Brunello experiment

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

distancerunner

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Messages
436
Reaction score
667
Maybe not the sharpest tools in the shed, we decided to attempt to make Brunello from grapes. We understand that this is foolhardy. So much so that we expect to dump all of it down the drain sometime in the next thirty six or so months.

The Plan:

Purchase the best Sangiovese we can. In this case, Lanza-Musto from CFP Winemakers in Pittsburgh. Three lugs at thirty six pounds each. The pH was 3.63 and the Brix was 23.8. No acid adjustments were made. However, we bumped the sugar to 26. Probably should have bumped it a degree or two higher. Sugar was dissolved into juice for this addition.

Crushed. Added 30ppm sulfite in distilled water solution to the fermenters.

Other additions include pectic enzyme, Opti-Red, and some Stavin Oak beans. The yeast is Renassaince Avante. The starter was made up in a one liter Erlenmeyer beaker with Go Ferm Protect in warm distilled water. The yeast and a pinch of sugar was added to start. After the yeast began to hydrate, juice was added in stages to bring the temp down. The starter was allowed to go for twenty four hours before pitching.

The must was allowed to cold soak for three days. Late on the third day native fermentation began. The Avante was pitched and took over in twelve hours. Fermaid O was added at the same time.

After a week we added unhydrated CH-16 malolactic bacteria straight to the fermenter. Also dosed with Acti-ML in distilled water.

The second dose of Fermaid O was added between one third and one half of the sugar gone.

It appears that fermentation has slowed. I will run labs in the morning.

Here's the foolish part: We plan to do extended maceration for fifty days after the end of alcoholic fermentation. The question is not whether or not this is a good plan. We already know it isn't The question is how to do it. I've read about people shrink wrapping a Brute, punching down daily, and reapplying shrink wrap. I've heard of people using a VCT and planting the lid on top and letting it go for the duration. There are a few other schemes that just don't appear to be practical. Nor do they appear to be smart winemaking.

Has anyone done this successfully? Or even, less than successful?
 
Sounds like a great project. Having done many EMs, you‘ll have to seal the fermenter air tight*, under lock, to go 50 days. No need to punch while it’s sealed. What is your ambient temp? Cooler is better for the EM. Get a 7 gallon FerMonster w/o siphon and transfer everything except most of the gross lees. However, IMO, leaving the GL for the 50 days has no ill effect on the wine if sealed under lock.

If you can seal, brilliant - not foolhardy - will describe your work!

*decay needs the catalyst of oxygen. There's enough CO2 coming off the must to drive out any oxygen from a sealed container within a few seconds to minutes.
 
Last edited:
Wow. The 50 day thing sounds interesting. I'll wish you good luck! Please describe conditions and vessels.
Currently in a twenty gallon Brute. Have another the same size that we can use after pulling the wine off the gross lees. Although, I'm not sure that we want to do that.

We also have a couple of 100 L VCT's that are empty.
 
Why 50 days? Maybe 5-10 should be fine. Check on the pH. if it goes down that is not a good sign.
We're trying to make this according to DOCG rules for Brunello. Typically fifty days of extended maceration followed by twenty eight months of bulk aging in barrels. With a small amount like this barrel aging in a new barrel is out of the question. So we will use oak adjuncts, probably spirals or beans.
 
Sounds like a great project. Having done many EMs, you‘ll have to seal the fermenter air tight*, under lock, to go 50 days. No need to punch while it’s sealed. What is your ambient temp? Cooler is better for the EM. Get a 7 gallon FerMonster w/o siphon and transfer everything except most of the gross lees. However, IMO, leaving the GL for the 50 days has no ill effect on the wine if sealed under lock.

If you can seal, brilliant - not foolhardy - will describe your work!

*decay needs the catalyst of oxygen. There's enough CO2 coming off the must to drive out any oxygen from a sealed container within a few seconds to minutes.
We hope it will be great. Hope.

Current temp is cellar temp, roughly 65°F. We'll move the Brute off the insulation and onto the concrete floor tomorrow. I'll expect to see it drop a bit. If necessary, we can use wet towels and fans. Or a tub and some ice.

My guess is that with skins and all it's somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve to fifteen gallons.

