Operation Massa Family Red - Muscat-Alicante-Zinfandel

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Ajmassa

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Funny story -I was inspired by the family blend (the "<unprintable ethnic slur> red") that AJ makes with red grapes and muscat so I decided to try the same type of blend since I have so many darn grapes this year. My Zinfandel was picked in early September and already done fermenting when I picked the Muscat. It was waaaay up in the hills (maybe 3000 ft? I have a Jeep Wrangler and I was starting to wonder if I'd make it back...) so ripe a month later than I would have expected Muscat to be. I had a 3 gallon carboy of Zin that was stressing me a bit because it had a gallon of head space, so I filled it with muscat juice. It's still fermenting slowly but I'm really curious to see how the combination turns out. If it's good as is I'll bottle it and have a case of <unprintable ethnic slur> red. If it's a bit too weird I have a bunch of Mourvedre and Zin that I can blend this combination into to give it some fruit pick me up.

This vineyard where I got the muscat (which is a VERY early ripening grape, BTW) had a bunch of Zin and Primitivo unharvested in October, when I was picking the Muscat. I thought there was some mistake or he wasn't able to sell them and was just leaving them to rot. I grabbed a few Primitivo (which is also a pretty early grape) berries to chew on and they were pretty tart. The guy who owned the vineyard saw my face and said "yeah, those will probably be ready in a few weeks."

I love the Sierra foothills -you go two miles and the harvest dates can change by a month... :)
lol to “Unprintable ethnic slur”🤣

Sounds like a great muscat:red ratio to me. I bet your gonna dig it and not need to blend. It’ll give that zin a really unique zing. Or if not- then blend away! It’s all fun to me anyway. Especially when experimenting around like that. Gotta be sweet living in wine country already with all those options. Be sure to post your results!
 

Ajmassa

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Many many micro climates in Amador, El Dorado (where I grew up) and Placer counties - which is important to know when buying property up there!

The zip code at my ranch is EIEIO.

We just picked, destemmed, crushed, pressed and put into the fermenter 12 gallons of Rose' from some decent CS and Merlot grapes. Picked "the valves" - the area around the the big irrigation valves that the machine harvester (this morning) works around but doesn't pick. I've picked "the ends" many times but never "the valves". $0.50 per lb since they'd normally have to pay to have those areas pruned and the fruit would just be composted.

Pictures of this morning's pick, and a macro bin headed to LA (4 to 5 hour drive) with a couple of SoCal pilgrims.



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SPECTACULAR PICS!!! Really man. That looks amazing. Jealous of all you Cali guys!
 

CDrew

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Love that Macrobin headed south. In my ideal winemaking life, that's how much I want to make at a time.

I've done the dry ice/CO2 thing too. The only problem was the must got so cold that it delayed the onset of fermentation until it warmed up.
 

Ajmassa

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The only problem was the must got so cold that it delayed the onset of fermentation until it warmed up.
Uuuuhhhhh ..... a problem? I’m calling that a solution!
I’m actually going to give some dry ice a try in a couple weeks to intentionally delay.
I want that extra time— at least in the grapes I’m getting I think I do. With temps dropping over here along with a dry ice cold soak I’m hoping to get a minimum of 10days on the skins from crush till press.

Agree they are great pics from @Booty Juice . The crush-pad looks awesome and ready to rock’nroll. Coveting that large drain in the middle along with the trough drain running down the whole pad. It’s the little things that make all the difference. My neighborhood here in NJ sucks for this. No outside drains AT ALL. Closest street sewer opening is a block awaY. And entire property pitches towards the house. I’d kill for an outside floor drain. (A real one. Not that arrogant French type!)
 
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CDrew

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Uuuuhhhhh ..... a problem? I’m calling that a solution!
I’m actually going to give some dry ice a try in a couple weeks to intentionally delay.
I want that extra time— at least in the grapes I’m getting I think I do. With temps dropping over here along with a dry ice cold soak I’m hoping to get a minimum of 10days on the skins from crush till press.

Funny-My bias is to get fermentation up an running quickly to decrease the chance of something going wrong. I let the enzymes to the macerating and they are extremely good at it. But the one time I put about 15 pounds of dry ice in about 150 pounds of must, it took about 48 hours to get going making me anxious. Now if I had to haul 1000 pounds of must down the freeway on a 90 degree day, then dry ice all the way.

But good luck with the upcoming fermentation. Is this the Washington state grapes? If so, pictures will be needed! I was up in Walla Walla Washington this spring, and they are making some great wine there.
 

Ajmassa

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Funny-My bias is to get fermentation up an running quickly to decrease the chance of something going wrong. I let the enzymes to the macerating and they are extremely good at it. But the one time I put about 15 pounds of dry ice in about 150 pounds of must, it took about 48 hours to get going making me anxious. Now if I had to haul 1000 pounds of must down the freeway on a 90 degree day, then dry ice all the way.

