How exciting! My first real task in a wine cellar – pumping over my friend’s Langhe Rosso. This wine is going to taste of my touch….!
I’m sure this gets boring and banal for the seasoned wine maker. In fact even the unseasoned ones most likely.
But when you’re fascinated by it, when you love it as only an outsider looking in on a secret world can, you think you could quite happily spend the rest of your days at the top of a steel fermentation vat, pumping over the must.
I love looking down into it, into the spotlight that then gets moved so I can go all around the edges (without washing the light itself). In spirals, starting my way from the centre and working outwards (Southern hemisphere swirls?) staring into this purplish, crimson mush. It froths and heaves as if it had a life of its own from underneath and it wasn’t diminutive me washing from above.
Some of the grapes are still little balls, globe-like gems – like so many unpolished amethysts. Others are now shriveled, like sultanas.
The sound is of the pump whirring away and the fountain from my hand as if I were merely watering the garden. But I’m making wine! The smell is winey and fruity and I wonder if I should be breathing toward the door instead of into the heady, intoxicating world of the tank.
But I am fascinated by what’s going on in there, the bubbling and the movement. This purple world of mystery changing under my hand.
And of course there’s a glass, and a taste. My friend excuses the cellar-hand’s glass, I say it doesn’t matter and he says:
“I mean, I’m sorry, it’s an honour”. And we laughe, and he’s right.
To drink from the cellar-hand’s glass the wine you have pumped over yourself is pure bliss. A long way away, but connected somehow with the tumblers my grandfather used to drink his cask wine from, handing them to me for a refill.
And this Langhe rosso merlot doesn’t taste much different. Not-yet-ready wine with its residual sugar, syrupy like grape juice in the early stages of fermentation. Still, it tastes good to me, warm little miracle in a glass. It could be the pumping over, it could be the CO2 or the thought of the amethysts in that tank, but I’m on a high, and the Langhe Rosso is on its way to its next rimontaggio.