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NorCal

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Myself and @4Score are planning a Bordeaux style wine. We are planning on 1.5 tons of Cab Franc and .5 tons of Petite Sirah. The grapes will be coming from the community where I live, so we have a good handle on the grapes. The CF/PS from this vineyard is a proven double gold winner, so we feel good on the blend (I may throw a little petit Verdot in as well).

The two varieties have historically matured at the same rate, so my plan is to pick both on the same day. The question is, should I blend the grapes at crush or after pressing? Any added benefit by fermenting together?
 

salcoco

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I am a proponent of fermenting separately. this will allow proper measurement of acid and brix plus tannin addition if necessary optimizing each grape wine. bench trial blends will then dictate the bet mixture once wine has cleared and had some aging. your method will still give you a good wine based on the history but will it be the best wine?
 

pgentile

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I did a Bordeaux style field blend last fall of 3 lugs Cabernet Sauv, 2 lugs Merlot and 1 lug Carménère. Micro batch compared to yours, but at 8 months it is quite good. I hear the arguments for fermenting separately and then blending, I just don't have the patience to do all the blending experimentation, note taking, etc.
 

stickman

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You already know that this is one of those difficult questions. It really depends on the chemistry of the grapes when they arrive. Fermenting separately has its advantages as salcoco mentioned, there is comfort in knowing what you have when you make a blend. Sometimes co-fermentation may be an advantage when the overall adjustments to the must for brix and acid etc. are less than what they would be if fermented separately. If not using different yeasts, and you know you are going to blend anyway, maybe to ensure full barrels etc, then co-fermentation may be a simple option, and it will ensure that the color and tannin provided by both grapes are combined and available to each other during the primary.
 

JohnT

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I ferment together so I do not need twice the number of primaries and secondaries. Space is the biggest deciding factor.
 

Ajmassa

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In a perfect world, given unlimited space and equipment and time, would you blend later, with the ability to play with the ratios? Or is it there more to gain from letting the wines mature and develop together from the jump?
 

NorCal

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In a perfect world, given unlimited space and equipment and time, would you blend later, with the ability to play with the ratios? Or is it there more to gain from letting the wines mature and develop together from the jump?
Yes, in a perfect world I would ferment separate and blend later. The decision is based on container sizing and frankly the amount of wine I want to make. We plan on making four 60 gallon barrels + topping wine from the two tons. While it would be nice to make 3 Cab Franc barrels and 1 Petite Sirah barrels and then blend afterwards, the logistics of having 4 barrels in four different locations makes this a challenge. Not insurmountable, but if there were some other biological / chemical benefit to co-ferment or a big reason not to do it, then we would see if it is worth the extra effort.

These ratios from these vineyards has been made in the past by a home winemaker as well as a commercial, with very nice results.
 

Ajmassa

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It seems like the only time it would we worth it for a home winemaker to blend after pressing would be if you are not able to use the same yeast on all of the varietals for whatever reason.
On a different note I just want to say it's nice to read some threads about preparation for the fall. I am looking forward to this season more than I ever have. And it's my first fall harvest since discovering this forum. Going 100% all grape Super Tuscan style. ~250 lbs. Spring grapes/juice and kits all take a backseat when Cali grapes arrive this fall. Can't wait.
 

Johny99

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I don't know of any significant benefit chemically for co-fermenting reds. I'd guess they are too similar. I have read of and am experimenting with co-fermenting whites with reds, Viognier in last year's case. There are different constituents that the whites bring to the party according to the reading I've done.


However, if your volumes are going to be such that you won't only blend part of them, I'd co-ferment. You can always adjust the whole batch if you are so inclined, or adjust different barrels differently and then blend those results.

Just my musings as I contemplate bloom.
 

stickman

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@Johny99 good point, I also noted information regarding the co-fermentation of Viognier for example with Syrah in the Rhone, but it was also noted that the old timers who interplanted the California Zinfandel vineyards with Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Alicante Bouschet etc., knew there was something special about co-fermenting a balanced must. Unfortunately without a long history of experience it is still somewhat of a crapshoot, but it is a crapshoot I enjoy.
 

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