Just bottled my first wine--a red.

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DAB

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So, I just bottled my 2018 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and I'm very disappointed. I made it in May of 2018 with 230lb of grapes, all looked good at the time. Below are my notes. This wine sat, largely in the dark, in my basement at a constant temperature of 71ish degrees for the duration.

Honestly, I give it a 4, maybe a 5, on a 1-10 scale. It has good color, but lacks something...taste is so-so. Anyone care to examine my notes for any glaring mistakes?

5/11/18
Crush yielded 21-22 gallons of must at 57 degrees.
NO SO2 additions as it had SO2 mats that were in the crates.
Brix reading 23--did not have hydrometer yet
30 grams go-firm + 24 grams MT yeast​
Day 2 – 5/12/18
PH 3.56
Add 4 oz oak chips​
Day 3 – 5/13/18
Fermentation finally obvious--first cap 36 hours after itching yeast
Added 20 grams of Firm-aid​
Day 5 – 5/15/18
Must tasted very good, but too sweet. Seemed to have lot's of body though
Hydrometer reading 1.020
Added 17 grams Acti-ML with 1/3 packet of Viniflora Oenos (1 package good for 66 gal) (co-innoculation)​
Day 9 – 5/19/18
Pressed
PH 3.5
Hydrometer reading 1.000
Titratable Acidity Test yields 8.25
Tastes thin, acidic, maybe a little boozy​
Day 18 – 5/28/18
Re-racked.​
June 5 2018
Malolactic Fermemtation Complete per Chromatography Test.
PH 3.53
Added 6.98 Camden tablets of Potassium Metabisufite
(40ppm x 15 (gal) x .0064) = 3.84 grams / .55 per Camden tablet = 6.98 tablets
Thoroughly stirred in 7 crushed tablets​
June 6th
TA was 6.75​
June 13th
Added one oak stave from a ½ Jack Daniels barrel after cleaning it, ripping it down the center and toasting it at 400 degrees for four hours. Topped off the fermenter with CO2.​
June 18th
PH 3.6
Free So2 was measured (with my new SO2 digital measuring device) as being 20ppm. Added another 20ppm (for a total of 40) of SO2 (15 gal x 20 ppm x .0066) to = 1.98 / .55 Camden tablets = 3.6 tablets dissolved in tap water. After stirring I topped off the fermenter with CO2.​
June 27th
Total Acidity .615%
Free SO2 only 24
Added another 40ppm of SO2 (15 gal x 40 ppm x .0066) to = 3.986 / .55 Camden tablets = 7.2 tablets. Rounded to 7 tablets, which I dissolved in tap water. After stirring I topped off the fermenter with CO2.​
July 1st
Re-racked -- 1 inch of lees on the bottom of the fermenter. Purged with co2.​
July 9th
Free So2 only 39ppm
Added another 10ppm of SO2 (15 gal x 10 ppm x .0066) to = .99 / .55 Camden tablets = 1.8 tablets. Rounded to 2 tablets, which I dissolved in tap water. After stirring I topped off the fermenter with CO2.
PH 2.35
TA 5.25​
July 14th
PH after cleaning and recalibrating pH meter is 3.78​
July 23
Free So2 only 38ppm
Added another 10ppm of SO2 (15 gal x 10 ppm x .0066) to = .99 / .55 Camden tablets = 1.8 tablets. Rounded to 2 tablets, which I dissolved in tap water. After stirring I topped off the fermenter with CO2.​
August 5th
Tasted a little better…perhaps a little back sweetener would bring out the fruitiness.​
August 19th
Free So2 only 35ppm
Added another 20ppm of SO2 (15 gal x 20 ppm x .0066) to = 1.98 / .55 Camden tablets = 3.6 tablets, which I dissolved in tap water. After stirring I topped off the fermenter with CO2.​
Sept 3rd
Free So2 44
Racked into three carboys each with one Camden tablet.
Still tastes like it could benefit for some back sweeting.​
September 9th
It tasted better; it seems to be aging nicely, however, still too thin for me.
Put a “WineStix - Medium Plus Toast French Oak Carboy” into one of the three carboys.​
September 15th
Added one each “WineStix - Medium Plus Toast French Oak Carboy” to the other two carboys.​
December 10th
Added one Camden table to each of the 3 five gallon carboys. Then re-racked into 2 five gallon,1 three gallon and 1 one gallon carboys.​
January 26th
Wife says it tastes too smoky. Removed all oak.​
April 28th 2019
Re-racked
Measured Free SO2 15ppm
PH 3.88
Added 7 campden tablets​
July 21 2019.
Tastes okay...not impressed. At this point, I don't think it can/will benefit from further aging.
Filtered (number 1 pads) and bottled 64 bottles.
 
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Johnd

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Don't see any glaring errors, looks like you did just fine, your numbers look pretty good in terms of TA and pH, BRIX maybe a bit low, but OK. Didn't see anything about fermentation temps, many shoot for a spike in temps in the upper 80's for a period of time to enhance extraction from the pulp / skins, what were your temps like?

There are perhaps a couple of "factors" to consider, one is that your wine has been aged in carboys (as opposed to barrels), which isn't a problem, but could slow down the development of the wine. Barrels provide both micro - oxygenation as well as concentration, speeding along the development process as your wine continues to undergo chemical changes with age. The second being sheer age, at just 14 months.

Did a Chilean Cab in early 2016, which didn't undergo / complete MLF, and was rather unimpressive at the same age your wine is today. That same wine is much better today than it was earlier in its development. You say that you don't think it will benefit from further aging, I'd sure like to see what happens if you "forget about it" for a while, leave it stored properly and crack one open in 2020, really nothing to lose by waiting, my bet is that some time in a bottle will do nothing but help.
 

