Other Bottling vs Bulk Aging

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by facn1989, Oct 4, 2017.

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  1. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Hi,

    I see mostly everyone bulk ages, but unfortunately I can't do that. I live in a small apartment and only have space for a conical fermenter. Basically, I can only do on batch at a time. And I bottle once the instructions say so. That also means I have to add all the chemicals to clear since I don't have the benefit of bulk aging. My question is, will my wine quality decline because I don't bulk age? I'll still be aging in the bottle for two years before drinking.

    Also does adding the clearing agents (which I have no choice but to add them) alter the flavor of the wine. And if so, do they go away once bottle has aged for two years?

    Thanks!
     
  2. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    My first year of winemaking I made the wine by the kit instructions, to include bottling at 8 weeks. My oldest batch is a WineXpert Eclipse Lodi Ranch 11 which will be three years next month. I am drinking a couple batches that are over two years now as well, all made by the book. They are excellent wines, really quality wines. The last year and a half I've been bulk aging, barrel aging, extended maceration and going for the extra umph. Too early to tell how much all of that will add to my wine when they reach two or three years. But I can tell you, that if you make high end kits by the book, and let them bottle age, and they're properly degassed, you will have wine that you can be very proud of in two years, and moreso in three.

    Make what you can, how you can, then leave some of them alone for a couple years to really see how they shine. Don't fret over what you can't do.
     
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  3. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Thanks! That is a relief. I made some mistakes on my first batch (which I learned from). I was curious of your opinion on how you rate them vs commercial wines. I'm picky about my wine. I've only had one or two wines which I genuinely enjoy under $15 (they're usually just OK, lack body and complexity). Then I've had some very good ones in the $20-$30 (which we have anytime we make a nice dinner) and spring for a $50 bottle for special occasions. We had an AMAZING Pinot Noir the other night! The point is, can I get a truly enjoyable wine with body/structure/complexity/aromas/long finish that a good commercial wine can? This is assuming I just follow the instructions. Maybe in the future I'll look into extended maceration. Appreciate your input!
     
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  4. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    That's a good question, but with everyone's sense of taste and suitability being unique one that I can't answer for you. In general, and for me, I would say that high end kit red wine, made with skins packs, aged over two years is certainly comparable with $15-20 wines in many cases. The nose is initially lacking, but picks up after 2 years and starts to be decent. The mouthfeel and structure really comes into being after two years, and is excellent close to 3.

    Having said that, I've had some $50 wine I wouldn't pay $5 for a second time. I've also had some $12 wines that were way better than my kits. These days there doesn't seem to be a high correlation between wine cost and quality. Certainly prestigious vintners will always make a high dollar wine that tastes like it should, but local wineries and others are not so reliable in my experience.

    I would say that if you age your wine well, and let it sit for 2.5 years you shouldn't have any problem comparing it to $20 bottles. White wines are another story and in my experience, and to my tastes, high end white wine kits are every bit as good as commercial whites in six months.
     
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  5. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Thanks. Yes I've heard the whites tend to be better than the reds for some reason, but I rarely drink white. I agree with your assessment. I've had $50 bottles which I didn't like and recently had the best $12 I've ever tasted (it wasn't spectacular of course, but for $12 it was well structured, nice finish and great aromas. I was impressed and believed it was about $25) I will consider starting to make whites. I'm actually starting a RJS Rose for next summer which should be good in about 6 months.

    Hopefully I can let my reds rest for 2.5 years but my plan based on the rotation and space I have, I will open my first bottle at 2 years. We drink plenty of wine so of about 26-28 bottles, that will last us 2-3 months. I will try to save 3 or 4 bottles from every batch to reach the 3 year mark to open with friends and family.
     
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  6. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Also the Lodi Ranch is on my list after I finish the Rose and then make the RJS Super Tuscan (I'm a nerd, I have a schedule of all the wines I'll be making through 2020). What's your thought on the Lodi Ranch at 2 years?
     
  7. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    My current go to batch is a Nov 2015 Lodi Ranch 11 and it is very good now. It has enough nose (not great by any means, but is has a nose), nice structure, good taste and is smooth. I'm very happy with it. I will probably drink it till I have a dozen bottles left, them move them to my 'reserve' rack to age to 3 years when I'll start drinking some of my batch of Cab which is a Jan 2016 that was my first barrel aged wine. Again, I will leave a dozen of them to go to the three year mark. And so on and so on.

    I have a RJS Super Tuscan that I made in July of 2016 and had a split last week. It's coming along very nicely. It hasn't made the magical transformation yet, but I can tell it's getting there. You should like them both.
     
