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Sourcing WIne Grapes in the Northeast in 2014

2014 September 8

Let’s talk about Ceja Pinot Noir  Outrageous!                                  Lanza Musto Sangiovese   ON THE WAY! 

ceja Merlot Lanza Musto

 

 

 

 

 

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
Mettler Ranch Mouvedre: Harvest later part of next week
Grenache: Harvest later part of next week
Chalk Hill: Later part of next week
Stagecoach: Harvest  later this week
Beckstoffer: Sometime next week 
 
 

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

Cab Sav, Valley (LV) 18
Cab Sav 169 clone (LMP) 20.5
Cab Sav Koch (LV) 19.5
Chardonnay – (LV) 20
Barbara – (LMV) 19
Gamay Noir – (LV) 16
Malbec – (LMV) 18.5
Merlot – (LMV) 20
Mouvedre – (LMP)  18
Muscat Canelli (LMP)  23.5
Pinot Noir – (LV)  21
Petite Syrah – (LV) 20.5
Petite Verdot – (LMP) 19.5
Primativo – (LMV) 19.5
Sangiovese – (LMV) 19
Sav Blanc – (LV) 23
Syrah – (LV) 19
Zinfandel – (LV)  19.5

Joining the Crowd – Have No Choice Moscato what do you mean you don’t make it?

2014 August 27

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………

 

 

 

 

What did we know before Chuck Wagner of Caymus. Petite Sirah

2014 August 25

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.

Caymus in Suisun     Click here

 

Repeating a Wonderful 2011 GSM Wine in 2014

2014 August 16

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.

 

 

 

Transitioning from Kits to Grapes

2014 August 10
by Gene Fiorot

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Wine with Grapes in Poor Condition

2014 August 5

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.

Click here 

 

Research identifies yeast strain that metabolizes sulfur efficiently and with little or no leakage of hydrogen sulfide

2014 August 3
by Gaetano

Wine Business Monthly (click on the link to view) has an interesting article about “Research identifies yeast strain that metabolizes sulfur efficiently and with little or no leakage of hydrogen sulfide”, a lot of the info dealing with avoiding H2S has already been discussed here.

The article discusses “The Best Practices for Reducing H2S Development” and goes on to say “Levels of H2S where the rotten egg smell is pronounced may render a wine unsuitable for commercial use. Remedial actions, such as aeration to blow off this volatile compound and fining with copper, where the sulfide binds with the reactive copper to form insoluble copper sulfide, nearly always, when successful, result in somewhat diminished wine quality. The potential for the H2S to re-form at some future time, particularly under reduced conditions, e.g., in the bottle, is also a troubling scenario for winemakers.
With the popularity of the ever more ubiquitous screw cap, the problem of reductive H2S formation in the bottle has become more prevalent.”

What I found most interesting is that one winemaker commented that the non-H2S producing yeast produced wines that were “magical” in the elimination of H2S, she also commented that they “lacked complexity” and were “completely clean, straightforward.”

I don’t know if the yeast mentioned in the article is available to the home wine maker yet, but my question would be when do you know to use this yeast?
Normally, by the time you smell the “rotten egg” smell, fermentation is well under way, maybe I’m missing something.
The article also mentions that “With the popularity of the ever more ubiquitous screw cap, the problem of
reductive H2S formation in the bottle has become more prevalent”, I thought that wineries were converting over to screw caps because they were better for the wine?

With the 2014 fall wine season just around the corner, I’m interested in what everyone has to say.

Building a multipurpose wine bench and refrigerator

2014 July 28

Hello all, I hope every ones summer is going well.

 

Going into my third season making wine I am challenged with a growing supply of wine, where to put it all and how to control its environment.  Having grown out of the corner of the laundry room and wanting to keep the misses happy I examined my situation and arrived at the following conclusions:

I needed to create a “room” that would allow both cooling and heating for my fermentation and post fermentation storage.  That room needed a bench to work on, ventilation and ease of access to move wine in and out.  A place for all the “tools” needed for the wine… WAIT… I need a new house.

I can’t repeat what my wife said to that suggestion.

