Cabernet Franc and Carmenere spring 2021

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A couple of weeks ago I posted a question here concerning yeast choice(s) for Cab Franc and Carmenere. Several of you responded and I thank you for your opinions.

The grapes arrived more or less on time. We scheduled in advance but when I called to confirm pickup but the distributor footballed around on allowing pickup times. After a couple day wait I pressed him and was able to pick up the next day. I asked the guy on the dock when the grapes arrived. He told me he "thought, don't quote me" the grapes arrived a day early. Then he proceeded to tell me that he started on the dock but has worked in the office for four or five years. Apparently they have not been able to get people to work so he was pressed into service. At least the guy is getting paid at his regular rate.

We picked them up in the Strip District at 08:30 on 13 May and got home an hour later. We laid out our work area on the patio and washed out the fermenters. Then we assembled the crusher-destemmer, which we transported from off site storage the day before. Which, promptly didn't work. We spent about fifteen minutes fussing around with it to get everything in order and another ten minutes fooling around with the gap between the rollers. Lesson learned: Make sure your equipment works the day before.

IMG_0855.jpg

My partner in crime cleaning a forty four gallon Brute. The ones on the side are twenties.

It was time to sort the grapes.

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These are eighteen pound lugs. Five Cab Franc and ten Carmenere for a total of two hundred and seventy pounds. We've never worked with Chilean grapes before this. We've also not worked with Carmenere. The quality of the grapes was surprising. Some of the boxes had very little mog. None of them had much in the way of mold or damaged fruit. Out of fifteen boxes we culled less than ten pounds. Of that, four or five bunches were simply under ripe. Still make for good table grapes.

The berries on both are on the small size. Not as small as Petit Verdot, but pretty small. We had to fine tune the gap on the rollers a couple of times until we got it right.IMG_0856.jpgIMG_0853.jpg


Using two buckets is a good idea. I used to have a large, square container but it got re-tasked in our last move. Over all, only lost a pound or two after harvesting from the plastic sheet covering the concrete slab.

Cellar work:

When I asked the question about yeast, CDrew posted in the thread with an offer of some Avante yeast. He sent that along with some D-21. A big thanks to CDrew! It is everything he said it is.

We drew off samples and ran the labs. The Carmenere had an SG of 1.086 and the pH was 3.55. The Cab Franc was at 1.083 and 3.52. We considered adding some sugar but nixed the idea. On the east coast, we've never seen grapes with specs this good. So we left them alone.

Took a liter of Carmenere juice and half a liter of Cab Franc to make starters. Added Go Ferm Protect Evolution to the Carmenere and regular Go Ferm to the Cab Franc juice along with approximately a gram of Avante per estimated gallon for each. The Go Ferm performed as usual. The Protect Evolution took off like a rocket. The following evening I pitched the starters. The next afternoon I added doses of Fermaid K to each fermenter.
 
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My apologies. Coming off a week of ten hour days.

Don't you hate it when real life interferes with your hobbies?

Here are some numbers and dates. All data taken after last punch down in the evening.

15 May
Carmenere SG=1.070, temperature=67°, vigorous fermentation, added 15g Fermaid K.
Cab Franc SG=1.074, temperature=66°, positively slamming fermentation, added 7g Fermaid K
The Fermaid K was sprinkled on the cap before an aerating punch down.

16 May
Carmenere SG=1.038, temp=74°, pH=3.49
Cab Franc SG=1.038, temp=73°, pH=3.53
Gentle punch down today to press

17 May
Carmenere SG=1.017, temp=74°, pH=3.42
Cab Franc SG=1.015, temp=72°, pH=3.43
Innoculated both fermenters with Chris Hansen's CH-16 malolactic bacteria and an appropriate dose of Opti-Malo Plus.

18 May
Carmenere SG=1.000, temp=74°
Cab Franc SG=1.002, temp=72°

19 May
Carmenere SG=0.996
Cab Franc SG=0.996

21 May
Press Day.
 
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Press Day

I don't know how long it takes other's to press. If someone knows a way to make it happen any quicker I'd surely like to know about it. Pressing is hard work.

