2018 Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz in UK

Discussion in 'Wine Making from Grapes' started by bathman, Sep 30, 2018.

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  1. Sep 30, 2018 #1

    bathman

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    Thought I would post my progress for my first proper attempt at making wine from grapes.

    The first main issue for me at this stage is how difficult it has been sourcing 'serious' wine making supplies here in the UK, as you can't get half the stuff available to US home winemakers. so MLF bacteria is very limited to non-existent; Vinmetrica equipment is not available so limited SO2 testing; limited MLF chromatography testing, yeast nutrient, MLF nutrients etc. There seems to be a gap in the market which needs filling.

    The second main issue is the expense - based on the money I have spent so far each bottle of wine I am producing will have cost £40 (or about $50)!

    I could only find a single business in the UK that imported a wide variety of wine grapes from Europe for sale to the home wine maker. I made a 300 mile return journey to get the grapes (that's probably not very far in the US), and picked up about 180lb of Cabernet Sauvignon and 90lb of Shiraz grapes, both from Italy.
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    The grape crusher I ordered didn't arrive in time (was coming from Italy) so I ended up destemming and crushing the grapes by hand into food-grade buckets. Fortunately I had a little help...
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    Following crushing I tested the must. Both grapes had an OG of 1.093 (potential alcohol of 13%) and added some meta-k (something else that is also difficult to get here in the UK, all homebrew stores seem to stock sodium meta). Both had similar pH of 3.5 and TA of ~7.5g/L and decided not to make any adjustments at this stage.

    I had wanted to use Lalvin RC212 yeast for both types of grape but there seemed to be a real availability issue in the UK everywhere was out of stock; I ended up ordering some from the US but again it didn't turn up on time. I ended up using Lalvin 71B-1122 for the Cab and Mangrove Jacks VR21 for the Shiraz - not ideal but I didn't have much other choice.

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    I decided to press on day 7 before primary fermentation had completed with the SG at about 1.020, mainly because otherwise it would be another 7 days before I would have the chance to press and I was happy with the colour extraction achieved over 7 days. Used a drilled plastic bottle to get the majority of free run from the buckets, and then pressed the grapes. In total got 31 litres of Cab and 17 litres of Shiraz. Made of use of some very small demijohns (down to 1 litre) to get all the wine, which I will use to top up after racking. Otherwise the Cab has gone into a stainless steel 6 gallon tank (~25 litres).

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    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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  2. Sep 30, 2018 #2

    bathman

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    Allowed the wine to sit on the gross lees for 5 days (would have preferred shorter) whilst it completed primary fermentation. For the Cab FG was 0.994 and for the Shiraz FG of 0.991 - measured with a precision 0.9 - 1.0 hydrometer. Both pH and TA have increased following fermentation to around 0.9g/L and pH 3.7, but decided to carry out MLF before making any adjustments. The pH will probably increase further but hoping the TA drops enough to allow me to add some tartaric acid to lower the pH.

    I don't have a particularly refined palette but I prefer the taste of the Shiraz at the moment to the Cab; the Cab tastes quite sharp. Following racking off the gross lees about 23L of the Cab is in a small S/S tank and a 5L demijohn, and the Shiraz is in a 15L demijohn. I add Viniflora Oenos culture to all vessels for MLF; as far as I can tell this has now started successfully. I am using heat mats to keep the temperature of the wine at about 70 deg F. The Shiraz is seems to be undergoing MLF much more rapidly than the Cab. Part of this might be because the 71B yeast apparently metabolizes up to 40% of malic acid, so perhaps there is just less in the Cab to ferment.

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  3. Sep 30, 2018 #3

    bathman

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    A video of MLF, the first view is the Shiraz which is very active, the second is the Cab which is much slower

     
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  4. Sep 30, 2018 #4

    Boatboy24

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    Despite all your challenges, things seem to be moving along nicely. Great color on that wine!
     
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  5. Oct 2, 2018 #5

    bathman

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    So a bit of a strange one...I just took the lid off my stainless steel mini tank to check on how MLF is going. Seems to be fine, strong blanket of CO2 on top of the wine. Anyway, I noticed there was a ton of condensation on the underside of the lid.

    Does anyone know if this condensation is likely to be pure alcohol evaporating off the wine? It is clear like water but definitely a very alcoholic taste. Was wondering if I should let it all run off back into the wine or clean it off each time...don't want to go cleaning off pure alcohol and find my wine ends up being only 5% ABV by the end!
     
  6. Oct 2, 2018 #6

    Boatboy24

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    I get that on the lids of my fermenters as well. Always just assumed it was H2O and dump it back in. Never thought to taste it though.
     
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  7. Oct 2, 2018 #7

    Ajmassa5983

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    Sounds like your right. I know for barrels it’s said if the room is low humidity then the first thing to evaporate from the wine would be water. (Concentrating the wine and slightly higher abv). If high humidity the ethanol evaporates first (obviously lowering the abv some)

    And if condensation is just one or the other then pretty easy to tell. Let it run back into the wine if it’s pure ethanol.
    Great thread btw. Sounds like you were extremely prepared. 2 questions
    -is that tank variable capacity? I didn’t know they made em that small. I gotta look into that.
    -what’s the bung your using for your demi? Did you Order it online ?
     
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  8. Oct 2, 2018 #8

    bathman

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    The liquid almost tastes like Grappa so pretty sure there's a fair bit of alcohol in it.

