Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Syrah - All Is Well

Extended maceration continues at 73° F on the Annadel Syrah. The Pod is reading -5° Brix suggesting that the sensor is stuck to the bottom of the tank. Malolactic fermentation is producing enough carbon dioxide at this time to keep the cap floating. Yesterday I popped two more gas cartridges under the Pod lid anyway – one of them was unmarked and turned out to be CO2.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Syrah Cap Back Up

Yesterday when I checked the Syrah I found that the malolactic ferment was producing enough gas to bring the cap back up. I gave the must a mix (#14) and then shot some nitrogen into the headspace using two of the gas cartridges supplied with the Pod.

These cartridges each supply 1.8 g of N2. Dredging up some freshman general chemistry from memory, this comes to about 1.44 liters of gas (at STP) per cartridge.

I have not made an exact measurement but I'm guessing the headspace is more like 4-5 gallons, meaning it would take about 12 cartridges to purge this volume with nitrogen.

If the cap falls again before the tannins have softened I will probably fit the variable-capacity lid to the Pod.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Inoculated 2007 Syrah for Malolactic

Following my temperature plan I dropped the lower setpoint on the ferment to 73° F by Saturday the 12th (punch #11). The must reading was -3° Brix.

At punch #12 on Monday the 14th I observed the second must reading at -3° Brix, so I pulled a sample for analysis and recovered some seeds which I will use in my photographic comparison after I press this lot off.

Results of the analysis of the Syrah sample:

Alcohol14.72% (v/v)
Titratable Acidity6.56g/L
Malic Acid1.56g/L
Volatile Acidity0.26g/L

This confirms that the wine is bone-dry.

Since the wine is dry, today I prepared 2.5 g of Enoferm Alpha malolactic culture according to directions and inoculated the must at punch #13. It is still my plan to extend the maceration until April 30th – the wine is tasting quite tannic at the moment – but the cap has already lost much of its buoyancy. It may regain some if the malolactic fermentation produces a little CO2 (in my experience sometimes it does, sometimes not) but with this ferment I am thinking I will be sparging the headspace with inert gas before I get to pressing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Syrah Ferment Peak

Yesterday evening the must readings were 15° Brix at 81° F. At punch #7 I added another 15 g of DAP dissolved in 150 mL warm water and increased the lower setpoint to 86° F.

This morning the Pod was showing 6° Brix at 85° F. I made the third and final 15 g DAP addition at the punchdown. I plan to start dropping the temperature at this evening's punch.

Knock on wood – this fermentation is textbook (so far). Total DAP addition was the maximum allowable 1 g/L, and the must has smelled really good all along, with only hints of sulfide.

I want to note that this ferment has not once threatened to overflow the Pod. The Lallzyme products are a mix of cellulases and hemicellulases (with very low glycosidase side activity – important to maintain the color and aromatic potential of a red wine) which hydrolyze the grape cell walls and do a good job of breaking down the cap.

At this time I am planning to bring the temperature down to 73° F by Saturday the 12th. This is the temperature where I expect to maintain this lot through extended maceration. Sometime in the week of the 14th I will test for residual sugar – when it is below the 1 g/L threshold I will inoculate for malolactic. I hope to press on the 30th.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Annadel Syrah Ferment Taking Off

After inoculating the must Monday morning, the cap was barely up Tuesday morning – not solid, sort of half-hearted. It was a little firmer at the afternoon punchdown (punch #5). I raised the setpoints at each visit – the lower from 69° to 72° F, and from 72° to 78° F in the afternoon.

Note that I have settled on a span of 3°F for determining the upper setpoint – I will only be reporting the lower setpoint going forward. The must read 24° Brix at both punchdowns.

This morning the cap was solid and the Pod was reporting 20° Brix at 77° F. I dissolved/suspended 8 g Fermaid K (19 g/hL or 1.6#/M – note that the maximum addition rate for this product is 2#/M) and 15 g DAP (0.33 g/L) in about 200 mL warm water and added this at the punch. This is the first of three planned DAP additions. Upped the setpoint to 80° F.

Though I peaked the Pinot fermentation at 92° F my plan for the Syrah is to peak this ferment at 86° F as I did for the two Cabernet lots.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Annadel Syrah Inoculation

When I arrived at the winery this morning the Pod readings were 25° Brix at 65° F. I intended to raise the setpoints a small amount but mis-read my own chart and punched in the setpoints I had planned to hit in the afternoon: 69° and 72° F. Eh. No big deal.

I prepped 13 g of GoFerm in 200 mL distilled water at 104° F, and stirred in 11 g of Uvaferm 43 yeast. I waited 20 minutes and then "proofed" the yeast prep with about a gram of sucrose dissolved in a little warm water.

After the yeast prep started to bubble I pitched it into the Syrah, mixed for the third time, and put the lid back on.

Roberts Road Pinot Re-Inoculation

Since the Pinot in barrel is only fermenting sugar at a rate less than 1 g/L/week I decided to help things along.

First, I topped the wine with 1.75 liters of water. This should take the alcohol from 15.1% to 14.2%.

