Zen and the Art of Concentration
Concentration is everything in winemaking. Concentration is achieved by focusing the energies of the vine so the clusters are more intense. If the energy of the vine is spread too thin, the result is lightweight, simple, flavorless grapes that make shitty wine. And as we have all figured out during the Covid experience... “Life is too short and precious to tolerate shitty wine”.
So how does one focus? It is the same practice as used in the highest level of Sports, Martial Arts, Yoga, and Meditation. It is living with intention, the goal of excellence, and the relentless pursuit of concentration and living in the moment. Whether it is controlling mental thought or focusing growth energies, It has the same result; heightened performance and clarity. This is how the masters quiet their minds, focus their intention, and float shit across the room...
So how does a vine focus you ask? Well with Intention of course.... A vine has pretty much mastered the whole moving slowly and being mindless thing. That being handled, controlling its energies become the issue. If you let it, the vine will throw 100 clusters. The more pounds produced by the vine the less flavor per berry. Hence reduce the crop load and flavor, structure and color factors increase. The more intense the grape flavors, the more intense the wine.
From this you can deduce that great wines are made in the vineyard. So if you see me in a hilltop vineyard at sunrise trying act like a monk and levitate in the lotus position, thats why. I have done everything else so now I am trying to go further and pull off some Jedi in training moves with the force to make that wine sing. Sound crazy? Not as crazy as the Biodynamic guys running around the vineyard naked under a full moon waving a Rams full of manure. But who is judging? Everyone runs around naked in the moonlight, right?
We have one additional way to increase the concentration in the winery. At harvest when we pick the grapes and de-stem at the winery. This will yield some juice. We will drain some of this juice off the tanks immediately pre-extraction. This gives us the opportunity to reduce the juice-to-skin ratio which is in essence increasing the amount of skins in the fermentation by another 10%-15%. The French call this process a “Saignee” which translates to “bleeding” (such drama with the French). Regardless we achieve a higher concentration of the anthrocyins, tannins and flavonoids, which make more concentrated wines. And that is how the naked, Jedi want-a-bees make bad-ass concentrated wines...
Christian Tietje, Winemaker