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Operation Massa Family Red - Muscat-Alicante-Zinfandel

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Ajmassa

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This one is gonna be fun. Replicating our old Massa Family Red from grapes. Already lots of people looking forward to it. Especially my brothers.
There wasn’t 1 definitive recipe they used- except when from juice: it was always 2muscat buckets and 1 Alicante per demijohn. But for grapes it varied a lot I recently learned. The 3 main grapes- Muscat Alicante and Zinfandel.
Now this is “old style”. No additions. The much debated Natural ferment. I’ll likely cheat here and there but nothing crazy. I know I’ll be adding sulphites later. And I may feed a touch of nutrients as well.
But that’s it. A completely stress free batch. No adjustments. Enzymes would likely add time to aging. Which would nullify another nice aspect, that this is supposed to be an early drinker. Even w/ no MLf- unless the wine gods say so that is.
Just crush em (minimal sorting) and let it go. Get it to glass. Rack a few times and bottle. Maybe some barrel time. Drinking before next summer. Here we go!
 
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Ajmassa

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Had myself a busy weekend. Lots of work going on at home. Pushed back my planned pickup time beyond Procacci’s hours of operation. Very disappointing - but I would be goddamned if I wasn’t getting my grapes!
Called an audible and hit up Corrados. Which is like the NYC equivalent to Phillys Procacci. Both joints very old school and went well with the wine I’m making.
The Muscat Alicante blend is still very much a popular neighborhood wine. So much so that Corrado’s suppliers package em in 42lb lugs.
Over an hour drive and grabbed my grapes and a couple new demijohns. Got stuck in Jets game traffic on the way home. Damn Jets.
Just kinda picked a ratio that felt right. Went with
x3 42lb Muscat lugs
x2 42lb Alicante lugs
x2 36lb Old Vine Zinfandel lugs
Yielded 26 gal of must from 282lbs total. The Alicante was so dark right out of the berry! Sg read 1.087. I’m hoping that will climb after sitting the day. Ph at 3.5. Rock and roll!
The room is still a hot mess. But now ready to let nature take the Massa Family Red over!
Here’s some pics.
IMG_6252.JPGIMG_6266.JPGIMG_6272.JPGIMG_6279.JPGIMG_6283.JPGIMG_6285.JPG
 
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Ajmassa

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So much for a stress free batch. After getting the fruit fly invasion under slightly better control I was able to tend to the wine.
SG stayed the same at 1.087. Calculated 6 lbs sugar to bring to 1.095. I had 4lb bag. In it went.
Then I’m standing thinking “am I really gonna not add yeast? If stops short then I just made this that much sweeer. And I’ve got plenty of yeast here. This feels wrong. I can just sprinkle it right now and be done with it”
The temptation to add yeast was strong. But I resisted the urge. And had Visible activity after stirring this morning. No cap yet. But activity.
 
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Ajmassa

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Damn, you wern't supposed to add that sugar, uncle Carl is gonna be pissed if he finds out!
It’s CARLO! Uncle Carlo just wants his vino. He won’t care!

To be honest-this is all about recreating the taste we all grew up with it. Ya cant buy it- only make it. But I’m making up the rules as I go.
-Bumping up the sugar was an easy choice at <21°Brix. No known abv before, but it did not take much to get tuned up.
-Gonna feed nutrients too. Especially with the chaptalizing (<—no clue how to pronounce that lol) I wanna give the yeast the best chance for success.
A natural ferment isn’t necessary at all. Nobody cares but me. I just viewed this as a perfect opportunity to finally give it a shot. That’s how they did it- plus the grapes were cheap. If I didn’t try it now then I doubt I ever would have.
 

cmason1957

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Given how many commercial yeast ferments you have done already in the same area, I bet you are using whatever the dominant yeast (probably EC-1118) is in that area. I don't have the same fear of "natural ferments" that most others have. You have commercial yeast all over your area. Let it grow, let it grow. Heck, it might even take off and do an MLF all on it's own, since you added no SO2.

