COUNTDOWN: DAY 169: Corrina and Fiano a Go-Go!

For the second post in the Oliver’s Taranga countdown til the October 8th 170th anniversary  celebration, let’s skip forward to the present day generation and winemaker Corrina Wright.

Corrina is actually the first in the Oliver’s family line of grape growers to become a winemaker – convincing her grandfather to let her have some grapes to play with that would become the first Oliver’s Taranga branded wine back in 1994.

And lets all say thanks to her grandfather’s generosity because Corrina is a seriously good winemaker… Seriously good!

So let’s hand over to Corrina for today’s post about all things Fiano – from this year’s vintage in McLaren Vale…


Hi there and welcome to the blogging countdown!

I thought it would be interesting for my first blog post to follow one of our wines from the vineyard through the winery – the 2011 Oliver’s Taranga Small Batch Fiano.

We handpicked the Fiano on the 18th of March- a glorious morning with clear blue skies and fresh chill in the air. My eight year old daughter Miah (above) was on hand to assist the picking! The grapes were all picked by 9.00am and made their way swiftly to the winery.

The analysis of the grapes at the winery showed that the baume (winemaking term for the sugar level) was 12.8. This generally means that the final alcohol in the wine will be around the same level. The analysis also tested the acid level via pH and Titratable Acidity (TA). Fiano is a naturally high acid grape variety,
and 2011 was no exception with a pH of 3.3 and a TA of 8.3g/L.

The fruit was tipped into the elevator, to go through the destemmer. As its name suggests, the destemmer is a rotating barrel with fingers that pluck all of the berries from the grape rachis (winemaker language for stalks). The individual berries then fall out of the destemmer, and travel along two sorting tables. The first table sorts on size, so here any undersize berries fall out of the machine. The second table sorts via weight, using jets of air to blow away any bits of leaf, dried berries and the odd earwig!

The grapes then are delivered via elevator straight into the press basket. As they fall into the basket, the berries are still whole. The press basket is then loaded into the press, and the grapes are gently squeezed over a number of hours.
The juice from the grapes is pumped away into tank, where it chills down, and we wait for the natural yeasts from the grapes to start fermenting the juice into wine. I like to use the natural yeasts as often a number of different yeast species conduct the fermentation, and each add something different in terms of flavours and complexities and mouthfeel in the resultant wine.

After a cool and slow ferment in tank, the Fiano finally became wine on the 1st of April. There is no sugar left and the alcohol is now 12.5%. The wine is still a bit cloudy, but the wine will now be left to sit on its ‘lees’  (the winemaking term for all the cloudy yeasty bits in a young wine), and mixed weekly. Mixing the Fiano on lees adds further mouthfeel and complexity. This will continue until I am happy with the way the Fiano looks, propbably around late May/June. Then I will let it settle completely, ‘rack’ (winemaking term for taking the clear bits away from the lees) it, add some sulfur to make sure it is microbiologically and oxidatively stable and pop it into bottle. Then it is as simple as popping it in the fridge and enjoy!