Hand plunging with Rusty Mutt Wines

Oct 22, 2013

Farmhouse news

Hand plunging with Rusty Mutt Wines

Scott from Rusty Mutt Wines, in the McLaren Vale, has very kindly explained why his wine is not only so delicious but why it is so special.

What makes Rusty Mutt so special is our attention to detail. Because we only make small batches of wine we can use a lot more traditional but labour intensive methods to create unique wines.

The most important is hand plunging the ferments. Most of the colour and tannin found in a red wine comes from the skin of the grape. To extract the tannin, colour and flavour from the skins, they are fermented with the grape juice. Due to the production of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the ferment, the skins float to the top forming quite a hard cap This must be kept wet with the fermenting juice otherwise it will partially dry out and go off, leading to bad flavours in the wine. One method of keeping the cap wet is to push it back down into the fermenting wine, usually 2 times per day, by hand. This is called plunging the cap. The added benefit of hand plunging is the gentle nature of this method. Other mechanical methods can be used but these tend to create a great deal of pulp and mush in the ferments which makes pressing the skins quite difficult. Mechanical methods can also extract harsh or bitter tannin.

The second important stage in red wine making is pressing the skins. After fermentation we need to separate the grape skins and pulp from the wine. When the ferment finishes, the skins will sink and most of the wine can be decanted out from the top. The remaining skins are then loaded into a basket press. The basket press is very simple. The basket in a modern press is a slotted stainless steel screen that holds the skins which are then pressed using hydraulics to extract the remaining wine. Basket pressing is a very gentle method of pressing which, when combined with the hand plunged ferments produces a very elegant and smooth wine.

The results of these methods speak for themselves. The 2010 Rusty Mutt Shiraz was awarded 94 points by James Halliday in his recent Wine Companion. The wine has lovely aromatics with a very smooth and fruit driven palate. But dont let this stop you from cellaring it for a while either. The 2010 Rusty Mutt Shiraz will develop very well over the next 5-8 years and beyond.

Hand-picked, open-fermented, hand-plunged, basket pressed. Vivid purple-crimson, it has a juicy, supple palate with red and black fruits coated by McLaren Vale chocolate, the silky texture, the structure well balanced. Very attractive wine. 94 Points, James Halliday, 2014 Wine Companion