Category Archives: My First Wine series
OK, so I did another chromatography test on my Sangiovese/Cabernet blend at Michael Florentino Cellars and it still has not converted all of the malic acid to lactic acid! So time to crank up the heat in the “wine shed” out back. Hope that works! I am starting to worry that it has gone to long with out any additional SO2. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!
Mean while back at the ranch (or property) for the first time of the season was March the weekend of the 11th! Friday was sunny and mild and very therapeutic! We have finally cleared enough sage brush to plant our first test block of one hundred vines for this coming May. I have ordered Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Pinot Noir and Viognier from Inland Dessert. However, I am seriously thinking about switching out the Viognier for Pinot Blanc, which is more cold hardy and seldom seen in Washington state, but maybe should be seen more!
Also, last Sunday (March 27th.) I actually got to try the “Grand Tasting” at Taste Washington for the first time, since I was pouring for MFC, instead of doing a seminar on Saturday. Not as crowded as years past from what I hear, but at a great time and saw lots of familiar faces.
Well, after having racked both carboys of wine several weeks ago, I thought it was about time I ran some labs on them.
So I took some samples to school and ran SO2‘s, pH and TA (titratable acidity) tests, as well as doing a chromatography test on them. This test tells me whether the wines have converted malic acid to latic acid. Malic is a harder/sharper acid; think sour apple. Lactic acid is much softer. As I suspected from tasting as well as watching pH and TA’s go up and down, it looks like the Petite Verdot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend have almost completely converted to latic acid. The Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon still have a way to go.
After going through all the trouble of running an SO2 test on my wines, I realized that I had used the wrong strength of NaOH, so I’m still not sure how much free SO2 is present. So I decided I will run them again once they are through with malic/latic conversion. I won’t want to add any now anyway, since that would stop the conversion process.
About a month ago, I discovered that my wine had developed a terrible funk. The smell could be described as burnt match stick with a touch of smoke. This “funk” is often caused by H2S production or Hydrogen Sulfide. This can occur because grapes were sprayed with chemicals too close to harvest, or leaving the juice on the gross lees too long amongst other reasons. After doing a little research I decided I need to rack right away. And that did help, but the Sang/Cab. blend had quite a bit of “funk” so we racked again and that seemed to do the trick! Which is great, because that means I didn’t have to add Copper Sulfate or add more SO2. Few! I was worried that the wines were ruined beyond the point of no return!
Lab Numbers Update: As of 12-11-11, the pH and TA for the Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend are 3.44 and 6.75 and the Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend are 3.25 and 7.2. It appears that secondary fermentation has taken place with the P. Verdot blend as the pH as gone up and TA down. But it’s hard to tell with Sangio blend because it looks the pH dropped and that doesn’t make sense. I will have to re-test pH, and TA in the next few week. Hopefully I will be able to test for SO2 content as well as run the wine through MLF (malolactic fermentation) chromatography.
That’s it for this update. Now to think of some names for the wines while they spend the winter in our new wine shed. Will have to post pictures of that soon!
After finding a homemade press on Craig’s list, Ella and I press off the fermented grape juice. The large carboy gets the Sangiovese from Brad of Gecko Cellars, plus most of the Cabernet Sauvignon I obtained from Rob of Finn Hill Winery. The Petite Verdot goes into the 3 gallon carboy with the remaining Cab. Sauv. Dexter helps out as well! Now that I’ve finally added some ML bacteria that I got from Scott Greenberg of The Convergence Zone, it can now do its thing for a few weeks. Boy, does it take a “wine village”! I’ve ordered some more oak chips and few other wine additive “goodies” on-line. Can’t wait to see what I ordered! Will have to post some more lab numbers next time!
I now have some Cabernet Sauvignon from Double Canyon, that I acquired from Rob Entrekin of Finn Hill Winery last Saturday (the 23rd) and some Petite Verdot that our class picked from Red Haven Vineyard on Red Mountain the next day on the 24th.
The Sangiovese is still cooking along and is now at 6 Brix. The Cabernet Sauvignon. however, is almost dry at 0.5 Brix! Unbelievable! The Petite Verdot is now at 17.5 Brix with color that is stunningly dark! I can see how it could be used to color up lighter colored wines.
Needless to say, my laundry room smells like a winery now! Not bad. Next week we will be learning how to culture MLF bacteria in class, just in time to inoculate my own wine. Now to find a press.
Day 2: Added SO2 around 1pm.
Day 3. Added yeast nutrients and Red Star yeast-Pasteur Red apx. 1230p.m. Don’t have brix reading yet, I will have to take some berries to class tonight and use a refractometer. Staring to smell good! Tomorrow will have to get some wood chips and more carboys!