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Give it time or blend with the good stuff?

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NorCal

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My plan is to bottle everything in July, with the exception of 60 gallons, that will stay in the French Oak barrel until December.

Here is the dilemma. I have a less than inspiring 60 gallon barrel of wine. It is the result of receiving grapes that were said to be 25.5 brix, ended up being 23.5 brix. The flavor profile is really lacking to me and just is not a very good tasting wine in my opinion. All my other wine have gone well this year and if I could, I would like to bottle them individually. However, I do not want to bottle the other 50 gallons of wine and like it and have 60 gallons of wine that I don't like.

I will be doing some bench trials, but I am pretty confident that I will find that the more I blend with the barrel, the better it will be; this wine is light and relatively acidic. The other wines bigger, darker and higher pH.

Problem Child:
60 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (4% Petit Verdot) 23.5 brix, 3rd year French oak, + American oak spirals - Lacking

Blending Candidates:
This is what I have in container right now, that is mine to blend with the above:

15 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, 27 brix, new American oak, pretty darn good
15 gallon 2017 Tempranillo - light oak, best wine in the box
10 gallon 2017 Cab Franc - nice, medium oak, would go fast as a standalone
2.5 gallon 2017 Cabernet / Petite Sirah port
5 gallon 2016 Petite Sirah - no oak, rescued from another winemaker, good as a blender
2 gallon 2017 Petit Verdot

Would you throw the kitchen sink at the wine to get something that you enjoy overall or let the wine be and give it some time, to see if it comes around while I enjoy the other 250 bottles that came from the 50 gallons of blending candidates?
 

Johnd

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My plan is to bottle everything in July, with the exception of 60 gallons, that will stay in the French Oak barrel until December.

Here is the dilemma. I have a less than inspiring 60 gallon barrel of wine. It is the result of receiving grapes that were said to be 25.5 brix, ended up being 23.5 brix. The flavor profile is really lacking to me and just is not a very good tasting wine in my opinion. All my other wine have gone well this year and if I could, I would like to bottle them individually. However, I do not want to bottle the other 50 gallons of wine and like it and have 60 gallons of wine that I don't like.

I will be doing some bench trials, but I am pretty confident that I will find that the more I blend with the barrel, the better it will be; this wine is light and relatively acidic. The other wines bigger, darker and higher pH.

Problem Child:
60 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (4% Petit Verdot) 23.5 brix, 3rd year French oak, + American oak spirals - Lacking

Blending Candidates:
This is what I have in container right now, that is mine to blend with the above:

15 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, 27 brix, new American oak, pretty darn good
15 gallon 2017 Tempranillo - light oak, best wine in the box
10 gallon 2017 Cab Franc - nice, medium oak, would go fast as a standalone
2.5 gallon 2017 Cabernet / Petite Sirah port
5 gallon 2016 Petite Sirah - no oak, rescued from another winemaker, good as a blender
2 gallon 2017 Petit Verdot

Would you throw the kitchen sink at the wine to get something that you enjoy overall or let the wine be and give it some time, to see if it comes around while I enjoy the other 250 bottles that came from the 50 gallons of blending candidates?
I’d first hold out to see if the wine comes around by barrel time and oak adjuncts. If not, then try some blending combinations with the barrel wine, and only blend it if I could make a better wine than your individual varietals. For instance, your “pretty darn good” Cab, unless a blend of the two is better than the “pretty darn good” Cab is by itself, it’s a no-go. I’d prefer to have less good wine, as opposed to a lot more mediocre wine. Maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to find a blend that’s better than the good base, that’d be a huge win for sure.
 

ceeaton

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You could make another wine this Fall as a possible blending candidate, maybe another cab or something big and juicy like a Syrah or Zin. That would give you another year to let the "problem child" batch age a bit more and see if it comes around. That's assuming you don't have to free up the space it is occupying right now...
 

stickman

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Seems like you're doing the best you can with bench trials etc. As John says, maybe you'll find a good blend. There are some wineries that deliberately harvest Cabernet a little on the early side, and it is normal for these wines to be lean, tannic and acidic in their youth. Due to this, the tannins are reactive, they can handle a fairly long aging time in barrel, some do three years or so, then bottle and hold for two years before release. It's always interesting to discover a bottle in the cellar many years later, that turns out to be much better than you first thought.
 

