Evaluating first wine from grapes

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Rob Kneeland

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Learned gentlemen and ladies

My first try at wine from grapes just had its 1 year birthday. So I got out the cork screw. I got about 27 liters from 3 cases of Cab. with a very light press. Grapes looked to be in great shape. I had 2 oak spirals in the carboy for 30 days early in the process. I used 1118. Did not filter. Added nothing to clarify or stabilize. Did not MLF.

I absolutely LOVE that the only ingredients are grapes and yeast! (and sulphite)

Observations;

Great colour and clarity.
Absolutely no nose. I love opening a bottle of J. Lohr Seven Oaks or equiv. and sticking my nose in the glass. yummy! This wine...nothing.
PH is 3.5. I think that's where I want to be.
I "think" is is very light on tanin. I have no "chalky" feel on the tongue. I think that is tannin?
Tastes very good but with a fruity after taste. Dry.
Lacks any oaky flavour. (which I like)
I would give it 5 out of 10. Very happy with the results but know I can do better.

So questions regarding the next logical step to improve my skill, and wine.

Will it improve with another year aging? Maybe the fruit after taste would fade?
Is a barrel really a game changer?
Is MLF a logical next step? Although I have no tangy acid taste.
I'm guessing I need to try a different yeast. 1118 is a bit generic.
I think I need to oak more.
What generates a great nose?

Would really appreciate direction as to what would be my biggest bang for the buck.

Expecting my first Marquette harvest next year and want to be a better wine-maker.

Thanks
Rob
 

Juniper Hill

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Congratulations on your first vintage. I find I learn something new every year. There are lots of things you can consider to improve things. Consider Sangie- removal 10% juice to concentrate flavours. Additions like optired, booster rouge and surlie help to integrate flavours and add some mouthfeel (amongst other things, I’m sure).
I also add some oak and tannin during the fermentation to stabilize colour and do mlf.
Also consider some other yeast options. Lots of excellent choices!
 

winemaker81

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The wine is only a year old. Give it another year before making an evaluation. Beyond that, there are many factors, including "how long has it been in the bottle?".

Free run vs. pressing. In 2019 I made a 2nd run wine (equal parts Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel). I lightly pressed the grapes, which went into a neutral barrel with 6 oz medium toast French cubes, and the remainder I hard pressed and carboy aged with no oak. Both wines are good, but no one believes the wines are the same grapes. The hard pressed has a lot more body and color. The barrel time and oak elevated the lightly pressed above a mediocre wine.

My 2020 blend #1 is a blend of free run Merlot (66.7%) and 33.3% of the other Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot). Blend #2 is 40% pressed Merlot, 40% Zinfandel (free run and pressed), and 20% pressed Bordeaux grapes. These wines are also very different, and overall the pressed wine is slightly better. Both are good, but in blind tasting the pressed wine wins.

Harder pressing releases more deep constituents. My experience says press more, not less.

I used ScottZyme ColorPro enzyme in 2020 -- the amount of extra color and body extracted is phenomenal. I also let the fermentation go to under 1.000, which extracts more "oomph" from the grapes. I'm not sold on extended maceration (EM) being a real value, but some folks are doing it.

I used shredded medium toast oak for fermentation oak, which preserves the natural grape tannin without imparting oak flavor. This contributes to body.


Barrels are a complete game changer. The water and alcohol evaporate through the wood, concentrating the remaining constituents. There is no way I know of to duplicate this effect. I have 54 liter barrels, and it costs me 10% to barrel wine for a year, e.g., for a 14.25 US gallon barrel, I need to start with 16 gallons of wine to keep the barrels full for a year. It's a trade-off of quantity vs. quality.

My barrels are neutral, e.g., provide no oak flavoring. I add oak cubes for flavoring, and the barrels are good indefinitely as an aging container. If you have a new(er) barrel, the length of time in the barrel has to be limited to avoid over-oaking the wine.


I don't see MLF as a "logical step". It's a choice. If a wine has a lot of malic acid, you'll experience a large change when the malic acid is changed to lactic acid. If the wine doesn't have much malic acid, or if the MLF doesn't work (for various reasons), you won't.


Winemaking has many equally beneficial answers. It may be that understanding the ramifications of the questions is the harder part.
 

BMarNJ

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@Rob Kneeland was that 1 year from pressing ie. 2020 grapes? Or 1 year in the bottle after a year of bulk aging? If these were 2020 grapes, you will definitely have a better wine a year from now. That J Lohr you opened was probably from 2018 or earlier.
 

Rob Kneeland

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I bulk aged for a year then bottled about a month ago.

Yeah, I'll need to hide the rest of those bottles for another year, but I'll know where I hid them.

