It is bound to happen to all Winemakers at least once I tell myself. This makes me feel better. Almost better …Well not so much…
In 2012 I made Cabernet Sauvignon using 2 grapes. Having made the Lanza Cab, the Koch Cab along with Tembrink Cab calling it Trio in 2008 with just 2 out of three available in 2012 I called it Duet. The wine turned out fine. Really nice. I put it in a variable top tank in my wine room in December of 2012 and it remained there to be put in a Barrel this November.
We had a very hot summer and my cooling AC was not working properly. Temperature got into the 70.s and this was freaking me out being so far away in Florida. Dave and Anthony were on top of it but the solution in the end was to change the unit which we did not when I was away. Dave did add K meta to the Barrels and Tanks in August.
When I returned in October I tasted the wines expecting the worse. I was pleasantly surprised the wines were all ok. Whew!! I got lucky. At our first pressing for this season in October, during lunch, I went into the Cellar to get some samples for the guys to taste. I drew off some Duet and other wines as well. We enjoyed all of them and I was further assured no harm came to them during the summer.
One week ago I bottled my 2011 GSM and my 2011 Lanza/Musto Sangiovese. I filled the barrels with 2012 Gamay which was in a tank next to the Duet. I still had some wine left in the tank so I filled a carboy with the remaining Gamay but I was a gallon short. I decided just to hook up the hose to the Duet Tank and fill the carboy with it. All was fine, then I grabbed the ladder to lower the lid on the tank. I use a plastic elastic drum cover on top of the tank to keep dust out. When I removed the plastic cover I was hit by an unmistakable smell. OH NO IT CAN”T BE! 25 years of winemaking, on many occasions tasting old timers’ wine loaded with VA and after 25 years now it is my turn. I turned to Anthony my heart sunk in my chest. Anthony I say, the wine is ruined. He looks perplexed ,there must be a solution no? No there is no solution. You mean you can’t fix it we fix all kinds of things he says. Nope we can’t fix it. Amateurs at least can’t fix it. To be sure we have a taste. Not that I needed convincing. So here is a beautiful wine which you can still recognize almost totally obscured by VA. And all this occurred in 8 weeks. Why? I forgot to lower the lid when I took wine out of the tank when we were having lunch is my only guess.
Are there any lessons here to learn? Yes there are many. Let the discussion begin. Those who hate Variable Capacity Tanks are invited and welcome…..
Volatile Acid VA in Wine. A flat note for a Beautiful Duet
A Marty Yule Production
OK Get ready here we go….. Today the M&M Wine Grape Company delivers once again and for the last of the 2013 season. This time it is a half ton of Rutherford’s Siverado Six Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say… well…can we say?…. BStuffer? Yep. That won’t google I hope. And a very nice surprise which I did not expect. Instead of the Paso Robles Petite Verdot we were expecting we received the Atlas Peak Petite Verdot. This represents a first. The first time making Napa Petite Verdot. I am very excited about this surprise development.
Keep in mind personal matters required these two varietals to be crushed and frozen under the direction of Frank K of M&M otherwise know as Frankie Juice. Under his care these grapes were treated with So2 at the crush. Having them taken out of the deep freeze 3 days ago they arrived thawed with some slush at a temperature of 38 degrees. Both varietals dark as night and having the ability to stain your hands with simple contact foretells the future.
Like many grapes this year the numbers are not ideal and will require some adjustment. The samples were raised to 70 degrees for the following tests.
Siverado Six Cab Sav Brix 27.5 PH 3.98 TA ( are you ready for this?) .33
Atlas Peak Petite Verdot Brix 25 PH 3.96 TA .40
Expecting a TA Rise after fermentation and not really wanting one we are going to leave the acid alone. Yes we are not happy with the PH. That goes for both. We expect to adjust later.
We watered back, no acid , to 25 brix.
The yeast selection is still up in the air as we try to raise the temps in the winery with a heater to get these vats in the 60′s.
More to come …….
As most of us move into Seconday Fermentation. Whoa Chuckles! Did I just use the idiotic term secondary fermentation? Let’s start again. This year our dealing with Malo-lactic Fermentation is different than others. Most years our mission is to get through it and done with the least problems in a reasonable time frame. This year with the green light given to Co Fementation of ML bacteria with yeast brings us to observe, learn and above all try to document any differences or advantages to adopting this co fermentation protocol.
