Evil Sulfer

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Sep 5, 2009
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I've been making wine from St. Croix graphs using Montrachet yeast since for 8 seasons. From a harvest we make a batch from directly from the press with very little water or sugar added, and then a second batch from the skins after transferring the first to a carboy to finish fermentation. Our batches are small (not many grapes to work with) - only 3-5 gallons per batch. Its just for fun.

Last year, late in fermentation of the first batch I noticed the H2S stink and quickly racked twice to splash and escape a long term H2S problem. It didn't work and we eventually ended up tossing the batch. The second batch turned out very good, however.

This year, I'm a bit on guard, and I noticed the sulfur smell only 3 days into fermentation after taking it off the sinks and moving it to a carboy (and starting the second batch). We have done the splash & rack procedure (yesterday) to help the H2S escape quickly. This year we splashed it through a course copper filter and I also added energizer (LD Carlson) with Diammonium Phosphate. Today it is emitting sulfur as strongly as before. Again, the second batch is going along beautifully.

What can be causing this? Why the first batch and not the second?

In these last two seasons we have stopped adding acid blend to the first batch, since it seems to have enough acid kick all on its own... that's the only change I can put my finger on. We don't use any sprays at all for our vines.

Can we save this year's batch?
Do you check the acid levels or just going by taste? Have you checked the PH also, if these are way out of whack then that can easily be your problem. Adding acid will lower your PH to a more manageable scae for your yeast and that may be the problem and Montrachet yeast is the most vulnerable yeast to a improperly balanced wine. I would try another yeast strain or get the equipment to rectify these most troublesome victims.