Story time, I have a friend who has a very small commercial winery out near Hermann, MO. To any fruit he gathers from the area, he never adds commercial yeast. Now he does spread his pressed remains throughout his vineyard. Last year he purchased some Chardonel juice from one of the large wineries in the area. Twice he added commercial yeast to it, never could get it to ferment, this year at harvest time, after pressing his skins from his La Crescent grapes, he added about three or four bucketfuls of those to the Chardonel. Took off fermenting the next morning and went to dry. Don't fear the native yeasts.
 

Ajmassa

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Given how many commercial yeast ferments you have done already in the same area, I bet you are using whatever the dominant yeast (probably EC-1118) is in that area. I don't have the same fear of "natural ferments" that most others have. You have commercial yeast all over your area. Let it grow, let it grow. Heck, it might even take off and do an MLF all on it's own, since you added no SO2.

Story time, I have a friend who has a very small commercial winery out near Hermann, MO. To any fruit he gathers from the area, he never adds commercial yeast. Now he does spread his pressed remains throughout his vineyard. Last year he purchased some Chardonel juice from one of the large wineries in the area. Twice he added commercial yeast to it, never could get it to ferment, this year at harvest time, after pressing his skins from his La Crescent grapes, he added about three or four bucketfuls of those to the Chardonel. Took off fermenting the next morning and went to dry. Don't fear the native yeasts.
That’s right! I forgot that you’ve done natural ferments on a semi regular basis. Nice story on the natural skins handling the tough job too.
Now I’m no viticulturist, or some master vintner. I’m just a dude who likes to make wine in his basement. And I think I’ve got a good grasp on most aspects of the process now. But whenever I read about dominant strains in a wineroom that take over- I’m left scratching my head. I can’t wrap my head around this or how it’s even possible. I clean and sanitize everything.
And why EC-1118? How’s it get there? Who else is it fighting? It is the ‘air’ you mean right? Not fermentors or carboys or things or contact with the wine? Is EC-1118 stronger in the air too just like in juice? You’ve just confused everloving sh*t outta me.
 

cmason1957

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Sorry, if I confused the heck out of you, (probably confused myself to). I just assume everybody has used EC-1118 at some point and it's probably the dominant one there. It gets there, I don't have any clue how. And it may really be EC-BM4X-Q23-take your pick. And I may just be flat wrong, I have exactly zero scientific proof of any of this, it's just my guess as to what happens and how I explain it to myself at night, when I wake up and think, I didn't sanitize something enough, now did I? and I'm going to make crappy wine that nobody in their right mind wants to drink.

It's also part of why I don't co-innoculate ML Bacteria. I use those same buckets sometimes for wine kits and I'd rather not get any MLB into them, even accidentally. I did have one wine kit get the dreaded geranium taste, last time I ever put Potassium Sorbate into a dry wine kit. But I digress and wander.
 

Ajmassa

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Aight, well I’m certainly not used to this timeline. So far this is how it’s gone:

Sunday night 9/16
Crushed 282 lbs for 26 gal must
3.5 ph. 1.087 SG. No additions to the must.
Grapes had been out of refrigeration for a bit before my pickup. And a good drive home. Must temp was 72° by end of night- same as ambient room temp

Monday 9/17
No real change. Small cap starting to form. Calculated 6 lbs of sugar to bump to 1.095. I had a 4lb bag— should have went to 1.092. But I think i should’ve used wine volume to calculate not must volume. New SG 1.097
72°

Tuesday 9/18
Cap formed by the night . SG still 1.097
73°

Wednesday 9/19
SG- 1.090. Nice Full cap at all punches now.
75°

Thurs 9/20
Punching full strong caps morning, afternoon and night. The color has been getting darker every day. 76° at morning punch.

Likely gonna give it a shot of DAP and FermK tonight. But at this rate the ferment is going to be much longer than I’m used to. Tho it’s exactly what i expected from a natural ferment.
The fruit fly issue is still very much a constant problem. And to tend to the wine properly I need to stop spending most of my available time ridding them to be able to open the brute to test and punch.
Plan is to set up an ICRA barrier that we use for hospital construction work. Completely sealed with plastic with a zipper entry. But not using the giant ventilation unit, I’ll just include the existing screened window within the ICRA barrier for some air flow. Because both this ferment and the flies are gonna be around for a while.
 
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CK55

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Updated previous post with temperature progression
AJ, that Alicante is the darkest grape you will find anywhere. Like I said it's both a good grape for color and adding to the wine it's not just a bland color addition. And does make a good single varietal wine. I'm eager to hear how this project takes off.
 

