How can I improve my Cellar Craft Amarone Wine?

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by ringmany, Mar 21, 2019.

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  1. Mar 21, 2019 #1

    ringmany

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    Hi everyone,

    I've managed to acquire a Cellar Craft Amarone wine kit. This includes grape skins too. As this is going to be my most expensive and best quality kit yet, I'm looking to improve it as much as possible.

    I'm planning on fermenting as normal in my fermentor. Then I've got a friend that might be able to get me an oak barrel. I've never used one before. So I plan to age it in the oak barrel for around 6 months, then bottle it and leave until the 2 year mark, as that's what is recommended by most users for the best taste.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for additional ingredients or methods that I can use to improve the flavour to make this wine exceptional.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Mar 21, 2019 #2

    cmason1957

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    Have you thought of doing an extended maceration, that is, leaving the grape skins in for much longer than normal. 4-6-8 weeks. This is best accomplished in a wide mouth secondary type vessel.
     
  3. Mar 21, 2019 #3

    sour_grapes

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    What is the source of the oak barrel? Is it new or used? It will need to be sized appropriately. Also, if is used, and it was used with malolactic fermentation, that could be a problem. (MLF is discouraged on kits.)

    I have had good luck adding tannins to such kits. I use a fermentation tannin (like FT Rouge) and/or a finishing tannin (like Tannin Riche or Tannin Riche Extra).
     
  4. Mar 21, 2019 #4

    cmason1957

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    Oh and if it is a new barrel (say 5 gallons or so) six months may be way to long to age the first wine in it. Many folks suggest six weeks or less for the first, double that for the next.
     
  5. Mar 21, 2019 #5

    ringmany

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    Hi,
    Thanks for the suggestions!
    I believe the oak barrel has been used. I'm getting the details later today hopefully. It will be 5 gallon.
    I've got a Youngs wine tannin. Should I add a tbsp of that?

    I'm not familiar with the maceration process. Normally I add the grape concentrate, water, other ingredients etc. Ferment for 2 weeks. Rack wine. Add fining agents. Wait 2-3 weeks, then bottle.

    Is the maceration process where I'd leave all the ingredients, including the grape skins in the primary fermentor for a certain about of time. Then afterwards, I'd rack that into the oak barrel, leave to age and clear, then bottle? How long should I leave everything in the primary fermentor. Will there be a risk of mold if the skins are left in there too long?
     
  6. Mar 21, 2019 #6

    cmason1957

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    Yes, you understand the extended maceration just fine. You keep the skins from molding by mixing everything up maybe once or twice a week, hence the use of the something like a big mouth bubbler to hold everything a wide mouthed slightly larger than a carboy, but smaller than a primary bucket fermenter. I don't have one, so I have never done it. I wouldn't use a bucket with a lid as I feel those lids leak something fierce and don't hold a good seal. the big mouth bubbler has a better seal.
     
  7. Mar 21, 2019 #7

    ringmany

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    Ok sounds good. How long do you think I should keep everything in the primary fermentor along with the skin grapes before racking off into the secondary stage? I'm assuming it's a used oak barrel, so shall we say around 12 weeks? If the kit contains oak chips, should I also add them too if it's already in an oak barrel?
     
  8. Mar 21, 2019 #8

    cmason1957

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    You won't be doing what is call (confusingly, I might add) a secondary. Everything happens in your fermentation chambor. I would add the oak chips to the primary, as your kit instructions tell you to. Those chips add little to no oak flavor, but do add to the body and mouthfeel of the wine. If the kit includes oak cubes, I would probably not add them, until after being in the oak barrel and then only if I thought the wine needs more oak taste, it might if the barrel is neutral.
     
  9. Mar 22, 2019 #9

    ringmany

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    If there's no secondary fermentation, then what happens to the clear stage where the stabiliser and de-gassing happens? Also at what point am I transferring the wine from the primary fermentor over to the oak barrel? Cheers.
     
  10. Mar 22, 2019 #10

    Chuck E

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    The clearing would happen after the wine comes out of the barrel. You would want to bulk age (probably in a carboy) for a while.
     
  11. Mar 24, 2019 #11

    ringmany

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    I'm a little confused at this point. Since there is no secondary fermentation apparently. Does that mean there's 3 stages in total?
    1) I place all the ingredients into my primary fermentor and ferment until gravity is at specific reading and stabilised.
    2) I then rack the wine into an oak barrel for 6+ weeks.
    3) I then transfer the wine from the oak barrel into my carboy and add the clearing agents. I leave it in the carboy for say.. 6 months before bottling.

