Every year there seems to be some surprise or unexpected event. I really can’t remember a year without one or two. 2014 is no different. But the last few sentences get forgotten when the next season begins. Maybe it is selective memory or wishful thinking you can get through a season without some issue making you sweat or at least leave you scratching your head for a bit.
Coming up to the plate this year was a variety of issues all different but still requiring attention and one in particular making me wonder. First up was the PH at the crush. Not great this year and requiring some adjustment. So you say what is the big deal. Well being spoiled for the past few years we were not ready for reaching for the tartaric jug. We did but seriously undershoot the first ferment, the Pinot Noir. Ending after with a ph over 4 we had to add some hefty amounts of acid just to get it to 3.8. So while this was going on Al Battista a relatively new winemaker, hearing of the PH issue lamented, ” remember a few years ago when we just finished MLF and didn’t even worry about PH?” Yes I do too but that was the Beckstoffer Heydays. Then you only worried about getting H2S in a vat with 10,000 dollars worth of grapes. Al, a virgin at the time, wouldn’t have appreciated that.
With the getting accustomed again to the Central Valley days the next up to come along was the ever changing, evolving but more annoying “How much nutrient should I use?” issue. So we went without DAP this year and the finishes were a little too slow for me. So I dope them up next year and that puts that issue to rest. But due to my pushing the time envelop I over heated the Must on the GSM and with its own heat generation combined it hit 94 degrees. When it got to 3 brix the yeast were pooped. Not quite dead but certainly wounded and questionable in the ability to get the wine dry. Not wanting to prolong the issue to find out, I inoculated with Uvaferm 43. Pressed at 2 brix and 43 took over and the wine was at minus brix in 7 days. Problem solved and lesson learned, don’ push the envelope the guys can work an additional day and leave their wives to do their nails.
Then we get to the head scratching part of the 2014 season. MLF. With the risk of sounding like a Winemakingtalk.com MLF Ninnie contributor, what went on here this year is worth noting. Armed with years of training and experience and fresh batteries in the flashlight for looking in the necks of carboys looking for micro sized bubbles is the standard procedure all are trained to do. As far as preparation this year was no different, cultures built 2-3 days before inoculation. VP 41 re-hydrated with Acti Ml and Opti Malo in the Must. All pitched this year at 2 brix. Pinot Noir was in a 300 litre tank with a carboy airlock. Some bubbling for the first week then the wine was taken off the lees and moved to another tank in a room that is 75 degrees. Very little airlock action after it was transferred which stopped in a few days. After 21 days don’t ask me why but we tested it and MLF was completed. Yippie. But here is where it gets interesting. The Cab Sav and the Merlot both pressed and kept in tanks with no air lock action at all. None, Zero , Nada. While the GSM looks like a volcano I explained that away as the end of final sugar ferment. But what to do about the Cab Sav and Merlot both at 75 degrees. Re-inoculate? At the same time 2 other members of the club who fermented Lanza Valley Cab Sav and Clone 169 Lanza Cab Sav reported no MLF action. They too followed my tried and true culture building and used VP41 as well. One of them had a carboy of my Merlot as well. On October 24 they reported Purple Accuvin test strips for all their wines. They too were thinking about re-inoculating. On November 16th I received a text from one of the winemakers and it went like this, ” You are not going to believe this but the MLF is complete on all the wines!” Well would I believe it? Yes if I has seen some bubbles. Think of a 300 litre filled tank expelling some co2 from MLF into a small bubble air lock. You have to see something at least the water pushed up on one side of the air lock not level water in the lock. Level airlock water is what there was. I also had one carboy of each as well, both were dead.
So Monday morning you know where I went after coffee. Correct, right down to the winery to test the wines. Chalk Hill Cabernet Done! Ph 3.67 Ceja Merlot Done! Ph 3.3 and the still bubbling GSM Done! 3.8 Ph Except for the GSM all done without any trace of Co2 ever. Go figure. So I call Al with dead carboys as well and ask him to test. Done! The only light I can shed on this is the both wines were in the vats for 9 days after inoculation and before pressing at 80 degrees. So did most of the MLF and Co2 happen then? Did the slow finish I complained about which led to extended vat time contribute to faster MLF. As an old Alpha user this was the first year I used VP41 exclusively. Does VP41 have a secret I don’t know about?
