Chilean Zin Juice Bucket Plan

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QuiQuog

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I'll be getting a zinfandel juice bucket from Chile next week, and after reading many forums on many subjects, I have formulated a plan and could use some advice or criticism. Below is the outline of the plan.
1. The bucket I'll be getting is pre-inoculated with yeast, but I don't know what, so I want to add my own. I plan on adding potassium metabisulfite to attenuate or kill off the existing yeast and add either RC 212 or premier rouge.
2. Then I'll add bentonite, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, oak chips, and grape skins. I will have to transfer into a larger primary to accommodate the skins.
3. After 2 days I'll pitch the yeast
4. A couple days after that I'll add Wyeast 4007 Malo Lactic Blend
5. At ~1.01 SG I'll rack into secondary. This is the point I haven't found clear answers yet. When it's dry, I know I don't add sorbate with malo, and I don't add k meta yet. I'm probably going to do the malo blind, unless I find a reasonably priced test kit. When is it safe and recommended to add k meta? How long should it sit on the fine lees? Temperature will be house temp, around 70-74. Is that too hot for malo?
6. After malo I rack into another carboy, and I assume k meta, top off with something similar and add a blend of oak cubes for bulk aging. I'm getting what is called a Bordeaux Oak Blend. its a blend of medium, medium plus, and heavy toasted French oak. I'm not set on the oak.
7. I may or may not add glycerin to finish

What are your thoughts on this plan? Yeast, malo, skins, oak, fine lees, or any other recommendations?
 
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1. The bucket I'll be getting is pre-inoculated with yeast, but I don't know what, so I want to add my own. I plan on adding potassium metabisulfite to attenuate or kill off the existing yeast and add either RC 212 or premier rouge.
I'd assume EC-1118, as it's probably the most common yeast used. If this is correct, adding K-meta may have no effect.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Make an overnight starter with 1 cup water at 95 F, 1/2 tsp nutrient, 1/2 tsp sugar, and yeast. Add it 12-24 hours after starting, and pour gently down the side of the fermenter so it doesn't spread much.

2. Then I'll add bentonite, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, oak chips, and grape skins. I will have to transfer into a larger primary to accommodate the skins.
Sounds reasonable.

3. After 2 days I'll pitch the yeast
Pitch the next day. If it's EC-1118, a "normal" dose of K-meta won't affect it. Adding a good starter sooner has a better chance of your yeast taking over.

5. At ~1.01 SG I'll rack into secondary. This is the point I haven't found clear answers yet. When it's dry, I know I don't add sorbate with malo, and I don't add k meta yet. I'm probably going to do the malo blind, unless I find a reasonably priced test kit. When is it safe and recommended to add k meta? How long should it sit on the fine lees? Temperature will be house temp, around 70-74. Is that too hot for malo?
If you're adding skins, rack at 1.000 or below. You might consider Extended Maceration -- at about 1.010, seal the fermenter under airlock and let it set untouched for 1 to 8 weeks. While I'm not sold on doing an EM for 8 weeks, doing it for 1 to 2 weeks lets the ferment fully complete and the wine extract all the goodness from the skins.

I have not intentionally done MLF, so I rely on research and reports of other WMT members. If you want safe, do a chromatography test. If you don't, I'd let it bulk age 3 to 4 months, the assume it's done. It either is or it isn't, and unless you're going to re-inoculate, it doesn't matter. [If this comes across as harsh, that's not intentional. Just being factual.]

If you do an EM, all gross lees should drop. I've done a lot of research in the last couple of years -- fine lees do not hurt the wine. Rack after the EM, then don't bother racking again until you're ready to bottle

6. After malo I rack into another carboy, and I assume k meta, top off with something similar and add a blend of oak cubes for bulk aging. I'm getting what is called a Bordeaux Oak Blend. its a blend of medium, medium plus, and heavy toasted French oak. I'm not set on the oak.
I'd not bother racking at what you think is the end of MLF. I would add a double dose of K-meta as the wine hasn't had any, and that will clear up a lot of potential problems.

Personally, a blend of oak cubes sounds really good. THAT is the big advantage of cubes vs. all other oak adjuncts.

7. I may or may not add glycerin to finish
I'm a glycerin fan. Do some bench testing and prove it to yourself.
 

QuiQuog

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Make an overnight starter
Got it. Great idea. Would doubling it help?
You might consider Extended Maceration
I've not looked into EM much. What are it's effects? I'll see what I can find out about it.
I'm a glycerin fan. Do some bench testing and prove it to yourself
What's your typical dosage?
I would suggest a heat belt to keep the wine at 70-75F
That could be a good idea in the spring, and reminds me that I'll need to try and keep the temp consistent
 
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Got it. Great idea. Would doubling it help?
Probably. It won't hurt.

I've not looked into EM much. What are it's effects? I'll see what I can find out about it.
Some additional fruit extraction, more tannin and body. From what I've read, you'll get the most results within 1 to 2 weeks. I'm not sold on the value of a longer EM, but am continuing to research.

