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Wine Diary

Father Frost in the vineyard

October 25, 2010

During the past week, Father Frost paid a first visit to the Kamptal, with outside temperatures between 0 and – 4°C in the lower areas.

What is the effect of this cold air?
Firstly, the leaves are damaged to such an extent that they stop their productive activities. Most of them become discoloured and are easily dislodged from the vines by the autumn wind.

Harvesting just after the first frost is ideal; not to produce ice wine, as many people assume – for this one needs temperatures below -7°C – but for our regular dry top wines.

The frost destroys bad grapes and improves the best qualities. Inferior berries become even worse (frost taste!), good ones even better, finer, and richer in their aromas. The sugar inside the grapes is a natural antifreeze agent and protects them from freezing at temperatures just below 0°C. At the same time, aromatic molecules open up and make it possible to harvest particularly fine and characteristic Veltliner and Riesling wines.

On our vineyards Käferberg, Lamm and Loiserberg, the grapes are in wonderful condition, and generally the vines in our best vineyards show that they are perfectly equal to these temperatures.

The acidity of the berries is extraordinarily high, and we will be delighted if after fermentation our cellars are visited by our natural allies, the bacteria which cause the so-called malolactic fermentation, leading to a natural reduction of overall acidity. They are most cordially invited. To make them feel truly at home, we will ensure that the wine is still a little warmer than usual after fermentation.

This is particularly important for our Chardonnay and Pinot gris wines, which have just started their fermentation.

In vintages such as this one, a biological reduction of acidity is a crucial step in achieving the aromas we are looking for, and a little miracle to boot: after the alcoholic fermentation the aggressive so-called malic or apple acid is transformed into the more subtle malic acid and into volatile carbonic acid.

The wine tastes more rounded and more palatable and loses some of its bite, as well as a characteristic notes of green apple.

If the coming week remains dry, we will harvest classic wines such as Riesling Steinmassel and Grüner Veltliner Berg Vogelsang. We expect an alcohol content of about 12 or 12,5% - without any help from our colleagues from the sugar beet industry.
Father Frost paid a first visit to the Kamptal.
The frost destroys bad grapes and improves the best qualities.