Ferment diary ... Shiraz, Grenache, Zin/Primitivo

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by REDRUM, Feb 22, 2018.

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  1. Feb 22, 2018 #1

    REDRUM

    REDRUM

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    Well the grape harvest is suddenly here so I thought I'd start a ferment diary rather than asking a bunch of different Q's in different threads.

    The plan is to do 3 x 30L batches, of shiraz, grenache, and primitivo.

    I collected my primitivo/zinfandel* grapes from McLaren Vale yesterday (22/2) when they were harvested, and they are currently sitting intact in tubs. Trying to keep them cool today and will crush tomorrow. So my first question is: is it OK to leave fresh grapes for 2 days before the crush? They are in good condition ... if not I can give them a good foot stomp today, lol

    Tomorrow I am picking grenache at my father-in-law's place in Reynella and shiraz at another vineyard in McLaren Vale (probably means very little to the North Americans on this forum!)

    Going to run it all through the crusher/destemmer then, I will take my 30L batches, and everything else my father-in-law will blend.

    I will post the numbers tomorrow.

    Planning on inoculating with Mangrove Jack R56 yeast. Second question : how necessary is adding sulfite to the must prior to pitching the yeast? Commercial wineries I know of usually just inoculate the must straight away (unless they're the natural-ferment type), the idea being that cultured yeast strains will immediately run over the top of whatever other yeasties are already in there.

    Primary will happen in 30L plastic fermenter buckets (the home-brew type), which I will keep immersed in water tubs and use a fan & wet towel evaporative cooling system to hopefully keep them at optimal ferment temperature.

    I plan to ferment each batch dry before pressing, and will rack to glass demijohns.

    Still not sure about MLF and oaking. Any suggestions will be helpful - what would be a good starting pH to run MLF on these grape varieties? (I don't want to go through MLF if the result is that the wine is too rounded & flabby).. Same with oak, I would rather err on the side of caution and I am happy to avoid it altogether, especially with grenache which will be a bit lighter & more delicate.

    *don't know what to call them, different clones of the same variety. this vineyard has both primitivo & zinfandel clones planted & i think these are a mix. guess I will choose one and run with it..
     

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  2. Feb 22, 2018 #2

    ceeaton

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    If they are in good condition, you are fine. Just think about how long it takes me on the East Coast of the US to get grapes from the West Coast. Just keep them cool if possible.


    If they are in good condition as you state above, no, not necessary. Also, if you do an MLF you don't have to worry about high sulfites inhibiting the bacteria.

    MLF on about any red wine is a good idea. Better to go through it now than in a bottle (and pop a lot of corks in the process). If you have a way to check your pH and TA, that would be helpful information so people here could help you make a decision.

    Oak added at the beginning of the fermentation can help preserve the tannins that naturally occur in the grapes (especially the skins), by taking the place of the natural tannins in reactions during fermentation that can drop the tannins out of solution. Same holds true for the red color, I add Scott Labs Opti-red to help preserve as much of the color as I can, but I believe adding some oak chips during the fermentation can also fulfill that role.

    I'm sure others will chime in, just my two cents.
     
  3. Feb 23, 2018 #3

    REDRUM

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    OK cool, thanks for the info Craig. On the first two answers - thanks - that's exactly what I wanted to hear!

    On MLF, I will plan to inoculate during primary then. My local shop sells 2g packets for $51.25 ... pretty expensive so I'm hoping I won't need any more than 1 packet for 90L of must.

    I found this article about oaking at various points in fermentation, it suggests that oaking during primary results in changes to aroma & flavour. Maybe if I do it it will be small amounts (like the 3g/L dose).
    http://www.academicwino.com/2013/04/oak-chips-sensory-characteristics-wine.html/
     
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  4. Feb 23, 2018 #4

    Obelix

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    Good on you Redrum - I'm keen to hear on your progresss.
    JohnD advice was - if you plan to inoculate MLF bacteria with the yeast - don't add sulphite.