Here are the facts we are dealing with. We basically have early and late batches. The early Batches were inoculated at 18 Brix the Later Batches at 12 brix with the exception of Gamay which was inoculated at 6 Brix. The first batches were inoculated with VP41 the Later batches with Alpha. There is about 3 weeks difference between the first batches and the Last batches.
The Marty Yule famed Super Cultures were not used. All the ML bacteria was rehydrated at 80 degrees with Acti ML. for 15 minutes before pitching. One Note to Winmakingtalk.com Readers, to correct the advice given in that forum you DO NOT rehydrate ML bacteria with Opti-Malo.
So what are the results as of October 27 2013. In 37 days 3 wines are complete. Two from the first batches and one from the later batches. The Malbec and the Pinot Noir are done. And that was with all the extra racking off the lees dealing with the Malbec H2S problem. The Gamay , a later batch wine is done in approximately 21 days. Let’s assume the Gamay had very little Malic Acid Content as the Lake County Cab, Atlas Peak Merlot are still going strong showing good progress. The laggard an early batch wine seems to be the Sangiovese but it too shows a good deal of lactic and the most recent Accuvin test show a reduction more than half.
As I stated previously I usually think in terms of December 1 to December 15 for Mlf completion. In any case all of the wines which are still going have at least until November 15 to complete using the time frame of the 37 days of the first batches. At this point I think it is safe to say we impacted the MLF time frame in a big way but in 15 days that will be proved even more with results of the Merlot and Cab.
What I am looking for now is the see the progress with Accuvin in one week on the Merlot, Lake County Cab and the Sangiovese. Then in 2 weeks a Chromatography Test of these wines.
Will someone with Primitivo and Petite Sirah do a test. Please! Bunch of Cheapskates.
For the sake of Convenience let’s continue the discussion here….
Sorry to divert from our 2013 Fermentation Posts but I could not resist this. It is no secret Winemakingtalk.com is the worst winemaking forum on the planet. I know, I can already hear people saying, “Oh you think you are so smart” Well let’s say I may not be the smartest but I sure can use common sense if I have it. So…. This beginner I guess, asks the following question, “So im removing my grapes from cold soak (5 degrees Celcius) and putting them at room temperature today. Do I have to wait 24 hours before I add the yeast?”
Here is the answer from one of the resident geniuses who by the way by his own admission uses his wife’s picture as his avatar because he is so ugly. It should dawn on him maybe his wife doesn’t want to be spread all over the internet as being a dumb blonde. Anyay here is the expert’s answer, “IMHO, it is not so much how long you wait as it is the temperature of the must. I would wait until the temperature was in the 70-75 degree F range (about 21-24 degrees C) before I pitched my yeast.” Humble maybe Dumb definitely.
So what does the bloke who asked the question say? “Thank you will do” Gee that was easy. Just ask anyone and proceed as if you just received instructions from a higher power.
Ok so no books involved, no fancy terms, no chemistry equations , not even years of experience, just common sense… To the dear poor winemakingtalk.com victim. Consider the following use your eyes, do you see your must start having activity around 58 degrees from wild yeast. Probably, K meta or not for sure when you reach 65, Ask your self a question isn’t white grapes in the production of white wine often fermented as low as 58 degrees and certainly in the sixties? A little more difficult question, Doesn’t Co2 produced from fermentation protect the must and stall the growth of all sorts of unwanted bacteria? See! that was easy. Now you know what to do and you didn’t really need to ask a moron for advice.
It’s too bad that was the only response to his question, none of the other experts on Winemakingtalk.com bothered to save the poor bastard. Maybe they don’t read their own forum. Who knows maybe he will read it here. Or I might have to create another alter ego and infiltrate the evil empire. How about Captain Martini Superhero?
Now Back to your regularly scheduled program…
With almost all of our fruit going to press I thought it would be a good idea to start the conversation here. The Sourcing Grapes post has 125 comments and it gets a bit tedious to have to scroll down to read the latest comments. So we can continue our discussion of the 2013 season here. So let the conversation continue. I know Dan is having fits about PH and many of us are dealing with high ph wine this season.
As the Harvest approaches we will keep a running up date on Harvest and Varietal Information for the 2013 Season. The latest information still indicates the season will be early. The temperatures have dropped to the 80s in Suisun and in the 50′s at night. Perfect and it should stay like that for the next 10 days according to the weather reports.
Here are the latest sugar levels at the Lanza/Musto Vineyards of Wooden Valley Suisun California.