What's your typical dosage?
I use 1/2 to 1 oz glycerin per gallon of wine.
 

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Regarding the skins and EM, would it matter if I keep them in a bag or not? Does loose mean better extraction? I'm trying to envision the process of racking out of the primary at the end. In a bag, I could remove them so they don't clog up the racking cane. But if it was sunk to the bottom, I'd stir up the finer lees while lifting it out. Loose in the fermenter, I'd probably benefit from rigging up some kind of screen so it doesn't clog (maybe a hops bag and a rubber band?) But I'd either get less liquid out, or more fine lees from pushing the cane into the mess at the bottom. Maybe it doesn't matter because it will be removed in later rackings.
 
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Regarding the skins and EM, would it matter if I keep them in a bag or not?
Bag the skins. It won't make any difference in exaction unless the skins are tightly packed. When I have pulp in the wine, I wrap a fine mesh bag around the end of the racking cane and secure it with a rubber band, to prevent clogging the tube.

Don't worry too much about lees during the first racking -- it fell once, it will fall again. The main concern is separating wine from the pomace and leaving most of the heavy lees behind -- and not unnecessarily throwing wine away. Folks throw away a lot of good wine in their zeal to avoid sucking up sediment.

A common tactic is to pour the loose lees into a wine bottle and refrigerate for a week. My anecdotal recollection is that I generally recover about half of the volume in the bottle. Sometimes a lot less, and a few times I've recovered nearly the entire container.
 

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Be careful adding kmeta to kill off the initial yeast if you are planning on MLF. I have not had good luck with the Wyeast liquid MLF bacteria when I initially dosed the must with kmeta. Now when I do MLF, I initially either hold off on kmeta or use half as much as recommended. Also, you may want to add malo nutrients, like opti-malo with the mlf bacteria.
 

BABRU

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Are you sure the yeast has been added by the supplier? When I obtain juice buckets from Chili the juice is balanced for ph but the supplier provides a yeast packet. They will supply EC-1118 unless you request a different yeast. For reds I like RS-212.
Maybe I’m not getting the best out of my juice but I just don’t mess with inoculation.
 

QuiQuog

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Be careful adding kmeta to kill off the initial yeast if you are planning on MLF. I have not had good luck with the Wyeast liquid MLF bacteria when I initially dosed the must with kmeta. Now when I do MLF, I initially either hold off on kmeta or use half as much as recommended. Also, you may want to add malo nutrients, like opti-malo with the mlf bacteria.
What's the effective "life" of kmeta? Also, when looking into malo nutrient per your suggestion, I read that Zin is difficult to do malo on. Could you explain your method? Maybe I should choose between using the yeast they add or doing malo. I have a little time to think about it. I'll ask if they have any information on the yeast when I pick it up next Friday. Is it ever listed on the bucket?
Are you sure the yeast has been added by the supplier?
They tell me it is and they have a video explaining that it is. Maybe another member has information on Chilean buckets from Midwest Supplies in Minneapolis?
 

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I'll be getting a zinfandel juice bucket from Chile next week, and after reading many forums on many subjects, I have formulated a plan and could use some advice or criticism. Below is the outline of the plan.
1. The bucket I'll be getting is pre-inoculated with yeast, but I don't know what, so I want to add my own. I plan on adding potassium metabisulfite to attenuate or kill off the existing yeast and add either RC 212 or premier rouge.
2. Then I'll add bentonite, pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, oak chips, and grape skins. I will have to transfer into a larger primary to accommodate the skins.
3. After 2 days I'll pitch the yeast
4. A couple days after that I'll add Wyeast 4007 Malo Lactic Blend
5. At ~1.01 SG I'll rack into secondary. This is the point I haven't found clear answers yet. When it's dry, I know I don't add sorbate with malo, and I don't add k meta yet. I'm probably going to do the malo blind, unless I find a reasonably priced test kit. When is it safe and recommended to add k meta? How long should it sit on the fine lees? Temperature will be house temp, around 70-74. Is that too hot for malo?
6. After malo I rack into another carboy, and I assume k meta, top off with something similar and add a blend of oak cubes for bulk aging. I'm getting what is called a Bordeaux Oak Blend. its a blend of medium, medium plus, and heavy toasted French oak. I'm not set on the oak.
7. I may or may not add glycerin to finish

What are your thoughts on this plan? Yeast, malo, skins, oak, fine lees, or any other recommendations?
1. RC212 is my go-to with reds but you could always let the pitched yeast do its thing and simplify your process.
2. Certainly can do all that successfully, I tend to skip pectic. Yes on all the rest. (I have done ferments successfully with just yeast, juice, grapes, oak, and malo all pitched at the same time.)
3. Yes on waiting to pitch the yeast if you add pectin and k-meta.
4. I have had better luck with powder MLB and VP41 works like a champ. If you use VP41 you can add the whole pack to be really sure it takes hold (even though it is for 55g).
5. You can rack whenever or go to dry in primary. No k-meta until MLF is done. VP41 is good above 61 degrees F according to Scott Labs. (VP41 Malolactic Bacteria | Scott Laboratories). MLF can take time, so plan for it to be weeks/months. I do mine blind as well, although tests are way better, and find that you can taste your Zin against a commercial one to see when you're finished. The main thing is not to add anything to stabilize until MLF is done.
6. Yes add k-meta. I'd go with lighter toast on the oak like medium. I don't use heavy toast except for port, I tend to use medium plus on heavier reds.
7. I haven't tried the glycerin yet, but saw that @winemaker81 posted about it.
8. Then you'll degas, bulk-age on oak, and add k-meta every three months during aging. When the wine is clear, degassed, and tastes good you can bottle.
 

