Volatile Acid VA in Wine. A flat note for a Beautiful Duet.
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…..