Thursday, December 24, 2009

14 Gallons of Syrah and a new toy

I've been meaning to write about my new winemaking toy for a few weeks, but have been struggling to find the time. It's the day before Christmas, my suitcase is packed, and I finally have some free time before I head over to a friend's house for Christmas Eve so here goes (hold your horses)...

I've mentioned the 2008 Chilian Syrah in the past (see post1, post2, & post3). It's been sitting in a Hungarian oak barrel for the past 9 months or so and is now ready for bottling. Now, I'll admit to dreading bottling this wine because it's a 14 gallon barrel. Bottling would mean pumping the wine out of the barrel into carboys so that I could bottle using the gravity siphon that I've been using for the past 3 years. That's a lot of stuff that needs cleaning when I'm done--groan......

What to do, what to do... Fortunately, modern technology has provided an answer in the Enolmatic! This a vacuum powered bottling device that gently sucks the wine into the bottle and then automatically stops when the bottle is full. Up to this point, I haven't been working on the scale that justified purchasing one of these units. But now that I'm facing a 14 gallon barrel, I took the plunge and bought one as an early birthday present to me.

After it arrived a couple of weeks ago, I sanitized 8 cases of bottles and got to work. In a little more than 30 minutes, I had 7.5 cases bottled, corked, and boxed. And all I had to clean up was the Enolmatic (I'm leaving out the 3 carboys of 2009 Syrah that I put into the now empty barrel, but that would have happened anyway). The Enolmatic truly rocks!

A picture is worth a thousand words, so hopefully these will fill the bill. It's a single bottle unit, but that allows me to turn around and cork a filled bottle while the next bottle is being filled. The close-up of the Enolmatic doesn't do it justice, but there is a vacuum trap chamber on back of the machine that captures excess wine once the bottle is filled. This chamber needs emptying back into the barrel now and then, which provides a little break time every so often. The one complaint I have is that setting the proper fill level is tricky. I had some challenge setting the level too low and having too much ullage or taking the bottle off the machine too slowly and over-filling. Spent a good deal of time pouring a little out of the bottle into a too-low ullage bottle. Still, even with that issue (which I should be able to fix with practice), I finished bottling, corking, and boxing 7.5 cases of wine in just 1-2 hours. And had very little clean up afterwards.

Get yourself an Enolmatic and you'll not regret it!

a MA winemaker

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