Thursday, June 5, 2008

Finishing Off The Syrah Fermentation

May was a very busy month for me and I was not able to devote the time I wanted to maintaining this blog. It is time to catch up and so this is likely to be a long post.

I pressed off the Annadel Syrah on 5/1/08 after a full 30 days of maceration at elevated temperature (73° F) – if there was a question in anyone's mind, it was my intention to see how far I could push this protocol.

Jumping ahead a little, in my opinion the wine turned out very well, analytically and organoleptically. So since I didn't "break it" with a full month of maceration I can't say that I have pushed the procedure to its absolute limit. But what I learned is that I can be more sanguine about recommending longer maceration in the Pod – at least up to this now-defined point, and with these grapes.

I pressed the Syrah as I have the other lots: first with automatic pressing on the "heavy" setting (present on this Pod beta unit – likely not on shipping units) until done, then on manual every minute, then every 2 minutes, then every 5 minutes, until the press shuts off immediately on startup. Also as before, I racked the wine from the Pod into buckets, cleaned the Pod, and racked the wine back in. The yield was about 11 gallons. I set the temperature of the Pod to 65° F.

I pulled a sample for the lab; results of the analysis:

Malic Acid0.13g/L
Volatile Acidity0.38g/L

My personal threshold for malolactic "doneness" is 0.30 g/L so this wine is done enough. The V.A. has crept up a tiny bit since the end of alcoholic fermentation (from 0.26 g/L – almost within analytical error) supporting that the long extension of maceration didn't oxidize the wine appreciably. From a philosophical standpoint the pH is higher than I want it to be, though the wine does not taste fat, soapy, or bitter.

On 5/4/08 I set the temperature of the Pod to 60° F. The next day I stirred in 20 grams of tartaric acid (0.5 g/L) and 5 grams of Efferbaktol granules (about 48 ppm of SO2).

The Syrah settled in the Pod at 60° F for nearly two weeks. On 5/16/08 I racked the wine to glass carboys (7, 2 and 1 gallon) with the extra going into two 750 mL bottles. Total yield of clear wine after racking was 10.4 gallons.

In my commercial wine production I have found that Syrah benefits from spending some time in tank after the first racking, before going to barrels. It is my intention to leave this WinePod Syrah in glass for a while before I put it into wood.

Another thing I wanted to do with this Syrah ferment was collect seeds to illustrate the changes that occur during extended maceration.

Syrah seeds at different times in the fermentClick on the image above for larger 800 px image

I collected the seeds on the left from inside berries on the day I filled the Pod. They are uniformly brown – and I assure you they are crunchy – as expected for properly-ripened fruit.

The seeds in the middle were pulled from inside berries at the end of the yeast fermentation. Notice that they are darker and redder, but not uniformly colored.

The seeds on the right were removed from berries in the press cake after taking it out of the Pod. Notice how they have turned darker, and though not all of them are exactly the same dark shade the color is uniform on each. These are the visual qualities I look for in the seeds on completion of extended maceration.

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