DELLA TOFFOLA is a familiar and well-respected supplier within the wine and beverage industry world-wide. In business since the 1960s, DELLA TOFFOLA designs and manufactures high-quality equipment for wine processing, filtration and packaging and has grown from it’s modest Italian roots to eight manufacturing plants and branch offices across six continents, including DELLA TOFFOLA USA, based in California. DELLA TOFFOLA has been responsible for introducing several innovations over the years including the first vertical stainless steel press, the central membrane press, their widely popular ceramic membrane filtration system and now the Biothermo Cooler Vinification System, their version of a Thermoflash.
Although the original technology has been around Europe for a decade or two, the process, offered by DELLA TOFFOLA, is finally taking hold in the U.S. Thermoflash, known widely in Europe as “flash détente”, is a process of thermovinification created during the 1990’s in France. It works by heating the must of crushed grapes to a set temperature (usually around 185°F/85°C) then sending the hot grapes to a high vacuum chamber where temperature drops quickly causeing some of the liquid in the must to “flash” into steam. The rapid expansion of steam causes the cell walls of the vacuoles in the skins to break open allowing immediate color and tannin extraction while also releasing aromatic compounds. The evaporated water is then put through a condenser and remains as a separate byproduct or gets added back to the must later for fermentation.
The process of flash extraction allows wineries many different processing options and can be used in conjunction with traditional winemaking methods. Initially, European winemakers used it save time by immediately pressing the flashed fruit, thereby allowing red grapes to be fermented like whites. It was also used for under-ripe grapes or to remove the mold characteristics during a tough harvest. This so called “liquid phase” method of using Flash is less common in California as many winemakers prefer to ferment on the skins, if only for a day or two. This leads to more traditional flavor and greater color stability.
Della Toffola is the main manufacturer of the equipment that performs ThermoFlash. Their Biothermo Cooler Thermovinification System is a top of the line piece of equipment. There are about 50 units worldwide with most of them being in Europe, but this technology is starting to take hold in the new world. North America has around a dozen units across California, Virginia, Texas and Michigan with Californian winemakers pushing the boundaries on what they can do with this technology.
“The Thermoflash process gives winemakers another tool to craft style” says Rick Jones, a winemaking consultant for DELLA TOFFOLA and well-known winemaker and innovator in the industry. “It gives greater and more stable wine color, removes vegetal or other unwanted grape aromas, lifts overall fruit expression and generally opens new avenues for making wine. Most wineries use it to help remove vegetal characteristics or help with color and tannin extraction, but new uses have been found such as barrel fermenting of reds, co-fermenting with traditional fruit or to mitigate unwanted aromas that you couldn’t previously remove, like smoke taint, for instance.”
Smoke taint is obviously an important concern considering the wildfires in California. Winemakers have also removed other unwanted air borne aromas from grapes (e.g. diesel exhaust, eucalyptus). One winemaker coined this ‘airoir’. The removal of unfavorable aromatics works great in the new world where regulations allow for the removal of the water byproduct which contains all the unwanted aromatics that are absorbed in the skins of the grapes.
“I think this technology has only seen the beginning of influencing winemaking styles,” remarks Jones. “The true test is getting these winemakers to maximize the use of the technology and figuring out what it can really do for their wine quality and finished product.”
DELLA TOFFOLA will be in attendance at the UNIFIED Wine & Grape Symposium (BOOTH #1028), January 24th and 25th in Sacramento. Come along and find out how DELLA TOFFOLA equipment can meet the needs of your winery today.
For more information on Thermoflash, Rick Jones will present “The Evolution and Quality Impact of Flash Détente for Eastern Winemakers” at U.S. Wine & Beverage Industry Expo (USBevX) on Wednesday, February 21st in Washington D.C.
For more information and orders, go to www.dellatoffola.us or call 707-544-5300.