RJ Spagnols Only day 8 into first kit & already tweaking things thanks to the tips here (RSJ Nebbiolo 12L Int'l Cru)

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Gilmango

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Hello all, I've been reading the kit winemaking thread in earnest since starting my first kit on Super Bowl Sunday with the RSJ International Cru Nebbiolo. I was a bit skeptical but also tempted due to how much good Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco) costs. So I read more about wine kits and the quality revolution and decided to jump in. I have brewed beer for 40 years so I had all the equipment basics. I was on Morebeer buying beer stuff when I strayed over to Morewine and here I am.

I guess I made one tweak before I even found this forum, I added half the oak to primary (just personal preference not liking very oakey wines). I even considered doing 5 gallons but went ahead and did the full 6 gallons. Then I got the bug and started reading more here about other tweaks; I especially got excited about extended maceration (EM) but I don't have the right vessel for that so tonight I improvised (so that's on the possible buy list, a primary which I can seal air tight for EM pre-carboy / secondary).

After 8 days my fermentation was at 0.94 so it was time to transfer to carboy (started at 1.097 so I see 13.99% abv which is pretty perfect for this style I think). I gave the bag with the grape skins a good squeeze but to try to EM I came up with another idea. I have a 1 quart ceramic flip top growler with a very wide mouth as far as growlers go. So first decision was to transfer to a 5 g carboy (as my other carboys are 6.5 g), which left me with almost 3 quarts of top off wine, first I put the squeezed grape skin muslin bag into the wide mouth growler, and topped with the young wine, a 1 liter growler got clean young wine as well, and the final one liter growler got young wine albeit which I poured off the lees/sediment/bentonite crud at the bottom (so I will be letting that settle then pouring off the top).

From what I read here I ditched the sorbate, but added the sulfite, k and ch finings, all after degassing and doing more stirring per RSJ instructions. I also added the other half of the oak chips (nice sized french oak chips) as the wine seemed like it could use the added structure based on tasting. I guess my plan is to do a very concentrated EM in the wide mouth carboy, use that for topping off after any further racking (though RSJ just has me waiting to clear then moving to bottling bucket/primary before bottling in about 4-5 weeks ['6 week kit']. So if I don't rack more I will just add the 3 growlers to the bottling bucket, but I will carefully pour off just the 'good stuff' from the one which I filled from the bottom of the bucket (likely transfer to a 750 flip top due to lost volume). I might rotate the EM liquid out after a few weeks and add fresh wine from the other growlers, so it can absorb more from the skins.

Not sure if I will do other tweaks with this first batch, probably not too much bulk ageing as I am eager to taste this first one and see what a basic medium quality kit delivers. But I could see going an extra month or two now that it is all so snug in the 5 g carboy, I will likely buy some wine tannin (FT Rouge I'm thinking) by then. I already bought some more higher end RSJ kits (Amarone and Super Tuscan) as I wanted to try those before they are downsized (from 18L to 14 L) and use the moist grape skins. So I really need to figure out a better primary for EM, open to suggestions. Already I see tweaking yeast in my future with those kits.

I guess my biggest questions are which air-lockable primary to get for EM? I think I will buy BM45 and BM4x4 yeast, and FT Rouge tannins, but curious if I should buy yeast nutrients as well? acid(s)? favorite stirrer to add to a drill which can fit in a carboy neck? I have french oak cubes in my beer brewing arsenal already, so not planning to buy more oak now. What are other basics for improving kit wines?

All of these sound useful but these are sold with froze grapes, not sure if kits need all this (MoreWine addititive pack):
Additive Pack includes
(1) Packet Go-Ferm to add a yeast nutrient during yeast rehydration
(1) Packet Fermaid K to add as a nutrient during fermentation
(1) Packet Lallzyme EX for improved color intensity and stability, greater mouthfeel, and enhanced fruity, floral, spicy flavors
(1) Packet Opti-Red which improves body, color stability, and mouthfeel.
(1) Packet FT Rouge enological tannin to increase structure and mouthfeel, color stabilization, stability, anti-oxidative qualities, and overall complexity.