NorCal

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Wow, back to back to back home runs. Great advice all of you.

Yes, I really think this wine is going to take more time that I am use to. I am also planning on making 60 gallons of high brix Cab Franc this year, which would be a great blending partner with my low brix / low pH Cab. Like I said, I am really happy with the other wines and I know would enjoy them separately. I'll do the bench trials and see if there is a magical combination, that would allow me to sacrifice a smaller amount of the blending candidates and if not, I'll give it another year to mature or blend with the Cab Franc. I can rest well tonight, knowing I have a plan. thanks.
 

ceeaton

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I am also planning on making 60 gallons of high brix Cab Franc this year, which would be a great blending partner with my low brix / low pH Cab.
Funny, I was going to suggest that, but the Cab Franc I made from grapes locally here was very light and fruity (almost a rosé), I thought it might thin out the Cab Sauv a bit too much. I'll have to admit I didn't know you could get a high brix Cab Franc, but I'm here on the East Coast, the land of under ripe grapes.
 

NorCal

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Funny, I was going to suggest that, but the Cab Franc I made from grapes locally here was very light and fruity (almost a rosé), I thought it might thin out the Cab Sauv a bit too much. I'll have to admit I didn't know you could get a high brix Cab Franc, but I'm here on the East Coast, the land of under ripe grapes.
Oh yea, I’ll plan on picking at 27 brix. Any higher and there is too much raisening. I like the bigger plum and blackberry notes that CF gets at the higher brix. I made a 23 brix CF two years ago and it was delightful, but not the big wine I want to make this year.
 

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I have had a similar dilemma with my 18 vintage Grenache. I basically split it over several kegs and carboys. So the free run and pressings are separate. Did a heap of bench testing the other day when racking and found one 6 gallon lot of free run was quite inferior to the rest but still drinkable. Tried blending and didn't like the results so will be bottling it once clear and just drinking as a daily drinker unless it drastically improves. The remainder is fantastic and will be aged for a good year or more, especially the pressings so again I'll likely keep them seperate as they are such distinct wines. So glad I decided to fill kegs and carboys as I went along rather than blend it all in as I don't think I'd be happy with the results otherwise. I wouldn't risk having twice as much average wine by blending something I'm not happy with.
 

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@NorCal , have you ever experimented with glycerin? I’ve not, but from the purported properties, it just may help out, or at least be worth a try. What about MegaPurple? Ever mess with that stuff?
 

NorCal

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@NorCal , have you ever experimented with glycerin? I’ve not, but from the purported properties, it just may help out, or at least be worth a try. What about MegaPurple? Ever mess with that stuff?
I haven’t. Not sure why I don’t like the idea of adding that to my wine, since I add oak to alter the flavor. The wine has gone through mlf, can I add mega purple?
 

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@NorCal all are still relatively young, I like the others would give the problem child more time. Really like that line up. Would be curious on how a blend of your temp and cab (in the blend candidates) comes out.
 

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I haven’t. Not sure why I don’t like the idea of adding that to my wine, since I add oak to alter the flavor. The wine has gone through mlf, can I add mega purple?
I’ve limited knowledge of the product, just from reading, but understand that it has sugar. There are some interesting articles about it if you have time to read them. Seems that it’s use is more widespread than admitted by wineries.
 

JohnT

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Like to see how you make out on your bench trials.

Over the years, my plan of attack in these cases is to protect the good wines and bite the bullet on the bad wines. Mixing an inferior wine with a really good wine will only make the really good wine worse (most of the time). I am skeptical, but interested.
 

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My plan is to bottle everything in July, with the exception of 60 gallons, that will stay in the French Oak barrel until December.

