Other FWK - very fast ferment

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wine dabbler
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Nov 5, 2006
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Raleigh, NC, USA
My son & I started Finer Wine Kits Tavola series Chardonnay and Riesling Wednesday night. I inoculated the following morning, having made the starters as the instructions state and carefully pouring down the side of the fermenter to keep the starter from spreading too much. SG of the Chardonnay was 1.094.

Friday morning I stirred and checked SG -- 1.090. We're doing a colder ferment (65-66 F) so slow taking off, but there is activity.

Saturday morning the SG was 1.062. Wow, 30 points in 24 hours. [I typically do wine stuff between 7AM and 8AM.]

This morning? The Chardonnay's SG is 1.000. Yes, 60 points in 24 hours. I could see foam residue on the container 2 inches above the wine, so there had been significant activity.

The temperature in my cellar is currently 62.3 F, using a digital kitchen thermometer. The Chardonnay is 81.1 F this morning and was 77 F yesterday morning. With that much activity, I'm not surprised it's that hot. It may be a self-feeding cycle, lot of activity increases temperature which increases activity.

I had the same results with a Barbera kit back in August, a 3 day ferment. My son & I started a Rhone blend last night (our mix, not FWK's), and I'm going to remove labels from water bottles and freeze them, then sanitize before adding to the must to slow down the ferment.
What yeast did you use on this one?
The kit included D47.

I suspect the nutrient contains the yeast equivalent of marijuana -- the yeast got stoned and then VERY hungry!

The Barbera kit I started in August contained Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212, and it fermented equally fast. The kits we started yesterday also include RC 212, which seems to be FWK's choice for reds.
I had a similar experience with the Bordeaux I'll be racking today. A blazing fast, 3-day ferment with RC212. I was rather concerned about the temperature, as it was pegged at 85 for the bulk of the ferment (in a 70-degree room).

I have a Super Tuscan forte on order and I plan on doing that one in the garage and trying to keep the temp in the mid-60's to see if I can extend the ferment.
I started my Sauv Blanc and Riesling kits this weekend too. Mixed Friday evening, pitched yeast starter kit yesterday morning. They both had a light foam this morning so I stirred for the first time. Must Temperature when I pitched was 68 and was 70 this morning. What are y’all’s thoughts on not adding the nutrient pack? Per instruction I would add tomorrow morning. I’m wondering if it even needs it.
I started a FWK Barbera this week. Originally purchased 2 skin packs, but made a last moment decision to only use one. So, 2nd pack is tucked away nicely in the freezer. For this ferment, I am using BM 4x4 and following the FWK yeast protocol. Yeast was pitched on Thursday with a SG of 1.100. 24-28 hours later, fermentation started picking up. Fermentation temperature is holding at 72 degrees F using a Fermotemp Heater. Checked SG late Saturday evening about 10:30pm CST and SG was at 1.064. Completed daily punch down #1 of 2 this morning at about 10am and checked SG and it's at 1.040. I did miss the timing of adding the nutrients at 1.060 but added 3/4 nutrient pack at current SG of 1.040 with fingers crossed. I also increased the temp target but will drop it back down later this evening at punch down or tomorrow. So far, this barabera smells absolutely INCREDIBLE! It definitely has me excited about the final product. My plan is to rack to BMB and sit on skins for the 14th days recommended per instructions. Does anyone have recommendations for oak style in barbera? American or French? What oak type is traditional?
I have not seen this fast of a ferment, I wonder what the difference might be.
My guess is the nutrient.

I racked the Chardonnay (0.999) and Riesling (1.004) last night -- they are in 19 liter carboys and 4 liter jugs (1 each, respectively) and all containers are showing foam.

The Rhone blend is showing activity. The skin bags are floating high, but haven't reached that overflowing full look, yet. The OG was 1.101, it's down to 1.093. Temperature in the room is 62.3 F, must is 66.0 F.

I'm going to monitor the temperature every 4 to 6 hours. If it gets above 75 F, I'll add frozen water bottles to (hopefully) slow it down.

