Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chardonnay Ready For Malolactic

This morning the Pod was reading -3° Brix at 70° F on the Chardonnay. I pulled a sample and took it to Vinquiry for analysis. Results:

Alcohol14.67% (v/v)
Malic Acid1.51g/L

This confirms that the wine is bone-dry and ready for inoculation with malolactic. If I have any culture in my stash I will add it tomorrow.

I was talking with Greg Snell today and he asked if I had learned anything important so far regarding fermenting Chardonnay in the Pod. What I have learned about this specific juice is DO NOT TRY TO FERMENT IT UNINOCULATED.

I have had a pre-fermentation juice sample in my refrigerator since July 12 and it is not showing even the barest hint of the onset of fermentation. This is the most stable juice I have encountered in over 20 years. I have no explanation for it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chardonnay At Or Near Dryness

Last Wednesday the Chardonnay ferment was showing 8° Brix, and Thursday down to 5° Brix. I was out of town Friday through Sunday on a family trip – something I could not have done if this were a RED ferment! – and came in this morning to find the Pod reading -1° Brix.

Smells great. Still making some CO2. I raised the setpoint to 70° F in anticipation of adding the malolactic inoculum in a day or so, after I confirm that the sugar is gone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chardonnay DAP Addition

Yesterday morning the Chardonnay in the Pod was reading 17° Brix at 65° F and showing a nice 2-inch head of foam. I added 30 grams of DAP (0.53 g/L) to supplement the purported low nutrient status of the juice as delivered.

The aroma of the ferment was fine before the addition, but turned even sweeter immediately after. The foam also dissipated. At noon today the readings were 11° Brix at 65° F.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Slow Start To Chard Ferment

I just thought this was a cool picture...
The yeast is starting to produce some gas, and the bubbles are rising so straight in the Pod that the features of the press basket (not needed for white but necessary to positively locate the Brix sensor) are outlined. I'm easily amused.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chardonnay: Second Inoculation

Yesterday I prepped 16 grams (28 g/hL) of Uvaferm 43 from the WinePod Consumables Kit to add to the Chardonnay juice. After five days, the CY3079 had not started the ferment.

In a commercial setting I would have checked yeast viability under the microscope and perhaps waited a little longer if the cells looked good. This was standard operating procedure when I was at Sonoma-Cutrer. But not many of us WinePodders have a quality microscope and methylene blue available. I don't even have a microscope at the winery, since commercially I only make reds (where problems with start of fermentation are – almost – never encountered).

Anyway, the CY3079 I used was from an opened pack nearly 10 months old and stored at 65° F. It may have lost viability, and I made a mistake by not proofing it with some sugar before I pitched.

The Uvaferm was certainly fresher. I prepped it without GoFerm as I had already added the maximum recommended dose with the CY inoculum.

I did proof this yeast prep with juice on the off chance that the juice itself contained something inhibitory. I can't say the Uvaferm boiled over, but it did foam – a little. I'm hoping to see a start to fermentation by this morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Racking Red Wines

Yesterday I racked two of the red wines and added SO2 to a third.

2007 Rancho Sarco Cabernet
The Rancho Sarco Cab went to a 20 L medium-toast Vernou French oak barrel and a 5 gallon carboy back on February 11. Since then I have topped it and maintained the SO2 more or less regularly.

The wine tastes and smells great: varietal, with a jammy edge and oak that is present but not overwhelming. It might be that this Cab could spend more time in barrel, but it is showing well now and I would like to get it in the bottle soon so Provina can show samples to interested parties. I racked it from barrel and carboy to a clean SS keg, and then to two clean 5 gallon carboys fit with fermentation locks. I hope to bottle it before the end of the month.

2007 Napa River Ranch Cabernet
The Napa River Ranch Cab went to a 20 L medium-plus-toast Vernou French oak barrel and a 5 gallon carboy back on March 11.

This wine has for several months shown a very closed-in aroma, with a bit of reduction – not sulfide, but a kind of post-fermentaion funk that is hard to describe but easy to recognize with experience. Back when I first put it to barrel I noted that it had not settled clear in the Pod. At the time I suggested that this was because I had not added any Lallzyme at the beginning of the ferment.

I believe that the undeveloped aroma is also a consequence of leaving out the enzyme. The Lallzyme preparations are predominantly cellulases and hemicellulases, but like all commercial enzme preparations there is some side-activity. Lallzyme shows a small glycosidase activity, which slightly – but noticibly – speeds the release of aromatic compounds.

Regardless of whether or not leaving out the enzyme was a good idea, the wine needed the racking I gave it yesterday. I also felt it would benefit from a bump in SO2.