SO…

The next best thing I came up with was a space in the back of my garage where my current workbench is.  The space I decided to use measured out about 12 feet wide from wall to wall.  So I set about thinking how I should design this closet.  Initially I was going to build a two or three shelf vertical closet based on some drawings and blogs I have read.  Then, at the suggestion of a fellow wine maker I decided to go low profile and wide with a sliding partition to separate cool from warm.  The partition would allow me to adjust the size of each side of the box during the different stages of fermentation and storage.  When I am not fermenting any wine at all I can remove the partition completely – if necessary.  Pull off front doors on each half would allow me to slide carboys and roll barrels in and out with out breaking my back trying to lift them on and off shelves.

I designed a long bench type box with pull out front face doors.  Its interior measures 110 inches wide by 40 inches tall by 38 inches deep.  I used 2-inch thick foam board wrapped with a silver thermal liner used in attic insulation jobs that I had left over from my attic.  The insulation was built inside a 2×4 wood frame construction.  For the bench support I used 2×6 12-foot stringers.  The bench top was given a 2-inch lip to allow for the attachment of the wine bottler.

On the cool side I installed a 600 cubic foot wine refrigeration unit I purchased from Gene on the left side of the box that will provide cool storage.

If  I split the box down the middle, it gives me space to secondary MLF two 15-gallon carboys and nine 5-gallon carboys.  I plan on transitioning to the 15-gallon carboys as time and money allows.  That will allow me to ferment more wine and keep a much smaller footprint.

When all of fermentation is complete I can leave the fermentation door off and use the normal temperature inside my garage for cold stabilization.

Here are the pictures of the box in various stages of the build.  They uploaded back wards, the top ones are the finished build.

20140620-1372 20140620-137120140620-1373 20140619-1368 20140619-1367 20140619-1365  20140618-1358 20140618-1355 20140618-1354 20140616-1352 20140616-1353 20140616-1351

Making Wine with Frozen Grapes Is it the same as Fresh Grapes?

2014 July 24

The idea of getting Frozen Grapes actually Grapes destemmed and crushed has some excellent advantages  However all may not be the perfect picture you might imagine.   There are pitfalls as well.   Let’s talk about the advantages.   Probably the best one is being able to get grapes to a location where fresh grapes are not available.  The second is for a winemaker who has a logistic or timing problem where he cannot take delivery for fresh grapes or he cares to do a co-ferment and all the fresh grapes do not arrive at the same time or he wants to make wine at another time during the year.    Having Frozen Must also eliminates the need to do a cold soak  if that is the winemakers’s choice.  In addition one of the best advantages is getting Super Quality Vineyard Specific Grapes from distributors like Peter Brehm is the grapes are processed the same day as harvested.

Now for the negatives.   Not to be paranoid but I like my crusher completely sanitized before crushing my grapes.  A Crusher used for many hours even days not in my control makes me worry.   I know Frankie Juice and M&M Grape takes care of this so it is one worry I don’t need to have.  I like to see my grapes and evaluate them again Frankie Juice at M&M Grape takes pictures and gives me a verbal analysis besides performing the typical post crush testing.   Adding SO2 before the grapes are frozen is within parameters as to not interfere with ML:F is another concern one should have. The last concern I have when the grapes are in the hands of the distributor is how fast and good is the refrigeration to freeze the grapes as quickly as possible limiting bacterial growth.

Now on the other end of the supply chain when the winemaker receives the Frozen Must he must be prepared for at least the following.  There is going to be a long span of time before you get to the end of lag phase.   Getting the Must up to temperature is not not a simple task when you have a half ton of slush sitting in a vat. Another thing due the the freezing and thawing process be aware if you had any idea of a whole berry or semi whole berry crush fogetaboutit.    You will have basically Ugly Mash.   And Mash does not allow you to control tannin extraction especially if you a fermenting a high tannic grape nor does it allow you evaluate as much as you would a Fresh Grape Must.

Other issues are obvious it is expensive to ship frozen Must based on the per gallon of wine produced from a pail besides the cost of handling the grapes and for freezing.  But it does offer for the Amateur the opportunity to make world class wine otherwise not possible.  And that is all that matters.

 

 

Real Wine vs Kit Wine how Wine Competitions Work

2014 July 23

Before Seth goes off the hinges I thought we could have a reasonable discussion on the issue of Wine Competitions which merge Real Wine with Kit Wine. Make no mistake I know that is an inflammatory statement and headline but it is my ball and if you want to play you have to deal with it. One thing it will create an expanded readership which happens to be one of my goals. After all maybe those reading should consider us the National Enquirer and not USA Today. (Which the former  happens to be more accurate lately) Anyway I really don’t have much to add to the subject other than to learn some intricacies Zac can provide. If you yearn for inflammatory posts and need an adrenalin rush  then search “competitions” in the search box of this blog.

