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.