  8. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Glad to hear that! I'll be making some mid tier wines in the meantime so I don't spend a fortune on wine for two years. I have the WE Cab Vintners Reserve aging right now. Will probably wait 6 months before drinking. Any experience with these mid level kits (10L of juice/no grape skins/yes oak cubes) and if so, what's your favorite? I'm making a mid level RJS Grand Cru Malbec which is supposed to be decent in January after the Super Tuscan. Sorry for all the questions, but I just started this hobby in July and I'm obsessed.
     
  9. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    No problem, but you may not like my answer to this one. In short I believe that high end kits taste better than mid tier kits at any age. No doubt there are exceptions and tweaks that you can do, but I'd rather drink a 3 month old Eclipse kit than a year old Vintners Reserve kit.

    I don't say that often because I don't want to sound snobbish. My recommendation will always be, buy the best kits you can afford and be happy. If you can afford high end kits then I wouldn't bother with mid tier kits.

    I'd like to hear other peoples opinions on that too.
     
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  10. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Haha I don't like the answer! But I definitely appreciate the truth. From what I've mostly read, the Vintners will become OK at 6 months (I am picky, so it might suck for my taste), which is really what I need it for in the meantime when just drinking a wine lounging on the couch, not to pair with a nice meal. I don't want to sound snobbish either but I don't bother with yellow tail/bogle or some of those other $8 wines. Do you think the Vintners would be similar to these at 6 months? If so, I won't bother going forward, but feel it's a shame to drink the high end kits at 6 months. Thoughts?
     
  11. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    If you don't care for Yellow tail or Bogle then I don't think you will be happy with the Vintners. Give it a shot, I may be wrong. I made one Vintner's Reserve and a couple other mid kits and they never came around for me. As for it being a shame to drink a high end kit at 6 months here's my attitude: It's more of shame to make a cheaper kit to save $30-$40 and yet spend the same amount of time to make a wine that may not please you. I'd rather spend the extra money and know that for each bottle of a young premium I'm drinking I'm extending the life of another to get to that 2 year point.
     
  12. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    Thank you for the honest answers! Amazon and some of the forums here had very good reviews of the Vintners for the price, but I was always skeptical. I go to many vineyards and wine tastings every year so I probably am a wine snob :) I have been buying my kits from Southerhomebrew which sometimes is ~$5 cheaper than LabelPeelers plus they carry RJS as well. Any other suggestions on where to get the best prices?
     
  13. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    I made a World vineyard Pinot Noir as my first kit. After getting that going I learned more and more and started Eclipse's and. Limited selections, and the Pinot became an afterthought.

    I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out in bulk for a year and was a very balanced easy drinker. But for me the best part of making those kits now is having a stash to give out w/o a problem.
    I'm sure we are all in the same boat with friends and family who want to taste some wine you've made. And those kits can come out fairly good. So I can give out a bottle that's good and I'm proud of while keeping more of the high ends that I'm excited for to myself. Only a select few who I know will appreciate my Bravado now approaching 10 months would get one. And most friends would be just as grateful getting a bottle from an $80 kit then they would from a $175 kit anyway.
    I feel your pain with no space. I don't make my wine at home right now. I commandeered our 2nd bathroom for a while and i got carried away. Now I do 100% at a different location. Not ideal but when there's a will there's a way. Make room and buy carboys!
     
  14. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    Labelpeelers is my goto for WineXpert kits. They're next door in Pennsylvania so shipping is only $16 a kit for me. I also like Finevinewines and Morewine for other kits.

    Enjoy your new passion, it's addictive.
     
  15. GaDawg

    GaDawg Senior Member

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    I seem to remember a taste test with Pinot Noir. I think at 6 mo. the mid priced kits did just as good as the expensive kits. After 1 and 2 years the Eclipse kits pulled away.
     
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  16. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    I wish I had more space. I live in a small 1 bdr apartment :( I just wish I could taste a few kit wines but I don't know anyone who makes it and there aren't any events nearby. I just hate having to wait two years before knowing what I'll be getting!
     
  17. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    That's exactly why you should buy a case of 375 ml bottles. And every batch fill up a handful. That way you can pop one open to see how it's progressing without making much of a dent to your batch. I just started doing that and I'm glad I did.
     
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  18. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    I just checked Finevinewines for RJS and **************** is way cheaper. They ship from FL and I live in CT and even that long distance freight is way cheaper (about $27, but the kit price is highly discounted)

    I priced the RJS En Primeur Australia Cab at $126.77 with shipping from **************** vs $146.78 with shipping at finevinewines (that's including their "FVW Grower's Price" discount) That's a 13.6% difference. Maybe you should check it out.
     
  19. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    good idea!
     
  20. facn1989

    facn1989 Member

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    That's Southern/home/brew dot com without the slashes. for some reason it's getting blocked off form my previous comment
     

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