Ajmassa

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1st Natural ferment chugging along nicely

9/20 Thurs night
77° 1.071

9/21. Friday night
80°. 1.052. Now within fly sealed plastic chamber. Not 100% sealed. But lightyears better than in open room. Able to leave open to comfortably punch/stir/pull samples/let air out for few minutes.

Sat 9/22 (6th day Since crush)
81° 1.032

Since the SG has been dropping fairly consistently I opted to not add any nutrients for now.
No issues so far (knock on wood). Compared to my standard timelines, this is definitely going at a slower but more steady pace. Normally I’d be pressing today or tomorrow. But I’m looking at 2-3 days longer than normal. And more time on skins is a great byproduct.
 

CK55

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1st Natural ferment chugging along nicely

9/20 Thurs night
77° 1.071

9/21. Friday night
80°. 1.052. Now within fly sealed plastic chamber. Not 100% sealed. But lightyears better than in open room. Able to leave open to comfortably punch/stir/pull samples/let air out for few minutes.

Sat 9/22 (6th day Since crush)
81° 1.032

Since the SG has been dropping fairly consistently I opted to not add any nutrients for now.
No issues so far (knock on wood). Compared to my standard timelines, this is definitely going at a slower but more steady pace. Normally I’d be pressing today or tomorrow. But I’m looking at 2-3 days longer than normal. And more time on skins is a great byproduct.
It's going to be dark lol. Really get black from that Alicante
 

Ajmassa

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It's going to be dark lol. Really get black from that Alicante
Now don’t go crowning yourself resident advice giver just yet! This is a similar blend that my family has been doing for a couple generations.
It’s over 40% Muscat.
It finishes on medium bodied side. And the color ends up pretty light for a red wine actually.
The majority of my winemaking knowledge comes from previous experiences. And even when your confident of something as fact- reality doesn’t always agree. As you get some batches under your belt you’ll see what I’m saying.
Btw- back in in June I recall helping you through your 1st kit on here. How’s that one coming out? I’m thinking it’s just about due for its 1st bulk racking. And starting to show signs of what it’s going to become.
 

CK55

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Now don’t go crowning yourself resident advice giver just yet! This is a similar blend that my family has been doing for a couple generations.
It’s over 40% Muscat.
It finishes on medium bodied side. And the color ends up pretty light for a red wine actually.
The majority of my winemaking knowledge comes from previous experiences. And even when your confident of something as fact- reality doesn’t always agree. As you get some batches under your belt you’ll see what I’m saying.
Btw- back in in June I recall helping you through your 1st kit on here. How’s that one coming out? I’m thinking it’s just about due for its 1st bulk racking. And starting to show signs of what it’s going to become.
FIrst kit yes, b ut ive dont about 15 all grape batches, its just each time i try a new grape, its like learning all over as each grape wants different oak or whatnot. And different aging.
 

CK55

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Now don’t go crowning yourself resident advice giver just yet! This is a similar blend that my family has been doing for a couple generations.
It’s over 40% Muscat.
It finishes on medium bodied side. And the color ends up pretty light for a red wine actually.
The majority of my winemaking knowledge comes from previous experiences. And even when your confident of something as fact- reality doesn’t always agree. As you get some batches under your belt you’ll see what I’m saying.
Btw- back in in June I recall helping you through your 1st kit on here. How’s that one coming out? I’m thinking it’s just about due for its 1st bulk racking. And starting to show signs of what it’s going to become.
Actually i followed the kit instructions on that one and its already in bottle, yeah i know, crazy but i followed the directions because i couldnt be bothered doing anything else.

My sangiovese all grape 3 gallon batch is sitting doing malolactic and aging with a oak spiral right now. Ill rack it a couple times and get it bottled since its usually a young wine when you drink it first 2 years, especially around here i expect to get it in bottle and drinking faster than most other wines.
 

Ajmassa

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Down to 1.006 now. 78°

Still looking very active and the cap was still strong. Might be done punching to let her go undisturbed underneath for a day so she can concentrate on finishing the job. I’ll
Make that call later today.

With the added sugar in a natural ferment sans nutrients—Anything under 1.000 will be a win.
 

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