Comparing Some Kits

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JTS84

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I have been thinking of making a Carmenère kit for quite a while now but haven't gotten to it yet. Now it seems that there are two options again RJS En Premier an WE Selection. Logic would tell me that the RJS would be better, but my store raves about the WE and old threads on here don't show people being impressed with the RJS Carmenère. I also know that I wasn't impressed with the first Carmènere I had in Chile, but buying a bottle by mistake definitely changed my thoughts on the varietal.

Has anyone made both that could give an objective comparison of the kits? Our current favorite carmenère is Emiliana Natura with notes of fruit, toffee, and chocolate. I don't normally go for the ones with heavy bell pepper notes. Also, how much of a variance can one expect with kits due to vintage? I would assume manufacturers try to keep a consistent product.
 

Cellar Vader

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My 2 cents, but I made the WE Selection Carmenère a couple years ago. I followed the directions exactly, as this was my first kit (because I LOVED Carmenère at that time!) I drank it in increments of three months. Up to 12 months it had never improved, and the entire time it was VERY vegetal. Somewhat bitter. Now then, what could it have become in another year? I'll never know, but I am not willing to take a chance and do this kit again.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed in this one. Good luck with whichever choice you make!
 

ras2018

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Have not done the En Premieur but I did the Prestige limited run from RJS a few years ago. I have had one bottle and i recall it being very tasty. I did modify with extra time on skins, yeast, oak and tannins though.
 

JTS84

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Two different responses more or less the exact opposite of my preliminary research. Interesting.

@ras2018 Do you remember yours also to be vegetal? Curious as tasty can be different for different people.

Thanks!
 

ras2018

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Two different responses more or less the exact opposite of my preliminary research. Interesting.

@ras2018 Do you remember yours also to be vegetal? Curious as tasty can be different for different people.

Thanks!
Describing wine flavors is really not my forte. Based on what I remember though, I don’t recall any bell pepper flavor.

Just remember, this was from the annual Prestige line that they put out and will differ from the En Premieur.

I have made a few En Premieur kits and don’t have a bad thing to say. My 2c? Go with the En Premieur.
 

Rocky

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@JTS84, I have made four batches of Carmenere over the years and my info is kind of old. For what it's worth:

o March, 2012 Carmenere from Chilean juice, Syrah grape pack, Red Star Pasteur Red yeast, ABV 14.7%, Very good tasting.
o May, 2013 Carmenere from RJS Winery Series (forerunner of the En Premieur) with skins, Red Star Pasteur Red yeast, 14.5%, Excellent tasting.
o October, 2014 Carmenere from WinExpert Selection, added two bags (about 5.5 lbs. of Zinfandel skins), Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast, 13.5%, Very good.
o May, 2019 Carmenere from Chilean juice, double batch, added 2 36 lb. lugs of Carmenere grapes, Red Star Premier Rouge yeast, 13.4%, about mid way through bulk aging, taste is good, young and improving.

The RJS was the best and, again, that was more than 5 years ago.
 

JTS84

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So far we are sticking with more juice + skins is better. It's good to hear that confirmed in regards to this varietal so far. Any thoughts on vintage in regards to kits? Just curious
 

ras2018

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Less water and skins is ALWAYS going to be better. Skins specifically are going to give you more mouthfeel, aroma and tannins.
 

JTS84

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That's exactly what I have been learning on this site, just happens that what I was seeing/hearing for anecdotal evidence was kinda leading me the opposite direction and makes me question why.
 

Rocky

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That's exactly what I have been learning on this site, just happens that what I was seeing/hearing for anecdotal evidence was kinda leading me the opposite direction and makes me question why.
I believe you have to take each case individually. There is no hard and fast rule that will work in all instances, only general guidelines. For example, in my notes for the May, 2013 Carmenere from an RJS Winery series kit, I recorded that I had to add additional water, i.e. more than just to get it to 23 liters, to get the ISG down and the wine still finished at 14.5% ABV.
 

Chuck E

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I believe you have to take each case individually. There is no hard and fast rule that will work in all instances, only general guidelines. For example, in my notes for the May, 2013 Carmenere from an RJS Winery series kit, I recorded that I had to add additional water, i.e. more than just to get it to 23 liters, to get the ISG down and the wine still finished at 14.5% ABV.
You have to trust the hydrometer and make your plan!
 

JTS84

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I decided to try the RJS Carmenère kit. After a 3 week trip to Chile and an unexpected work trip when I got back I finally picked it up and started yesterday.

This is my first top line kit with skins. The disappointing part is that it only came with ec118 yeast. It also had a small packet to make oak tea. Would someone explain to me why they had me make a tea instead of just dumping it in like other kits?

My process:
Mix up bentonite per instructions
Taste the juice - fairly nondescript grape juice flavor.
I held back the water addition and added 1qt simple syrup - SG 1.092 appx 22.5 liters
Added both grape packs
Pitched Bm4x4 yeast instead of EC1118
I'm going to shoot for a 8 week EM on this one. Then I will rack, taste, and decide how continue with oak and/or any other little additions.
 

Chuck E

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I decided to try the RJS Carmenère kit. After a 3 week trip to Chile and an unexpected work trip when I got back I finally picked it up and started yesterday.

This is my first top line kit with skins. The disappointing part is that it only came with ec118 yeast. It also had a small packet to make oak tea. Would someone explain to me why they had me make a tea instead of just dumping it in like other kits?
.
I think the addition of the skins will cause your S.G. to rise a bit. There seems to be some residual sugar in the skin packs. I always measure S.G. after the skins have been in for at least 24 hrs.
 

JTS84

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I did take that in consideration yesterday after searching on here how much additional sugar to expect. I'll measure again at 24 and 48 hours and post those here.
 

JTS84

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1.096 @24 hrs
1.097 @48 hrs
Right in line with what I was expecting from other threads here. There is active fermentation going on, so I expect it to start dropping now
 

kuziwk

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I have been thinking of making a Carmenère kit for quite a while now but haven't gotten to it yet. Now it seems that there are two options again RJS En Premier an WE Selection. Logic would tell me that the RJS would be better, but my store raves about the WE and old threads on here don't show people being impressed with the RJS Carmenère. I also know that I wasn't impressed with the first Carmènere I had in Chile, but buying a bottle by mistake definitely changed my thoughts on the varietal.

Has anyone made both that could give an objective comparison of the kits? Our current favorite carmenère is Emiliana Natura with notes of fruit, toffee, and chocolate. I don't normally go for the ones with heavy bell pepper notes. Also, how much of a variance can one expect with kits due to vintage? I would assume manufacturers try to keep a consistent product.
if you can get ahold of the VineCo cellar craft showcase carmenere before it gets discontinued ,their carmenere is stellar after about a year and a half. I haven’t found a bottle of commercial carmenere in the $20-$30 range that I actually liked so I swear by this kit.
 
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