Ok I am ready for 2015 or am I ?
I wanted to give a big thanks to Gene for setting up a great Fall Winemakers Dinner, and a serious “hats off” to all of the wine makers that shared their wine!
For a bunch of wine (and in this case a bunch would be about 50+ bottles) that was supposed to be barrel tasting/young wine, there was a lot of really good wine!
Gene, I couldn’t think of a better place to have the party, Chef Paul Caputo is amazing, but I don’t have to tell you, if you were there, you will agree that every course was amazing, I don’t often say “I was stuffed”!!! The wait staff deserves a thank you as well for dealing will all of us; Javier and the team handled it in stride!
A real treat was being able to meet and discuss barrels with the good folks from East Coast Wood Barrels, these guys are very passionate about manufacturing the best quality barrels available, they will be making barrels to accommodate the home wine maker, they currently have 300 and 100 liter barrels in stock, and plan on making 50 liter barrels as well, using the same Romanian oak used to make the highly sought after French barrels at great prices!
I’m really excited about the upcoming Christmas party, I’m sure that there will be some serious wine there, as our fearless leader said “Bring your best”!
Gene, once again.. Thanks!
I will elaborate on this in a few days but for now I want to see if any of you can figure out what this is all about. You can expand the image to get a bigger view and you might notice the black out box which is hiding a sign for the name of this device and its purpose.
So winemakers have at it….
You may think the Title of this piece is strange but not as strange as this conversation I had with one of the members this weekend past. The subject of this blog came up in conversation and this member said, ” I guess your blog is like mine ( he has a foodie blog) not much is posted their lately. I looked at him as if he had 3 eyes. WHAT! Why would you say that? We have never had more participation in the last few months than any other time the blog existed. I went on, we have over 300 hundred comments on one blog piece alone. He smiled and sheepishly admitted he doesn’t read the comments. Doesn’t read the comments? Did I hear that correctly? Yes you did Gene. Just about then another member said, ” hey you know something up until last month I didn’t even know there were comments. I can’t really I can’t.
So for the Blog Challenged the following is offered as advice.
1. Read the Blog Piece
2. Scroll down as their maybe more that one new blog piece on the page
3. Scroll down and look on the right and you will see the list of comments made on various blog pieces where you can also comment.
I hate to say this but you can’t make this shit up.
Well it is not over yet but it is another year making wine in 2014. Saturday October 11, 2014 we took delivery of 135 Boxes, 4,860 pounds, 2.43 tons of grapes. almost 1.5 tons of Sonoma Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon the balance we cannot talk about. Those who are that curious will have to come to our dinner where we, under the influence of good Wine, we may reveal the other grapes. But let’s forget that for the moment even though I know some of you are dying to know. Please understand, I wish I could be more forthcoming but alas I cannot. If you can find it in your heart, please forgive me. In any case here are some pictures along with some captions of a very wet rainy day. If you want an expanded photo image you can click on the picture.
Here are a few things I have adapted using the Variable Capacity Stainless Steel Tanks. While we have discussed this topic before here are a few things I have been using with my tanks. The first issue is either doing an Alcohol Fermentation or doing a MLF in a tank. In both cases one can use the fermentation air lock on the left but while it works there are a few problems with it. The first is when CO2 builds up burps out in a blast. This usually leaves a mess on the surface of the lid. The second problem is you cannot observe the change in activity because you can’t see anything. Using your ear against the surface of the tank does work if it is quiet enough.
Using a bubble type air lock with a rubber bung solves the visual problem. But with high activity during a fermentation the water is pushed out of the air lock as well as wine and it makes a mess as well. I solved this problem as you can see by gluing a pvc pipe to the top of the Air lock. As a result no mess and complete visibility of the ongoing fermentation.
