Tag Archives: Vintage

Stalks! Stalks! Stalks! Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project Day 6 Tannin Management

17 Mar

Pulling The Stalk Teabags out of the Vat 2 - FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Winemaking Project Vintage 2015 By Paul Kaan

We’re still focusing on tannin for the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project. This time it’s all about giant teabags … full of stalks, not, tea! Just like the seeds stalks contain tannins, flavours and aromas that we want to guide and layer into the wine. Check the “teabags” and a detailed walk through steep the biggest teabag you’ll ever see in the video.

 Dismantling the stalk teabag!

Pulling The Stalk Teabags out of the Vat 2 - FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Winemaking Project Vintage 2015 By Paul Kaan

The before shot! Making the stalk teabag on the day of picking. Checkout how green those stalks look!

Making a stalk teabag by Paul Kaan

Extraction of the Stalk Teabag DONE!

Pulling The Stalk Teabags out of the Vat - FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Winemaking Project Vintage 2015 By Paul Kaan

Amazing colour pick-up! First time ever I’d be happy having anything to do with Tie Died Cloth!

Muslin Cloth Stained With Wine Used to Make Stalk Teabags for the FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Winemaking Project Vintage 2015


It was the Best of Wines, It was the Worst of Wines! A Moldovan Vintage Retrospective!

9 May

Château Pichon Longueville

A MOLDOVAN VINTAGE RETROSPECTIVE – It was the Best of Wines, It was the Worst of Wines!

Vintage 1996 in Moldova was “The Best of Wines and  the Worst of Wines”.   It start with a bang, the filthy good vino flowed from day one and continued with a quick blast through the great vineyards of Bordeaux, Mouton, the Pichon’s, Ducru-Beuacaillou, Beychevelle, Pavie, Figeac and more. Reflection on this vintage are more about a rich life experience than a winemaking one!

A Line up of Filthy Good Vino to kick off the 1996 Northern Hemisphere JourneyChâteau Pichon Longueville

The Best of wines: A Line up of Filthy Good Vino consumed amongst friends and the great Château Pichon Longueville

Moldova is a tiny country a little smaller than Switzerland sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine just above the Black Sea.  It gained it’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1989 and was still very much an Eastern European state in 1996. I travelled in with a good friend whom I had studied winemaking with.  We belted ourselves into a row of four seats held to Moldovan Airways only jet aircraft by two bolts. We flew low, mostly because the cabin was not airtight and could not be pressurised, it was freezing!  The aggressive flying suggested that the captain may have been an ex-Russian fighter pilot.  Three hours later we arrived in Moldova.

An hour later the customs officer finally turned up and signed us into the “Big Book of Names” and took US$100 from each of us in return for a three month VISA.  On the way out we were greeted by a local who it turns out was our chauffeur,  not that we could tell from his broken English.

During our first few days we found out what we were in for.  I was to stay in the capital city Kishinev in a flat we were renting.  Funny,  we had no heating, no hot water,  toilets that barely flushed (often holes in the ground),  power eight hours in the day but we did have a phone and most important of all cable television with thirty channels BBC, NBC, CNN, ABC, MTV.  Bugger the basics as long as you can get plenty of TV.  There’s irony for you!

My mission was to go in make a million litres of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in a little over two months. With three more Aussie flying winemakers we made wine from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Our first visit to the wineries at Hinchesti and Bosieni took us through rolling hills covered with miles and miles of untouched forests, fields of sunflowers and grapes.  When we arrived we were greeted by the number two in charge, Nicholi.  After a bottle of wine (at 9 in the morning) he took us for a tour around the wineries.  We soon realised we were in for a big challenge.  The wineries all had these bizarre wine tanks that were made of steel and enamelled on the inside but externally were rusted and look like old nuclear submarines.  There were dirt floors and pumps that were relics from before the turn of the century and were larger than your average cow.

A row of Wooden outdoor Red Fermenters, Moldova 1996Close Up of the Cap of a wooden outdoor fermenter, Moldova 1996

Outdoor Wooden Red Fermenters, Moldova 1996

The Biggest Pump in the World with Paul D Moldova 1996

The Biggest Pump in the World with Paul D Moldova 1996

There was also a few hundred thousand dollars of new sparkling stainless steel state of the art machinery supplied by an Italian firm who had won a contract supported by an EU developing nations fund (probably by bribing every one who mattered with thousands of dollars).  Old versus New!  This was a vast contrast we saw often.  Even driving down the street in our chauffeur driven LADAs ($10 a day plus petrol) we saw brand new 7 series BMW’s (stolen from Italy and Germany under insurance fraud) flying by scores of shoeless peasants being carried by carts drawn slowly by lean horses.

The Lada & The Walnut Tree

The Lada & The Walnut Tree (Double exposed film with Saint-Émilion in the background)

Bribery was something that was rife in Moldova everyone was taking their cut. Every morning when I arrived at work I would be met by a line of Moldovans all wanting something.  They all spoke Romanian or Russian and hence we always had a translator by our sides to tell us what they wanted from us and what they could not do for us.  Putting this in context, the country has been through more upheaval and civil unrest in a few short years than your average Aussie will see in a lifetime.  Bribery is a legitimate means of getting ahead. On the flip side there was also a generosity and kindness of spirit, at US$1 for a litre of Rasputan’s finest, the Vodka flowed like a river. Meat, a scarce resource was, was regularly on the table.

