Other FWK - very fast ferment

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My two kits of Bordeaux have shipped and will arrive Thursday. I plan to do them together in a 20 gal. brute so am thinking about my strategy to slow it down. I have two gallon jugs frozen now and may throw a couple more in the freezer today. Based on comments from @stickman and @Swedeman I think I will do two things. Skip the starter and just pitch the yeast on top of the must and start adding ice early on in the ferment. And, yes @winemaker81, the synapses are firing.
 
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The three Super Tuscans arrived in late afternoon, and my son & I got them started. We work well together and got done faster than I expected.

We used Avante yeast in the starter and I'm reserving the RC212 for future use.

I'm going to freeze 4 gallon jugs of water to use in controlling temperature.

Although I hadn't planned it, I'm doing an "in Detail" blog to track our results.

 
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I screwed up this morning -- maybe. Room temperature was 67.4 F, The Rhone dropped to 74.8 F, and the SG is 1.000. I'm going to rack tomorrow and press the skin packs.

The Super Tuscan SG is 1.100, right on the target I was hoping for.

The potential screwup? I inoculated, THEN thought to take the temperature -- 62.8 F.

I expect the yeast will get to it, as I had a good starter, even if it takes longer. If not? I have another 300 g of Avante, I'll just make another starter. :)
 

Steve Wargo

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@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.
Is it possible that nutrients were already added to the wine kit juice at the factory? Something has changed in their recipe pre-packaging?
 
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Is it possible that nutrients were already added to the wine kit juice at the factory? Something has changed in their recipe pre-packaging?
I doubt it. FWK appears to be very strict in their process and their honesty. The kits come with 3 nutrient packs -- A for pre-ferment, B for yeast starter, and C for 48 hours after inoculation. I assume A, B, or C contain something the yeast REALLY likes.

It's also possible the overnight yeast starter makes that much difference. Or it's both. I lack experience and knowledge to determine which.
 
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This morning the Rhone temperature is down to 69.6 F and the SG is 0.999. It's not foaming like it was so it appears fermentation is done.

I inoculated Sunday morning, so I had a 5 day ferment, which is acceptable. It appears that adding the water bottles twice slowed the ferment down to acceptable levels.

Tonight I will rack the wine and I'm going to press the skin packs in my press. Waste not, want not! If it was just 2 bags I don't think it would work well (#40 press), but I'll see if I can put enough blocks in to press 6 bags.

The Super Tuscan has ignited -- OG was 1.100 and it was 1.099 this morning with a temperature of 65.6 F. There's a bit of foam, but the skin packs are not expanded nor floating high, as yet. I'll have water bottles ready for tomorrow morning, although I doubt they will be needed until tomorrow night at the earliest.

This has been very instructive for me, as I'm seeing nuances in fermentation I've never examined before.
 
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I racked the Rhone this evening with the SG at 0.999. It did not go well.

Let me clarify -- the conclusion was a good one! The process had some problems.

The wine pump I bought a year ago is dead. The motor runs, no suction. I tried priming it (it doesn't need priming), pulling it apart (as much as I could), but I couldn't figure it out. Went to Lowes Home Improvement -- their selection of pumps didn't fit the need -- most were 60 GPM, and the one that was 5.6 GPM was aluminum ... not good for wine.

Plan B -- I purchased a drill pump. Figured it would get me through the night.

Nope. I could NOT get the darned thing primed.

Ok, Plan C. I have a gallon bucket and filled 7 gallon primaries from the bucket, and from there racked into three 19 liter carboys and a 3 gallon. When done the 19's were full and the 3 gallon was down maybe 500 ml.

Next task -- I pressed the 6 skin packs. This was more of an experiment than anything, to see what I got. The end result is I filled a 1.5 liter wine bottle and had 3 or 4 oz to add to the 3 gallon. From my POV it was worth it, as that 1.5 liter will do a lot to topup the carboys after I fine the wine.

My current plan is to let the wine rest until Thanksgiving. My son will be here and we'll degas and add the fining agents. About 10 days later we'll bottle one of the barrels and move as much of the Rhone as fits into it.
 
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For the Rhone, the 19 liter carboys have already mostly cleared, as has the 3 gallon. The 1.5 liter bottle, containing pressings, has about 20% of clear at the top.

The Super Tuscan? SG is 1.089 and the temperature is 68.4 F. I'm going to let the temperature hit 72 F before I start chilling it.

When the ST is done and cleared, I'll post pictures of the color. By yesterday morning the must was noticeable darker than the original concentrate had been when first diluted. Every wine I've used the ScottZyme ColorPro in has ink for color. Not that color is everything, but it makes a solid first impression.

