Making Wine | Passaggio Chardonnay

Making Wine with Crushpad

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Making Wine
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To get the juice from the grapes, one has two choices: press the entire grape cluster or destem the cluster and press only the berries. For my ’07 Passaggio, I pressed the whole cluster, stems but not the seeds, because I wanted to accentuate the fruitiness and soft structure of the wine. (In my ’08 release, I did destem some of the grapes just to test the resulting difference in body complexity, tannins, and fruit characteristics. So stay tuned to the critical consensus of the ’08 Passagio release!)

Because I was averse to replicating the oaky profile of typical California Chardonnays, I fermented my wines in two stainless steel tanks, not oak barrels. I also used different yeasts, which enhance the flavor of the grapes, to provide different style profiles and stirred the lees each week to enhance the mouthfeel. And in order to accentuate the crispness of the wine, I also chose to prevent secondary fermentation, or malolactic fermentation, which uses bacteria to impart the creamy, buttery textural mouthfeel so ubiquitous in California Chardonnays.

Finally, after months of tasting and testing, I decided to blend both styles into a single stainless steel vessel for aging. The result garnered gratifying reviews. According to Jeff Prather, wine educator with the prestigious Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, my ’07 Passaggio release was qualified as an auspicious debut:

“Upon tasting, we were more than a little surprised at this clean, round rendition of perfectly ripe fruit that was allowed to shine in its purity without the additional flavors of oak. What a find! It is such a fine first effort we can't wait for the next wine from this budding winemaker, Cindy Cosco.”

Passaggio also received three stars from Larry Walker, West Coast consultant for Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book and author of Classic Wines of the Napa Valley. Of course, making a critically acclaimed wine involves much more than the right grapes and chemistry. You also have to choose the right bottle, the right label, and the right closure. And, hardest of all for me, you have to get your wine into the marketplace.

Thank goodness Crushpad has an entire team of packaging and design experts who were there to help me from the outset. I knew my wine was going to be a different style of Chardonnay, so I wanted my wine’s packaging to be different, too. While I selected a standard Chardonnay bottle, I chose the ZORK closure for its uniqueness, its ease of use, and environmental attributes.

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