Cantele white wines: vinification notes (and how the winemaker avoids excessive sulfites)

puglia white wine

White Wine Production at Cantele

The grape bunches are destemmed and pressed.

Not all the white grapes are pressed. In the case of the Fiano and the Teresa Manara Chardonnay, the grapes are de-stemmed and then macerated (with their skins) for twenty-four hours at low temperatures.

Before the grapes are pressed, they are chilled to around 8-10° Celsius using a heat exchanger. Then they are soft pressed.

What is a “soft press”? It’s a cylinder that turns. Inside, a inflatable membrane gently crushes the skins of the berries to extract their must. Depending on the amount of pressure exerted by the membrane, different types of grape must can be obtained:

With pressure of 0 to .2 bars, you get the “first pressing” (Fiano, Teresa Manara)
From .2 to 1 bar you get the “second pressing” (which will be vinified separate because it contains polyphenolic substances [tannins] and is richer in aroma).
From 1 to 2 bars, you obtain the least valued must, which will be sent to a distillery.

The wine must is transferred to a stainless-steel tank where it is stored at 10-12° C. as it naturally decants itself, a natural separation of the solids from the liquid (overnight). The next day the clear wine must is racked (i.e., removed) from the tank. The sediment is filtered and the result must is added to the second pressing. It will ferment at around 14-16° C. for 12-15 days.

Once fermentation is completed, the wine is racked in order to remove its larger solids and then it is aged on its lees. The natural cloudiness of the lees — the dead yeast cells — lasts for 30 to 90 days, with frequent pumping over. By doing so, the sediment does not fall to the bottom and instead remains suspended in the wine. This helps the winemaker to avoid reduction, which can cause unwanted aromas.

This technique is very important for two reasons.

The first is that it helps to give the wine richer flavor thanks the properties that the dead yeast cells can give to the wine itself, thus adding to its complexity.

Secondly, by working at low temperatures (around 8-10° C.), the winemaker can proceed without the addition of sulfur (sulfites). During this phase, the cellular walls of the lees act as a natural receptacle for oxygen, thus protecting the wine from oxidation.

After two or three months, preparation for bottling begins, including clarification, filtration, and tartaric stabilization. The wine is then aged in stainless-steel tanks.

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