I need to bottle some kit wine, like now. Abstinence has never been my strength.

And, I see a barrel in my future.

Thanks all
 

Steve Wargo

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I don't taste/smell a positive change in homemade wine until after 18 months. Maybe a little. White wines develop quicker.
I try to set aside four or six bottles of red homemade wine and open one once a year. I add to my notes for that batch. Hopefully, my reserve will keep building..
 

keverman

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Learned gentlemen and ladies

My first try at wine from grapes just had its 1 year birthday. So I got out the cork screw. I got about 27 liters from 3 cases of Cab. with a very light press. Grapes looked to be in great shape. I had 2 oak spirals in the carboy for 30 days early in the process. I used 1118. Did not filter. Added nothing to clarify or stabilize. Did not MLF.

I absolutely LOVE that the only ingredients are grapes and yeast! (and sulphite)

Observations;

Great colour and clarity.
Absolutely no nose. I love opening a bottle of J. Lohr Seven Oaks or equiv. and sticking my nose in the glass. yummy! This wine...nothing.
PH is 3.5. I think that's where I want to be.
I "think" is is very light on tanin. I have no "chalky" feel on the tongue. I think that is tannin?
Tastes very good but with a fruity after taste. Dry.
Lacks any oaky flavour. (which I like)
I would give it 5 out of 10. Very happy with the results but know I can do better.

So questions regarding the next logical step to improve my skill, and wine.

Will it improve with another year aging? Maybe the fruit after taste would fade?
Is a barrel really a game changer?
Is MLF a logical next step? Although I have no tangy acid taste.
I'm guessing I need to try a different yeast. 1118 is a bit generic.
I think I need to oak more.
What generates a great nose?

Would really appreciate direction as to what would be my biggest bang for the buck.

Expecting my first Marquette harvest next year and want to be a better wine-maker.

Thanks
Rob
Pretty new at this, so I hesitate to reply, but I've learned a lot from rookie mistakes, and the great folks here, and also from a professional winemaker that specializes in Marquette, so here goes, what I've learned so far. (I grow Marquette in Ohio and am on my 3rd estate vintage). I looked through Scott labs fermentation handbook for variety specific yeast recommendations. I settled on Exotics Mosaic, upon recommendation of one of their folks (Katie Cook) which has the ability to partially degrade malic acid during primary fermentation (up to 17% of it per a research paper I read). It advertises that it helps maintain fruit/aromatics. I do MLF and cold stabilization, both of which help further reduce TA, which typically comes from the vineyard at around 10-11 for me, and ends around 6 - 6.5 for the finished wine. I also do sur-lie aging which is reported to improve mouth-feel, and I've been really happy with the body. Mine takes at least 1.5 years to arrive at being approachable. 2 years it's better, and 2.5-3 years it's wonderful. It's also very easy to over-oak thereby squashing flavors/aromatics you want, so oak it lightly. I use half any recommended "dose" of cubes, rods, etc. And lastly, it seems to get really angry every single time something new is done to it. Racking, oaking, un-oaking, MLF, bottling, etc. Every step seems to KILL the taste and nose, or fire up harshness and it takes a while to settle back down. Not sure what this is about....just an anecdotal observation. My first vintage, every single thing I did to it, I totally felt like "well now I've ruined it" and it just needed time. For the "wonder how it is now" thing, as a fellow NOT patient person, I bottle 4 or 5 half size bottles so I can try it without burning a whole bottle if it's still not where I want it to be. Rest assured if any of the truly experienced folks here disagree with any of the above....I welcome the feedback. Help me (us) learn! Cheers and good luck!
 