It took us from 08:00 to 17:00 to move the equipment from the cellar (eight steps down) to the patio, siphon easily available wine from the skins, transport fermenters to press, load Cab Franc, press, press some more, press pretty darn hard, unload, and repeat with the process with the Carmenere, and reverse the load out.

And wash everything before and after, of course.

We used the All In One free run tube and mesh bag in the fermenter along with vacuumpumpman's tubing and valves. It did a great job. It pulled approximately nine gallons of free run wine out of the Carmenere fermenter in about ten or fifteen minutes. The Cab Franc produced roughly the same proportionally.

One thing to note: Carmenere is a tenturier grape. The color is heavy. It stained the tubing. It is likely that we will replace the tubing with new before the fall crush.

Then off to the press.

Press.JPG

We layered rice hulls along with the Cab Franc skins and remaining pulp. A scoop of hulls to a couple or three scoops of skins. We pressed hard, tasting as we went. Then broke for lunch. After lunch we pressed again. From about two thirds through to end there was an appreciable increase in tannin. But at no time was the tannin level objectionable. So we pressed as hard as we could. The pomace was literally dry to the touch. The pomace was placed back into the fermenter and transported back to the cellar.

The Carmenere press was pretty much a cookie cutter of the Cab Franc. The one difference was that, while the tannin levels were in line with the Cab Franc, the pomace did not come out nearly as dry. Call it damp. Not sure why, but with twice as much skins and pulp maybe the little press was simply at the edge of what it could do.

The yield: 13 1/2 gallons of Carmenere, almost 8 gallons of Cab Franc. Of course, there are heavy solids in all of the carboys so there will be some loss on first racking. Still, the initial yield is somewhere under thirteen pounds of grapes to the gallon.

Yield first run.JPG

False wine:

The pomace from the Carmenere was placed back into the fermenter. The Cab Franc pomace was added to that. Ten gallons of water and twenty pounds of sugar went in next. Some liquid pectic enzyme, in an attempt to extract more color from the spent skins, and some Go Ferm to promote a quick start to the fermentation was added to the container. No yeast was added.
Two hours later I punched down the cap.

False wine cap.JPG
 

Cynewulf

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False wine:

The pomace from the Carmenere was placed back into the fermenter. The Cab Franc pomace was added to that. Ten gallons of water and twenty pounds of sugar went in next. Some liquid pectic enzyme, in an attempt to extract more color from the spent skins, and some Go Ferm to promote a quick start to the fermentation was added to the container. No yeast was added.
Two hours later I punched down the cap.
Did you add acid as well?
 

CDrew

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Pressing is time consuming. A bladder press will speed it up significantly for what it's worth but for me it's the clean up that takes all the time. And that's because everything has to be perfectly rinsed, PBW cleaned and then well rinsed. And then it still needs to dry That's why white fermenters are easier to use-you can see what's stained or needs to be cleaned.

Regarding the tubing, get a tubing brush from amazon, and clean the inside with PBW or OxiClean Free. I've had some re-enforced tubing I've had 3 years

Outstanding job. But let me be the first to remind you you have way too much head space in the small left over carboys. Fix that asap.
 
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Did you add acid as well?
Good question.

I didn't. Kind of stupid, but I forgot. When I remembered the next day, I tested the pH. It was 3.39. Which is weird because the wines finished in the 3.48 to 3.52 range. Based on the numbers I decided not to add acid.

I'll run labs on everything to check my work.
 
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Pressing is time consuming. A bladder press will speed it up significantly for what it's worth but for me it's the clean up that takes all the time. And that's because everything has to be perfectly rinsed, PBW cleaned and then well rinsed. And then it still needs to dry That's why white fermenters are easier to use-you can see what's stained or needs to be cleaned.

Regarding the tubing, get a tubing brush from amazon, and clean the inside with PBW or OxiClean Free. I've had some re-enforced tubing I've had 3 years

Outstanding job. But let me be the first to remind you you have way too much head space in the small left over carboys. Fix that asap.
Bladder press = $$$. Especially considering that I have two basket presses already. But we've been talking about it. Old world charm and tradition only carry so much weight these days.

I've been wanting to try OxiClean. Gives me an excuse to buy some and see how it does for us.