    Is that everything? Also, how long do I should I leave everything in the primary fermentor before transferring to the barrel? Cheers.
     
  12. Mar 24, 2019 #12

    Chuck E

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    There was some discussion above about "extended maceration" which implies leaving the must in the primary fermenter for a few weeks. You have some choices to make. You could rack to your carboy after the primary ferment is over (a week or two) and allow the fine lees to settle out (a week or two) and then rack to barrel. OR do the EM (2 to several weeks) in the primary then rack to carboy to settle the lees then rack to barrel. OR rack to the barrel and age on the lees for several weeks then rack to your carboy to bulk age.
    Each of these will make the wine slightly different. Since you are "tweaking" a kit, the choices are up to you. Personally, I don't like my barrel to have lees in it. I only want the barrel to impart the oak essence.
     
  13. Mar 24, 2019 #13

    tradowsk

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    You are correct about the 3 stage process, but step 1 doesn't sound right based on your explanation. With an extended maceration, you basically just put everything in the primary fermenter and leave it there for 6 weeks or so. The yeast will finish fermenting after about 2 weeks, but the maceration part is where the wine extracts compounds from the skins through extended contact. So step 1 ends at a set time and not a stabilized SG reading. I did an EM that was 6 weeks from yeast pitch to racking into a carboy. Just stir it twice a day until the skins sink, and after 2 weeks get it under an airlock. Otherwise, steps 2 and 3 look good.
     
  14. Mar 24, 2019 #14

    jgmann67

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    A secondary fermentation is for wine making from grapes - an MLF. Kits don’t/can’t do an MLF. Still, typically we move our wines from the fermenting vessel (bucket) to a secondary vessel (carboy) when the wine reaches a SG of about 1.010., to allow it to finish fermentation (reaching as close to 0.990 as you can get).

    With an EM, the process is a lot simpler. Let it still on the skins as described by others. I do them. I also skip sorbate and clarifiers... I don’t see a need for them.

    On tannins, do some research before adding to your wine. I do tannins on the front and back end of the process.

    Finally, don’t be in a rush to bottle. You have a kit that (like wine from grapes) needs time. This particular kit is great after 2 years. Stellar at 3. Age in bulk for a year if you can.

    Also, if you’re going for long term aging, make sure you buy quality corks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
  15. Mar 24, 2019 #15

    ringmany

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    Thanks for the suggestions everyone, appreciate it.

    Soo funny thing.. turns out that the barrel isn't actually an oak barrel, it's a plastic one haha. So after all that, I won't be using one. Seems like a waste spending £80 on an oak barrel at this point when the kit has 2 packets of oak chips.

    Process now I'm assuming should be:

    1) Add all main ingredients to the primary fermentor. Do an EM and leave everything inside for around 6 weeks (Including the grape skins). The kit comes with a muslin bag and recommends adding the grapes to the bag, rather than free floating. What do you think?
    2) After 6 weeks of stirring daily, I then rack the wine and transfer it to my 5 gallon carboy, leaving behind the sediment and grape skins. Add the fining agents, then leave to bulk age for around 6 months, then bottle. Leave up until the 2 year mark before drinking.

    Anything else I can do to improve a this point, additional ingredients etc. Thanks.
     
  16. Mar 24, 2019 #16

    heatherd

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    Here's my recent response to a post several days ago...

    My thoughts are below. I made a Mosti Mondiali Meglioli Amarone kit with both skins and raisins and am sharing based on that experience.

    "After reading numerous posts on this site I am going to do an extended maceration for ~6 weeks. Below is my plan of attack and welcome any recommendations or suggestions.