Also found this list, again not sure how much is applicable to kit wines, from How to Age Your Wine - Bulk Aging Your Wine in your Home Winery

SIDEBAR – Products to help avoid the need to age so long
Looking to impart age without aging your wines? No problem. I understand that sometimes you just want to enjoy your wine as soon as possible. If your wine has any harsh tannins or needs some “rounding out” I’d suggest looking into the following products.
Noblesse
Noblesse is a natural nutrient that is used to help soften wines. It can be used pre- or post-fermentation. It is great if you need to soften a high-alcohol wine or round out a wine that is too high in acid or tannin. Noblesse will help soften your wine’s mouthfeel. Sometimes our grapes are high in Brix and we can’t help but have a high-alcohol wine. Noblesse will help soften your wine’s mouthfeel giving the perception of a rounder, silky mouthfeel, while reducing any sulfur smells and burning sensation from the high alcohol.
Gum Arabic
Gum Arabic is a tartrate stabilizer that helps soften the perception of astringent and bitter tannins. It also helps stabilize your wine’s color. This is a great tool for when your wine tastes that little bit “too young.” It can help a wine taste another year older by just one simple addition.
Super Smoother
Super Smoother is great tool that’s ideal for home winemakers because it comes in small packages intended for 6-gallon (23-L) batches. It contains glycerin and liquid oak extract. The combination of these two adds a subtle oak flavor while softening harsh tannins and smoothing out wine mouthfeel.
Tannin FT Rouge
Tannin FT Rouge is derived from highly reactive tannins from exotic woods and chestnut. I usually suggest using this pre-fermentation to help preserve the natural tannins from the grape, help stabilize color, and enhance mouthfeel. You can use this post-fermentation but you will have to wait 3–6 weeks for the addition to show up in your wine. A simple nutrient to add to your primary fermentation schedule that can help you during the winemaking process.
 

my wine

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Hi Gilmango! Welcome to the forum.

BM4X4 includes BM45 plus another compatible yeast. I use it often. Think about RC212. I use that one also. And you should consider yeast nutrients as the 4x4 could use it and the 212 will need it.
 

JohnW

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For EM I have a 6.5 gal Big Mouth Bubbler with a spigot. It works OK but it is really flimsy and hard to move around. If you do purchase one be sure to get a harness to carry it.

I started the same kit on 2/6. I split the juice into two buckets, one with BM4x4 and the other with ICV-D80 yeast. I did add nutrients GoFerm and Ferment-K to both. They are pretty much done fermenting so today I combined them into a single bucket with an airlock. I will probably rack it on Thursday or Friday. This is my first batch with the RJS Nebbiolo kit so I hopeful it will turn out to my liking. I did taste it today and it has potential although I probably will add some tannins when I rack it. I have twice made the RJS Grand Cru International Sangiovese and really like it so I have high hopes.

Oh, and welcome to winemaking and the forum!
 
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Gilmango

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Hi Gilmango! Welcome to the forum.

BM4X4 includes BM45 plus another compatible yeast. I use it often. Think about RC212. I use that one also. And you should consider yeast nutrients as the 4x4 could use it and the 212 will need it.
Thanks, RC 212 sounds good too. Wondering if I can get away with a single yeast nutrient at least starting out? If so, would that be Fermaid K or something else? I see yeast nutrients for rehydration, for early fermentation, and for mid-fermentation and it seems like overkill coming from the beer world (where we might toss in a single capsule of yeast nutrient or nothing at all). Is there one best yeast nutrient for a beginner to have on hand if they want to get away from the neutral workhorse EC-1118? Or do I really need a two or more yeast nutrients for different stages of rehydration and fermentation?

For the first kit I just sprinkled on the EC-1118 on top and strapped on my brew belt (got ferment to 75F in my cold house), it seems I should at least rehydrate in the future. Would the brew belt be advised with other yeasts as well, or better to ferment slow if ambient temp. is within range advised on the yeast?

If I keep making wine after these first batches I will be more willing to invest more in wine-specific ingredients and equipment, but for now I'm still trying to see if I should just keep brewing beer (and buying my wine), but I'm obviously intrigued by the winemaking thing so far.
 

JohnW

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As far as your sidebar additives, I have only used tannins; Tannin Riche which is derived from French oak and a grape skin tannin which I can't remember the name.
 

Gilmango

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Speidel 30l fermenter. Morewine # FE715. Get the upgraded spigot as well, # FE788.
Thanks, that looks great for doing extended macerations in the primary which I want to do with the En Primeur kits, and sounds like a piece of equipment I'd enjoying having in my home brewing set up even if I don't become a fulltime home winemaker after tasting these first kits.
 