    I bought 1.5g MLF from Wineequip - Express Post delivery $42 - I had a laugh - a 20cm x 20cm x 10cm packet, and in it a cold pack and a small packet 5x5cmx1mm thin :)
    But 1.5g treats 250L of wine.

    re: Oak
    I added 125g of untoasted American Oak into the must. The colour so far is great but have nothing to compare it too where there is no oak.
    Honestly, I don't believe at this stage it makes any difference. I may buy a a small bottle of oak esence ($5 - $8) to understand what to expect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  5. Feb 23, 2018 #5

    winepittsburgh

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    If you can get your hands on some dry ice, it would not hurt to throw it on the grapes for those couple days. Especially try not to pop many grapes if you can help it also. As for the SO2, it probably won't be too big of deal to skip it as long as your grapes look really healthy and you get a really strong, large yeast starter going to try to take out any wild or spoilage yeasts. I know some yeasts are a lot more competitive than others, but they also often ferment a lot faster than you might want to. I am not sure if this is an option or not, but if you could crush and destem them on the day you get them then keep them cold and covered, you should be fine for a few days. The cold soak can help with extraction also since you will be buying adding a few more days to your total maceration period. Good luck!
     
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  6. Feb 25, 2018 #6

    REDRUM

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    OK - big day yesterday - Sat 24/2.
    Drove down to McLaren Vale in the morning and picked shiraz while family members were picking the backyard grenache. Shiraz really good fruit ... but big berries & big bunches so maybe not the tannic & flavour intensity that can sometimes be the case. Grenache was (in my view) picked a bit underripe but when my father-in-law says we go, we go! Good quality though.

    Ran this through the crusher as well as the Primitivo. I took 25L of must from each variety, plus 15L of a mixed 'field blend' to see if co-fermenting makes much of a difference (most of the harvest is being blended up by my father-in-law and he'll do his own thing with it).

    Got my fermenters home and took hydrometer measurements:

    Grenache - 19.36 Brix
    Shiraz - 23.75
    Primitivo - 25.47
    Field blend - 20.69

    By 6pm a wild ferment was already obviously beginning on the Shiraz & Grenache, but no action on the Primitivo (maybe cos the grapes had been sitting around for 2 days)
    Pitched yeast - R56.
    As for pH, I have two sets of test strips. One measures to whole numbers, the other measures to one decimal place but only between 3.8 and 5.5 :slp. The most I can tell you then is that every batch is somewhere between 3.0 and 3.8. (I do know that Shiraz is at 3.6 based on field measurement done by the vineyard). I really need to get some better test strips or else invest in a pH meter.

    Initial must temperature was 26*C, the buckets are sitting in water tubs which overnight dropped the temperature to around 22*C and has been fermenting at that temperature all day today ... that's exactly where I want it.

    After about 22 hours since pitching yeast: the Grenache is going crazy & the other batches bubbling up nicely too.
     
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  7. Feb 25, 2018 #7

    sour_grapes

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    Sounds like fun! Good luck!!
     
  8. Feb 25, 2018 #8

    Donatelo

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    I wholeheartedly agree with you on the PH meter as opposed to test strips. With test strips , I could never get the same reading twice. The meter is infinitely better.
     
  9. Feb 26, 2018 #9

    Obelix

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    I ordered a PH meter for $12 - wonder if it will work at that price :)

    Seems like quiet an ordeal - so many different grapes - but having said that - I'm totally hooked and I can imagine your enthusiasm :)
     
  10. Feb 27, 2018 #10

    REDRUM

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    Yep I'm definitely hooked! It would definitely be easier if I had just one big ferment vessel rather than 4 little ones, but it's lots of fun...

    After 3 days of fermentation at reasonably steady temperatures of around 24-26C:

    Grenache - SG 1.022/Brix 5.62. This has been fermenting nice and steadily. Quite a pale purple colour and a bit tart to taste.. I think I will blend it with small amounts of the other wines after pressing. I think I will press it fairly early, in a couple of days' time.

    Primitivo - SG 1.075/Brix 18.23. Fermenting steadily & slowly. Still very sweet (obviously) but getting a really nice dried fruit / tannic flavour. Deep rich dark red colour.

    Shiraz - SG 1.040/Brix 10.05. This one has been going crazy. Even though I left 5L of headspace in the 30L fermenter, it's been bubbling right up to the top and spilling over into the water tub. Deep purple colour, and the flavour tastes like it will be very well balanced. Starting to taste, dare I say, like wine. There is a very slight sulphur dioxide smell from the ferment on this one - possibly because it's been fermenting so hard? Should I try to do anything to sort this out, or will it blow off with a little bit of time?