Sometimes it is not possible for a variety of reasons to keep a tank warm to finish Alcohol Fermentation and MLF. In the case shown here it was a matter of pressing early and wanting to finish on the lees before pumping it into the room for MLF. Space heaters work but the cost of electricity makes it less desirable. I fitted the tank with a 1000 watt drum heater. It keeps the tank as warm as I want, uses minimal amount of power and the thermostat works perfectly.
An East Coast Winemaker’s dream has come true. Finally, a Cooperage is now on the East Coast even better, located in the Tri- State Area. Yes! How can it get better you ask? Driving down a light industrial street in Westbury Long Island we arrive at the Cooperage. We are greeted by Michael Georgacopoulos the Direct or Sales for East Coast Barrels. From his first breath it is easy to see he is excited and proud of what they have planned for their new Cooperage. He says, the mission is to recreate a time honored European Full Service Cooperage in the United States which will produce excellently crafted barrels and provide re coopered services as well, but there is more. They love Amateur Winemakers and hope to service not only large wineries but us little guys as well.
George Voicu , President has set the mission for the company to introduce the highest quality Romanian Barrels to the United States. It is obvious he is pulling out all the stops to prove it. Directly from Romania are experienced coopers George Ivescu, Florin Bula, and Alin Tita under the direction of Master Cooper Ion Tita. While Ion does not speak English well since only recently coming to the USA it takes only a few minutes in his presence to know he takes his craft very seriously. He is proud to point to various aspects why East Coast Barrels separate his from the competition. And some of these are obvious.
First we learn the Oak used for the barrels comes from forests in Romania. Before we go any further, You might want to ask how much oak for barrel making is shipped to France. Lots. The wood is cut and air dried for 24 months in Romania then shipped to the USA where it continues to air dry for another 12 months. East Coast Barrels produce Thick Stave Barrels. Period. The wood is extremely tight grained and that coupled with stave thickness will mean long rather than short extraction and micro-oxygenation times. But fear not they have ways to deal with that as well. Before we get to that keep in mind you can have a successful Re-Coopered barrel when the staves are thick to begin with. So if you purchased one of their barrels when it comes time to re-cooper it you can be assured it will make for a successful reconditioned barrel. The result is two lifetimes for one barrel. Thus making barrel use more affordable for Amateurs. Something to think about.
In dealing with custom toast levels and extraction times East Coast Barrels has it covered. Ion Tita say’s through a translator he has the method to increase the surface area of any barrel by cutting grooves either in the staves or the heads. Topping that, he has a “secret method” to provide two different Toast Levels between the grooves and the flat part of the staves. When re-coopering a Winemaker has the option for this and to replace the heads with new oak. All of this should satisfy any requirements a Winemaker might have.
Talking more about being unique, Michael Gerogacopoulos introduced me to barrel I have never seen. A barrel made with Black Locust Wood. Super Tight Grain and slightly yellow in color I had to ask who uses these? He related barrels made with this wood are used in Germany and other countries for Whites like Riesling. On the subject of being a Green Company. They are doing their best and they are fussy as well. All the toasting is done by burning wood not propane. Ion Tita feels his barrels should have no chemical residue so only wood for the fires are used. Even wood chips and saw dust is used to create a flash in the fire when they are charring Whisky Barrels. Truly Organic.
What should Amateur Winemakers know. While the facility is still undergoing the last stages of construction East Coast Barrels will be making 100 litre and 50 litre barrels when they are up and running at 100 percent levels. Besides, how many of you have a thick stave Hungarian barrel needing re-cooping? Your prayers have been answered.
When we were leaving Mike gave us a few bottles of wine made by Frank K of M&M Grape Company which was in an East Coast Barrel. We can’t wait to taste it at our next crushing lunch.
Thank you to all at East Coast Barrels for providing Al Battista and myself a great visit to their Cooperage. Oh yeah I almost forgot I took home a Re-Cooperd Seguin Moreau Sixty. Need one? Talk to Frank K at the M&M Grape Company. They came from the famous Jordan Winery and originally in use for only one year. They have been Re-coopered and a few of these barrels are ready to go!
They got the votes!!!!