JohnW

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EC-1118 has very low nitrogen needs so you shouldn't need any nutrients for it. RC 212 has medium needs but as I recall BM4x4 has high needs. Bad things happen when the yeast doesn't get enough nutrients. Also the nutrients aren't expensive and last a long time so you may consider picking up both. FYI - They smell terrible so don't spill them on the kitchen floor like I did.
 

Gilmango

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For EM I have a 6.5 gal Big Mouth Bubbler with a spigot. It works OK but it is really flimsy and hard to move around. If you do purchase one be sure to get a harness to carry it.

I started the same kit on 2/6. I split the juice into two buckets, one with BM4x4 and the other with ICV-D80 yeast. I did add nutrients GoFerm and Ferment-K to both. They are pretty much done fermenting so today I combined them into a single bucket with an airlock. I will probably rack it on Thursday or Friday. This is my first batch with the RJS Nebbiolo kit so I hopeful it will turn out to my liking. I did taste it today and it has potential although I probably will add some tannins when I rack it. I have twice made the RJS Grand Cru International Sangiovese and really like it so I have high hopes.

Oh, and welcome to winemaking and the forum!
Thanks John, ICV-D80 sounds like another interesting yeast. Did you see differences in the young samples done with the two different yeasts? I have to say I do appreciate how much cheaper wine yeasts are than beer yeasts, so you really can do affordable split batches or combine two yeasts. I guess the downside is I may need 2 or even 3 yeast nutrients.
I liked the taste of the Nebbiolo but it seems young and fruity and in need of more structure (and age), so I added the rest of the oak to secondary, doing my mini EM in a flip top growler, and will probably buy some tannin to add as well. Thanks for the note about Tannin Riche as well, it sounds like the FT Tannin Rouge I was looking at is more to add during fermentation.
Having watched the Tim Vandergrift videos about extended maceration I feel like I need to get a better primary than my beer bottling bucket, so I can do a long EM. Appreciate your thoughts about the big mouth bubbler.
 

JohnW

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Thanks John, ICV-D80 sounds like another interesting yeast. Did you see differences in the young samples done with the two different yeasts? I have to say I do appreciate how much cheaper wine yeasts are than beer yeasts, so you really can do affordable split batches or combine two yeasts. I guess the downside is I may need 2 or even 3 yeast nutrients.
I liked the taste of the Nebbiolo but it seems young and fruity and in need of more structure (and age), so I added the rest of the oak to secondary, doing my mini EM in a flip top growler, and will probably buy some tannin to add as well. Thanks for the note about Tannin Riche as well, it sounds like the FT Tannin Rouge I was looking at is more to add during fermentation.
Having watched the Tim Vandergrift videos about extended maceration I feel like I need to get a better primary than my beer bottling bucket, so I can do a long EM. Appreciate your thoughts about the big mouth bubbler.
It was a little hard to tell since the BM4x4 fermentation was more complete and more dry. ICV-80 is supposed to boosts the tannins structure whereas 4x4 should accentuate the varietals. Theoretically using two different yeasts and then blending them later adds to the complexity. That sounds good but maybe I just like to experiment. I do keep good notes so when I find something to my liking hopefully i can reproduce it.
 

Sailor323

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Some interesting information here. )n Jan 11, 2021 I started a batch of Australian Cab Sauv juice using 4X4, Goferm and FT Rouge. I racked it after About 2 1/2 weeks. It's still producing CO2 bubbles today, 2/17. I guess 4X4 is a very slow fermenting yeast.
 

sour_grapes

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Some interesting information here. )n Jan 11, 2021 I started a batch of Australian Cab Sauv juice using 4X4, Goferm and FT Rouge. I racked it after About 2 1/2 weeks. It's still producing CO2 bubbles today, 2/17. I guess 4X4 is a very slow fermenting yeast.

It could be just off-gassing, not fermenting. Have you checked the SG?
 

JohnW

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Some interesting information here. )n Jan 11, 2021 I started a batch of Australian Cab Sauv juice using 4X4, Goferm and FT Rouge. I racked it after About 2 1/2 weeks. It's still producing CO2 bubbles today, 2/17. I guess 4X4 is a very slow fermenting yeast.
That does seem a bit unusual. According to the Lallemand Catalogue 4x4 fermentation is considered to be medium speed yeast but has high nitrogen needs. When I use 4x4 I also add Ferm-K once i see signs of fermentation and again when it's about half way done.
 

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