Merlot Lanza Musto– 20.00-21.5o
Cabernet Sauvignon – Valley, Scarlet Ranch – 17.50-19.50
Cabernet Sauvignon Koch – 20.00-20.50
Petite Syrah Scarlet Ranch – 19.50 – 21.00
Syrah Valley – 20.00 -21.00
Malbec Lanza Musto – 18.50-19.50
Primitivo Lanza Musto – 19.50-21.00
Sangiovese Lanza Musto – 20.00-20.50
Gamay – 18.50-20.00
Sauvignon Blanc – 19.50-20.00
Pinot Noir – 18.50-19.50
As usual we will update as information becomes available.
In addition Frank Musto and the M&M Grape Company have added to the Beckstoffer Grape offerings in Napa with additional Napa sourced grapes and for the first time will be sourcing grapes from Lake County. Another M&M Grape Company First! More to come on this.
Yeast, Enzymes, Additives and other stuff
The theme of this blog piece so as not to confuse anyone reading is, Please Grow the Freak Up! I hope after you read this you will understand why I say this. To begin, when I read WinemakingTalk.com I am astounding at the complete stupidity of the questions of most of the posters. It’s like, Oh Gee hmmm let me just go ask a question instead of doing anything on my own to figure something out. What yeast should I use? Should I use yeast nutrient? Do I need to top up a barrel? What is ML Bacteria? And it goes on and on endlessly. One guy scratched his food grade fermenting bucket and wanted to know if it needed to be replaced. That question produced about 8 comments from the “experts”. Also, I have noticed that the difference between WineMakingtalk.com and Winepress.us is growing. One can almost say despite repetitive questions Winepress.us is becoming the Gray Haired Lady of Winemaking Forums. That’s a positive development as far as I am concerned.
Oh yes back to the subject. Let’s start with yeast. What yeast should I use? Use any dam yeast you want, all will ferment your wine. But if you have reason to think one yeast will develop your fruit better than another, read yeast charts from the manufacturers. After picking one, or if possible two, and splitting a batch then you will know which one you like better. Do this over 3 years with the same fruit and then you can offer advice to others. Otherwise shut up and read. One thing if your grape is under ripe use GRE. But you can read about that too . And don’t use Montrachet no matter what anyone says. Well that about covers the subject of yeast.
Yeast Nutrient. Use it! Well that wraps up that subject. Oh which one? Not that many choices. You should be able to name at least 3 if not start reading.
Additives. Additives come in many flavors and colors. All have specific uses. A good place to start understanding their uses is the Scott Fermentation Catalog. Don’t have one? Don’t make wine then. Make Skeeter Pee instead. This arena of Additives is not that easy to master. For example Booster Rouge or Opti Red, which one? Well you can read the description of use but I have been using both year after year many times on the same fruit and I still have a problem telling the difference. Noblesse seems to be good for under ripe grapes. Zac reports this. I have no reason to doubt him but I have never used it myself. Wood Dust is good also in the fermenter when dealing with that problem too. Which ones to buy? Greg Perrucci sums it up nicely. Have all of them in your cabinet to deal with any situation that comes up.
Other stuff. I dare even bring up the subject of Malolactic Fermentation. Just do it and do it with expensive ML bacteria and Nutrient so you don’t have to moan and groan like you are in labor on Winemakingtalk.com when you MLF isn’t working.
Well that about wraps it up. Now if anyone has any questions on what experiences any of us may have with certain products make sure you do a little research and display that in your question before you ask. I am sure all of us will be more than happy to share our thoughts with you.
Boy that felt good!
I put my order in with Kendall farms this year. getting excited already its looking like a great year.
I always give them my first choices and an alternate . But Lisa says its looking good for my first choices. Sangiovese from washington can be hard to get.
1000 lbs of sangiovese
1000 lbs of merlot
and 1000 lbs of pinot noir.
I’d also like a couple hundred litres (drum) of reisling juice (alternatively gewurtz or pinot gris , I’m a big Alsace fan but open to anything but chardonnay)
If those reds aren’t available I’d consider making a bordeaux blend as bordeaux vareitals are always available even in a tough year . (but this is supposed to be a good one)
so the order would look something like
1000lbs cab sauv
500lbs cab frank
and the drum of reisling
What are you guys thinking of making in 2013?
