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rustbucket

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In 2017, I made a Winexpert Eclipse Rhone blend kit that came with two types of yeast, Lalvin EC-1118 and Lalvin BM4X4. The instructions said to add both at the same time. Were I to make your kit containing two types of yeast, I think that I would add the RC212 first in order bring out the fruitiness in the wine and add the EC1118 after the specific gravity got to about 1.010. EC1118 is an aggressive yeast that needs few nutrients and helps assure that the wine gets fully fermented.

Let us know what kit you're making.
 
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EC1118 is an aggressive yeast that needs few nutrients and helps assure that the wine gets fully fermented.
@BMarNJ, the theory behind adding 2 yeasts is that it produces more complexity. However, I agree with @rustbucket that the EC-1118 is likely to crowd out the RC212. Adding the EC-1118 around SG 1.010 sounds good to me, although you can add it any time the ferment is at least half way through. There's no wrong answer.

IME, the chips are fermentation oak to be added when the concentrate is reconstituted. The cubes are typically aging oak, added after the kit is cleared and into bulk aging. Howe long to you intend to bulk age?
 

justsipn

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I just opened the kit and found 2 yeasts (RC212 and EC1118) and French oak cubes and med toast chips. Also, a large bag of skins. All goes in the batch, according to the instructions. I’ve not used 2 yeasts together before. My inclination was to use just the RC212. What is the advantage to combining the two? I have used both individually.
I don’t know about here. But, I’ve read where wine makers combine yeasts to enhance flavor.
 

Gilmango

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Sorry for writing a novel: I'm a wine making newbie but was drawn to the Italians from the start. I've only bottled 3 of the kits so far but I've tasted the ones bulk ageing so I'll give my run down:

1st kit - RJS International Cru Nebbiolo - first wine made 1 year ago, first to bottle, I foolishly thought I'd have it bottled in 8 weeks then discovered this WMT website and learned about bulk ageing, adding tannins, etc. This wine tastes good especially after it opens up, decanting helps, but it has always tasted just a bit too sweet to me despite what the hydrometer says (0.995), and it doesn't taste like 'tar and roses'. Also not at all clear where the Nebbiolo was grown, it says imported but the kit is from Canada so I fear it was just imported from America not Northern Italy.

2nd and 5th kit - RJS En Primeur Amarone - This time last year I soon learned that all the RJS kits were being downsized in early 2021, and that the RJS EPs would re-size from 18L to 14L, that seemed like a bad thing to me, so I bought 3 RJS EPs at the old 18L size before they were discontinued, seemed like a solid deal around $150 each shipped from Home Brew Ohio via Amazon marketplace. These two are both still bulk aging but tasting on rackings shows a nice wine with lots of tannins, flavor, and acid which seems like it will improve with more bulk and bottle ageing. Again not sure if any of these grapes came from Italy, if any were raisined at all (in the way the grapes for Amarone are slightly dried before fermenting and pressing), if there's even any/much Corvina in the blend (as it is rarely grown in America), but whatever the blend and provenance it seems at least like a kit wine with good flavor and stuffing to age a bit. Also read here that others have really enjoyed this one, especially with some age.

3rd kit - RJS En Primeur Super Tuscan
4th kit - Finer Win Kit Super Tuscan
Made these two back to back to try to see if the brand new FWK wine delivered something different / better right out of the gate, despite the super concentrated 6L it vs. an 18L RJS kit. Deliberately made these to the same, same BM4x4 yeast, same short EM (3.5 weeks), same no fining and no filtering, same small addition of dried cherries to primary along with the skins, same tannin addition, etc. But I did err in that I bulk aged the FWK a bit longer. These both are tasty, the RJS is the second wine I bottled, and it does not taste as sweet as the Nebbiolo which is great, however, the FWK is the first wine where I was like, OK, I made a wine which is nearly on par with the average wine I buy, it is even drier than the RJS, has great body, just really promising but only bottled this past month, hoping it gets even better with some bottle age. Wife still not impressed compared to the wines I buy.

6th kit - FWK Barbera - made it without skins, for the most part (I re-used the double skin pack from the Amarone kit but only after it had done a 6 week EM so not much left, added a small fpac too, but just to give a bit more structure and fruity hints, mainly I saw this as a quicker drinker and it will be the next one I bottle.

Since then I've made 5 more wines but all are French in origin. My first wine from grapes I picked - triple batch of Mouvedre - they do call it Mataro in Italy, Monastrell in Spain (10 g first run barely pressed, 5 g 2nd run after adding sugar water to the pomace and pressing that some more). Still bulk ageing and completing MLF, I hope. Taste really promising. And just did two FWK Syrahs, taste super promising but one is still doing a longer EM, the first I just moved to secondary after doing only the 2 week FWK protocol. A Marselan from WE is coming next, so basically 6 Italian wines followed by 6 carboys of French wines.

From my short year of winemaking I would recommend FWKs the most amongst kits, but they only have one "Italian" offering right now, Super Tuscan, but this year's Super Tuscan has no Sangiovese (could not source it), so it is all French origin grapes grown in Lodi, but still I suspect it will be good. Sadly they also could not source Barbera (or Sangiovese) as single varietals either this 2021 crop year, so those are not offered. Given that I'd either do the FWK Super Tuscan (even absent Sangiovese) or the RJS EP Amarone or EP Super Tuscan (caveat there is just that I haven't tried the new 14L more concentrated versions). I'd skip the RJS Nebbiolo. I would ditch the champagne yeast and use BM4x4 (Italian origin) or RC212 (French origin) or some other yeast you like.
 