    1. Pre-Ferment
    1.1 Mix Yeast and Go-Ferm with warm water- HD: Swap your EC1118 for Lalvin RC212.
    1.2 Mix Bentonite that came with kit and 2 cups hot water in Primary (Speidel 7.9)
    1.3 Add Juice
    1.4 Top off with water to 6 gallons
    1.5 Add grape skins that came with kit (not sure if I will put in muslin or not) HD: I don't.
    1.6 Add any residual grape skin juice with 2c warm water
    1.7 Add oak dust from kit - HD: I also add 1TB tannin powder with the oak dust. You can get this a your homebrew store or online; I like the stuff from Scott Labs and especially their Tan Riche. I add the tannins early so that they're integrated and I can taste whether I have enough. They add complexity to wine, and I use them sometimes during bulk-aging.
    1.8 Stir well and measure SG

    2. Fermentation
    2.1 Pitch Yeast
    2.2 Add Fermaid K
    2.3 Cover with clean towel
    2.4 Ferment at 72 degrees until SG 1.005 - 1.002
    2.5 Add 1 cup of organic raisins
    2.6 Cover with lid and airlock
    2.7 Ferment until FG target of <.994

    3. Post-Fermentation/EM
    3.1 When FG is <.994, add Meta (1/4 tsp)
    3.2 Add 2 oz Med+ French Oak Cubes
    3.3 Shake contents daily to keep everything submerged - HD: I'd stir.
    3.4 Continue this until 6 week mark is up

    4. Stabilize/Degassing (following instruction from kit here)
    4.1 Rack juice into 6 gallon Carboy
    4.2 Squeeze juice from grape skins into carboy
    4.3 Add Kmeta and K Sorbate - HD: Ksorbate isn't needed unless you back-sweeten. Don't use.
    4.4 Degas - HD: Stir to degas - no need to freak out though because your wine will degas over time during bulk aging.
    4.5 Add 1st pack of Kieselsol - HD: I don't use this.
    4.6 Attach airlock and rest for 24 hours

    5. Clearing and Aging
    5.1 Stir in Chitosan HD: I don't use this, letting age clear the wine.
    5.2 1 hour later add 2nd pack of Kieselsol - HD: I don't use this, letting age clear the wine.
    5.3 Add 2oz Med+ French Oak Cubes
    5.4 Add 1/4 tsp Kmeta
    5.5 Top off with red wine
    5.6 Attach lid and airlock (or should I use a solid bung at this stage?) HD: Airlock
    5.7 Age for 6 months at ~55-60 degrees - HD: A year+ would be better.
    HD: I would also add 2 oak spirals and more raisins during bulk aging.
    HD: Before bottling be sure to taste to see if you like the result.
    HD: It is important to make sure your wine is degassed before you bottle - we've all been there. Taste for a zippiness and do the "poof" test of shaking a bottle with your thumb on it to see if it still has gas. For me, gassy wine won't clear. So give it a stir and test before you bottle.

    6. Polish and Bottle
    6.1 Rack into 5 gallon carboy
    6.2 Attach solid bung
    6.3 Rest until any solids settle
    6.4 Transfer to bottling bucket/carboy
    6.5 Bottle and Cork
    6.6 Stand upright for 3-5 days
    6.7 Lay on side and store in cellar for 2-3 years (tasting one every 6 months of course)

    The previous kits I have made never came with skins and I kegged them after following kit instructions to the letter so this is all kind of new, but seems to capture things I have read on this forum. Please let me know your thoughts! Cheers!"
     
  17. Mar 24, 2019 #17

    Chuck E

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    Good process Heather.
     
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  18. Mar 24, 2019 #18

    tradowsk

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    I left my skins free floating because I read on here that those bags may float with CO2. I racked as normal after EM and then put the skins and lees in a fine mesh strained and gently pressed to get back more wine.
     
  19. Mar 24, 2019 #19

    jgmann67

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    The reason I use the bag with wet skins is to recover wine at the end of the fermentation. Otherwise, you’ll lose 1-2 liters of wine in your first racking. Dry skins I leave loose.

    Also, punch your skins 1-2x a day until they stop floating (usually around the 2 week mark). If at 2 weeks, your SG shows you’re done, feel free to hit it with Kmeta and seal your vessel (and if your skins aren’t sunk yet, a gentle sloshing is a way to go - keeps the vessel buttoned up, saving your co2). Also, once the skins are sunk, you’re done stirring.

    If you have oak chips, they go in your primary. If you have oak cubes, hold those for your second racking. Then, drop them in your wine and leave it alone for 3 months.

    Amarone is a big Italian. It may give off an earthy, mushroom and dirt, smell for a few days. It will clear up.

    Are you chapitalizing your wine to boost the ABV? I know the WE Amarones come with corn sugar to boost at about SG 1.030. Don’t know if this one does.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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