Bottle Shock!? A Reality or just a very good excuse to get away with selling bad wine!!????
Late December I was driving along our beautiful coastline passing spectacular towns like Betties Bay, Pringle Bay and Rooi-els. I was on my way home after delivering a case of ANNA Chenin blanc to a elderly couple in Kleinmond…And, unknown to me at that time, on the brink of having the first ever client make use of my 100% money back guarantee!…well, ALMOST!
I offered a free delivery service to all these coastal towns during the holiday season. Off course I’ll stop for regular surf sessions along the way depending on swell size, direction and wind. Early the next morning the phone rang. It was my Kleinmond client: “Pieter”, she said, “I have bad news for you. We don’t like your wine!” SHOCK, HORROR! This had never happened to me before! My stunned reply was that of course I would collect the wine and give her a full refund. Now, dear reader, please stick with me for the following…. “Great” she said, “When would that be?” It was the Thursday before Christmas and I enquired whether I could do it the following Monday. SHORT SILENCE, THEN THE REPLY. “Pieter” she said, “I am not sure that there will be any wine left for you to pick up if we wait until after the weekend!” Needless to say that when I arrived at their house 4 days later, all 12 the bottles were finished and they had loved it! Problem solved (phew!).
What is bottle shock? Each time a wine is bottled, it goes through fine filtration, involving roughly 3 types of filter and is pumped over no less than 8 times in a very short space of time. (Please see the bottom of the page for the steps I take the wine through, before bottling). Each process physically breaks the wine into smaller particles, mixing it and adding oxygen. In short: the poor wine is ripped apart. What you will then experience is a bit like watching a bad movie. All the elements are there (the beauty, the crook and the hero), but there’s no story line! You might taste the fruit, wood and alcohol, but there will be no balance and consistency to it! A classic case of the sum of the parts not making the whole (in the case of wine, not even close). The one bottle could be fantastic and the next a dud!
But there is a good ending! In time, all these loose qualities will again blend slowly but surely (a sort of reconciliation) and you might even be able to taste the difference from one day to the next! (also of course a good excuse to open a bottle every day. – “But darling, Pieter said I should!”) Because of this, most cellars will not release their wines within three months of bottling. BLANKbottle™ of course, as always, is a different story! I released the latest batch BACK TJ one hour after bottling. The reason: the exceptional demand of the festive season and associated ordering list. All things considered, still a whopping bargain at R28.50! (not to mention the cash flow problem it solves..!)
I challenge those of you who bought BACK TJ just after bottling, to follow the process and give me your feedback! I am confident that you will find that BACK TJ will thus only start to reveal its true colors and pedigree in the next few weeks! Remember to first put the BACK TJ in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes before opening! We tend to drink our reds at to high temperatures. Especially this time of year!
Now then, the bottling process:
- I remove the wine from barrel by pumping it into a tank. (PUMP action no.1).
- I add some sulphur as an anti-oxidization and anti-bacterial agent (PUMP action no.2).
- Depending on the wine, I’ll usually fine it with some gelatine or eggwhite. (PUMP action no.3). I do this to remove some of the harsh tannins that might be present in the wine.
- Depending on the wine, most of the times, I’ll do a bulk filter (PUMP action no.4).
- After making sure that the sulphur levels are fine, we transport the wine from the winery to the bottling plant (PUMP action no’s. 5&6).
- Thereafter, we will finally add the last dosage sulphur and pump the wine through to mix it properly (PUMP action no.7).
- After another 3 days I will start to bottle the wine. The wine will go from the tank via a pipe (PUMP action no.8) into the first filter and then through an even finer, sterile filter, through the nozzles into the bottles. Just before the cork gets knocked into the bottle, we add a bit of Nitrogen to protect the wine against oxidation.