    It's fixed capacity, it's actually a beer fermenter but nothing special about it so can use it as a mini wine tank. It has a little tap at the bottom which comes in quite handy for taking samples and racking. it also has a thermowell fitted so use that to monitor and control temperature using a low wattage heat blanket taped to it. It is air tight so plan is to use it for long term ageing.
    Its a rubber cap for the demi, got it online when I bought the demi. It fits over the top like a johnny rather than inserted like a normal bung. I don't actually like it because I don't think it is fully air tight, so I have just bought a giant bung which I need to drill out to use instead.
     
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  9. Oct 2, 2018 #9

    Ajmassa5983

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    All the detail and pics are great. (And the pic of your daughter picking grapes is a gem!)
    Strictly out of curiousity, in your search for grapes did you ever come across French grapes available to the home winemaker? I always assumed you could in Europe. Especially being so close there in the UK. (And 300 mile drive is far no matter where your from btw!)
     
  10. Oct 3, 2018 #10

    Boatboy24

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    Those of you who've not seen MLF in action before, this is a great clip to watch. The first (as mentioned) is VERY active. The second is still pretty active. But it gives you an idea of what to expect - those tiny bubbles.
     
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  11. Oct 3, 2018 #11

    bathman

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    Nope, could not source French grapes over here in the UK. In fact there are very limited options entirely in terms of finding a company that imports grapes to the UK for home wine making. I only found one company, who imports Italian, Sicilian and Spanish grapes. They operate for one month a year in September to coincide with harvests. In part I just don't think there is the market over here, we are more a nation of wine drinkers than wine makers :)
     
  12. Oct 3, 2018 #12

    Ajmassa5983

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    Definitely have seen a few Northern Europeans on this forum since I’ve been using it. UK and Ireland for sure. But I think always was kits. Not grapes.
     
  13. Oct 12, 2018 #13

    bathman

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    I tried my first chromatography testing of my wine to see how the MLF is progressing. Ideally I would have tested before starting MLF to have something to compare too but the test kit didn't arrive in time.

    The photo below shows the results, does this look like I have done it right? The two samples on the left are 1g/L and 2g/L malic acid samples, with the 3 on the right my wine. If I'm reading this right it is showing lactic acid present in all wines, but not registering any malic acid, is that right?

    If that is the case it is a little surprising as all wines are still visibly showing signs of MLF taking place - although noticeably slower than when MLF started 2 weeks ago.
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    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  14. Oct 12, 2018 #14

    Boatboy24

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    Looks done to me. But it is always good to let it go a week or two more, as there might still be some lactic in there that isn't picked up by the test.
     
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  15. Oct 12, 2018 #15

    Ajmassa5983

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    It’s difficult to tell exactly what’s going on there for a few reasons.
    -you didn’t use the standard malic/tartaric/lactic samples to see where they would register on the paper.
    -looks like paper wasn’t leftnin solvent long enough. Still a few more inches to top cutting off lactic
    -testing 1g/L and 2g/L malic samples (wine or malic sample?) should register bright malic spots but also show tartaric and some lactic.
    Your wines should have tartaric spots either way but don’t see em. And without the top portion there’s a lot of unknown still.

    If those left spots are malic then your done MLf like Boatboy said. But then where’s the tartaric spots ? And with lactic spots cut off ya can’t be conclusive in an already not fully conclusive test.
    Also it would help if your starting line was closer to bottom. 3/4” up maybe. And only need 1/4”-1/2” of solvent in the jar. I leave it in the jar overnight. Usually not pulling out till the next afternoon.
     
  16. Oct 12, 2018 #16

    Ajmassa5983

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    Did u mean the malic samples were a wine with
    1 & 2miligrams/L ? Meaning a wine that has already gone thru MLf wth known malic content?From where the wine samples were added to the paper to where your 3 bright spots are looks like where the malic would typically register.
     
  17. Oct 12, 2018 #17

    bathman

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    No, the 1g/l and 2g/l were Malic acid solutions that came with the test kit - with the intention that you can compare these to your wine samples to get an idea of the concentration of malic left in your wine. Based on this, it would suggest there is no malic in my wine (or at least none that registers using this method), as if there was malic present it would show at the same level as the two left hand dots.

    IMG_20181012_210541.jpg

    This kit I got seems to be different that others, in that it doesn't come with Lactic and Tartaric samples, just various concentrations of Malic. The instructions essentially just say that tartaric will present at the bottom, malic in the middle and lactic at the top. I suppose its fair enough in that the acids will always appear in that same order, so not absolutely necessary to use samples of each of the acids.

    I will run another test tomorrow and leave it in the solvent for longer as you suggest, and also not use staples as that caused some colour distortion on the result. Maybe I will mix up a tartaric acid solution to use as a test spot.

    The Shiraz does seem to show a very feint spot where I would expect tartaric but strange that the others are showing nothing.
     
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  18. Oct 12, 2018 #18

    Ajmassa5983

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    Wow That’s really cool. Have not seen the sample malic like that before.
    Given this info I take back what I said. Your assumptions are spot on. Regardless of the other acids you know where u stand with the malic content. I don’t think there’s a need to test again. And just as Boatboy said- give it another few weeks to let the last little bit that won’t show on the test to convert just in case.

    I need to get me some of those malic samples
     
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