A Typical Moldovan Supermarket. The shelves are bare! Moldova 1996

A Typical Moldovan Supermarket. The shelves are bare! Moldova 1996 (Double exposed film with a little bit of a cheese market in Holland in the background)

A Fortune Teller, Paid with Cigarettes, Moldova 1996

A Fortune Teller, Paid with Cigarettes, Moldova 1996 – Apparently we were all set to marry beautiful Moldovan Women (Double exposed film with Saint-Émilion in the background)

As far as the winemaking went, we soon realised we were not making wine, we were in damage control!  Things that took ten minutes to do in Australia took three hours for Moldovans paid only $30 a month.

Somehow we managed to make wine, not great wines like those of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Australia but not bad considering we had to make them with water that ran black, felt slimy and reeked of rotten egg gas.  The fruit that came in early was clean and pretty good quality over all, as the vintage progressed the rot set in and things went down hill rapidly.  It was one hell of an experience ranging,  through gastro,  food poisoning (probably from eating some funky mushrooms or an unknown meat at the wineries, the supply of which could best be explained by the decreasing population of stray dogs) and a broken limb or two.

A Pack of Stray Dog .. Dinner? Moldova 1996

A Pack of Stray Dog .. Dinner? Moldova 1996

Though it may be primitive by Western standards, traditions ran deep, the people of Moldova were always friendly and the country was going somewhere it was evolving at a rapid pace.  It was dragging itself up after the upheaval of changing from Communist Russian rule to being a free State and the turmoil of more recent civil wars.  Where it will end up who knows but at least it is going some where.  Moldova – An irreplaceable a life experience! Not so much of a winemaking experience.

A few of the winery crew, Moldova 1996. The big guy at the back in the middle fought in Afghanistan with the Soviets, could lift a 44 gallon drum and spent most of the day crunchy walnuts with his bare hands to munch on

A few of the winery crew, Moldova 1996. The big guy at the back in the middle fought in Afghanistan with the Soviets, could lift a 44 gallon drum and spent most of the day crunchy walnuts with his bare hands to munch on (Double exposed with Château Mouton-Rothschild’s First Year Barrel Cellar with empty barrels laid out ready to receive the next vintage)

You haven’t lived until you’ve swum through a vat of vino! BUCKET LIST!

12 Nov



If swimming through a vat of vino isn’t on your bucket list, stop reading this now. Go and write it down … RIGHT NOW!

The story has a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. 1st I got to swim through a vat of wine and 2nd it’s one of the reasons I hooked up with the Mrs … more on that after Andy’s story.

The following story was originaly published in “Assemblage” the Yering Station Newsletter in Autumn 1999.


The Dirt on the Dig Out by Andrew Matthews

Well it’s that time of year again when a years work comes to a head. Yes folk’s it’s vintage time. For the guys in the winery it means a constant slog of longs days and sometimes even longer nights.  However there is one thing that keeps insanity at bay. The dig out!  For the uninitiated, the dig out involves shovelling all the grape skins from the open vat fermentors into the press. In order to make it interesting Tom Carson our Chief Winemaker, decided that we should have a competition to determine the fastest digger.  Tom has one the last two dig out competitions, but this year there will be no repeat.  The guys want their revenge.  Now there are two things needed for a successful dig out.

1. The all important “gusher” this is when we can’t drain off most of the juice, so when the trapdoor opense the juice takes half the skins with it.  Tom always seems to get the gushers.  It’s probably due to the fact he gets to choose who digs out the vats.  I know it sounds like sour grapes (pardon the pun) but you have to admit it’s all a little but suspicious.

2. Technique.  There are two types of techniques used in digging out.  The first type involves the methodical approach of ensuring that your shovelling rhythm doesn’t change from the first to the last stroke.  The other type is to shovel like “a bull in a China shop” and get out as many skins as possible before you become intoxicated by the alcohol fumes.  I prefer this method.

There was an experiment by technique last year which we call the snow plough.  This involves using the whole body like a snow plough and forcing the grape skins out that way.  Needless to say the results indicated it was a complete waste of time although it did get a lot of laughs.


So, if you ever come to Yering Station during vintage and see one of the guys covered in grape skins and passed out from exhaustion, no he hasn’t gone completely mad, he has just done the dig out!



Getting back to the two reasons this story holds a special place in my heart. One day the valve that let’s us drain all the liquid from the Vat was blocked, sure we could have solved this problem in a number of less pleasurable ways, but, I would have missed the opportunity to tick one off the bucket list. So the solution, yes, it’s true, I got to swim through a vat of vino … yes it did feel AWESOME, all warm and fizzy … oh yes, it put a massive smile on my dial.

But, bigger and better than that, one fine day M, came down to the winery and was the only person outside the vintage crew to do the dig out for the year. Not only, did she borrow a pair of my shorts, which showed an ample amount of leg, but she dug with style and finished the dig out, solo, winning the non-vintage crew prize for fastest dig out and a little piece of my heart at the same time.  It’s true we’re now hitched and have another little wine lover on the way!

Oh, and by the way the prize for winning the digout is a Magnum of FilthyGoodVino = Grand Cru Burgundy. And, yes, it is shared with the entire vintage crew.