Suisun Valley Who? I would bet that reaction is about to become a thing of the past. With Caymus moving in to the valley in a very big way Suisun Valley anonymity is about to end. Mind you this is not just purchasing land for vineyards. On the contrary this is a major league investment in infrastructure being able to produce 5 million gallons of wine and 500,000 gallons of spirits a year. Economics must be ruling the day when it is widely known that growth potential in Napa Valley is over. What better place to expand than Suisun. Since 2007 Ron Lanza of Wooden Valley Vineyards and Frank Musto of M&M Grape Companyhave convinced serious Amateur Winemakers and the Westchester Amateur Winemaking Club of the quality, expansive availability of varietals and value of Suisun Grapes. Ron Lanza and his family run Wooden Valley Winery and he and other grape growers for years have been trying to promote Suisun Valley as a wine-tasting destination. With a visitor center planned this will finally become a reality.
Lanza said, “Caymus has a big name and a great reputation. It will be good,” Lanza said. “It’s going to get press. This type of facility is going to get a lot of press, a lot of talk about Suisun Valley. Our biggest issue in Suisun Valley is awareness.”
Roger King of the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association expects more Napa Valley wineries to come to the area at some point. King added, “Like Caymus, they might seek to have facilities both in the Napa Valley and in Suisun Valley.” “Napa Valley has functionally gotten close to the point to where it can’t expand, won’t expand and doesn’t want to expand” .
Caymus’s venture will be a tremendous asset to the entire valley and all those who work so hard to grow some of the finest grapes in California. Congratulations to all our friends in Suisun!
You can read the entire story… here
Finally the Grapes arrived today and I am happy to report that all the varietals are in excellent condition.
We are getting quite a bit of Malbec and by all accounts at first inspection they are in terrific shape. Our one ton will be crushed on Thursday and frozen for a September delivery. I know Al Battista can’t wait. If you want further details for your labels these grapes from the town of Placilla in Colchagua and are grown on the Estate of Santa Rosa by Don Eduardo
Not the hand of Jesus but certainly the caretaker of the grapes for this Club. Frankie Juice inspecting the Malbec. Heck they really look beautiful!!! Thanks Frank Musto and your team.
Numbers posted in the Comments below.
Our Malbec being crushed and Frankie Juice reports not a bit of mold in site.
I would like to thank Zac for this contribution. I decided to take Bzac’s comment on our Winemakingtalk.com Fact Check Service and re-post it as a separate blog piece. The information below is too good to get lost in the comments.
The adding raisins post primary came up on www.winepress.us from someone who saw it on WinemakingTalk.com. the infection of bad advice spreads! anyway here are my thoughts on the practice.
I used to add raisins to kit wines during primary ferment to give the some more tannin and body.
These were very cheap 4 week kits .
After much experimentation and many kits , I stopped using raisins , instead tweaking kits with real grapes I had crushed stemmed and frozen in 5 pound bags . I’d add a bag or two to a kit or juice pail.
There are some fundamental problems with using raisins in a grape wine.
The primary one is that they are so oxidized and browned they contribute these sherry like oxidized flavours to the wine.
With cheap 4 week kits the oxidized character was masked a bit by the challenging flavours of high levels of concentrate in a 4 week kit (KT) when young , but as the wine ages these oxidized flavours from the raisins become very noticeable when the wine has been in the bottle for a year or two.
With a juice pail or higher end kit with lower levels of concentrate the oxidized character from the raisins is noticeable pretty much from the get go.
This is why the kit industry moved away from including raisins to supplying grape packs . Ask Tim Vandergrift , he’ll tell you directly that’s why WE don’t use raisins , favoring grape pack instead.
Adding raisins to a wine post primary (after the initial batch is dry) is a weird choice and risky.
Adding more sugar post primary does introduce problems. The worst of which is a much increased risk of h2s because the yeast has used up the must’s nutrient , adding more is not a good idea at such a late stage because the yeast population is already at the end of its life cycle . Additional nutrient would also become fodder for spoilage organisms.
Adding raisins during primary , the large active yeast population will metabolize and buffer some of the raisins tannins and oxidized character mitigating some of the negative aspects of using an oxidized product in your wine . But adding them later misses this benefit so the oxidized character will be bolder in a “secondary ” raisin addition.
Adding raisins after primary also greatly increases the risk of a stuck fermentation as the weakened and spent yeast population being reintroduced to sugar can get stuck , leaving residual sugar in your wine and all the problems associated with that.
Adding MLB and raisins together does increase your risk to, there is a potential for increased levels of Volatile acidity and the MLB also increases the likelihood your raisin sugar ferment will get stuck , again introducing all the problems with that. This is even more likely given your spent and weak yeast population.
