Quantcast

2020 Barrel; The best Merlot heavy, Bordeaux blend possible

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
My wine making started in Cab Franc, mostly because I have excellent access to the grapes. Then @4score and I found a nice commercial Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard that would sell us a ton or two of grapes. Last year was the first year I worked with Merlot to create the Cab Franc blend. I kept a separate carboy of Merlot, because I wanted to see how it tastes. The Merlot is definitely softer, more elegant tasting than the Cab Franc or Cab Sauv. Since I have a pretty good collection now of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv individual or blended wine in the cellar (400+ bottles), I want to make something different this year.

I've been caring for some vines in a Merlot vineyard and will be getting all the fruit from the row I've been looking after. I will use these Merlot grapes as the feature grape in this year's barrel. I will also be getting / fermenting local Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot, so I'll have plenty of options for blending.

I will take everything I learned from last year's Cab Franc blend and apply it to this year's barrel. I will share all the decisions I am making and the steps I am taking to make the wine the best I can possibly make, with the equipment that I have. I appreciate all the input from last year's barrel and would appreciate the feedback and input on this year's barrel as well.

wine bench and box.JPG
 

Johnd

Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,597
Reaction score
6,474
Location
South Louisiana
My wine making started in Cab Franc, mostly because I have excellent access to the grapes. Then @4score and I found a nice commercial Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard that would sell us a ton or two of grapes. Last year was the first year I worked with Merlot to create the Cab Franc blend. I kept a separate carboy of Merlot, because I wanted to see how it tastes. The Merlot is definitely softer, more elegant tasting than the Cab Franc or Cab Sauv. Since I have a pretty good collection now of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv individual or blended wine in the cellar (400+ bottles), I want to make something different this year.

I've been caring for some vines in a Merlot vineyard and will be getting all the fruit from the row I've been looking after. I will use these Merlot grapes as the feature grape in this year's barrel. I will also be getting / fermenting local Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot, so I'll have plenty of options for blending.

I will take everything I learned from last year's Cab Franc blend and apply it to this year's barrel. I will share all the decisions I am making and the steps I am taking to make the wine the best I can possibly make, with the equipment that I have. I appreciate all the input from last year's barrel and would appreciate the feedback and input on this year's barrel as well.

View attachment 64799
Well, you already know that I’m a huge fan of the Alain Fouquet frenchies, Bordeaux style barrels. You pay for the quality of the wood, and it delivers. They have a distributor in CA, your shipping would be much less than to south Louisiana, if you couldn’t just pick it up. My two cents.
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Kicking the Merlot blend barrel off with Petit Verdot. There is a small PV vineyard on a hill that always ripens before the other PV on the property. These grapes are usually past the point of usability by the time the other grapes are ready, so we never sell them. I’m going to pull 100 pounds to get a carboy of PV to use for this years blend.

4CFEAA15-0B42-4235-839C-C4803EC0144F.jpeg
950CEB33-A016-4EAE-837D-FF213FCE8AA2.jpeg
0B7336AF-C15B-4232-AE6D-B7E6B0B932AB.jpeg
 

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
13,994
Reaction score
10,673
Location
DC Suburbs
Kicking the Merlot blend barrel off with Petit Verdot. There is a small PV vineyard on a hill that always ripens before the other PV on the property. These grapes are usually past the point of usability by the time the other grapes are ready, so we never sell them. I’m going to pull 100 pounds to get a carboy of PV to use for this years blend.

View attachment 65076
View attachment 65074
View attachment 65075
And we're off!
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Well my plans for a Merlot heavy Bordeaux blend has taken a twist. I was expecting to make 48 gallons of Merlot, but looks like I’ll only yield 20 or so due to deer eating my fruit. I still have Cab Sauv and Cab Franc to go and I’ll have enough for a barrel, but it looks like Merlot will be an equal partner.

I ended having more Petit Verdot than I thought, so I decided to take the free run juice only. I will be getting plenty of structure from the Cab Franc and Cab Sauv.

i took 3 gallons of juice out of the Merlot grapes and will be making a case of Rose. Watered back to 20 brix, aciduated to 3.4 pH.

@Chuck E, the canopy in this vineyard does tend to fall apart prematurely.
C592107C-BE7E-4928-923B-02ACAADE1265.jpeg
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Love your crusher/destemmer, and is that a Tiger in the garage?
Fellow car guy as is @sour_grapes! It’s actually an Alpine that had a Ford V6 dropped in it in the 70’s. It sat for 15 years before I picked it up. Now running, driving, fun little car. I bought a 289 with the thought of doing a V8 swap, but there is a bunch more to it, due to the extra size. We shall see.
352176E4-D691-47D8-BD7A-1A65D478E9E8.jpeg
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I‘m trying my hardest to reduce the amount of wine I make. This has created logistics problems when trying to do a single barrel with 4 grape varieties, that come in at different times. I begged @4score to lend me a container for a few weeks to hold my Cab Franc until the Cab Sauv comes in. He had an extra, but I know the rental won’t be cheap.

A pic of when two hobbies compete for space.
6DB68CFB-31A2-4116-988D-D6451B2C1288.jpeg
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I pressed the Merlot this morning. I got 25% more than I expected. Either the vineyard owner’s scale is off or she purposely under charged me.

Two of the 4 varieties are now completed.
- 6.5 gallon Petit Verdot - all free run, won’t use all of it
- 28 gallon Merlot - 22.5 free run 5.5 gallon pressed (also pulled 3 gallons out for a Saignee Rose)

I used my Wineasy to ferment, then press the Merlot. Pretty easy to do solo without too much clean-up
E79A64C3-748E-4657-86E4-B258BADE8B20.jpeg
FE3384EB-06A2-4B6B-9A8B-DD9F8966FF4C.jpeg
3973B544-1C00-459E-A016-65F2E53A9707.jpeg
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Picked up 500 pounds of Cab Franc today. I wasn’t thrilled with the fruit. I was shocked that the brix came in at 27 1/2. Very little raisining, but not very juicy. The pH came it at 3.6, which is abnormally low for this brix and question the measurement. I pulled out 3 1/2 gallons for a Saignee rose (watered back and acidulated). I’m considering watering back a little, but since the Merlot and Petit Verdot were such low brix, I’m not feeling compelled to water back too much.
C740DAFC-3B43-4859-93A1-FC84F30CB0E7.jpeg
 

Kraffty

Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
3,205
Location
Northern Arizona
I get your thinking but what yeast would you use if you didn't water back a bit. Thats a pretty high ABV to manage.
 

CDrew

California Garagiste
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
798
Reaction score
1,030
Location
Sacramento Metro
Yep. Avante for the win. There is no down side. No problems with MLF, no problems with stuck fermentations, no problems with high temps, no problems with H2S. Hard to use anything else. I have 500 gm of D21 ready to go, but the Avante keeps being excellent.
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,184
Reaction score
3,313
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I talked to another winemaker that got the same fruit. His pH was 4.0, which is what I suspected. I remeasured brix the next morning and it had come down, coupled with my acidulated water add, we are at a 26 brix starting point with pH hovering around 3.7 after my tartaric add. This cab franc will be blended with other lower brix, lower pH wine, so I didn’t feel I needed to be too aggressive on the adjustment.
 

Latest posts

Top