This time of year the vineyard is losing its leaves, the wine has finished primary fermentation and you get a small break to catch your breath and find out if your wine is ready to age. What does that mean? Well, first you have to see if the malolactic fermentation is complete. Then determine the acid profile (pH/TA). Get an alcohol content to pay taxes to the Feds. Finally, taste the wine and see if the oak has incorporated into the wine and you are ready to rack, sulfur and put the wine to sleep until spring.
We are sending off samples this week and will find out our status and make adjustments if necessary. We did a taste taste last night and it is so interesting that the Pommard and 667 clones are so distinct in taste. We think some of it is due to the clonal differences, some from the fact that the Pommard was riper with more raisin’ed berries, and some that the Pommard looked to start fermentation prior to our inoculation with Assmanhausen yeast. The best news is both taste great at this point in time and we will find out in 9 months which is better for the 2015 vintage! I’m guessing for 2014 we will make three Pinot’s…Pommard, 667 and a Reserve wine that is a blend of the two clones. We are really looking forward to our blending party in August!
I moved the wine into our new temperature controlled wine room anticipating the ML had finished.
Wine room temperature/humidity.
2013 was our second harvest and our second year of making Russian River Pinot. What was really exciting is that we kept 1/2 ton to make our own wine and sold 2 tons to Horse and Plow. We get to see in a year or so how our winemaking stacks up to a commercial winery.
So…even though we really liked our 2012 Pinot and got good reviews from our wine friends and an entire wedding party, we decided to make improvements for this year. I hope this will be our close to our final process.
IMPROVEMENTS FROM 2012
1. Less watering from set to veraison to reduce pH of grapes – This was a success so far. Our grapes came in at 3.76 ph vs 3.9 last year even though brix went up from 23 to 24.
2. We will “oak” our wine during secondary fermentation instead of waiting until it is finished
3. We purchased a bladder press and a destemmer only. The destemmer did not crush the grapes so we hope to have some whole berries and I think we will get a better juice from this small press.
4. We did not add enzymes this year. From what I read and discussed with other winemakers this is not needed from Pinot Noir due to the thin skin.
5. We will press the grapes before they have gone dry to reduce the amount of harsh tannins you get from the seeds. Seed tannins are alcohol soluble.
6. We picked at a higher brix for a riper berry. We hope this will add more complex flavors, but not to high to be overpowering with alcohol.
7. When we sulfur after malolactic fermentation, we will add a larger dose of sulfur upfront instead of trying to keep it at the correct range every month. The intent is to stop any harmful bacteria from growing initially by binding them with sulfur and make adjustments a few months later.
WHAT STAYED THE SAME
1. The cold soak is still 5 days with dry ice.
2. We will continue to use oak adjuncts with our Flex Tanks. We think the Flex Tanks give us a better aromatic profile than oak barrels. In addition, with a small winemaking operation oak barrels are difficult to manage. We have had 2 friends whose wine went bad due to bad barrels this last year.
3. We used Assmanhausen yeast again this year. Many people ferment with wild yeast but with our higher pH that would be a big risk.