In summary , as someone who has years of experimenting with kits and pails and has dozens of unsuccessfully tweaked batches under his belt , I would strongly advise against post primary raisin additions . Save your raisins for country wines using dark fruit.
Adding raisins post primary is just about the worst advise I’ve ever heard of.
If you want more tannin and better mouth feel , adding enological tannin and SIY products will produce much better results. So will buying a lug of grapes , crushing and stemming them and freezing them in 5 pound zip locks , one 36 pound lug will give you enough grapes to tweak 3 to 6 kits or pails , just make sure you add them during primary.
It is quite common over the years to have to deal with this subject. The conversation usually occurs when a new winemaker who joins us asks what should they make for their first time wines in the hobby. As emails go out to members on potential varietals being considered and/or a new winemaker attends a Westchester Amateur Winemakers Club tasting dinner, the new wine maker often gets either confused as to what to make or, you can’t blame them, decide they want to make a Beckstoffer or a Lanza Cabernet.
This is when I have to add a little perspective to the new winemaker’s decision making process. The conversation usually goes like this. So I ask, well what do you want to make? The answer is usually, “I really like Cabernet Sauvignon”. My next question is, “that’s great but what do you want to drink during the first year in which you made wine?” Puzzlement on the face is the usual reaction. I go on further, “Are you prepared to get involved with barrels at this time?” The answer is usually, “well I wasn’t thinking about that for this year, do I really need a barrel?”
I then try to make the entire affair somewhat easier. First you are going to be so excited about making wine you are going to want to drink it as soon as possible. This limits the choices of varietals you can choose from. A nice Zinfandel can be enjoyed very early and lately the availability of Lanza/Musto Napa Gamay can be even a better choice. Secondly if you want a longer term wine then you can purchase a small barrel and make an additional amount for that barrel knowing that you won’t be able to drink that for at least 12 months or longer. So if you are planning for a 6 cases of wine to drink you better make 15 gallons of an Early Drinker and 15-30 gallons of wine for a 15 gallon barrel.
I am sure you get the idea.
But what prompted me to write this piece was to see what the experts here think the best way to make an early drinking wine. As I stated two varietals Zinfandel and Napa Gamay are great varietals to choose from but what can one do from there?
For example Try to keep the TA on the low side?. Live with a higher PH?. Don’t use Enzymes? Press Lightly?
What strategies do you think will make an early drinker? I await your thoughts.
This latest bit of WineMakingtalk.com’s Moderators displaying dumbness goes to the perennial bitch, Super Moderator Julie. I was originally going to post this as a comment in fact check but I thought it deserved to be noted by itself. It seems a discussion on “Back Sweetening, How much Sugar? the thread takes off with that very question being asked. The first respondent, Julie gives her advice. Then various posters give their advice and some suggest other web resources and on line calculators. All is well until a regular poster there quotes a link to a post on Winepress.us. Unbeknownst to the poster a line has been crossed. This does not sit well with the Super Moderator as Julie responds to the original poster with. “Well tmmii, You receive a lot of good information and I am just hoping that you don’t see the need to go to another wine forum to get your answer like the link above”.
Don’t see the need? Really? Let’s get Real. Far be it me to defend Winepress.us. But the simple fact is some very experienced Amateur Winemakers post there and share an inordinate amount of great information on a regular basis. Anyone who is really interested in Amateur Winemaking knows this. If any Amateur Winemaker needing advice from an online forum it would it would serve them well to go to Winepress.us certainly not Winemakingtalk.com. The arrogance amazes me. This pea brained Julie The Super Moderator is one of the biggest problems on Winemakingtalk.com. It is too bad she can’t even recognize and accept good information from any source, be it Winepress.us or not, on a forum she moderates. Read it here…..http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/f5/back-sweetening-how-much-sugar-38380/ Shame on you Winemakingtalk.com Owner WadeE
Paul Gregutt can wax on about his new found ability to “make wine” yet he fails to post on his blog anyone who questions his posts. After all Critics can never be criticized. It is a Golden Rule they invented for themselves. And then… We get to Steve Heimoff who to his credit did not remove my link to this blog on the silliness of Paul Gregutt’s blog piece. But Steve’s sensitivities were so shaken he responded here saying my opinion of Paul Gregutt’s piece made him sick. Well fellow winemaking aficionados, I wonder if these elitists can take this bit of criticism thrown their way. Should we call the EMT’s for Steve? I am sure this will make him very sick. Read the story here