EDIT -- I added 3 tsp ScottZyme ColorPro to the Rhone -- I purchased it before my grape plans were scrapped. Matt P thought it might help with the skin packs -- this morning the must is just as inky as all of 2020's grape wines. Extraction enzymes appear to work fine on skin packs.
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My guess is the nutrient.

EDIT -- I added 3 tsp ScottZyme ColorPro to the Rhone -- I purchased it before my grape plans were scrapped. Matt P thought it might help with the skin packs -- this morning the must is just as inky as all of 2020's grape wines. Extraction enzymes appear to work fine on skin packs.

It is something other than the nutrient, I have added that bag in both cases of the wines I made.

good to know and not totally unexpected that the Extraction enzymes worked fine on skin packs.
I spoke too soon. At 4:15 PM the room was 66.7 F, the must 74.0 F, and SG 1.058

At 9:45 PM the room was 66.2 F, the must was 76.0 F, and the SG 1.038.

Wow. Seriously wow.

I cleaned and sanitized two frozen 16 oz water bottles, and added to the fermenter. I'll go back down after 30 minutes and stir again.
After 30 minutes, both 16 oz bottles were completely defrosted. I punched the must down again and mixed it well. The temperature dropped a degree to 75 F.

This batch may be fermented out by tomorrow morning. On the plus side, I don't have a stuck ferment! 😂

The Super Tuscans arrive Thursday. I'm going to freeze a couple of gallon jugs ...
My guess is the nutrient.
I would have guessed it was because you are using starter in combination with not being able to maintain the temperature. But of cause, a high nutrient level also promotes fast fermentation. A white fermented at 27°C is pretty high, in such a case I would have opt for not using a starter. I have never used a starter for wine but when making beer I often do that. The difference in time with or without starter can be huge.
@Swedeman, you make good points.

Regarding temperature, I suspect a self-sustaining cycle -- the rapid fermentation produces heat, which promotes more fermentation, which produces heat ...

The overnight starter? This sort of makes sense, but in a "normal" ferment of 7 to 10 days, I'd expect the colony to reach a similar size, even if it takes a few days longer. But the fermentation typically slows down, not speeds up, near the end. I'm going in circles, mentally, on this one.

This morning's readings are odd -- the SG is 1.030 and the temperature is 78.8 F / 26 C. I'm wondering if the 2 bottles slowed the process down a bit, although the temperature surprises me. I'm freezing 4 more bottles and will add 2 in a few hours, and the other two 4 hours after that.

I used to think I'd seen it all, but obviously not! Regardless of how this turns out, it's got the grey cells churning! :)
Generally the runaway reaction of yeast growth happens on the third day if inoculating in the upper 60's, probably the 4th day if inoculating at 55F, so if you wait for that to happen it can be difficult to control, you have to anticipate the temperature increase and start cooling before the heat gets out of hand. The heat issue is obviously more of a problem with larger batch sizes and depends to some extent on the type of vessel used like plastic vs stainless etc. I've been using starters for years, with a 500 lb batch of red must inoculated at 55F, I have found that the room temp has to be dropped to around 55F the day before the peak growth to prevent exceeding 85F. Fermenting in the winter I have the luxury of adjusting the room temperature, but when I have fermented in the fall with warmer outdoor temperatures, the same batch needs 16lbs of ice twice a day for a few days to maintain control. Remember conditions will vary based on equipment used and ambient temperature, in this case I'm using a water circulation cooling system on an uninsulated stainless jacket, so some of the ice is lost to heat from the pump as well as the jacket to the room.
@stickman, I've never had runaway ferments like these. It's consistent with the FWK I've done -- counted as 4 or 6 kits, as the Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Merlot are one large batch.

Since it's the FWK, it makes sense to be related to the starter and/or the nutrients, which are specific to FWK. The more I think about it, the more I agree with you and @Swedeman.

The 3 Super Tuscans arrive today -- I'm going to freeze gallon jugs to control the temperature on those, which will be fermented as 1 batch.

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