|Ripe and healthy Brant grapes in my patio garden|
According to the Met-office we will have rain and chill from now on.
I believe them, so I set out with buckets, secateurs and a ladder in 24 C.!!
At the top of the road, in the front garden of Nr. 2, I had spotted a wild growing Brant, that for 2 years had spread its tentacles into a tall Magnolia tree. The grape bunches were literally whispering to me every time I passed: "pick us - pick us" - - so I asked if the people actually were interested in their grapes.
As the answer was no, that's where I started.
It was a difficult climb and I had to leave several tempting bunches where they were due to the height, but I managed to pick 2 full buckets.
The grapes were not ripe, many were totally green, but so what? All they contained was grape juice.
Nothing that can't be modified with the aid of a bit of sugar.
|My own Brant left - "imported" grapes at rear and right|
Next I picked my own grapes.
And that was a different kettle of fish!
One bucket full and sugar content of 17.5
So there's the difference between a grapevine looked after and a wild growing one.
I have used 'green cropping' (i.e. removing green grapes or bunches) in order to concentrate the fruit in the remaining grapes - although probably a waste on Brant ;-) - - but they do that in the Bordeaux region, so why not in London?
Late afternoon, and all was crushed and poured into the fermentation vat, where I shall leave the must for 4 days.
Well, 3 is too little and 5 too much.
The colour is best described by Rudyard Kipling's marvellous description of "the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo river" - You can almost taste the rythm - although I trust the wine will improve considerably on this image.
I remember seeing the same colour many years ago in the Mosel district, when a huge tanker tried to pour its content of newly pressed must into a steel vat for initial fermentation and the hose popped out, spilling a considerable content on the concrete foreyard. The difference between sewage and raw wine must appeared insignificant. Commercial winemaking is surely a little less poetic than what goes on in a couple of patios in West London!
I suspect the colour will change a little, as the red skins from some of the grapes deliver their 'teinture', but the wine is definitely going to be more rose than red.
What a difference from the Triomphe d'Alsace's dark, blood-red colour.
Finally, a little 'chaptalisation' with 700g sugar to the 15 litres in the fermentation vat brought the sugar content up on the desired 21% - enough for a 12.5% alcohol result, if all goes well.
It is important regularly to press the cap of the crushed grapes down at regular intervals lest noxious bacteria develop on the surface. I presume it also helps provide colour and 'fruit', as all skins get in contact with the must.
Initially one has to work hard on the cap, but after a couple of days it becomes easier to press it down.
|The cap of crushed Brant-grapes on the second day.|
|Brant "Suser" Sept. 2010|