DAB

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Don't see any glaring errors, looks like you did just fine, your numbers look pretty good in terms of TA and pH, BRIX maybe a bit low, but OK. Didn't see anything about fermentation temps, many shoot for a spike in temps in the upper 80's for a period of time to enhance extraction from the pulp / skins, what were your temps like?

There are perhaps a couple of "factors" to consider, one is that your wine has been aged in carboys (as opposed to barrels), which isn't a problem, but could slow down the development of the wine. Barrels provide both micro - oxygenation as well as concentration, speeding along the development process as your wine continues to undergo chemical changes with age. The second being sheer age, at just 14 months.

Did a Chilean Cab in early 2016, which didn't undergo / complete MLF, and was rather unimpressive at the same age your wine is today. That same wine is much better today than it was earlier in its development. You say that you don't think it will benefit from further aging, I'd sure like to see what happens if you "forget about it" for a while, leave it stored properly and crack one open in 2020, really nothing to lose by waiting, my bet is that some time in a bottle will do nothing but help.

Temps in my garage that time of year were cool, especially with the grapes that were cold from storage--I'm thinking high 50's initially. In the subsequent days my recollection is that the temps reached mid 70's, never 80's.

Good to hear you think it will improve over time in the bottle--that's actually great news. I figured once bottled, it is-what-it-is! Fingers crossed. I'm presuming "properly stored" means in my basement, in the dark at 71+/- degrees?

You're making me consider/think my process could benefit by buying oak barrels to store my wine in. If, say, I purchased a 15 gallon barrel, how much use, in other words how many batches, could one expect to get from such an investment?

Many thanks for your response.
 

Johnd

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Temps in my garage that time of year were cool, especially with the grapes that were cold from storage--I'm thinking high 50's initially. In the subsequent days my recollection is that the temps reached mid 70's, never 80's.

Good to hear you think it will improve over time in the bottle--that's actually great news. I figured once bottled, it is-what-it-is! Fingers crossed. I'm presuming "properly stored" means in my basement, in the dark at 71+/- degrees?

You're making me consider/think my process could benefit by buying oak barrels to store my wine in. If, say, I purchased a 15 gallon barrel, how much use, in other words how many batches, could one expect to get from such an investment?

Many thanks for your response.

Some of the finest wines in the world taste miserable when they are bottled and require substantial aging before they blossom, many of the finest French wines need to be layed down for nearly a decade before drinking and improve for many more, so don't underscore the process of bottle aging.

The "Holy Grail" of wine storage is 55F with RH in the 55% - 70% range, pretty hard to achieve without spending some bucks, 71F is doable as long as you don't have wild temperature swings, constant temp is your friend.

As far as barrel aging goes, a barrel can last decades if well cared for, handling lots of batches of wine. Early in the barrel's life, it imparts oak flavors as well as microx and concentration, after a couple of years, you won't get much oak flavor from it, but it will continue to provide microx and concentration, so we just add oak to the barrel for flavor. First wine into a new barrel of that size might just need a couple of months for the flavors to come through, and each subsequent batch will require longer, until the barrel becomes "neutral" in flavor.
 

ibglowin

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I have not met a young red wine that did not benefit from further aging. Time is your friend here. Two years from crush is usually the earliest a red wine made from grapes needs to settle down, integrate and smooth out a bit.

At this point, I don't think it can/will benefit from further aging.
 

DAB

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Question: Is there a go-to 20 gallon barrel provider that is thought to be reasonable, as oak barrels go, in pricing and shipping? Thank you.
 

DAB

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Thanks, the Barrel is enroute...looking forward to filling it!!!
 

ibglowin

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Do you have more wine to rotate into it? A new barrel will impart its oak heavy the first few batches which means you need to have several wines ready to rotate in and out. You really need to keep a barrel full 24/7/365 or you will have to deal with sulphur sticks and rehydration routines each time.
 

ibglowin

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They are probably up a bit from that but still they are the best bang for your buck with the most WMT users with long term results to back them up.
 
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@DAB it's too late for this year and I see you are in Baltimore but I have a dealership for Hungarian barrels which I get once a year for forum members and local home winemakers. I'm not a retailer and I only put a few dollars above my cost so they are very reasonable. Below is the link to the thread and what they were this year. I'm in Chantilly VA and we've had in the past meet ups to pick up the barrels. The last one was at a BYOB crab joint in Baltimore.

https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/new-barrels-for-forum-members.67181/page-6

This years pricing based on a 10 barrel order:
25 liter $180.00
30 liter $185.00
40 liter $195.00
50 liter $205.00
 

DAB

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@DAB it's too late for this year and I see you are in Baltimore but I have a dealership for Hungarian barrels which I get once a year for forum members and local home winemakers. I'm not a retailer and I only put a few dollars above my cost so they are very reasonable. Below is the link to the thread and what they were this year. I'm in Chantilly VA and we've had in the past meet ups to pick up the barrels. The last one was at a BYOB crab joint in Baltimore.

https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/new-barrels-for-forum-members.67181/page-6

This years pricing based on a 10 barrel order:
25 liter $180.00
30 liter $185.00
40 liter $195.00
50 liter $205.00
Actually, it turns out that "http://www.vadaiwinebarrels.com" is out of many of the sizes I need, namely the 50 liter. So, I'm game, but I only need one barrel, two at most. I'm only an hour away from Chantilly, VA.
 

DAB

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Arne, thanks, I did not know that, good info for sure! @mainshipfred Okay, thanks for the info. I'm told that "http://www.vadaiwinebarrels.com" will have 50 liter barrels in September, so for now, that's my go-to. Anything else pops up in the meantime, please let me know...

Many thanks for everyone's help!
 

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