Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wines I'm Making: 2011 Sangiovese Pressed and Inoculated

Yesterday at around noon I pressed the Sangiovese grapes  we picked and crushed the day before. The grapes were crushed at around 5:00PM, which means the juice was on the skins for about 19 hours. That yielded rather more color than the same amount of time has in the past, probably because the berries this year were much further along toward full ripeness than they ever have been. I hope the wine doesn't come out too deeply colored--but it's early. Some of the pigment in the liquid will fall out during fermentation.

I inoculated the must shortly after pressing, using the Epernay II yeast. This morning the yeast was not very active, probably because it was cold in the garage overnight, but moving the container into the darkroom and then later in the day into the living room, the usual foam is beginning to develop on the surface of the liquid and the airlock has begun to bubble. The trick will be to keep the fermentation going without letting it become too vigorous. A fermentation of about 10-12 days should be about right. Last year it took 14 days. In the first couple of years I made rosé, I didn't understand that a fast fermentation can allow a lot of good flavor and aroma components to escape, and I let things move too quickly. At the extreme short end, one fermentation went to completion in about four days--which is too fast. So far, everything is going smoothly this year. The Cabernet is pressed and in its second day soaking. I like to give the Cabernet a pre-soak of about four days before inoculating, as that seems to result in better color and more flavor extraction.

At left is a photo of our 2010 Sangiovese Rosé--I finally got around to designing a label and getting it on the wine, although there are now only 11 eleven bottles of it left. It was a very light, pale wine (the deep red-orange carpet behind the bottles in the photograph make it look much deeper in color than it actually is). It's pleasant but doesn't have the depth of the 2009, which is the best I've made so far. I have one bottle of the 2009 left. It needs to be consumed, but I hate to see the last of it disappear....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wines I'm Making: Harvest 2011

I decided today was the day to pick our grapes. The somewhat warmer weather of the past few days seemed to be doing little to raise sugar levels and I was beginning to see signs of mildew in a few clusters, so there seemed little reason to wait further. It was a small harvest--having lost a great deal to animals this year. We picked 20kg of Sangiovese, or 44lbs and 43kg of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, or 94.6lbs. This is the latest we've ever picked. I waited in the hopes of getting the sugars up, but it just wasn't warm enough. The unfortunate timing of the rain we had in October complicated things. Some berries swelled with water and split, allowing mold to begin to form. All in all, the grapes look pretty healthy, but mold can take hold very quickly if left unchecked, so better to get the fruit in.

After crushing and de-stemming the grapes, we ended up with 4.75 gallons of Sangiovese must, which I sulfited lightly with three Campden tablets to add about 41ppm of sulfite. The must tested at 20.7 Brix by refractometer and a specific gravity of 1.084 by hydrometer. The pH tested at 3.35. pH squared times Brix equals 232--not at all bad for making a rosé. I took the measurements at 63 degrees F, so I didn't bother to adjust the hydrometer reading for temperature (according to my books, hydrometers are usually calibrated at 59 degrees F, or 15 degrees C).

We got about 10.5 gallons of Cabernet must, which I sulfited lightly with seven Campden tablets (about 43ppm). The must tested at 22.6 Brix by refractometer--somewhat lower than I was hoping for, but respectable, and at a specific gravity of 1.094 by hydrometer. The pH was 3.42. pH squared times Brix yielded 263, which is right about where it ought to be.

I will press the Sangiovese already late tomorrow morning, after about 18 hours on the skins, which has seemed about right in the past. I will then inoculate the pressed juice with yeast and set it aside in a chilly place (either in the garage or outside) for a cool, slow fermentation. The Cabernet will get a soak for a day or two or three before inoculation. And so our 2011 wines start their journey.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Found Art: Battered Trash Can, Sebastopol, October 23, 2011

Even a battered trash can be beautiful. I saw this black plastic trash can at Analy High School, in Sebastopol. Painted white, an interesting pattern has been etched away through use. Found art.

For more found art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.
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