2023 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay - making it even better this year!

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NorCal

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Last year I made a barrel fermented Chardonnay from fresh, local juice (link to thread), the first time of making a white on this scale. I want to parlay the things I purchased (barrel) and what I learned from last year to make an even better wine this year. It was the first time I ever made a wine from anything except grapes picked the day of. I have to say, I was a little concerned about how the wine would turn out. I expected a thin wine without a lot of character. I was wrong. Even though I know I can do better this year, last year's Chardonnay is our favorite white wine we've ever made. The style we are wanting is a Rombauer: peach, citrus, creamy and some would call buttery.

The plan
- 55 gallon drum, three 6 gallon buckets of fresh Chardonnay juice.
- Barrel fermented, French oak supplement
- TR-313 yeast
- Beta MLF for diacetyl (buttery)

Improvement Opportunities
- slower fermentation: went dry in 5 days last year
- daily lees stirring: proved that more is better
- don't be shy on the Bentonite: showed that a larger dose cleared better, with very minor change in tasteIMG_6332.jpeg
 
Reserved the juice today. Their prices continue to be attractive. 55 gallon drum @$5.50 per gallon, 6 gallon buckets @$40 each. Total $422.50 to conservatively make the 60 gallons net or 300 bottles. $1.40 per bottle. If converted back to fruit cost it is around $.35 per pound, $700 per ton. To put in perspective, most all the fruit around here is at or above $1 per pound, $2,000 per ton.
 
Looks like a great start. can't wait to see the whole process. I spent 6 hours crushing and pressing my Chardonnay grapes last week. definitely a labor of love. your price for juice is great. I paid about 1k dollars to get one barrel of juice from grapes. also my press isn't pressing as dry as I'd like, so lost about 10%

does your supplier for juice get grapes from their own vineyard or buy in bulk from lots of different areas?
 
Looks like a great start. can't wait to see the whole process. I spent 6 hours crushing and pressing my Chardonnay grapes last week. definitely a labor of love. your price for juice is great. I paid about 1k dollars to get one barrel of juice from grapes. also my press isn't pressing as dry as I'd like, so lost about 10%

does your supplier for juice get grapes from their own vineyard or buy in bulk from lots of different areas?
Bulk from lots of different vineyards. Suspect highly mechanized to be able to sell at this cost. Their destemmer was enormous. It is a big operation.
 
I’ve been monitoring the mlf bubble production and it has ended. Looking at last years test notes, mlf was shown as completed now. Plan is to rack this weekend. I’ve been really good at daily stirrings. My plan is to do a “dirty” rack; purposely retaining some of the fine lees, then shifting to a weekly stir.
 
I ordered a French oak barrel pack of wine spirals, light toast for the Chardonnay. I'm shooting for 2nd year or so equivalent oak, so I will take two of the spirals out of the 6 spirals in the pack and use them in another wine. I also did a cyber Monday sale to buy labels, a tribute to one of our horses that recently passed away.

chard.jpg
 
Hi NorCal,

Would you mind sharing your decision making process on MLF? What do you look for in your chardonnay that makes you want to do MLF? Are there TA/pH numbers you have in mind? I've got Chardonnay on the way and would like to do MLF for the buttery profile, but am concerned my TA/pH may be too low to get a good result.

Thanks!
 
Hi NorCal,

Would you mind sharing your decision making process on MLF? What do you look for in your chardonnay that makes you want to do MLF? Are there TA/pH numbers you have in mind? I've got Chardonnay on the way and would like to do MLF for the buttery profile, but am concerned my TA/pH may be too low to get a good result.

Thanks!
As noted in the first post, the goal was to make a wine in the Rombauer style: peach, citrus, creamy and some would call buttery.

I see this style of Chard as being less bright (acid influence), rounder, fuller flavor and developing as much diacetyl (buttery notes) as possible. MLF achieves this by reducing the sharper Malo acid and converting it to Lactic acid and using an MLB (Beta) that creates a lot of diacetyl. All this coupled with a lightly toasted French Oak influence makes the Chardonnay a wine that is full of flavor that lasts a long time on the palette.

My view of acid additions: You need to have the right pH for SO2 efficacy and I have adjusted acid for this reason. I have never adjusted wines to hit a TA number. I have made adjustments to wine, that I was ok with it's pH, to achieve a taste profile, but never to hit a TA number. Once I know a wine will be microbial stable with reasonable pH/free SO2, I put away the meters and only making adjusting to taste.

I should note that I try to add/subtract as little as possible to the wine. I only use adjuncts or make adjustments if there is a problem with the grapes. I think the acid profile has to fit the style of wine you are making. A 3.6 pH Sauvignon Blanc may not be all that great, but I am totally comfortable with a 3.6 pH barrel aged Chardonnay as I am a big 3.8 pH red.
 

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