Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010 Chilean Carmenere

My previous post talked about both the Carmenere & Sauvignon blanc wines that I'm making from Chilean grapes this spring, but I thought I would split them apart since they are two totally different wines.

When last we left, the carmenere was macerating prior to yeast inoculation. I neglected to mention that in addition to the 50 ppm SO2 treatment, I had added Scottzyme Color Pro pectinase & VR Supra tannin. The Color Pro is to help break down the cell walls of the grape solids & release tannins, anthocyanins (color molecules), and sugars. The tannin addition is a little counter intuitive, but a pre-fermentation addition of tannins helps to fix the color.

The next evening, Brix = 22.2 (12.4% potential alcohol) & pH = 3.58 so I'm reasonably happy with those numbers and didn't make any adjustments. I re-hydrated a yeast called Bourdeaux Red and inoculated the must. I selected this yeast because it was isolated from the Bourdeaux region of France (where carmenere originated). Plus, it's a low producer of H2S and volatile acidity and requires moderate levels of Nitrogen. I've read several on-line reviews of this yeast that extolled it's virtues, especially for Bourdeaux varietals, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's a little after the fact, but the fermentation took off within 24 hrs of inoculation and went fairly quickly. We had a week of warm weather during the fermentation, so I was able to get a heat spike in the fermenters to at least 85 °F to help set the color. While normally I'm worried about being able to achieve that temperature, this year I was actually worrying whether I needed to cool the fermentation! Fortunately, a cold front came through at just the right time and the garage cooled back down to normal New England spring temperatures.

Fermentation actually completed by Memorial Day, but I was really trying to get some yardwork done and I wanted to wait on the pressing. I inoculated with VP-41 malolactic bacteria and covered the must with a double layer of Saran wrap. The skin cap stayed very buoyant and I did one punchdown a day until Saturday when I pressed the wine off the skins. I pulled out my old press for this big job!

I transferred all press fractions to Bertha (one of my 80 gal variable capacity stainless steel tanks) and sealed the cover while the MLF completed. I was intending to rack off the gross lees after one week, but couldn't get the job done today due to the weather & other commitments. I'm trying to alleviate the risk of the gross less compacting and releasing off-flavors by stirring the lees every 2-3 days until MLF is complete. My analysis indicates that should only be another 1-2 weeks as long as the weather stays seasonably warm.

And that's where the wine is at--sitting in my stainless steel tank under an airlock while the bacteria do their thing. So far, I'm very impressed with the taste. Bright cherry and raspberry flavors with a peppery, long lasting finish. It needs some aging, probably in my Hungarian oak barrel, but this may be my best red wine to date if I don't screw it up.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found your blog in the VIP blogs section of WinePress. Good stuff to read as I get ready to get into winemaking. I just wanted to mention that I recently tried a just-released straight-varietal Carmenere in Western NY that you might like to try if you have the chance. The fruit is grown there, along Lake Erie. If you're in that area (or if they can ship to you), check out Liberty Vineyards & Winery in Sheridan, NY.