It was C.
Looking at the timeline for the Rhone, I don't believe Packet C is the one that kicks things into gear, as the Rhone was in high gear by the time I added it. It appears to be A (first nutrient) or B (yeast nutrient).
 
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Yesterday the Super Tuscan got up to 76.8 F, so I added 1 frozen 16 oz water bottle. In the afternoon the SG was 1.030, so in about 1.5 days, the SG dropped 60 points but the temperature didn't spike like the Rhone.

This morning the temperature dropped to 74.8 F and the SG is at 1.015. This is consistent with the Rhone, where it took off and fermented rapidly, then slowed down at the end. I have more bottles frozen, but I don't see a need to use them, as the temperature is in a range I'm satisfied with.

I checked the 3 gallon carboy of Rhone, it's still at 0.999.

As I was typing this, I realized I never added Nutrient Packet C, so I ran downstairs and did so. It's a bit late, but if the wine is fermenting for another couple of days, it may help. Besides, I have no idea what is in it, so I'm leery of trying to use it in a different wine.
 
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Matteo_Lahm

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Hello all, this is a really interesting thread. Like I always say, as the founder of the company I don’t like to chime in because I think it’s best that people who make our wine kits get to discuss them here. I like to avoid the opportunity for promotion on what should be purely an academic platform. That said, I wanted to address the issue of the internal temperatures. Are you guys aware that wines like Brunello ferment at 85°? It’s actually one of the criteria required for the wine to be called Brunello. Sangiovese does better at higher temperatures. I find that grape has unfavorable flavors when it ferments cooler. Sangiovese is a particular example but fermentation temperatures can get into the low the 80s without problems. I have done cabs that have made it into the 80s as well and they were delicious. In fact I even prefer higher temperatures because you get earthy flavor nuances when you start to get into the high 70s. As for the speed, even if most of the sugar is processed in a few days, those last increments take weeks. They are so small at the end that you can’t even read them with a hydrometer. The reason why nobody has ever reported stuck fermentation in a finer wine kit is because the starters make very high populations that can finish the job and clean up after themselves. So, I just wanted to assuage any concerns you guys might have about this. That said, there is a reason to want to maintain lower fermentation temperatures. Wines that ferment in the low to mid 70s are more fruit forward and I think your frozen water bottle techniques are great. I’m thinking about a way I can work that into the instructions. I am interested in continuing to develop them to give you options based on your taste and preference. Like I always say, it’s your wine. Anyway, keep up the good work. Thank you so much for being our partners in winemaking. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
Cheers,
Matteo
 
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I took the time to organize my thoughts regarding the rapid ferments. The TLDR version of my post is that the rapid ferments and huge SG drops caught me by surprise, as they are out of my experience. I analyzed my records (I have detailed records on 98 batches going back as far as 1985), but honestly? While the data is interesting, the differences in ferments prevents me from drawing any reasonable conclusions other than "normal" ferments are typically 6 to 10 days.

At this point, as I read through my records of the 4 FWK I've started, I'm a lot less freaked out. Instead, I believe I've learned much about fermentation. There is more research to do, but I suspect my current thoughts are correct. [Nothing to say yet, as I'm still figuring things out.]

I agree with @Matteo_Lahm's comments regarding temperature. High temperature is not an issue, depending on what the goal is.

My Chardonnay hit the 8o's F, while I wanted a colder, slower ferment to preserve more fruit character. I won't know if I got what I wanted for some months, and it's entirely likely I'll be satisfied with the result, regardless of what it is.

IMO if I like a wine, regardless if that result is what I intended, I call it a win. I have a 10 gallon batch that I don't like (although others do), so any result I like is good. If it didn't come out the way I wanted, then I start another one.

For the Rhone Blend and Super Tuscan, I wanted a longer ferment for better extraction from the pomace (skin packs). However, I used ScottZyme ColorPro and the Super Tuscan is currently much darker than the original juice, appearing much like the Rhone Blend and my grape wines from 2020. I expect the result will be fine.

My conclusions regarding the FWK? I will use a starter for all future wines, as even 12 hours of starter aging produces a rapid start. Keep the starter with the must, so they are (more or less) at the same temperature. This should help getting the batch going.

For the kits themselves, I'm satisfied with the nutrients doing their job, and I have no expectation that H2S will be produced. I will use all nutrient packs as directed.

I'll tone down the ferment time by controlling temperature. These kits were my first time controlling temperature, and for a beginner in this process, I did ok. I've learned things to use in future batches and will pay attention to temperature. For white wines, I will definitely keep the temperature in a range I want. Reds? It will depend.
 

