Pneumatage: The Future of Pinot Noir?
One of the reasons Pinot Noir is such tricky wine to make is that just the right amount of tannin needs to be extracted from the grapes’ delicate skins. During fermentation, the cap floats to the top of the container and needs to be periodically resubmerged.
Winemakers have traditionally used pigeage (punch down) or remontage (pump over) to accomplish this. But both of these techniques often agitate the skins to the point that the seeds are separated in the must. This is one of the major sources of green, abrasive tannins that will not mellow with age.
In response to this dilemma, several Pinot Noir producers have adopted a method called pneumatage. Special attachments are installed on the bottom of tanks which inject air bubbles into the must.
The bubbles mix and resubmerge the cap into the must with significantly less trauma than pigeage or remontage. Structure and pigments are imparted in the wine without releasing the harsh tannins that are found in the seeds.
Pulsair Mixing Systems is one of the leaders in developing this new technology. Pulsair produces a number of tank installations to, “harness bubble power.”