Need advice for some juice buckets

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brewbush

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So this is my first trip with juice buckets and started 4 of them the end of April. I will post numbers below and then I had a couple questions.

Bello Chilean Pinot Noir - 6 gallons
Initial: pH 3.23, brix 24 - boosted with sugar, TA 3g/L
today:pH 3.2, TA 8.25

Bello Chilean Cab Sauv - 6 gallons
Initial: pH 3.25, brix 25, TA 3g/L
today: pH 3.24, TA 6.75

Bello Chilean Malbec - 6 gallons
initial: pH 3.25, brix 25, TA 3.75g/l
today: pH 3.30, TA 9

Bello Chilean Carmenere - 6 gallons
initial: pH 3.2, brix 24, TA 3.75
today: pH 3.19, TA 9


1. I boosted all with some sugar to the brix levels, used opti-red and campden tabs preferment. They all fermented out just fine to less then 0.996.

2. All were transferred and topped up, added some oak cubes and tannins and pitched VP41.

3. For the MLF, I rehydrated the packet and added equal amounts of the solution to each primary bucket at about 1.010 SG.



So...
I checked MLF twice....last was a few days ago which is just a week shy of 3 months total of MLF and I am still getting a large spot at the malic acid line for ALL the wines. Not a faint line/splotch, but even larger then the lactic acid spot.

Basement temp is 69-70 steady, I have stirred although not religiously however I have had MLF go just fine without stirring with grape wines all that often.

All the wines have a noticeable bite, likely the acidity obviously. The initial TA numbers had to have been wrong, I probably messed something up there.

What would you recommned? These were cheap (cost wise) buckets, not sure if its the stirring, or if I have to repitch some MLF, or raise the PH.....I am not really sure. Thanks!!
 

Johnd

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So this is my first trip with juice buckets and started 4 of them the end of April. I will post numbers below and then I had a couple questions.

Bello Chilean Pinot Noir - 6 gallons
Initial: pH 3.23, brix 24 - boosted with sugar, TA 3g/L
today:pH 3.2, TA 8.25

Bello Chilean Cab Sauv - 6 gallons
Initial: pH 3.25, brix 25, TA 3g/L
today: pH 3.24, TA 6.75

Bello Chilean Malbec - 6 gallons
initial: pH 3.25, brix 25, TA 3.75g/l
today: pH 3.30, TA 9

Bello Chilean Carmenere - 6 gallons
initial: pH 3.2, brix 24, TA 3.75
today: pH 3.19, TA 9


1. I boosted all with some sugar to the brix levels, used opti-red and campden tabs preferment. They all fermented out just fine to less then 0.996.

2. All were transferred and topped up, added some oak cubes and tannins and pitched VP41.

3. For the MLF, I rehydrated the packet and added equal amounts of the solution to each primary bucket at about 1.010 SG.



So...
I checked MLF twice....last was a few days ago which is just a week shy of 3 months total of MLF and I am still getting a large spot at the malic acid line for ALL the wines. Not a faint line/splotch, but even larger then the lactic acid spot.

Basement temp is 69-70 steady, I have stirred although not religiously however I have had MLF go just fine without stirring with grape wines all that often.

All the wines have a noticeable bite, likely the acidity obviously. The initial TA numbers had to have been wrong, I probably messed something up there.

What would you recommned? These were cheap (cost wise) buckets, not sure if its the stirring, or if I have to repitch some MLF, or raise the PH.....I am not really sure. Thanks!!
These are my thoughts on the whole shooting match.

BRIX is a little high for the Pinot, imho.

Your initial TA's do look questionable.

MLF troubles usually occur when variables are out of whack. Assuming no sulfite issues, the pertinent values for VP41 are fairly liberal, but this is what I'd be focused on: get your temps up into the mid 70's. While your pH is in range, its in the lower range, this causes stress on your MLB. All of your wine has an alcohol content at or above the limits of VP41.

Any one of these factors is survivable, but a couple out of range may be a deal breaker for your MLB. Can't do much about the ABV, but you could increase temps and adjust your pH up into the range a bit, and that's what I would try at this point.

I had a similar experience with my Chileans in 2016, never got them to go. Since then, I've been innoculating MLB right after pitching yeast, a much better environment, no alcohol, pH 3.4+, warm temps fueled by fermentation heat, and MLB circulated through the must by fermentation activity. Haven't had a MLF fail since then, and most have finished within a few weeks of AF.
 

brewbush

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yea, at least the pH will be a little more protection for oxidation until this sorts out.

I will see if I have the potassium carbonate. I see calculations using it to drop the TA, not pH measurements.

Using 1g/L Potassium carbonate will decrease TA by 1g/L, would you go this route and use perhaps 1/2 dose, stir, and recheck pH?
 

Johnd

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yea, at least the pH will be a little more protection for oxidation until this sorts out.

I will see if I have the potassium carbonate. I see calculations using it to drop the TA, not pH measurements.

Using 1g/L Potassium carbonate will decrease TA by 1g/L, would you go this route and use perhaps 1/2 dose, stir, and recheck pH?
As with any additions, it's always best to go slowly and measure frequently, you can always add more, but once you have overdone it, its hard to go back.

The effects of removing acid on pH are dependent upon the buffering capacity of your specific wine, some are more responsive than others, just take it slow.

My MLB resistant Chileans actually turned out quite nice without MLF after some time. I've only bottled the cab a couple of weeks ago, the Malbec is still in a barrel. They both have mellowed quite a bit from their more acidic early life, but they were a bit less acidic than yours, I recall them being in the 3.4 range after adjusting.
 

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