Other than topping* and repair work, there’s not much happening in the Emeritus cellar other than what’s occurring inside each barrel. The malolactic (ML) bacteria are happily converting malic acid to lactic acid, which will soften the overall impression of each wine. Most of the Hallberg Ranch lots have finished, with just the Elite lots just behind due to their higher initial levels of acid. The Pinot Hill lots are also lagging for the same reason, and because they were the last to be harvested.
Once malo finishes, we add the first dose of sulphurous acid (H2SO3) to prevent undesirable yeast or bacteria. After this addition has settled down, our winemaking team can begin to taste—their favorite part of the winter schedule. Then they can begin to assess the harvest in general, along with any experiments and how the new barrels are interacting with the different wines. It’s all very exciting and nerdy wine stuff to explore and learn from as the 2021 vintage continues its journey of self-discovery!
* Topping, or Topping Up: Adding more volume to a batch of wine to avoid large pockets of air.