Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011 Blueberry Port "Snowtober Blues"

Snowtober....who in New England will forget this great Halloween snowstorm?  Could this go down in the history books like the Great Blizzard of '78?  Probably not, since it really didn't affect Boston very much, and it seems like anything that doesn't happen in Boston doesn't really matter very much.

But it was quite the weekend at Aaronap Cellars.  I started off Friday evening (Oct 28, 2011) by driving down to the Cape with Shawna to spend the night before running in the Cape Code Half-Marathon.  Shortly before getting to Falmouth, we passed the recent remnants of a horrific car crash that killed one of the drivers.  Not much we could do to help so we continued on our way.  The next morning, it was a cloudy & chilly day for a race, but I had a very nice run and finished 560/732 finishers with a time of 2:17:16.  Not too shabby for my first half-marathon if I do say so myself!  And I absolutely loved rounding the corner towards the finish line accompanied by the cheers of a wonderfully supportive girlfriend!  After a shower, a nap, and some lunch, we mosied our way back home, stopping off at a Halloween party at the home of one of Shawna's friends.  By the time we got home, the rain that had started around noon had turned to slushy snow and the poor trees were already bowing.  The rest of the night was spent listening to the sounds of "crack" as tree limbs gave up the ghost and snapped to the ground.  We lost power at Aaronap Cellars around 1 AM on Sunday morning and it didn't come back on until Tuesday night.

So what does a winemaker do when the power goes out with no clear time of coming back & he has a freezer full of frozen blueberries?  Makes wine, of course!  The only problem was that the house was cold and I only had 19 lbs of blueberries.  Not enough for one of my regular batches, so I decided to make a port-style wine as I was cleaning out the freezer.

The 19 lbs of wild blueberries (Maine & Canada) were still almost ice cold after 3 days of thawing in the fermenter in the cold house.  Had to warm up in a water bath to get them up to room temperature once the power came back on.  I'm really trying to boost the body of this wine, so generous doses of Scottzyme Color Pro, Opti-red, and FT Rouge tannins were added prior to yeast pitching.  I'm planning on also adding Booster Rouge towards the end of fermentation to provide more body and smoothness.  I adjusted the sugar to Brix = 22.0 (PA = 13% abv) to start and started fermentation with VP-15 Rockpile yeast.  A little odd choice, but it was what I had on hand for my 2011 grape order.

The blues are off and bubbling as I type.  I'm going to add some sugar charges towards the end of fermentation to bump the PA up to about 16% before adding the brandy to stop the fermentation & leave some residual sugar.


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