Then I weighed out 63 g of RC212, the yeast I used to ferment the must in the first place. This rate of yeast addition is about 150 g/hL or six times the normal recommended rate. In my experience the rate of addition for re-inoculation needs to be at least 100 g/hL. A rate of 200 g/hl is overkill for all but the most stubborn stuck ferments. I dissolved the RC212 in 630 mL of distilled water at 104° F and waited 20 minutes.

I might otherwise have used Uvaferm 43, the absolute "best" yeast for restarting a stuck ferment, but I didn't have 63 g of Uva43, and this wine is just "barely stuck".

After 20 minutes I stirred into the yeast mixture 2 g sucrose (table sugar) dissolved in a small volume of hot water. This is important. The sugar addition brought the yeast mixture to 3 g/L – about the same as the wine. The rehydrated yeast started to bubble moderately.

While the yeast was rehydrating I pulled about 920 mL wine from the 30 L barrel and 340 mL from the 11 L carboy (1260 mL total). I poured half this volume into a clean 1/2-gallon jug and set it in a warm water bath to raise the temperature of the wine.

When the wine had warmed to 80° F, and the yeast mixture cooled to 90° F, I poured most of the yeast prep into the jug and put a fermentation lock on top. The mixture started to bubble immediately.

I transferred the remaining 630 mL of wine to the leftover yeast prep, stirred, and poured into a clean 750 mL screw-top bottle. This mixture also started producing bubbles immediately.

So far so good.

I took both the jug and the bottle with me to the office, and left them in my car to keep them warm. In retrospect I should have exercised a little more caution with where I placed them in the car. When I returned 6 hours later both were in the sun and warmer than I wanted. I would have been happiest if they had stayed at 80° F but both were measuring 100° F when I got back to the winery. Both were still producing bubbles, so my hope is that the yeast weren't completely killed.

Nota bene: alcohol plus high temperature equals dead yeast.

Anyway, I pitched the yeast prep from the 1/2-gallon jug into both the barrel and the carboy to top, and both started to show some signs of bubbles rising to the surface. I will take a sample to the lab in a few days to see if this restart was successful.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Syrah Additions

Yesterday when I checked the Pod it was reading 25° Brix at 51° F. I increased the setpoints to 58° and 61° F. I have never seen any positive effect of pre-fermentation maceration on Syrah, so I plan to increase the temperature on a regular slope.

Today the must readings were 25° Brix at 58° F. Color and aroma of the juice were lovely. I made an addition of 1.8 g Lallzyme EX, giving an addition rate of about 3 g/100 kg of fruit – the maximum recommended rate for this particular enzyme product. I have found that the addition of enzyme is most important when fermenting in the Pod to help avoid overflowing the tank.

After I added the Lallzyme I set the temparature control points to 63° and 66° F and mixed. Then I made tannin additions.

I prepared a solution of 10 g Laffort VR Supra (Quebracho), 4 g Vialatte Sublitan Vinif (grape seed), and 2 g Vialatte Oenotan (oak) in one liter of water, and mixed it thoroughly into the must.

Next I prepared a solution of 25 g tartaric acid in one liter of water and mixed it into the must as well. As with the three ferments that have gone before, I feel this 0.5 g/L pre-fermentation addition of tartaric is a good starting point to end up with a "reasonable" post-fermentation pH.

Post-mixing I measured the dissolved solids with a digital refractometer and found that the must was reading 25.1° Brix after incorporating about 3.5 liters of water with these various additions.

Before closing up the Pod for the day I squeezed the seeds out of a number of berries, rinsed them and dried them by rubbing between paper towel to remove attached pulp. Then I photographed them before putting them into a labeled baggie. The plan is to compare the appearance of seeds before fermentation, at dryness, and at the end of extended maceration.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pinot Fermenting In Barrel?

In a word, no. Not fast enough, anyway. Yesterday I pulled a sample from the barrel and took it in for analysis. I was hoping for that magic number of less than 1.00 g/L glucose + fructose. The lab came back this morning with 3.05 g/L, a drop of only 0.9 g/L in almost a week. It is time for me to think about re-inoculating.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Next Ferment: Annadel Syrah

This past Tuesday I received a delivery of 3 pails of Syrah from the well-known Annadel Estate Vineyard. Well-known by me anyway. Full disclosure: I grew these grapes. These are INRA clone 877 on 101-14 rootstock, planted in 2002.

Today the pails were thawed enough to transfer the fruit to the Pod, which I had thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after pressing the Roberts Road Pinot. I dissolved 7 grams of Efferbaktol granules in one liter of water and poured 250 mL of this solution on top of the fruit in each pail.

I also made up a solution of yeast extracts: 8 g of Booster Rouge and 8 g of OptiRed suspended in another liter of water. As I poured each pail of grapes into the Pod, I followed it with about 330 mL of this suspension. Finally, I poured the last 250 mL of the Efferbaktol solution on top of the fruit in the Pod and put the lid on.

The Efferbaktol should have added about 65 ppm of SO2 to the must. The addition rates for the yeast extract products were 19 g/hL each (the maximum recommended rate for each of these products is 30 g/hL).

The Pod was reading 25° Brix at 46° F. I set the temperature control points to 50° and 53° F.