Steve Wargo

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Pretty new at this, so I hesitate to reply, but I've learned a lot from rookie mistakes, and the great folks here, and also from a professional winemaker that specializes in Marquette, so here goes, what I've learned so far. (I grow Marquette in Ohio and am on my 3rd estate vintage). I looked through Scott labs fermentation handbook for variety specific yeast recommendations. I settled on Exotics Mosaic, upon recommendation of one of their folks (Katie Cook) which has the ability to partially degrade malic acid during primary fermentation (up to 17% of it per a research paper I read). It advertises that it helps maintain fruit/aromatics. I do MLF and cold stabilization, both of which help further reduce TA, which typically comes from the vineyard at around 10-11 for me, and ends around 6 - 6.5 for the finished wine. I also do sur-lie aging which is reported to improve mouth-feel, and I've been really happy with the body. Mine takes at least 1.5 years to arrive at being approachable. 2 years it's better, and 2.5-3 years it's wonderful. It's also very easy to over-oak thereby squashing flavors/aromatics you want, so oak it lightly. I use half any recommended "dose" of cubes, rods, etc. And lastly, it seems to get really angry every single time something new is done to it. Racking, oaking, un-oaking, MLF, bottling, etc. Every step seems to KILL the taste and nose, or fire up harshness and it takes a while to settle back down. Not sure what this is about....just an anecdotal observation. My first vintage, every single thing I did to it, I totally felt like "well now I've ruined it" and it just needed time. For the "wonder how it is now" thing, as a fellow NOT patient person, I bottle 4 or 5 half size bottles so I can try it without burning a whole bottle if it's still not where I want it to be. Rest assured if any of the truly experienced folks here disagree with any of the above....I welcome the feedback. Help me (us) learn! Cheers and good luck!
I picked and fermented a decent size batch of Marquette last year 2020 and a small batch of Petite Pearl. I didn't MLF the 2020 buckets, but I did mix ferment buckets with either RC212 or BM4x4. Then the 2020 Marquette was mixed together. . I was just winging it. Everyone liked the 2020 Marquette wine. They thought each was smooth, and not too acidic. I put aside most of the 2020 Marquette to age for at least another year. On Another note: A different commercial vineyard nearby used 71B to ferment their 2018 Marquette and their 2018 Marquette won "Best of Class" at the Michigan Wine Competition in 2019.
 
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keverman

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I picked and fermented a decent size batch of Marquette last year 2020 and a small batch of Petite Pearl. I didn't MLF the 2020 buckets, but I did mix ferment buckets with either RC212 or BM4x4. Then the 2020 Marquette was mixed together. . I was just winging it. Everyone liked the 2020 Marquette wine. They thought each was smooth, and not too acidic. I put aside most of the 2020 Marquette to age for at least another year. On Another note: A different commercial vineyard nearby used 71B to ferment their 2018 Marquette and their 2018 Marquette won "Best of Class" at the Michigan Wine Competition in 2019.
Nice! Where was your Marquette grown? I am considering adding either Noiret, Petit Pearl or Baco Noir to the vineyard for blending in, and looking for comments regarding any of those blends. I think part of my slow maturation is due to the yeast, which states right in the description ‘slow to mature’. I did a trial last year of Exotics and 71B. The 71B came out 6 TA vs 6.35 for Exotics, but the pH was also higher, 3.7 vs 3.59. I stayed with Exotics this year due to how well my 2018 matured, and I preferred the lower pH. I also hear folks have good results with D254?
 

Rice_Guy

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I "think" is is very light on tanin. I have no "chalky" feel on the tongue.
I'm guessing I need to try a different yeast. 1118 is a bit generic.
you might look at D80 yeast for increasing tannin flavors
based on a talk from the U of Min winery this year I am running Maurivin B on a red to reduce the malic acid
. . . . so many choices and so few carboys to try them out
 

keverman

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you might look at D80 yeast for increasing tannin flavors
based on a talk from the U of Min winery this year I am running Maurivin B on a red to reduce the malic acid
. . . . so many choices and so few carboys to try them out
Interesting! Is that talk recorded anywhere? I’d love to see what else they had to say!
 

Juniper Hill

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you might look at D80 yeast for increasing tannin flavors
based on a talk from the U of Min winery this year I am running Maurivin B on a red to reduce the malic acid
. . . . so many choices and so few carboys to try them out
I've been using 71B 1122 in high acid wines, as it's supposed to reduce malic acid about 30%- has worked very well for Marquette and a bunch of whites that I've used it for. Have been wanting to try Maurivin B - maybe next year! I've heard it can cause some trouble with H2S, but still worth trying IMO..
 

Steve Wargo

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Nice! Where was your Marquette grown? I am considering adding either Noiret, Petit Pearl or Baco Noir to the vineyard for blending in, and looking for comments regarding any of those blends. I think part of my slow maturation is due to the yeast, which states right in the description ‘slow to mature’. I did a trial last year of Exotics and 71B. The 71B came out 6 TA vs 6.35 for Exotics, but the pH was also higher, 3.7 vs 3.59. I stayed with Exotics this year due to how well my 2018 matured, and I preferred the lower pH. I also hear folks have good results with D254?
The Marquette I fermented was grown in Michigan south of Marlette. I've heard of Marquette fermented with D254. Maybe one day I'll try it. A vineyard in Wisconsin Parallel 44 & Door 44 Vineyard, mixed some of their Petite Pearl with 25% Marquette and won a national award. I also read where Merlo was blended with Marquette and won awards. I do know it's very easy to over oak Marquette. Some use neutral oak barrels and age a few months. I poured a half gallon of Petite Pearl into a 3 gallon carboy and filled the rest w/Marquette that turned out very good after a few months of aging.
 
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