heatherd

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What's the effective "life" of kmeta? Also, when looking into malo nutrient per your suggestion, I read that Zin is difficult to do malo on. Could you explain your method? Maybe I should choose between using the yeast they add or doing malo. I have a little time to think about it. I'll ask if they have any information on the yeast when I pick it up next Friday. Is it ever listed on the bucket?

They tell me it is and they have a video explaining that it is. Maybe another member has information on Chilean buckets from Midwest Supplies in Minneapolis?
Shelf life is 6 months. I have done MLF on Zin successfully, so that should not be a problem.
 
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Maybe I’m not getting the best out of my juice but I just don’t mess with inoculation.
Don't worry about it. Adding a wine yeast to a wine, regardless of what other yeast is in there, will not cause harm.

What's the effective "life" of kmeta?
I'm not sure what you're asking. Do you mean how long is it good for in the packet, or how long does it last in a wine?

In the packet, properly stored (press out the air, store in the dark), it's good for a year or two. However, in general I purchase additives with the idea of using them up within 6 to 12 months. This way I know they're good.

In wine? There's no way to predict. SO2 protects wine by binding with contaminants. The more contaminants, the faster it gets used up.

They tell me it is and they have a video explaining that it is.
If the vendor went to the effort of creating a video, I'd trust they are inoculating the bucket. Besides, if you add your own yeast, it makes no difference if they did or didn't, right?
 

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@QuiQuog when you get your juice pail, check to see if it contains sulfites, it might say it right on the pail. My chilean buckets have already had sulfites in the past. Even the chilean grapes have sulfite pads in them. That’s why I skip adding more until MLF is complete. I use a chromography kit to test. Like @heatherd, I switched to VP41 for MLF.
 

QuiQuog

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I hear you all about VP41, but at $35 a pack, I don’t see myself dumping it all into one 6 gallon batch. I also don’t know how to divide it into .25 grams and store such small amounts. Any ideas?
 
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I hear you all about VP41, but at $35 a pack, I don’t see myself dumping it all into one 6 gallon batch. I also don’t know how to divide it into .25 grams and store such small amounts. Any ideas?

All depends on if you want to have a good chance of successful malolactic ferments or a low chance of it. VP41, CH16, Enoferm Alpha and Beta all have fairly high SO2 and alcohol tolerance. I seem to recall that the Wyeast requires something like 10 ppm and that's a total number bound plus free. I think in however many years I have been a member of this forum there has only been a handful of folks say they were successful using the Wyeast product.

I usually make 3 or 4 carboys from fresh grapes in the fall and just try to divide it somewhat equally between them. It is said that the MLB does not store well.
 
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I hear you all about VP41, but at $35 a pack, I don’t see myself dumping it all into one 6 gallon batch. I also don’t know how to divide it into .25 grams and store such small amounts. Any ideas?
As Craig said, plan for numerous carboys. Anyone live near you to split a pack with?

Look for a digital kitchen scale whose scale is fine enough. If you can get to 1 gram, then divide in 4 parts.
 

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I hear you all about VP41, but at $35 a pack, I don’t see myself dumping it all into one 6 gallon batch. I also don’t know how to divide it into .25 grams and store such small amounts. Any ideas?
Well give it a go with the Wyeast and let us know how it works out. The reviews for the product are good. I didn’t have any luck with it but it was one of my first attempts and I bet I added SO2 on top of what was already in the pail. I also didn’t co-innoculate. Good luck and have fun!
 

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I think in however many years I have been a member of this forum there has only been a handful of folks say they were successful using the Wyeast product.
I have been using the Wyeast malo for reds for the last 8 years, 3-4 juice buckets per year with no problems. This year I am trying a White Labs malo for the first time.

Forgot to mention I don’t co-inoculate, always give the primary a chance to finish.
 

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I'm not sure what you're asking. Do you mean how long is it good for in the packet, or how long does it last in a wine?
I’m wondering if adding kmeta to kill off existing yeast will hinder the malo. Maybe I’d have a higher chance of success by not adding the kmeta and instead using the yeast that comes in the juice. I already bought the Wyeast 4007 and don’t have plans for another juice bucket until the fall. I want to use it before it goes bad, and I’ve read in several forums to not do malo on kits.

This is my first wine from juice and it feels a bit like taking the training wheels off. The options are bewildering and my head is spinning with all the suggestions. Like so many things, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
 

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