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Habib

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This is my second time making wine so I’m a newbie here. I’m making wine from a 6 gallon bucket of juice.

My question is about lees Contact especially pertaining to white (I think I’m going to try a Chardonnay). Everyone cautions against lees Contact, and tells us to rack rack rack. I’m confused though, because winemakers often talk about extended lees Contact and I’m interested in mimicking the buttery richer flavor of wines that supposedly have lees Contact.

So what is the deal? Is it ok to extend the contact on lees? Are ‘gross lees’ (which I understand to be the first set of lees that develop) different than the lees that happen later in the process?

Will letting the wine stay on the lees for a few months before doing the first racking lead to a gross wine or will I get closer to the buttery and richer texture (without using oak) Chardonnay?

Once I figure this out I’ll try to figure out how to make decisions about malolactic!! Geez wine is complicated :)
 

Johnd

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This is my second time making wine so I’m a newbie here. I’m making wine from a 6 gallon bucket of juice.

My question is about lees Contact especially pertaining to white (I think I’m going to try a Chardonnay). Everyone cautions against lees Contact, and tells us to rack rack rack. I’m confused though, because winemakers often talk about extended lees Contact and I’m interested in mimicking the buttery richer flavor of wines that supposedly have lees Contact.

So what is the deal? Is it ok to extend the contact on lees? Are ‘gross lees’ (which I understand to be the first set of lees that develop) different than the lees that happen later in the process?

Will letting the wine stay on the lees for a few months before doing the first racking lead to a gross wine or will I get closer to the buttery and richer texture (without using oak) Chardonnay?

Once I figure this out I’ll try to figure out how to make decisions about malolactic!! Geez wine is complicated :)
The buttery chard you’re referring to is created using the two things you mentioned, malolactic fermentation to smooth out the acid profile and produce some diacetyl, extended contact with the fine (second set) lees, sur lie aging. The wine is stirred to resuspend the lees on a regular basis, batonnage. This process is advanced for a second time winemaker, but if you’re game, you’ll find all of the help you need here to get through it.
 

Johny99

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As @Johnd says, you are on the right track. Rack it off the lees after primary is done, and relax. If you want the big butter, get some mlf, be squeaky clean don’t sulphate and pray. Mlf isn’t hard, but it is pH, temperature and sulphite sensitive. So, read the directions carefully and don’t add meta till it is done.

Battonage has advantages, so does just letting it sit with the fine lees. If you want to drink it next year, stir. If you just let it sit, great things can happen but it can get real reductive before it gets better.

Enjoy the challenge.
 

Habib

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Super interesting and helpful. Especially the idea that it can get reductive before it gets better...will I have the patience to sit on 5 gallons of wine? We’ll see!!

Will malo ever start on its own or does it always require a yeast starter?

Thanks again
 

Habib

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And a final question—as I’m trying to get this buttery character (or learn from the process at least) do you recommend just starting fermentation with whatever wild yeast is present in the juice? Or adding sulfates and then a yeast starter.
 

Johnd

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Best bet is to use a yeast like CY 3079, crafted for the varietal and style you are attempting. The yeast will need to be fed nutrients like Fermaid K and O during AF.

As for MLF, you'll need to buy some ML Bacteria, like VP41, along with it's starter Acti-ML and its nutrient, OptiMalo..
 

mainshipfred

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If I could jump in on one of your earlier questions I would just add the yeast and nutrients. Skip the sulphites as Johnny99 said MLF is sulphite sensitive and I think the biggest problem we all have. But I would still pray!
 

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