2021 Bordeaux Blend

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Sep 5, 2019
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First of I want to express my gratitude for all the help and advice I have received from this group. I have been ramping up my learning and wine making efforts for the past couple of years. I really ramped up my game this year with some new kit. New crusher destemmer, hydraulic bladder press, all-in-one pump, SC-300 and many other various gadgets that really help. All of thee purchases were guided by past threads and or advice from this site.

I wanted to make another Bordeaux blend this year, but this year I was going to barrel age. I wanted to learn from the mistakes of last year and this year make a big, bold, fruit forward blend that was light on bitter tannins. Blend was going to be a field blend of roughly 70% Cab and 30% merlot, but my first 3 gallons of top up wine would be my petit verdot from last year.

Started with hand picking my fruit. I feared picking 1000lbs would take longer but it wasn't too bad. Next year's purchase ... a macro bin.

2021 Grapes.jpg

Crushing went well, the new crusher/destemmer was a champ and made quick work of my grapes.
So2 , Llalyzyme EX-V , and Nobelese added and then cold soaked for about a day. Was planning on longer but work schedule had me heat up the garage and must sooner and get fermenting with Bravo. Given my sulphur issues last year I wanted to remove all potential issues. Bravo worked just as advertised and no sulphur odours whatsoever and a quick clean ferment. I co-innoculated with CH-16 one day after ferment. Ps thank you again @NorCal for the fermentation planning spreadsheet.
Slowly brought up the heat and capped out about 74 degrees before slowly bringing it back down. In all a fairly cool ferment and I thought it would have taken longer but 7 days to go from an average of 24.6 brix to 1 brix.

Using some of my new gadgets I was able to syphon off the majority of free run juice. I had cored a hole through the wall between my garage and the basement where my wine room was so I could rack straight into the basement with no lugging buckets. The All-in-one wine pump got the siphon started and connected to 18' of 1/2" siphon hose, a racking cane, a plastic well screen and the mesh from all-in-one made quick work of the free run with zero plugging or grape skins. Doing it this way, I was able to leave the the heavy load of lees and seeds undisturbed at the bottom of the brutes. So much better than past years.
The hydraulic bladder press worked great and I gave all the batches a light press of 1 bar.
On another thread I was worried about vessel to hold the wine in for the day or so while I waited for the gross lees to settle. I was given the confidence by @NorCal to use some of my open top fermenters so I did, but covered in cling wrap which I think it worked great.

All the while this was going on, I had added 6-8 gallons of hot water to my barrel. I was worried I left this too late, but after a few rotations, it sealed up quick and I have great suction on the bung. To support the barrel, inspired by @crushday , I made a slick cart this summer and that has made moving and manipulating the barrel so much easier.
Barrel.JPGbarrel head.JPG

Tomorrow I rack into the barrel and by the weekend start my baseline testing for MLF.
While waiting for the press today, I thought about how much easier and better my wine making was this year. This is due to all the advice and tips I had read or received.

Ps, the wine tastes great so far, I'm very excited. Thank you all.

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Grape juice artisan
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Jul 1, 2018
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Pacific NW - S. Sound
@Rocktop Amazing progression of winemaking techniques. My experience on this site is very similar to yours. Without the wisdom and experience of many here I'd be wearing out the card reader at Total Wine five miles from my house, lol...

I'd be interested in how your barreled wine develops over time. Mine right now is in that awkward stage waiting for all the compounds to figure out they'll actually taste better if they just figure out how to enjoy each other. Keep us posted, please.


Senior Member
Aug 1, 2016
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We used Bravo this year as well and very impressed with the ferment and nose so far. Looks like you had a good time with all your new equipment!


California Garagiste
Feb 15, 2018
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Sacramento Metro
We used Bravo this year as well and very impressed with the ferment and nose so far. Looks like you had a good time with all your new equipment!
Agree. Bravo a strong winner this year.

Next year's mission is to compare Avante directly to Bravo. These H2S preventing yeasts are so cool, I even got a stock of Fresco to do some cider in a few weeks.

Great results @Rocktop !


No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Mar 18, 2012
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DC Suburbs
Great job, @Rocktop ! Thanks for sharing your experience. Looks like you've got a solid process nailed down.

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