Here is the dilemma. I have a less than inspiring 60 gallon barrel of wine. It is the result of receiving grapes that were said to be 25.5 brix, ended up being 23.5 brix. The flavor profile is really lacking to me and just is not a very good tasting wine in my opinion. All my other wine have gone well this year and if I could, I would like to bottle them individually. However, I do not want to bottle the other 50 gallons of wine and like it and have 60 gallons of wine that I don't like.

I will be doing some bench trials, but I am pretty confident that I will find that the more I blend with the barrel, the better it will be; this wine is light and relatively acidic. The other wines bigger, darker and higher pH.

Problem Child:
60 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (4% Petit Verdot) 23.5 brix, 3rd year French oak, + American oak spirals - Lacking

Blending Candidates:
This is what I have in container right now, that is mine to blend with the above:

15 gallon 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, 27 brix, new American oak, pretty darn good
15 gallon 2017 Tempranillo - light oak, best wine in the box
10 gallon 2017 Cab Franc - nice, medium oak, would go fast as a standalone
2.5 gallon 2017 Cabernet / Petite Sirah port
5 gallon 2016 Petite Sirah - no oak, rescued from another winemaker, good as a blender
2 gallon 2017 Petit Verdot

Would you throw the kitchen sink at the wine to get something that you enjoy overall or let the wine be and give it some time, to see if it comes around while I enjoy the other 250 bottles that came from the 50 gallons of blending candidates?
Maybe - if you have plenty of barrels then leave it for another year to see how it develops. Otherwise decant into some other non barrel storage containers and again leave it to rest and mature.
 

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@NorCal , have you ever experimented with glycerin? I’ve not, but from the purported properties, it just may help out, or at least be worth a try. What about MegaPurple? Ever mess with that stuff?
No. Don't use glycerine. I added it to a number of wines and ciders last year because I was similarly dazzled by the claims of adding body and a more rounded sweetness. I just didn't like way it gave everything a slight metallic taste. I think I ruined my wine rather than enhanced it. If you need sweetness then back sugar and if you need increased mouth feel then just give it more bottle time. Also - the stuff gives you mild diarrhoea.
 
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heatherd

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@NorCal It might be worth experimenting with some cellaring/aging/other tannins to see if they add anything to the wine you don't care for.
 

NorCal

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Not the one to let anything be, I did some early blending tests. I took a sample out of the Cab barrel, as well as out of the Cab Franc, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo. I tasted each individually and then with the Cab. I didn’t care for the Cab / Tempranillo so took that one off the table. I thought both the CF and the PS improved the wine. I then took a scenario of blending the 10 gallons of CF and 5 gallons of PS, 60 gallons of Cab and made a 300 ml sample. In the end, it would make the wine 76% Cab, 13% CF, 7% PS and 4% Petit Verdot. It was the best that I had tasted. It was also the most the Cab was diluted.

I had the opportunity to walk to a tasting room (1/2 mike from my house) where I knew that arguably the best winemaker in our area was having a Friday night event. He has plenty of 90+ point wine spectator wines and I’ve known him for 5 years or so. I brought the sample with me and did a reverse wine tasting in his tasting room.

I got a new glass, poured the sample and waited until he wasn’t busy. He was happy to taste and I told him that I wanted honest feedback. Knowing him, I was confident I would receive it and he has not been shy of criticizing my wine in the past. I didn’t tell him anything about the grapes or wine.

He first told me it has a great nose and then had a taste. He said that it was a nice clean wine, which is not something that he usually finds with homemade wine. He picked out that it was a light/low brix wine. I then told him exactly what it was and he said that it unquestionably needs another year in the barrel. He said it will give it time to mature and the flavors concentrate.

I will sleep on it, but I think I will rack the barrel, do this blend and put it back in the barrel for another year.
 

NorCal

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It really is a combination of the first three suggestions. I’m blending it with wine that I’m ok using to blend, giving it another year and leaving my options open to further blend with Cab Franc that I’m making this year.

My plan is to take 15 gallons of this blend and further blend it with the high brix Cab and bottle it this summer. The only downside is that I really need to go buy another 60 gallon barrel.
 
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