Matteo_Lahm

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You just gave me an idea! Maybe the best approach would be to consider the ambient temperature of your fermenting space for how long you should let the starter go before inoculation. If you’re working in a warmer space, shorter. If it’s November or December and your basement is cold, let it go the full duration.

You guys rock.

I took the time to organize my thoughts regarding the rapid ferments. The TLDR version of my post is that the rapid ferments and huge SG drops caught me by surprise, as they are out of my experience. I analyzed my records (I have detailed records on 98 batches going back as far as 1985), but honestly? While the data is interesting, the differences in ferments prevents me from drawing any reasonable conclusions other than "normal" ferments are typically 6 to 10 days.

At this point, as I read through my records of the 4 FWK I've started, I'm a lot less freaked out. Instead, I believe I've learned much about fermentation. There is more research to do, but I suspect my current thoughts are correct. [Nothing to say yet, as I'm still figuring things out.]

I agree with @Matteo_Lahm's comments regarding temperature. High temperature is not an issue, depending on what the goal is.

My Chardonnay hit the 8o's F, while I wanted a colder, slower ferment to preserve more fruit character. I won't know if I got what I wanted for some months, and it's entirely likely I'll be satisfied with the result, regardless of what it is.

IMO if I like a wine, regardless if that result is what I intended, I call it a win. I have a 10 gallon batch that I don't like (although others do), so any result I like is good. If it didn't come out the way I wanted, then I start another one.

For the Rhone Blend and Super Tuscan, I wanted a longer ferment for better extraction from the pomace (skin packs). However, I used ScottZyme ColorPro and the Super Tuscan is currently much darker than the original juice, appearing much like the Rhone Blend and my grape wines from 2020. I expect the result will be fine.

My conclusions regarding the FWK? I will use a starter for all future wines, as even 12 hours of starter aging produces a rapid start. Keep the starter with the must, so they are (more or less) at the same temperature. This should help getting the batch going.

For the kits themselves, I'm satisfied with the nutrients doing their job, and I have no expectation that H2S will be produced. I will use all nutrient packs as directed.

I'll tone down the ferment time by controlling temperature. These kits were my first time controlling temperature, and for a beginner in this process, I did ok. I've learned things to use in future batches and will pay attention to temperature. For white wines, I will definitely keep the temperature in a range I want. Reds? It will depend.
 
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You just gave me an idea! Maybe the best approach would be to consider the ambient temperature of your fermenting space for how long you should let the starter go before inoculation. If you’re working in a warmer space, shorter. If it’s November or December and your basement is cold, let it go the full duration.
That makes sense.

I suspect keeping the starter next to the must is as big a factor, as there is less shock to the yeast, e.g., starter is at 75 F and the must is at 65 F versus 66 F and 64 F.

In my case, the Tuscan started a bit slower -- was it the slightly cooler must temperature, the cooler room temperature, or both? [My guess is both] Although the starter looked REALLY good at 12 hours.

starter.jpg

Developing solid kit instructions is really hard, as there are so many environmental differences the writer can't account for!
 

Matteo_Lahm

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You’re absolutely right about the difficulty issue. It’s hard because on one hand you want to give as much as instruction as possible but on the other, you don’t want to scare the hell out of people either. It’s a tough balancing act to be informative and not cross the line.
 
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You’re absolutely right about the difficulty issue. It’s hard because on one hand you want to give as much as instruction as possible but on the other, you don’t want to scare the hell out of people either. It’s a tough balancing act to be informative and not cross the line.
It seems it would be really easy to get too far into the weeds regarding variables and lose sight of what you want the instructions to accomplish. I think your addition of the checklist in the Forte booklet I just got was a great idea. It addresses the concern from experienced users that the detailed explanation is too much info. I read the whole book when I first got the kit to see what had changed. Then when I started putting it together the checklist was very handy.
 

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Just for additional data here’s what I did with my Forte Super Tuscan. I am not yet knowledgeable by any means, but my goal here was to get extra time fermenting on the skins (my Tavola Super Tusc fermented dry in 2.5 days).

I did the 24 hour yeast starter and innoc’d at 9pm. Then the following morning I put it in a temp controlled chest freezer set to 70degrees(temp probe in the must so must stayed a constant 70). Later that evening I turned it down to 68.

4 days after innoc I was at 1.030sg. I’ve read many times that higher temps allow certain flavors to come out in the wine, so I bumped the temp to 80 and I’ll let it finish at what ever temp it gets to under 80 (currently at 76 degrees 12hrs after upping temp).

My guess is that it’ll finish at around the 6 day mark, which sounds like an acceptable amount of time on the skins to me.
 

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