Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wines I'm Making: 2010 Cabernet Harvest

I decided today was the day to pick the Cabernet Sauvignon in the backyard vineyard. The sugar was close to where I wanted it and some of the grapes were starting to raisin, so it seemed the thing to do. We harvested 117 pounds of grapes. Crushed and de-stemmed, we ended up with about 11 gallons of must, which will make around six gallons of wine, or 30 bottles.

The fruit was remarkably clean and free of mold considering how cool and damp the summer was. The fruit tastes good. It has a very nice Cabernet spice--almost like cayenne pepper. The numbers look pretty good, too. The sugar is at 23.5 Brix, the pH at 3.55. The total acidity was 0.6, which is at the bottom of the range most people recommend for a dry red wine, so it was probably best not to have waited for the sugars to rise any further. 23.5 Brix is respectable. That will translate into a wine of a little over 13% alcohol--although I didn't adjust my Brix reading for the temperature, so the actual Brix level was probably a little higher, perhaps around 24.

I sulfited the must very lightly (to about 35ppm) with three Campden tablets in each of two batches of about 5.5 gallons each (for convenience--I don't know yet if I will ferment them differently or not). I usually let the must soak for about four days before inoculating it with yeast, keeping it as cool as possible. That seems to yield a somewhat softer wine than when made without the pre-soak, so I've continued doing it. The wine has been very good, so I don't want to fool with the method too much. I have high hopes for this year's wine on the assumption that we are still getting better fruit each year as the vines mature.

2010 will be our seventh vintage. The vines were planted in 2001. We made our first wine in 2004. The 2008 was the first I'd call really good. The 2009 (soon to be bottled) was noticeably better. We will see how the crazy summer weather of 2010 is expressed in the wine. The Sangiovese is still quite a long way from ripeness, it seems. Decided to let it hang--another weak perhaps? As long as the weather holds. It's hot again today and warm weather is predicted for the rest of the week.

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