Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost Everything Racked for Winter

Well folks, it's been awhile since I've posted. My apologies--life just gets in the way at inconvenient times. The winemaking has kind of ground to a halt with the onset of winter. Grapes came in late this year and cold weather arrived early, so primary fermentation took awhile and now my basement is simply too cold for productive malolactic fermentation. The one wine that did strongly initiate was the zinfandel. It's been bubbling slowly the last several weeks, but really started to slow down as the basement temps kept dropping.

I'm not all that concerned about slow MLF during the winter as the basement is going to be too cold for much of anything else to grow. I've got several options--1) wait for spring and let the bacteria restart on their own (the easiest thing to do), 2) buy some heat pads to wrap around the tanks to warm them up, and 3) at least move the carboys upstairs.

In order to do any of those, I really need to get the wine off the gross lees. I've been slowly racking things off the gross lees and getting them ready for winter. The cabernet franc that was in my 150 L tank got racked to a 15 gal demijohn, a 5 gal carboy, and some assorted half-gallon jugs and bottles. The lemberger that was in carboys got racked back into the 150L tank (after cleaning of course). The zinfandel carboys got moved upstairs into the warm spare bedroom, where the bacteria really sprang back into life. I'm planning on racking that off the gross lees on Wednesday after the housekeeper has come.

Today was the day to rack the merlot into a new tank. Turned out that I really did a crappy job of cleaning the empty tank after it had held the petite sirah. Man, was that thing filthy. Fortunately, a little PBW and elbow grease took care of that. I pulled out my pump, got everything sanitized & rinsed, and started to pump the merlot into the fresh tank.

I'm not too happy with the performance of the pump.

Had a lot of cavitation in the output hose that mixed a lot of air into the wine. Got even worse as the pre-filter got clogged with solids, which happened just before I almost got completely done. Had to disassemble the filter, resanitize it, and try again. Got at least another gallon through before giving up. After tasting it, I think a little microoxidation could be a good thing as it's pretty tannic, but still I don't like that I was beating the wine up that much. I need a new & better, more gentle pump.... Santa, can you hear me?

So almost everything is ready to sit over the winter. I still need to rack the zinfandel off the gross lees and let the MLF finish. That's a job for this week or maybe Christmas Eve. I also brought the carboy of cab franc upstairs and the bacteria in that sprang into action. Perhaps I'll shuttle tank wine into carboys and bring them upstairs for MLF completion over the winter. It's a good thing that my spare bedroom is empty!