Showing posts with label Grenache. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grenache. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2011 Paso Robles Grenache Update

I haven't posted too much info on the 2011 wines after getting everything fermented, pressed, and into the basement for the winter since getting the winery applications submitted have been a priority.  But since I'm a little in between things at the moment, and spending a quiet Sunday afternoon around the house while recovering from a long run this morning, I thought I'd reflect a little on the results.  In particular, the grenache is not turning out as I was hoping.

Recall, dear readers, that all of the 2011 vintage grapes arrived as crushed & frozen must (due to an unholy combination of cool & wet weather in CA, a record early snowstorm in New England, & my work/vacation schedule).  Usually that means that you don't have to work very hard to extract color from the grapeskins because the freezing process does the hard work for you.  Even with that going for me, I opted to apply the usual combination of pre-ferment tannin addition (30 g/hL FT Rouge dosage) and a 1 g/gal dose of Opti-Red to really go for a dark, bold color in the resulting wine.  This combination strategy has worked incredibly well on previous vintages.

Since the grapes arrived in crushed form, I don't have the supplier information.  During fermentation, the color was definitely not as dark as my other varietals.  After fermentation, well the pictures speak for themselves.  After all the snow & turmoil before the grapes arrived, it turned out to be a gorgeous day for the pressing.  You'll notice my pre-filter technique to catch wayward skins, seeds, or large gunk before it got into the buckets.  That worked well, just the sieve caught a lot of material and had to be switched with a clean filter about every 10 minutes.  You can see that the pressed pomace is a very light color, which would indicate that I sucked as much color as possible out of the grapes.  However, the pressed wine in the carboys is a pretty light color.  Not much I could do at that point, and I thought that it might be reflective of the solids still present in the wine, so I let everything settle before racking off the gross lees.  After malolactic fermentation in my warm spare bathroom, the carboys were transferred to the basement where they've sat until about 3 weeks ago when I freed up some barrel space so I could get this into a French Oak barrel.

That racking really reinforced the color issue.  Big tannin punch to the wine, but the color is slightly darker than a very dark rose.  Aroma is wonderful--strawberries and plums.  It's just that light color.

Now--grenache is known to be a thin-skinned, light color variety, which is why it's the work horse grape for rĂ³se production in the Rhone region of France.  And why's it's usually used as a blender in regions like the Rhone, or Priorat in Spain to make full-bodied reds.  My ultimate goal for this wine is to blend it with syrah to make a Rhone-inspired blend.  Also have some carignan so I can even try to emulate a Priorat blend.  But the color of those blends is going to come mostly from the syrah or carignan.  In the end, we'll see how it turns out--I was just hoping for a little more color in the grenache base wine.  Perhaps if I have enough left over from blending, I'll even try to treat the single varietal like a Italian nebbiolo where is packed with tannins, but light in color.

That is the beauty of wine--blend it to achieve what you are truly aiming for!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Crush Winding Down, Sort of

After all the excitement this week, I'm feeling a little let down as the 2011 crush season is winding down.  I'll admit that having M&M crush & destem for me robbed a little bit of the experience, but it did save me a lot of work (especially on clean-up).  I didn't admit to it in the last post, but I actually left the carignane sitting on the loading dock at M&M when I picked up the rest of the grapes.  Was in a hurry since I had gotten there a little late and they brought out a pallet of frozen buckets that was wrapped up so nice, and I completely forgot to count buckets.  Got home and realized that the carignane was a separate pallet of buckets.

What do you do in this case?  Thank your lucky stars that your girlfriend's parents lives just north of Hartford and happens to be coming to your house for Thanksgiving.  Shawna's dad graciously agreed to stop at M&M on Wednesday and pick up the carignane for me.  What a guy--I did send them home with 5 bottles of wine as a thank you! 

The syrah and grenache are pretty much done with alcohol fermentation.  I innoculated with MLB near the end to take advantage of the warm vat temperatures and big nutrient source in the grapeskins.  Trying to extend a maceration until next weekend when I can press.  The cab sauv is coming along a little slower--just about half done with alcohol fermentation.  And the carignane just got innoculated this morning.

Of course, that makes it sound like things are starting to wind down for the year.  Can't have that!  So I got a bee in my bonnet about other sparkling wines I could make from MA produce and thought--sparkling cranberry apple!  Can't get much more New England-y than that.  Found some premium cider and loaded up on cranberries on the cheap this week and just started the base wine tonight.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 Fermentation---at last!

It's been a long, long, & difficult harvest season in California this year.  Spring rains that knocked the pollen off the flowers and resulted in drastically reduced yields followed by cool summer temperatures that extended into fall.  Many vineyards failed to reached maturity and the fruit was left to rot on the vine.

I've been patiently waiting for my grape order to arrive.  Almost a month later than usual, the Koch Vineyard cabernet sauvignon reached maturity and was harvested.  Of course--it arrived on the East Coast just in time for our Snowtober.  Thankfully, the emergency back-up generators at M&M kept it cool.  I was simply unable to receive the fruit after it arrived, so I had M&M crush/destem and freeze the must until I could get down to CT to pick it up.  The Koch cab sauv was actually the ONLY thing in my order that arrived on the East Coast.  Everything else either failed to mature or West Coast wineries snatched it all up.  But, my broker Nick was able to find some replacements for the rest of what I had ordered.  What a guy!

The line-up for 2011:

32 gallons of Koch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Suisan Valley)
23 gallons of Lambert Ridge Syrah (Suisan Valley)
12 gallons of Paso Robles Grenache Noir
14 gallons of Lambert Ridge Carignane (Suisan Valley-a special fermentation treat for Shawna)

Now, this will be the absolute latest that I've ever fermented wine and is pushing the envelope of my creativity to get the frozen must thawed and warm enough for the yeast to be fruitful and multiply.  Here's some pictures of what I've resorted to.  The fermentors are clustered around a space heater and then covered with blankets to contain the heat as much as possible.  So far, it's working.  Must temperature after innoculation is ~70 °F and cap formation was evident within 18 hrs.  I'd like to spike the temperature to at least 85 °F so will continue the heat tent treatment, especially as the temperature dips below 32 °F at night.