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BMarNJ

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I wanted to post an update on the WE Private Reserve Amarone kit. I just racked off the primary after 10 days. sg was .996, so good to go. Smell is delicious, skins bag was easy to squeeze, BUT the oak chips were more like oak splinters - what a mess. Good thing I racked through a fine mesh bag (which I will never get the splinters out of). If you make this kit, ditch the chips and add your own cubes in the primary, or just use the cubes they include for the secondary.
 

Gilmango

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What wines do you buy? Curious what price range you and your wife are comparing these kits to.
I typically buy red wines from K&L Wines in the below $20 range (so $12-20 is most common). Most wines I buy are from Southern France, Italy, and Spain. I also splurge on some pricier wines from time to time, which I often cellar.

Bare in mind that I only started wine making at the start of last year, so my oldest wines are just a year old, or younger (the FWK Super Tuscan started fermenting May 2021, was bottled January 2022, so just 8 months old when my wife said it was, 'not as good as the wines you buy'). I do hope that they will eventually compare with what I buy. If my kit wines don't get there I may just go back to mostly making beer, and limiting my wine making to wine grapes I can pick myself in the Brentwood/Livermore areas (east side of San Francisco bay area).
 

Brant

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I typically buy red wines from K&L Wines in the below $20 range (so $12-20 is most common). Most wines I buy are from Southern France, Italy, and Spain. I also splurge on some pricier wines from time to time, which I often cellar.

Bare in mind that I only started wine making at the start of last year, so my oldest wines are just a year old, or younger (the FWK Super Tuscan started fermenting May 2021, was bottled January 2022, so just 8 months old when my wife said it was, 'not as good as the wines you buy'). I do hope that they will eventually compare with what I buy. If my kit wines don't get there I may just go back to mostly making beer, and limiting my wine making to wine grapes I can pick myself in the Brentwood/Livermore areas (east side of San Francisco bay area).
Have you considered running a blind tasting next time against a couple of the other wines you normally purchase? It would be an interesting comparison/ blind study to see if y'alls perception is indeed reality. I believe this is the only way to know for certain whether there is value in the time/money spent.
 

Brant

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But I know what you mean. I have a couple favorites that are in the sub $15 range that I think would be difficult to beat. However, if I'm able to make something close in the $5 or less range, it might be worth the savings. I'm picky but not that picky. If money wasn't an object, I wouldn't be brewing wine anyway, I would tell my butler to go fetch my favorite from my 1000 ft wine cellar. LOL
 

heatherd

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So, I have only made French types of wines. I would like to delve into exploring Italian red wines. So, what’s your favorite? I’ve been thinking about one of these.

Super Tuscan
Sangiovese
Nero d’ Avola
Barolo
Nebbiolo

Any others I should consider? Favorite?
I've made the following Italian varietals in both FWK and from fresh juice buckets with grapes and would definitely recommend the Finer Wine Kit version:
  • Super Tuscan
  • Sangiovese
I've made these from fresh juice buckets with grapes them quite a lot, and drink them often at restaurants and at home:
  • Nero d'avola
  • Barolo
  • Nebbiolo
I cannot say enough good things about the FW kits!
 

Gilmango

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Have you considered running a blind tasting next time against a couple of the other wines you normally purchase? It would be an interesting comparison/ blind study to see if y'alls perception is indeed reality. I believe this is the only way to know for certain whether there is value in the time/money spent.
When my wines age more I might do a blind tasting, but my wife always tastes them blind in that I pour wine we have with dinner (bottle not at the table). We usually don't talk about that wine, but I can gauge how she likes it by her drinking of it. She typically won't say anything about it unless she detects a flaw. If I ask her how she likes it she probably knows it is one of mine, as I usually don't ask.

But I know what you mean. I have a couple favorites that are in the sub $15 range that I think would be difficult to beat. However, if I'm able to make something close in the $5 or less range, it might be worth the savings. I'm picky but not that picky. If money wasn't an object, I wouldn't be brewing wine anyway, I would tell my butler to go fetch my favorite from my 1000 ft wine cellar. LOL
Yeah, I feel like I am pretty good at knowing what I like and finding good values in commercial wines, so it is a bit of a high bar for me to make equal quality wines at home but I will make at least two more kit wines, and definitely pick grapes next Fall too. By this time next year I should have a much better idea of how good my kit wines can be and whether to keep making them. Same with the hand picked grapes. I'm guessing that I will keep making some Finer Wine Kits and trying to wake up early at least once per Fall to pick my own too.
 
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Bare in mind that I only started wine making at the start of last year, so my oldest wines are just a year old, or younger (the FWK Super Tuscan started fermenting May 2021, was bottled January 2022, so just 8 months old when my wife said it was, 'not as good as the wines you buy')
The wine isn't ready to drink, so don't sweat the comparison. I agree, do a blind tasting with a wine off equal age.
 

tmcfadden932

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You are in a part of the state that has wine making clubs. I belong to LAVA. the Lodi Amateur Vintners Association. They have lots of equipment for members to use and growers that donate grapes to beginning wine makers. As far as Italian grapes go, find Barbara, Montepulciano, and Aglianico, all red varietals that make killer rose' too.
 
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