The head space isn't a worry. We blanketed those with argon after filling. We'll rack off the lees later this week. When we see what we have we'll make decisions as to smaller glassware for the remainder. But, good catch, nonetheless.
 

Ajmassa

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awesome updates here. i love hearing the little details involved that we all deal with but aren’t usually discussed. i enjoyed reading your posts. i’ve had similar experiences with this chilean fruit. optimal numbers. healthy looking fruit. small berries. little waste. resulting in damn good wine. cali grapes for me have been hit or miss. (using multiple sources). unfortunately for us east coasters we get whatever we’re given. no control over that.

And i agree pressing can be a pain in the ass. especially when your separation of free run method works well it means you are doing all that work for just a small % of the wine.

i use a 3” pvc pipe wrapped in mesh with vacuum pump and it does so well it changed my attitude towards pressing to be a chore—— lots of work. little payoff. And the second run wine- that’s a fun little experiment. never did one but tempting. hope it works out well for you.
 

CDrew

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I have come to realize, that head space like that IS a worry. You may think your argon did something, but it's a stopgap only. That's just too much surface area for Oxygen to get into and cause problems. Remember, that as soon as you press, Oxygen is the primary enemy. It's responsible for acetic acid (vinegar), ethyl acetate(nail polish remover). Eliminate headspace everywhere you can. If you get quickly to small head space you'll be OK but even a week with what you have will compromise the wine.

If you want to save time, eliminate the "freerun tube". Just dump all the must into the press and go from there. I don't segregate "free run" from "press run" but I only press to 1 atm. That's actually a huge time saver and does not compromise the final quality.
 

Ajmassa

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I have come to realize, that head space like that IS a worry. You may think your argon did something, but it's a stopgap only. That's just too much surface area for Oxygen to get into and cause problems. Remember, that as soon as you press, Oxygen is the primary enemy. It's responsible for acetic acid (vinegar), ethyl acetate(nail polish remover). Eliminate headspace everywhere you can. If you get quickly to small head space you'll be OK but even a week with what you have will compromise the wine.

If you want to save time, eliminate the "freerun tube". Just dump all the must into the press and go from there. I don't segregate "free run" from "press run" but I only press to 1 atm. That's actually a huge time saver and does not compromise the final quality.
yea but the wine is still loaded with co2 at that point. the time between pressing and racking off the gross lees i’m not concerned if i end up with a less than full container for a few days. as long as it’s loaded with co2 than o2 isn’t doing any damage as far as i know. prolonged exposure would rid the co2 first, then eat up free so2 next (if there is any) before ultimately oxidizing the wine. the week after pressing your fairly safe from negative o2 effects. hopefully someone can correct me if i’m wrong here.
 
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I agree that it is a risk. Between the CO2 and the argon it's a risk I'm willing to take. As long as it's only for a few days.

I prefer to press outside the house because the current basement does not have a floor drain in the cellar area. The mess outside can be cleaned up with a hose. The reason for the free run tube is to lighten the load. I used to run everything through the press when I could muscle a fermenter out of the door of a walk out basement. The current cellar is mostly below floor level. Thirty feet to the crush/press area, including a flight of steps and a narrow interior ninety degree turn. Even with a dolly and straps it's barely a one man job when it's just skins. Add gallons of wine and it's a nightmare.

I've segregated and blended. I've left everything together. I still can't figure out if it makes much of a difference.
 

BarrelMonkey

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Thanks for the write-up, distancerunner - always good to see this level of detail!

Do you anchor your press by, eg screwing it onto a solid base? In my limited experience, this makes the ratchet press operation much easier.
I've been looking for something like your free run tube; how tall is it? I need for something that can be used in a 1/2 ton macro bin, so probably 30" total length would be ideal.
 

winemaker81

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I'm on board with @distancerunner, racking the free run wine out first is a labor saver. It saves time, because of my conditions.

I press at 0.998, so there's activity and a solid cap. Last fall I built a jig with a 2' long piece of 4" PVC, a lot of 3/8" holes drilled in one end, and I wrap it in a fine straining bag. I have a regular pump, and it did a great job of removing most of the free run wine.

