What is unfined/unfiltered and why do I need to know this?
Back in 2014 I discussed how easy it is to make wine vegan and gluten free, but now I want to touch upon sediment in wine and why you should not fear sediment or crystals in your wine.
The process of fining wine adds components to remove defects and treats wine with the use of animal and plant proteins, clay, fish bladders, plastics, etc. You make a wine more consistent wine year to year, but you are removing flavor.
Filtering the wine removes small to microscopic particles… again at the expense of flavor.
Our Pinot Noir does not get fined or filtered, we just “rack” off the wine from the sediment on the bottom of the barrel during the winemaking process. This may leave a small amount of sediment in the bottle/cork but we have not removed any of the unique flavor of the grapes!
As far as the glass like crystals…these are tartrate crystals. Most large wineries either fine these out or cold stabilize the wine below 32F to allow the crystals to adhere to the side/bottom of the tank. Small high end wineries are concerned that losing these crystals will remove flavor, so they limit the cold stabilization to around 38-40F. Since Pinot Noir is served at room temperature, you should not see these crystals, but you might in your glass of Chardonnay. The only cold stabilization we do is naturally from the chill of winter in our barn!
When is sediment and crystals bad? When the wine has gone bad and you can taste it in your glass…otherwise, don’t worry about it. In fact many boutique wineries feature unfined/unfiltered wine to preserve the flavors, just like we do at Turtle Vines.
Merry Christmas to all!!!
I’m toasting to all of you for a wonderful holiday season! What am I drinking? Just did a barrel sample of our 2014 Pinot Noir, and it is wonderful. Nice deep color and I think a little more complex than in previous years…will have to see what it tastes like in the spring. It gets racked Monday/Tuesday, sulfured and then I will leave it alone for 5-6 months…except for a little cold treatment in January.
We had a bottle of the 2013 Pinot Noir at Thanksgiving and I think it will be ready for release in a few months.
Last week, our friends Don and Lynne Smith came for a visit from NJ. Being it was harvest time, I did my best Huck Finn impression and had them help me with picking/destemming/pressing and racking! They got to experience everything except bottling. Below are some other pictures of them enjoying the process!
Just a quick update on the 2013 Pinot Noir. Yesterday I spent the morning racking off the lees (dead yeast). Started with 73.5 gallons and after racking ended up with 71.5 gallons, enough for 30 cases. The only thing left to do before bottling in 6-9 months is sulfur to prevent spoilage, taste and make any small adjustments for acidity. How does it taste? Wonderful for its age! It has transitioned from fermented grape juice to young wine.
For those unfamiliar with the term, racking is the process of separating the liquid on the top from the solids on the bottom. You do this for several reasons; you want to end up with clear wine so you rack to get rid of the sediment, you need to get rid of the dead yeast because if you leave it to long it might give you a funky smell/taste. However, for Pinot Noir, you don’t want to rack it to much as this variety does not liked to be handled. Last year I racked the wine 3 times before bottling and this year I’m hoping that the day after pressing and this racking will be sufficient.
Our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are enjoying the cold temperatures here at Turtle Vines. Not like the rest of the country, but cold enough for wine!
A lot of people ask…”What do you do in the winter?” Well, you need to rack off the dead yeast (lees), check pH and acidity, determine if secondary fermentation is complete, sulfur the wine so it does not go bad…and of course taste the wine and make sure something “funky” is not going on while you weren’t watching. Right now we don’t have all the equipment for testing, so we are sending it to a lab…here are the results and the actions we took.
By the way, did a blind tasting of our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc vs 2011 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc and even as ours is only 3 months old 3 of 4 people preferred it!
Alcohol – 12.7%
TA – .375 … sulfured to 0.6 g/100ml
pH – 4.1 … will come down to around 3.9 after acid addition
Sulfured to 60ppm
Alcohol – 13.9%
TA – 0.465 … adjusted to 0.55 g/100ml
pH – 3.95 … will come down to around 3.85 after acid addition
Sulfured to 75ppm
Has it oaken enough? Always a difficult question but much more controllable since we use Flextanks and Oak Balls. If you were reading any of the September posts, we pressed on 9/23/13 and racked and oaked on 9/24/13. The vendor recommended that the oak go in during malolactic fermentation to smooth integration of oak to the wine. They said it should remain for approximately 8 weeks for maximum extraction. We took them out 12/3/13 so it was 10 weeks…I tasted the wine and it was very nice. It has not fully finished malolactic fermentation, but I think it will be a great vintage!
All of our 2013 wine is now set for the winter. The Pinot Noir is undergoing malolactic fermentation and probably won’t finish for at least a month or longer depending on the temperature of the garage. The Sauvignon Blanc is finishing primary fermentation and we will introduce malolactic bacteria in a few weeks when we rack a third time.
So…31 cases of Pinot Noir (we sold 2.1 tons of grapes) and 4.7 cases of Sauvignon Blanc!