Take it away Zac

WineJudgingSheet    

WineJudgingSheet-1

 

Working with high Brix grapes

2014 July 4

The drought conditions and heat wave in California this season may have pushed harvest up about 3 weeks in some areas, reports of smaller crops have some winemakers concerned, smaller crops usually mean higher prices.

After hearing about potential higher brix grapes several times, including Gene posting about it (I figure that Gene has the inside scoop on grapes), it has me thinking…

How will I work with high brix grapes?                                                                                                                                                            
I would think that high brix would be considered 28+ Brix, last fall I didn’t have any issues working with Sangiovese that came in at just over 26 brix, as a matter of fact, I didn’t do anything differently.

With grapes that could potentially come in at 28 Brix or higher, (this is just a number I’m using since no one really thought that 26 brix was pushing the envelope too far, this is hypothetical) I think that the three most likely methods of working with such grapes would be:  Ferment at the higher brix , Saignee , or Dilution.

All three methods can pose their own problems –                                                          

Fermenting a High Brix must – All of the research that I’ve done online has been focusing on healthy fermentations, everything that we all normally do, using a hydration nutrient, selecting a yeast that has a higher alcohol tolerate, hydrating the yeast at proper temps, tempering the yeast prior to pitching, using a proper yeast nutrient and additions, and adding oxygen,
I realize that none of this is new or earth shattering, but I wanted to emphasize this to make a point that all of the advice given here is spot on and no different than the recommendations given from the experts at Scott labs and Lallemand. 
A big issue would be getting a wine with such high Brix through MLF, assuming that we are dealing with 28 Brix, at 15% ABV or higher, it would be pushing the limits of the Alcohol tolerance for most strains.                    

Saignee – Although I’ve never done this, I can only imagine that after removing a percentage of the wine and adding water to lower the Brix (I assume it would be acidulated water depending on the ), that the biggest concern would be diluting the concentration of acids and overall flavors.
Depending on how much it would be diluted, selecting a MLB with a higher alcohol tolerance would be necessary.      

Dilution – Again, I can imagine that the only disadvantage of diluting the must in order to lower the Brix would be diluting the concentration of acids and overall flavors.
Once again, depending on how much it would be diluted, selecting a MLB with a higher alcohol tolerance would be necessary.

I’m interested in hearing your experiences, how would deal with, or how you have dealt with high brix grapes, what were the advantages and disadvantages.

Gaetano

Sourcing Wine Grapes in the Northeast 2014

2014 June 26

Every year we start off the season with this piece. While it is still early I can report to my fellow winemakers we are in very good shape for the upcoming season. Of course we could have weather setbacks but if all continues as is we can count on the following things. First off Lanza grapes as most others will be in early and all at once like last year. I am told we can expect even better quality from Lanza as the crop load is less than last year which translates into better ripening. One should also consider higher Brix levels as a distinct possibility.

The sources of our Napa grapes remain the same as last year . With the possible additions of Merlot and Pinot Noir from Los Carnaros. I hope it comes to fruition as all of really have enjoyed these 2 varietals from that AVA.
From Alexander Valley there will be the Steward Ranch Cab Sav we made in 2011. Everyone is very pleased how this wine developed so we have the opportunity to go there again this year. But another amazing surprise is in the making from Sonoma from a very old and prestigious vineyard. I am pinching myself hoping this happens.

For a first time Lanza Vineyards will have 2 new varietals this year including Petite Verdot and Mourvedre.

When I speak again to Frank Musto of the M&M Grape Company I will update this page and report all the latest information on the upcoming season. So far it looks like it is going to be a doozie! I wish I could reveal more but I cannot publish it here at this time. Stay tuned

Fermentation Temperature One more thing to think about.

2014 June 24

I was reading Winemakingtalk .com for inspiration and oddly enough I found some in a thread discussing fermentation temperatures. The discussion centering around what grape would do best at a certain fermentation temperature. I know the expression “ Nobody is talking about the Elephant in the Room” but this thread was more like a room full of Elephants and the people in the room were trying to get to the other side without even acknowledging any of the Elephants. After reading and biting my tongue a few times I decide to go to the blog and use our search engine to see what we had on the subject.

