounds in wine.  This includes a large group of several hundred chemical compounds that affect the taste, color and mouthfeel of wine.

Pomace:  The remaining skins, seeds, and stems from white and red wines are collected after pressing is known as pomace.  It is transported to the vineyards and used as fertilizer.

Pressing:  An important function in winemaking, pressing involves more of a gentle squeezing of the skins to capture more juice from white grapes and more wine from newly fermented red wines.  Modern-day wine presses are programmed for gentle extraction of high quality juice and wine without bitter or off character.

Pruning:  At its most basic, pruning involves the removal of last year's branches and canes from each vine.  To vintners, pruning is an art because it necessitates the selection of the fruit-bearing canes for the coming vintage and also isolates the candidates for the year after.  Pruning techniques directly influence quantity and thus quality.  Pruning establishes the way each vine will be shaped or trained during the growing season.  Thru pruning, we regulate the ratio of foliage (leaves) to fruit (grapes).

Pulp:  The central and major fleshy portion of grapes (synonymous with flesh).

Racking:  It initially clarify wine, we allow it to settle for a period and then transfer the wine from one container to a clean one leaving the sediment behind.  This procedure is called racking.

Residual Sugar:  The sugar content that remains in wine after fermentation is complete.

Suckers:  Unwanted secondary growth appearing at the base of a vine's trunk which are removed by the grower.

Tannin:  A phenolic compound in wine that comes from the skins, seeds, and sometimes the stems.  Tannin gives wines, most often red wines, their puckery, astringent character, and enables wine to age because it obstucts oxidation.  Wood cooperage can also impact a slight amount of tannin to wine.

Topping:  A cellar chore that replaces the amount of wine lost through evaporation in barrels and other storage containers.  By topping up, we prevent excessive air from harming the wine.

Trellising:  An important viticulture practice by which we can train and shape the vine's growth pattern by attaching selected canes to supporting wires.  There are several methods of trellising available to growers.

Verasion:  The first color change from green to purple on the vine (in black grapes) or green to yellow-green (in white grapes), accompanied by a softening of the texture of the fruit.  This is the first step in maturation of the grapes on the vine.

Vintage:  This to us is the same as the harvest or when the grapes are being picked and converted into wine.  On a label, a vintage date to what year the vintner harvested and fermented the wine.

Viticulture:  One one level, it means the science and study of grape growing.  To us, it includes everything we do from planting, tending, and nurturing vines to assure their health and their development of outstanding grapes.

Vitis Vinifera:  The primary grape species cultivated and used as a source of wine, table grapes, and raisin grapes.