I'm wondering about the gross lees for the next seven weeks, too. I need to do some more reading to know if they rack or just let it sit. Sitting on the gross lees risks autolysis and buttery flavors?

We can store the whole thing in a variable capacity tank. That would mean pumping the wine into the tank and bailing the skins, and if desired, the lees, too. Is this a good idea?
 
Last edited:
My guess is that with skins and all it's somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve to fifteen gallons.
Three lugs produced 12-15 gallons of must? That's amazing.

You could store the whole thing in a variable tank and OFF the gross lees and then never have a worry. I don't think you're going to get any benefit from being on the lees but my experience (under lock) doesn't harm it either during a EM. To ease you mind, might as well get the wine and skins separated from the gross lees.

Good luck!
 
Three lugs produced 12-15 gallons of must? That's amazing.

You could store the whole thing in a variable tank and OFF the gross lees and then never have a worry. I don't think you're going to get any benefit from being on the lees but my experience (under lock) doesn't harm it either during a EM. To ease you mind, might as well get the wine and skins separated from the gross lees.

Good luck!
Thanks.

Once it's in the VCT, is there a need to punch down? Or just keep it sealed until December when we're ready to press?
 
No need to punch down - in fact, that would be detrimental. Every time you punch, it will introduce oxygen. Initially, there will be enough CO2 coming off/out of the must that it will drive out the oxygen through the airlock. Several days to weeks later, that CO2 will really be diminished and introduced oxygen becomes a problem.
 
Last edited:
Here’s another option. I don’t know if it’s a good one or if it’s practical. Have you thought about hanging a bag of dry ice above the surface of the wine in the Brute? It would blanket the wine with co2 and cool it at the same time. Whatever you choose to do, I like that you are attempting this. Good luck!
 
We're trying to make this according to DOCG rules for Brunello. Typically fifty days of extended maceration followed by twenty eight months of bulk aging in barrels. With a small amount like this barrel aging in a new barrel is out of the question. So we will use oak adjuncts, probably spirals or beans.
OK I see, for oak we use these in our neutral barrels with good success
https://www.tonnellerieradoux.com/pronektar/oak-adjuncts/
 
Thank you. This company appears to make some quality products.

Why is it that some companies think it's a good idea to show their products on the internet but do not include their pricing? Or make it easy to know who to contact? Kind of leaves the impression that they are trying to pull something. Or that little guys, like home winemakers, aren't important enough to deal with.
 
Last edited:
I'm with @bluecrab - a bag of dry ice to blanket the must post-fermentation is good insurance, though I'm not sure it will have much of a cooling effect (unless it's really big bag...:p)

But you'll have to replace it frequently - I would guess at least every 2 days or so. This might get tedious and expensive, though maybe that's the price you pay for making great Brunello... Good luck!
 
We will be moving the infant Brunello into a 100 liter VCT this weekend. Lock it down and "forget about it" until mid December. We'll blanket it with argon before lowering the lid for some extra insurance.

Then we'll taste. Hope it's worth pressing.
 
On December 14 we racked off the skins. When we opened the variable capacity tank the aroma was amazing. Cherries, berries, maybe a little bit of stone fruit.

Let's start at the beginning. The 100L VCT has been out of service since 2004. We pulled it apart and cleaned everything. The gasket for the valve was not in the best of shape. We rehabbed it and decided to use it. After reinstalling and sanitizing everything we used a scoop to load the wine and skins into the tank, leaving behind as many seeds as possible. We installed the lid and watched a slow drip from where the valve seats against the side of the tank. We reversed the process, took the valve out, reversed the nut, reinstalled everything. We reloaded the tank. Again we watched the valve leak. We removed as much as we were willing, cleaned and sanitized a pair of 16" Channellocks, and cranked the nut. Refilled the tank successfully.

We are considering having the Channellocks blueprinted and chromed.

As for the taste, as you can imagine the tannins are a bit like being struck by lightning: socks and boots left behind, you in the next county. But you're feeling really good about the experience. It is not green. It's not bitter. It actually tastes/feels good. Just way too big. That makes sense and we're quite happy about it. The cherries and berries actually make it through the wall of tannin. This gives us hope that we're on the right track.
 
Last edited:
Amazing good to hear that everything is going according to plan. Well done so far and keep us updated:)
 

Latest posts

Back
Top