Thursday, March 13, 2008

2007 Roberts Road Pinot In The Pod

Yesterday was super busy at the winery, so I did not get the chance to put the Pinot I received Monday into the Pod until late afternoon.

The fruit was in perfect condition when I popped the lids off the pails. I dissolved 6 grams of Efferbaktol granules in one liter of water and poured 250 mL of the solution on top of the fruit in each. After I poured the fruit into the Pod I put the last 250 mL on top.

I used 6 g of Efferbaktol (approx. 70 ppm SO2 added) because I was a little nervous about the final V.A. level in the last ferment – the Napa River Ranch Cabernet – where I added just 5 grams (50 ppm SO2).

I am more concerned with pre-inoculation microbial protection with this lot, since I am doing a deliberate cold soak. Once the fruit was in the Pod it was reading 25° Brix at 53.5° F. I turned on automatic temperature control with setpoints at 50° and 52° F – this is the range I want to maintain during the pre-fermentation maceration.

My plan at this time is to give the must a mix once or twice between now and Monday morning, when I will raise the temperature to 60°-65° F to kick off the ferment. Since this is Pinot, once the temperature is up I will punch once a day and wait for the cap to rise on its own before inoculating.

I need to dig in my commercial stash for some yeast to use. In my experience Pinot sensory qualities are more dependent on yeast strain than other varietals. While I love Uvaferm 43 for most Pod ferments because it almost never sticks, I have not been keen on the finished sensory qualities of the very few Pinots where I have used this strain.

The choice of yeast is complicated by the clonal makeup of the Roberts Road Vineyard, which I believe is Swan clone and Dijon 667. I really like how RC212 does with the Dijon clones, but prefer Assmanshausen for the heritage selections like Swan.

You might read this and think "why not just mix the two." Note that it is very poor practice to mix yeast strains. Some yeasts produce "killer" factors that inhibit other strains, and even when K factors are not produced differences in growth kinetics mean that the slowest yeast in any group is unlikely to implant. Mixing strains can be done, but you really have to know your yeasts.

I'm debating on whether or not to add any Lallzyme. I don't use it in my commercial Pinot production because in my experience and opinion the wines yielded by enzyme-treated fruit are coarser on the back of the palate than those where enzyme is not used. I consider this to be specific to Pinot. In fact my experience with enzyme use in other red varietals is the opposite – enzyme-treated fruit produces wines that have a rounder and more integrated tannic structure. To me this is one of the many examples of how Pinot is just difficult and contrary.

That said, the difference between the sensory of Pinots produced with and without enzyme is really "angels dancing on the head of a pin" – important to my commercial production, but the Pod presents a different set of criteria. In my WinePod experiences so far, using enzyme has meant that the must did not overflow the top of the fermenter at the temparature peak, that the press yield was improved, and that the pressed wine clarified faster. These are important condiderations. I think I am going to add some enzyme this morning.

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