The people at Zemplen Barrels have asked us for our help in obtaining a grant. They need your vote. Please help them out.They wrote the following to me on Facebook. Click on the link it takes 2 seconds to vote.
We’ve applied for a grant sponsored by Mission: Small Business and we need 250 votes to even be considered.
It happens every year. Proud Puppy shows up in the middle of the week to destem his grapes on the loading dock of the M&M wine grape company. His fear that quality will be diminished when he drives the grapes to Manhattan where City Pollution can have a negative impact on his wine. So here he is again. Rain or Shine. And all you Sissies who make kits or juice and complain about just about everything on Winemakingtalk.com which disturbs your perfect little life, take note here is a Real Winemaker braving the elements to produce fine wines. He is advancing the hobby and toughing it out while you talk horseshit. Good Job Ron!
Let’s talk about Ceja Pinot Noir Outrageous! Lanza Musto Sangiovese ON THE WAY!
Update September 15 , 2014 Corrected Information in Bold Letters
Latest Brix numbers for Lanza
Lanza Pinot Noir: 24.8-25.2 Lanza Primitivo: 25-25.4 Lanza Merlot: 25.5 Lanza Cabernet: 25 Lanza Cabernet 169: 25 Sangiovese: 24.5-25.3 More on the way.... Should arrive this week.... Lanza Pinot Noir Lanza Petite Sirah Lanza Merlot Cabernet Cabernet 169 Sangiovese Tempranillo
Still not harvested.... Malbec Napa Gamay Riesling Syrah To be harvested Keep in mind at least 5 days after harvest to arrive at M&M in Hartford
Here are the latest arrival dates for grapes at the M&M JuiceGrape.com Loading Dock Please confirm these arrivals as they maybe off by a day listed.
Ceja Merlot Delayed
Ceja Pinot Noir IN NOW
Lanza Chardonnay IN NOW
Lanza Sauvignon Blanc IN NOW
Tembrink Muscat Canelli IN NOW
Lanza Merlot Sept 16
Lanza Valley Cab Sept 19
Lanza Musto Cab Sav 169 Sept 19
Lanza Malbec Delayed
Lanza Primitivo Sept 19-20
Lanza Zinfandel Sept 19-20
Lanza Pinot Noir Sept 19-20
Lanza Musto Sangiovese Sept 19-20
Russian River Pinot Noir Sept 17
No dates on Napa Cabs
No date on Sonoma Chalk Hill Cab Sav
No dates on GSM varietals and Napa Gamay
No dates on Koch Cab or Tembrink Cab
Also keep in mind some of the Lanza Vineyards are picked multiple times making for additional later delivery dates than listed above
Here are the latest Brix Numbers from the Lanza , Lanza-Musto Vineyards in Suisun Valley California available from the M&M Wine Grape Company in Hartford Ct. www.juicegrape.com
August 21, 2014
It just so happens and I have known this for a very long time Lanza Vineyards produce a wonderful Muscat Canelli Grape Juice processed including DE Filtering in buckets for Winemakers. Yes call me a sellout. Call me a Winemaker jumping on the latest trend. Call me losing my bearings. (balls by another name) But don’t call me Stupid. Miss Virginia wants Moscato well then I make Moscato. There are many benefits to do so. (Heh heh) And unfortunately it will not be a dry one either. As she said when I brought up that subject. Who drinks a dry Moscato? I was at a loss for an answer. I mused and offered ….. my Grandmother? That look nah, Nice try but that wouldn’t fly. So we are on to the mission to make a Moscato less then dry. Which brings up the first problem.
How Sweet is Sweet. Since Miss Virginia is the deciding factor as she is in so many areas, I figure I will let her taste a few commercial ones and decide which one she likes best then use the Clinitest to figure out the level of Sugar. Is this a good Idea? Look before you get all jiggly I don’t make freekin sweet wine. OK? So is this a way to determine sugar or do I really have to send this S**T to a lab to figure it out? You should be able to tell by now I am not exactly thrilled with this ASSIGNMENT. One one thing good about this is she doesn’t read this blog. She thinks I am too offensive. Come on give I guy a break. I’ll make you the (Damm) lovely fruity perfumey Moscato DEAR!