    'PSG' field blend - SG 1.066/Brix 16.18. Steady ferment. I really have high hopes for this, it is smelling and tasting delicious!

    I decided not to put any oak chips in during primary, for most of the wines colour extraction is not an issue. I am likely going to buy some MLB today though, is it worth putting in now (halfway through primary ferment) or wait until after pressing?
     
  11. Feb 27, 2018 #11

    ceeaton

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    If you have some nutrients, you could add about 1/2 the recommended dose. Around here I have access to Fermaid O and K. The "K" has more diamonium phosphate to it, so it isn't a great idea to add it late during fermentation (O is okay as the yeast can use it better with a lot of alcohol present in the must). But you posted that your SG is 1.040, so I think you could get away with it at this point. There is a yeast we use here in the states a lot, RC 212, that will produce some hydrogen sulfide during ferementation, and when we add a bit of nutrient, it will go away. The key is to try and minimize your sulphur dioxide smell as much as possible so that it doesn't become a dominate flavor component of your wine when it has finished. A small amount can be removed by various means, but a larger amount may become a problem.
     
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  12. Feb 27, 2018 #12

    REDRUM

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    OK great Craig, thanks! My nutrient contains "DAP, magnesium sulphate, folic acid, niacin, calcium pantothenate, thiamine hydrochloride". Just added a half dose (2.5 g / 25kg).
    A follow up Q: do you reckon it's worth adding this to the other ferments now too, or only if they start to produce the SO2 whiff?
     
  13. Feb 27, 2018 #13

    ceeaton

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    I would only add the nutrient if the other feremnts start having the sulphur dioxide smell. Cut down the amount you use the closer your wine gets to dry. The idea is not to leave around any nutrients for the things we don't want growing in our wine after the ferment is finished. In the future if you keep using the same yeast, I'd try and see if you could stock some type organic version of nutrient that can be safely used later in your ferments. I use the Fermaid O for that purpose. I realize that you may be limited in what you can get, so work with what you can get. Keep having fun and drink a glass for me!

    Fermaid O: http://www.scottlab.com/product-106.aspx

    PS. It's beddy by time for me. I know you are about 15 hours ahead of me, so I'll check this first thing in my a.m. if you have any other questions. I know there are a host of individuals on the U.S. west coast who can answer you better than me, so hopefully they'll chime in (since they don't go to bed for another 3 or 4 hours).
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  14. Feb 27, 2018 #14

    REDRUM

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    OK cheers!
    The only other thing is whether or not I should inoculate to start MLF now, or after pressing, or after 1st racking. Does it make much difference?
     
  15. Feb 27, 2018 #15

    Obelix

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    While researching yeasts I read somewhere that Zinfandel doesn't get MLF-ed.
    I personally don't have a clue - and not making Zinfandel but maybe it's of interest.
     
  16. Feb 27, 2018 #16

    ceeaton

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    I usually inoculate after pressing, letting it settle for a day or two, and racking it off the gross lees (the fluffy stuff that accumulates at the bottom of the carboy). There are a few threads here where they inoculated when they pitched the yeast or right after. I think you can be successful either way, just a personal choice you have to make. I've seen arguments for the advantages/disadvantages on both methods.

    I ended up MLF'ing my Zinfandel from the Fall of 2016. I hadn't heard that a Zin doesn't get MLF-ed, but I'm still pretty new at this wine making thing.
     
  17. Feb 27, 2018 #17

    cmason1957

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    There are very few commercially available red wines that do not get Mlf treatment. Zinfandel generally does.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  18. Feb 28, 2018 #18

    Obelix

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  19. Feb 28, 2018 #19

    sour_grapes

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    From that site:

    Sounds like the difference is the style of wine made. Suffice it to say that the Zins I make or buy are NOT light, and I wouldn't call them fruity. More like stewed fruits or jammy fruits, and a heavy mouthfeel and punch.
     
  20. Feb 28, 2018 #20

    Obelix

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    Agree.
    Maybe the author considered a Rose Zinfandel.
    There is so much on Internet and it's hard to filter out quality information, hence the value of this forum.
     

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