I racked the wine from barrel and carboy to a SS keg, onto 2.5 grams of Efferbaktol granules dissolved in 50 mL of water – this gives about a 25 ppm addition of SO2.

A quick note on additions of sulfur dioxide: the wine always has some potential to bind some fraction of the added SO2. As a rule of thumb, I expect to actually see the free SO2 bump by about half of the calculated addition.

After stirring the wine in keg and settling a few minutes, I racked it to a 5 gallon carboy and the 20 L medium-toast barrel I had racked the Rancho Sarco Cab out of. I just like the aroma of the medium-toast barrel more than that of the medium-plus-toast barrel.

After the rack and add the aroma of the wine improved. The Napa River Ranch Cab is less jammy than the Rancho Sarco, and more fruity. It is lighter and leaner, with a marked "Rutherford dust" character.

2007 Roberts Road Pinot Noir
In my commercial winemaking I put Pinot Noir to barrel after the barest minimum of settling, and then never rack it until bottling. I'm hoping to get away with the same approach with the WinePod Pinot.

I pressed this Roberts Road Pinot and moved the wine to a 30 L medium-plus-toast Vernou French oak barrel and 3 gallon carboy on March 26. Recall the wine had some residual sugar at this point, and was re-inoculated in barrel on April 7. I confirmed that the wine was dry on May 2 and inoculated for ML on May 15.

I confirmed that the malolactic fermentation was complete (0.07 g/L) on July 8, and yesterday I added 7.5 g Efferbaktol granules (75 ppm SO2) distributed proportionally between the 30 L barrel and the 3 gallon carboy.

BTW - no evidence of fermentation in the Sangiocomo Chardonnay yet.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Off And Running With The Chard

This evening I sanitized the Pod and transferred the Chard juice from the pails. The juice was very clear and well-settled, and showed no evidence of fermentation.

I poured from the pails pretty carefully, leaving behind most of the settled lees. The lees smelled and tasted OK, but since I have not handled this juice from the crusher, and am not sure how much reductive or oxidative potential they have, I decided to leave most of them behind.

Fifteen gallons of juice fills the Pod pretty well – I didn't put a tape measure on it but it looks like there is 5"-6" of headspace. We will see later if this is a problem.

Excessively clarified juice does not ferment well – clear juice fermentations frequently make more sulfide and have a greater tendency to stick than turbid juices. Yeast perform better when they have some suspended solids to glom on to.

I have dealt successfully with overly-clarifed juice in the commercial setting by adding back Bentonite, colloidal silica and yeast hulls, singly or together. I decided to keep this ferment simple, so I added just yeast hulls at a rate of 3 lb./1000 gal, 20 grams total.

According to the Brehm website, no SO2 was added at crushing or pressing, so I added 40 ppm, using 7 grams of Efferbaktol granules. Also, the juice tasted a bit flat so I added 0.3 g/L of tartaric acid (17 grams).

At this point the juice read 23.7° Brix – the Pod readings were 24° Brix at 62° F. I turned on temparature control with both setpoints at 65° F.

With everything ready to go, I suspended 17 grams of GoFerm (30 g/hL) in 200 mL of water at 104° F. I rehydrated 17 g of CY3079 yeast for 20 minutes in this suspension befoe pitching it into the juice.

I chose CY3079 because it was selected to perform well in barrel ferments – first and foremost, the fermentation does not foam. This is important, because there is not a lot of headspace in the Pod.

CY3079 doesn't produce much SO2 during fermentation (some yeast do) and is friendlier to malolactic bacteria than some other white wine yeasts. This selection also develops a more pronounced "leesy" character in the wine during aging than nearly any other yeast selection.

The down-side is that CY3079 is prone to sticking, so I plan to feed this fermentation (the Brehm website listing for this juice notes that it is low in available nitrogen – YAN). This yeast also does not produce a "fruity" wine.

So now I wait. I will feed at 20° and 12° Brix, and inoculate for malolactic at dryness. Not much else to do with a white ferment.

2007 Carneros Chardonnay

That's right – Chardonnay, from the 37-year-old vines on the Sangiacomo's Home Ranch. I'm excited to see if I can produce a high-quality white wine in the Pod.

We sourced 15 gallons of frozen juice from Peter Brehm. I received the pails on Thursday. They were partially thawed yesterday when I transported them to the winery.

When I cut the stretch wrap off the pails I could see some sediment through the sides. I decided to let the juice settle a little before I rack it into the Pod.

Today or tomorrow I will rack the juice off the lees into the Pod, add SO2, water and a little acid, and inoculate. I tentatively plan to conduct the ferment at 65° through malolactic, and then rack into barrels for aging.