Ok your thoughts on that. Now on to procedure
ML Bacteria lives and thrives everywhere in my winery. Considering I am going to have to use Sorbate, my thinking is immediately after going dry when racking off the lees and using lysozyme at the same time as well. Then I want to use some reserve frozen juice and bentonite and PVPP for the winter months.
So the amount of Juice to reserve????? This is a measly 25 gallon batch. Thank God! The procedure ? Your thoughts………
Well I can’t be sure of the headline but the truth is we have known for years that the Lanza Family of Wooden Valley Suisun have been growing and harvesting the finest Petite Sirah we have ever made. And it is no secret they have won some very prestigious awards with these grapes in the hands of Rick Lanza. I guess Mr. Wagner was paying attention since his plans for the area include for starters a 100.000 square foot facility. The focus? Petite Sirah. Will Suisun become the Capital of Petite Sirah in California? Mr. Wagner seems to think so. I think you will enjoy reading about his extensive plans including moving half of his Napa Staff to Suisun. 2016 Caymus Special Selection Petite Sirah hmmm. Do you think we can make one to top it? Remember in 2007, we were all asking where the heck is Suisun?
Oh yeah I almost forgot Gallo is joining Caymus in Suisun too.
I received the great news that Frank Musto President of the M&M Wine Grape Company has secured for us our long sought after Amador Grand Pere Vineyard Grenache Noir. This sets the stage for a repeat of the 2011 GSM. In 2011 I was the only one who made this wine. The others were either saying “What’s a GSM” or I want more Cabernet Sauvignon. As it turned out they were sorry for not making it but on the bright side they have learned their lesson and now are All In for 2014.
In 2011 I used the following percentages Grenache 20 boxes 67% Mourvedre 3 boxes 10% Syrah 7 boxes 23% This added up to 30 boxes and after crushing I did a 10% saignee. I like to believe the saignee made a big difference in the final result. The Rose was less impressive as I sent it through MLF mistakenly and back sweetened it instead of reserving. I also drew it off too soon, 6 hours probably should have let it go 12-18. Anyone have advice on that I am listening. In the end I did correct the color so it resembled a typical light pink French Rose.
As I have been thinking about this year it occurs to me since so many Guys are wanting this wine what would we do with all the saignee? My next thought is not to saignee at all. Instead raise the percentage of Mourvedre 15% , the Syrah to 30% and reduce the Grenache Noir to 55%. Is this going to work? Is this going to produce the lovely 2011 wine once again? I don’t know. And it bothers me. So….
Another thought is to do a 10% saignee and have all the guys making it take home some Rose. They will have to increase the amounts of wine they want but we will have duplicated 2011. The problem I see here is if a Person is making 20 gallons they will receive 2 gallons of saignee. so what are they going to do with that. Unless guys can share a carboy amongst themselves. For a guy making a 30 gallon barrel they will need to get 35 gallons of wine and 3.5 gallons of saignee.
I wait to hear your advice to these questions and ways to proceed.
Advice for the Kit Maker…. Buy Grapes. Anyone want to add to this feel free.
Anyone trying to figure what this is all about well, Another bunch of defensive Kit Makers get their panties in a bunch elsewhere. So if you are capable of making wine from grapes for no good reason then you are a bunch of wimps and you shouldn’t consider yourself winemakers. I don’t even if you Zest and have cornered the market on Raisins. Not to burst your bubble even if Winemaker Magazine tells you are, you’re not.
Foot note http://www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?/topic/55672-comparing-kits-wines-to-commercial-wines/
While most of us are pretty lucky to have the M&M Grape Company as our supplier of quality fruit, there is always the possibility that harvest conditions beyond their control could have Winemakers having to deal with less than perfect fruit. In fact we are so spoiled we probably forgot what we learned years ago when dealing with some pretty horrible fruit on a regular basis from suppliers in the Tri State Area. In any case here is a nice article if you need to brush up on the subject. I am hoping we don’t have to deal with it but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.