Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The two ferments are blended

With both the stainless steel and the dustbin ferments reaching 995 on the specific gravity meter (the indication that the sugar is pretty much gone and the alcohol is there), the two were 'blended' yesterday.

The dustbin ferment (including its five oak chips) was tipped into the variable capacity tank to spend some time on lees. Now it's a question of waiting and stirring and tasting.

In the meantime, I ran some tests on the wine at a nearby winery. The pH is at a healthy 3.27 (pretty much exactly how I wanted it) although I am slightly worried that the stainless ferment was harvested a little early and is, in winetasting parlance, a little 'linear'. I'm hoping time on lees and the riper dustbin ferment will balance and round it out.

A free sulphur test (see Jekyll & Hyde-type lab picture above) put the sulphur at 16ppm (parts per million). A little on the low side. To bring it up to around 30ppm, 4.5g of potassium metabisulphate was added. Hopefully that should help keep the oxidation away.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The ferments

The two 'cuvées' were innoculated about a week ago. The wait for the stainless steel tank to get under way was getting too fraught with worry, so in went the yeast.

Both are now going strong, with the stainless steel tank nearly done and the dustbin proving that plastic, like concrete, is actually pretty good for fermenting wine (its temperature has remained at a constant and rather cool 19 degrees Celsius, compared to the stainless steel which got up to around 22 degrees a few days ago).

The daily routine consists merely of having to measure temperature and specific gravity (with the use of a hydrometer). It all gets noted in a little red book.

Despite the almost all-consuming effort that it took to crush, press and rack the juice at the beginning of the process, the demands (on time as well as physical effort) are now considerably less.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The dustbin ferment

If you're wondering why there's been silence for a while it's because nothing much has happened.

Which is not entirely true. After racking the main 100 litres and leaving it, yours truly thought a few more would be good. So, with the help of a Kiwi friend who's working with me at the (proper) winery, we picked 100kg more last weekend.

Because I didn't want to tip the juice from the latest batch in with the (potentially fermenting) previous juice, I've used a black, 95 litre dustbin to do this one in. We managed to get about 60-70 litres out of it, which isn't bad going.

After three days settling (one day longer than I'd like), it was racked.

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Friday, 28 August 2009

Make your own wine: step one

Well, this is it. While it's easy enough to be a wine writer, a wine taster, and a wine critic, I've decided to go one step further and make my own.

So what are my parameters? Well, this was hashed out on a piece of paper in a Tapas bar in Galicia. A summary of the main points follows:

Grape: I want to make white wine and I'm in Spain - near Toro to be precise - and here I have two options: Verdejo or Malvasia. While I love the idea of making wine from a grape that goes into Madeira, I don't want to make Madeira. Also, I've only ever tasted one relatively decent bottle of Malvasia, and it was Swiss. So through a negative process of deduction I've ended up with Verdejo.

Luckily Verdejo ain't half bad - nice, aromatic wines with bright fruit and moderate acidity. However, it can have something I dislike in white wines: it tends to be quite glycerol-ly. So we'll try to avoid that. Now I need to negociate a price with one of the locals.

Space: once the local group of kids has finished using our small shed for their parties during fiesta, I've got a quite dark place to work in. Appropriately enough, it's on the 'Calle de las Bodegas'. It used to be a small winery (in this town, almost every family owns a ramshackle doorway in the Bodega [winery/cellar] street) but has been gutted. Luckily, the roof is new.

Style: Tough one this. Initially, I wanted to do everything in stainless steel - keep it all nice and clean and fresh. But a barrel came up. And you can't really turn that down. So I'm going for barrel fermented Verdejo. As for skin contact, that's yet to be decided and it will mainly depend on what kind of kit I'll have at my disposal. Aged in oak - no idea, but probably about six months.

All other considerations (bottling, labelling, type of cork, etc.) will be decided on later.

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