The value of this is we didn't have to carry that wine out of the basement, around the house, and up a grade to the driveway where we press. Not carrying that weight saved a bit of time and reduced the labor, which after 8 hours is a relief.

Also, when a bucket reaches 4 gallons, we swap and the full one goes down to the basement. The difference of carrying one bucket 4 or 5 gallons full isn't a lot ... until you do it a bunch of times.

Since I made a 2nd run, we carried the pomace back down to the cellar and then repeated pressing a week later. Not carrying the free run wine up and down was a major labor savings.

Another help is to collect all materials at least a day ahead of time. I went ahead and cleaned EVERYTHING. At pressing time, I hit things with K-meta water and start pressing.
 

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All my wine making takes place on one level. So I can see where at different levels, the siphon free run would help. It does lengthen the process though. I may even do that this year, but an added step is an added step. My process is to put the fermenter Brutes on rolling carts, and at press time simply wheel to the front of the garage and press in the driveway. No basement here, unfortunately.

I do not think a wine loaded with CO2 is protected from Oxidation. It stays loaded with CO2 for months. If it's just a few days and you flushed out the air with argon, you are likely OK. But for longer term, head space is all bad. One of my friends brought over a Syrah to bottle, that he had fermented in a Spiedel with about 2 inches of headspace and you could smell the ethyl acetate. Very unfortunate.
 

winemaker81

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All my wine making takes place on one level.
Dang! I wish!

I do not think a wine loaded with CO2 is protected from Oxidation.
There is a difference between "loaded with CO2" and "actively emitting CO2".

I normally press/1st rack between 0.998 and 1.010, so I still have active fermentation. The wine goes into the secondary with a large headspace, typically at least 6", which avoids volcanos. I leave the wine for 7 to 10 days to complete fermentation. In specific cases, I've left the wine for nearly 3 week (stubborn ferment).

During the final stage of fermentation, the wine is actively emitting CO2. Being denser than O2 and pushing from the bottom, practical experience appears to indicate the O2 is pushed out. This is a different activity than squirting in an inert gas, which has the opportunity to intermix with the air present in the headspace.

Once the gross lees starts to compact, I rack, and after this I allow only minimal headspace. The wine is still emitting CO2, but at a much slower rate, so IME large headspace is a big mistake.
 
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Thanks for the write-up, distancerunner - always good to see this level of detail!

Do you anchor your press by, eg screwing it onto a solid base? In my limited experience, this makes the ratchet press operation much easier.
I've been looking for something like your free run tube; how tall is it? I need for something that can be used in a 1/2 ton macro bin, so probably 30" total length would be ideal.
We have not. But I have half of a solid core door that is begging for some mounting holes. And a 4' pipe that will fit over the iron lever.

The free run tube from All In One is a two piece affair with a coupling. It's OAL is roughly 24" long assembled. Only the bottom tube has holes. There is a perforated cap for the bottom tube. The filter bag covers the bottom to over the top of the coupling. An elastic band is included to hold the bag in place.

Talk to them. They may be willing to sell you an extra section and coupling. That would give you 36" of length.
 
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All my wine making takes place on one level. So I can see where at different levels, the siphon free run would help. It does lengthen the process though. I may even do that this year, but an added step is an added step. My process is to put the fermenter Brutes on rolling carts, and at press time simply wheel to the front of the garage and press in the driveway. No basement here, unfortunately.

I do not think a wine loaded with CO2 is protected from Oxidation. It stays loaded with CO2 for months. If it's just a few days and you flushed out the air with argon, you are likely OK. But for longer term, head space is all bad. One of my friends brought over a Syrah to bottle, that he had fermented in a Spiedel with about 2 inches of headspace and you could smell the ethyl acetate. Very unfortunate.
Carts and dollies and level to boot! Maybe the next move. Scratch that. Definitely the next move.

You're right. Dissolved? CO2 is just fizzy wine. The gas doesn't come out of solution quickly without adding energy That doesn't protect the wine from oxidation. But if there is active fermentation the CO2 will force the air through the air lock and provide a blanket.

CO2 (from fermentation) or an artificially applied gas blanket are not a long term solutions. They are not alternatives to reducing headspace. We can all agree on that.
 
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