Racking is to pour a wine from one container into another, taking the clear wine away from sediments produced during fermentation or originated after some months of ageing into oak barrels.
Importance of wine racking
Racking is a key work at a winery, it has to be done in the right moment and in a very precise way because solid sediments origin an oxygen consumption and they may lead to a wine with less intensity on the nose. Moreover, during the racking process, the wine has an oxygen exposure, therefore it is essential to keep the wine under a controlled situation. With the racking we separate the clean wine from the solid waste deposited at the bottom of the barrel.
For this reason, we need to be careful with the way it is done, so that in the future reserva and crianza and do not suffer any unwanted consequence. The goal is to oxygenate the wine (right oxygen exposure), not oxidize it (excessive exposure to oxygen).
At Resalte we use a peristaltic pump for wine racking, called like that because it replicates the system of a gastrointestinal tract to move the food and digest it. This way, using the racking bomb, the wine is pushed through the tubes, not shacked.
During this process, it is moved following a laminar flow (organized) and not turbulent. By not shaking the wine, the oxygenation is more controlled and the integrity of the wine is preserved.
As a result of less oxygenation, the levels of sulfite ion, a natural antioxidant which is also added since the Roman age, are not decreased and the subsequent corrections are lower. Our control throughout this process is so high, we achieve total sulphite levels so low as those from ecological or wrongly called “natural” wines.
How is the racking done?
Wines throughout the elaboration process have many suspended particles because of an intense transformation from fresh grapes to finished wine through an alcoholic fermentation and a malolactic fermentation (the second and last one in red wines).
Before starting the ageing in oak barrels, wines decant for 10 days and gross lees are eliminated with a first racking. Those lees are leftovers from yeasts and lactic bacteria. All this microbiology is crucial during the transformation from grape to wine, but now it is necessary to remove it. Only those very fine lees may be left suspended in the wine during winter, nevertheless they will degrade due to the high acidity of our wines, enhancing the body and aftertaste on the palate.
During the winter months ageing inside the barrel, at the coldest time of the night (around 6AM in the morning), we introduce air from outside the cellar into the barrels room, favoring a drop in temperature that gently and progressively facilitates stabilization and natural precipitation. All the solid particles, unnecessary for the wine, that generate turbidity, are deposited at the bottom of the barrel and here is where the racking takes on vital importance.
When does the racking take place?
When the time comes (usually in spring) we move the clean wine to the tank, removing the precipitates from the bottom, then the barrel is cleaned inside with steam and pressurised hot water, cleaning the pore of the wood and again facilitating the correct micro-oxygenation of the wine. We finish this process placing the clean wine back into the clean barrel.
As we have mentioned on previous occasions, the barrel not only helps to add aromas, but the wine also undergoes a great transformation inside, it gets refined and stabilized, acquiring a greater aptitude for subsequent aging in the bottle.
This way of doing, benefiting from the natural winter cold, is another detail of our philosophy of minimal intervention on wines. This has a great relevance since it is one of the main reasons why our wines do not need to be filtered before bottling, so we can respect as much as possible the harmony and balance obtained during many months inside the barrel.