Carneros Vintners is installing a new flash détente system for the 2012 crush. During “flash,” water from grape skins turns into steam and explodes vacuoles in the skins of the grapes, for an immediate extraction of color from red grapes. Unwanted pyrazines come off with the flash water.
Barry Gnekow and Rick Jones are the winemakers really credited with helping to bring flash to the U.S. By now, a lot of people have heard about flash and how it works. It sounds like winemakers have been able to experiment and do some cool things with it too.
Traditionally, winemakers remove the heads of the barrels and need to do punchdowns to ferment reds in barrels but flash makes it possible to ferment reds in oak barrels without removing the heads from the barrels: With juice immediately pressed post flash, it can be pumped directly into barrels – skins and seeds are discarded. The color has already been extracted.
Lodi Vintners GM Tyson Rippey says his facility did hundreds of red barrel fermentations this way last season and could do thousands this season because results were eye-opening: The wines stand out and are great blenders, he says. “The winemakers we’ve done it for are blown away.”
"You mean that was in my wine?"... When winemakers smell the flash water, they’re startled by the concentrated aromas in the water that have been removed from their wine. Because of flash, a new term was coined: Terroir, one would argue, is soil driven. Now there’s “airwoir.” In addition to the veggie, green pepper smelling pryazinnes, there are other things in the air such as smoke that can wind up in grapes skins that may be extracted during flash. Two examples: In one startling instance, flash water from Pinot Noir smelled strongly like diesel fuel: It turned out that the vineyard abuts a major freeway and never really produced good wine before. In another lot, the flash water that was removed smelled badly of cow manure. It turned out the vineyard the grapes were from was next to a dairy.