The Search Results brought up numerous posts going back to 2010 on the subject but while the subject of fermentation temperatures are mentioned and discussed relating to a specific issue there is no stand-alone piece on the subject. So in the interest of providing as much information on fermentation temperature in one place I think it will be a good idea if we have this conversation in depth.

I know there will be many responses and I also know this topic is multi-faceted and loaded with various techniques and styles. So to begin before we all go off in the weeds let’s at least begin with some basic standard information that we all agree on. After we exhaust these then we can get in to the nuances and esoteric stuff if it suits you.

I will begin with the following:

Red wines

To lock in good color and extraction one should try to get a heat spike of 85 degrees somewhere between 18 and 12 brix.

To avoid residual sugar you are better off fermenting over 80 degrees than below.

You have a better chance of blowing off H2S above 80 degrees than below.

You are better off reducing vegetal character over 80 degrees if grapes are not as ripe as they should be.

White Wines

As a general rule White Grapes benefit from low fermenting temperatures as low as 65 degrees in some cases. However it is not uncommon for whites to be fermented in the 80’s.

Most yeasts can ferment at temperatures will over the stated temperatures on the product sheet for the specific yeast.

Well I suppose this is a good start for the conversation at least it recognizes the Elephants.

Malolactic Fermentation and high SO2 wines

2014 June 14
by Gaetano

Are the SO2 tolerances accurate or is VP41 just that good?

First a little back story:

At the risk of being laughed off the blog, I’ll admit it, I bought Chilean grapes from our friends at M&M, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc were beautiful, free of any major rot, all coming in at 23-24 brix, while the Merlot wasn’t as nice, much more rot, but with a little help, we were able to discard as much rot as we found.

I tested the PH, TA and SO2 with my Vinemetrica SC-300 using fresh solutions, and again, even though I’ve read about the high SO2 levels that you’ve run into in the past, I really didn’t think that the SO2 levels would be off the chart, I didn’t have to add more than 3 or 4 drops of the titrant before the SC-300 started to beep like crazy indicating that the test was complete.  Using the formula to calculate the ppl (or mg/l), this must was registering at 100 ppm or more!

I had no issues fermenting after a cold soak,  but I still was very concerned at the upcoming  MLF. After the alcoholic fermentation and pressing was complete, I tested the 3 separate batches of wine again getting the exact same results, to be honest, I didn’t think that MLF had a chance,  Lalvin lists the SO2 tolerances for VP41 as  SO2 tolerance : up to 60 mg/L total SO2.

I decided to use 1/2 gram of MLB per carboy in an attempt to compensate for the high level of SO2, I hydrated with Act-ML and added Opti’Malo to the carboys and hoped for the best. I was a bit shocked when I checked on the carboys the next morning, not only had MLF started, (on all except for the Malbec) it is one of the most active MLF that I’ve seen. I pitched another small dose of VP41 into the Malbec and it started as well.

So again,  is “ SO2 tolerance : up to 60 mg/L total SO2“ a tolerance level with a little wiggle room in it, or is VP41 just that good? My guess is a little bit of both, but I’ve been using VP41 on all of my reds and haven’t had any issues so far.

Any thoughts?

Gaetano

Malolatic Fermentation Before Alcohol Fermentation. No Sulfites too! Who Says?

2014 May 31

Chr. Hansen claims its new wine culture is a ‘fantastic launch’ that will greatly increase the speed and predictability of malolactic fermentation and remove the need for producers to use sulfites as preservatives

You think you have everything figured out and then someone comes along a upsets the Apple Cart.  So now we have a new advancement.  Does it apply to us?   Not sure but I have some serious questions?   With no SO2 how does one keep juice from fermenting for 10 days?  And at what temperature does one perform this MLF.  Can you trust the competition the ML Bacteria provides?  Lots of questions but probably the most interesting development in winemaking procedure in a long time.

Just a side note I never like Chr Hansen Oenococcus Oeni  have not used it since Alpha arrived many moons ago.  Slow as shit.  Always.  Just Say’in

http://www.beveragedaily.com/Ingredients/Red-red-wine-without-sulfites-Chr.-Hansen-promises-paradigm-shift