But good luck with the upcoming fermentation. Is this the Washington state grapes? If so, pictures will be needed! I was up in Walla Walla Washington this spring, and they are making some great wine there.
Oh yeah. And I do agree with ya. Especially if ya don’t add any so2, which I normally don’t. I’m pitching the night after pickup. I’m trying something different for this one tho. Can ya tell I like to shoot from the hip and experiment a little yet? 😁 Did the natural ferment. Then the poor mans whole cluster carbonic maceration. Gonna give cold soaking a try.
The grapes are replacement grapes since my Napa fruit got smoked out. 350lbs from Red Mountain Wash St. Im not positive, but there’s a slight chance it’s the same vineyard Peter Brehm sources for his red mountain cab. His vineyards are known. Mine are not. I’ll know in 1 week. They harvested 2 days ago. But at the time my supplier secured the grapes there was just a few red mountain vineyards with bulk cab for sale, one of which was the brehms source. (I checked wine business.com like a true nerd)
So if I got brehms it’s frozen. Thawing a few days gives that cold soak. Gonna try and get that same thing with the fresh grapes. At least that’s the idea. You know me. Just kinda winging it and going wherever it takes me!
 

CDrew

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Driving up the Columbia River Valley, there are great looking vineyards on the north slope in particular. I'll bet you'll be super happy with those Red Mountain grapes. Red Mountain is up near Yakima so just north of Walla Walla. Sounds great. Everything here in Northern California this year came ripe at the same time. You are lucky that you're still in the early stages in mid October. I had a super busy September and October, but things are slowing now. All my wine is off the gross sees, and off the sludge, so all cleaned up!.

Have fun! Good luck, you're going to make some great wine!
 

Donz

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I’m thinking of adding some muscat to my zin this year. Is it the white or black muscat that is most commonly added?
 

Rocky

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I’m thinking of adding some muscat to my zin this year. Is it the white or black muscat that is most commonly added?
Long ago at home we used white Muscat field blended with Zinfandel in a 3:1, Zinfandel to Muscat ratio.
 

Ajmassa

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I’m thinking of adding some muscat to my zin this year. Is it the white or black muscat that is most commonly added?
White. A little goes a long way too. Even though it’s a white grape muscat is hella powerful and makes for a great base for the blend.

as a kid growing up I helped make it with the fam. The ratio differed I was told but usually it was like
40-50% muscat
50-60% Alicante & zin & sometimes Thompson’s seedless

when they did it from juice it would be 3 buckets for each demijohn
2 muscat
1Alicante

in 2018 I tried to make it as authentic as possible to the old grape blend.
think i did 40%muscat
By the time it started to really shine at 2 years it was almost gone!
In 2020 I played with the ratio. Maybe 10-15% muscat. And swapped Alicante w/ petite Sirah. It’s a big ass wine. Not bottles yet. But in spite of the boldness the muscat is still very present as the base holding the wine tigether And still giving it that unique/authentic D red taste.

Last time i did the juice blend was in 2014 or 2015. And I kept stealing some before bottling not fully aware of how long it takes for wine to oxidize. I tried to salvage it and that’s how I ended up on the forum
 

Donz

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Sounds awesome. We crushed today, the blend is light on the muscat but it’s there. 75 old vine Zin, 20 caringnan, 5 muscat. Going to hit it with Avante and Bravo tomorrow after a 24hr cold soak. Looking forward to it! It’s the first Zin I do without petit syrah.
Had some questions asked about the sweetness of the muscat grape as they make really sweet muscat wines… ?
 

Ajmassa

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Sounds awesome. We crushed today, the blend is light on the muscat but it’s there. 75 old vine Zin, 20 caringnan, 5 muscat. Going to hit it with Avante and Bravo tomorrow after a 24hr cold soak. Looking forward to it! It’s the first Zin I do without petit syrah.
Had some questions asked about the sweetness of the muscat grape as they make really sweet muscat wines… ?
Sounds awesome. Just enough to make people sense that extra flavor they weren’t expecting and do a double take. All I know about muscat is based off of personal experience w/ these blends. Though I have had some at diff tastings and was always v. sweet. But we ferment dry & blend. Never kept as single varietal.

I do think it’s incredibly strong for a white grape. not delicate or thin at all. It’s more of a strong deep fruitiness. There’s no mistaking where the muscat is unlike trying to discern most red blends. It stands tall among the reds. A very confident fruity foundation and adds some unique characteristics to a red wine. 1st impression as it hits your palate it does offer a type of perceived sweetness. But it’s not actually sweet. Just so flavorful it seems that way before stepping back to allow the rest of the wines characteristics show thru. But then after you swallow and take a breath that muscat base comes back around capping off the finish letting you know it wasn’t your imagination. And that your wine is special.

My ‘20 version has some major shit happening w the big tannin filled high abv reds. As if a full orchestra is playing a symphony of taste on your tongue—- fading into a death metal band thrashing& screaming over a dangerously fast high octane guitar solo —-which abruptly yet seamlessly gives way back to the orchestra to reel in the tempo and bring it on home w/ class.

No clue if my observations are on par w/ what the boujie wino scene has to say about muscat. Probably not. I’m just some dude on the internet w/o a wine critic level vocabulary. But I’ve been drinking variations of this neighborhood blend since 12yrs old and I know it well.
 

CDrew

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Sounds awesome. We crushed today, the blend is light on the muscat but it’s there. 75 old vine Zin, 20 caringnan, 5 muscat. Going to hit it with Avante and Bravo tomorrow after a 24hr cold soak. Looking forward to it! It’s the first Zin I do without petit syrah.
Had some questions asked about the sweetness of the muscat grape as they make really sweet muscat wines… ?
Why both Avante and Bravo? Is it 2 ferments or all combined? And funny, the Avante and Bravo kind of work with @Ajmassa 's orchestral death metal band metaphor.
 

Donz

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Thanks for your feedback it's much appreciated!

We are using Avante and Bravo in separate fermentation tanks and will combine after ferment when we press.
 

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