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co-fermentation vs blending

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REDRUM

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What are people's thoughts on the benefits of co-fermentation as opposed to blending? I have read that co-ferments on the one hand promote a bit more complexity of flavour and balance, but on the other hand (obviously) you're committed to the varietal percentages and whatever additions / modifications you make apply to the whole lot.

I have grenache & shiraz coming in on the same day so I feel I should chuck 'em in together at a ratio determined by checking ripeness of each grape, and just see how it goes.

I may do likewise with nero & primitivo depending on when I get the grapes.

Any ideas, tips & tricks?
 

TOMMARIANI22

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It really is beneficial to do separate fermentations for total control of pH acid balance and overall complexity.. syrah and Grenache do really well.together but in just the right amount depending on the ripeness as you were saying Grenache lends itself really light and can become over powered by other varieties. The mixing of seeds depending on how they were grown can really embellish a tough bitter taste as well. Proportion is everything and having control always will lend you the upper hand. Also one could possibly adapt VA problems later down the line and then you have a whole batch essentially contaminated.
 

NorCal

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I was planning on doing just that with Cab Franc and Petite Sirah (80/20) from a vineyard this year. It is a proven Gold winning combo from these vines, so that avoided some of the guessing.
Having done Grenache and Syrah last year, the Grenache was really light and the Syrah really dark, I’d have to agree with @TOMMARIANI22 that I would do them separate, just because they are pretty far apart flavor profile wise and proportions of each may be important. They are great blending partners, but if I put anymore than 30% Syrah it would mute the Grenache
 

REDRUM

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OK thanks. I am now thinking I may actually do both: one ferment of grenache, one of shiraz, and a little test one of a (prob grenache-dominant) blend.
Cab Franc & Petit Sirah sounds :r
 

JohnT

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I like to field blend if for any other reason than simplicity.

Field blending means that I do not have the hassle of having to keep them separate.
 

REDRUM

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Yes that makes sense!
I will have fresh grenache / shiraz / primitivo grapes so I will keep these batches separate but perhaps have a 4th batch as a blend of the leftovers from each, in completely unscientific ratio of course.
 

JohnT

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Just to expand on my view of this...

Even if you do keep them separate, you will probably end up having the problem of what to do with the wine that you didn't use for blending (the leftovers). For example, if you have two 5 gallon carboys of wine, and you decide to make a 2 fifths to 3 fifths blend, you will have the issue of how to store the leftovers (2 gallons of one wine and 3 gallons of another). This means that you need to get yourself (probably) five single gallon containers.

That is just for one blend. It can mushroom after that. I found this to be WAY too much of a PITA.
 

muskie003

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I've been looking into this question myself and have come up with mixed reviews. pros and cons for each. I think I'm going to do a coferment with three varietals. Have yet to decide which (maybe merlot, malbec, petit verdot???). I'm looking at it as a science project. I'm by no means a veteran wine maker. Just hackin' it in my basement! Am I insane for thinking this could work? Anyone have a suggestion for which three might blend best for this experiment? CF,CS,malbec,merlot,syrah,carmenere? I'd really like to incorporate the petit verdot, but I'd also like to do 33% each varietal for ease.
 

REDRUM

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Sounds like a good plan ... I guess all of those grapes (except syrah) are Bordeaux varieties so they'll all go well together ... Cab sauv and Merlot usually make up the lion's share of Bordeaux blends so maybe those two + petit verdot?
Here in Australia, Cab sauv and Syrah blends have a long history... that's a big, tannic wine, with Syrah filling out the mid palate that Cab sauv sometimes lacks. Malbec can play the same role.
Cab Franc if you want a bit of vegetal / minty character.
 

cmason1957

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I did a co-ferment last spring of Chilean Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, 33% of each. It is pretty durn good. It needs some more age on it. This year I have four buckets coming a Cab Sauvignon / Merlot blend, a Sryah, a Zinfandel and a Pinot Noir. Some of those are going into a bucket together, just not certain exactly what. Yeast is probably going to be Rhone style yeast, maybe Assmunhausen (AMH) or BM4x4.
 

pgentile

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I did a field blend of Cab Sauv\Merlot\Carignane in 2016, aging nicely. Juice bucket blends in 2017 Sangiovese\Barbera and Sangiovese\Syrah.

This Chilean harvest my plan is a Carmenere\Syrah field blend.
 

Bartman

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I've been co-fermenting all of my wines-from-grapes for years now. I have neither the capacity nor the interest level to mess with bench testing different ratios. I prefer the KISS principle - separate fermentations for each varietal would be a huge violation of that.

Since I consistently get 3 lugs >= 6 gallons of wine, that's the blending I do at the crush: 1-1-1 (such as Ca Sauv., Cab. Franc, and Merlot) or 2-1 (such as 2 Malbec with 1 Merlot). So long as I keep my labels straight, I only have to keep up with those carboys of wine and not 2-3x as many varietals in varying volumes (what size vessel do they each go in?). But I also let nature mostly take its course, with as little intervention on my part as possible. Those that like to do more experimentation probably don't prefer co-fermentation.
 

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