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Operation Massa Family Red - Muscat-Alicante-Zinfandel

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mainshipfred

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Those eyes ain’t so bad for an old timer! ;)
When I first became aware of this issue that @Boatboy24 already explained I admit I thought it was ridiculous and put up a little fight. I’m part Italian. From a big ol stereotypical Italian family. this term is just a type of wine to us. No more no less. Never even viewed it as possibly being offensive.

But we live in a different world now unfortunately. Everyone is offended by everything. Even scared of offending looters & rioters so we have to call them “protestors”. Skin thickness is devolving. So I abide by the rules. I don’t wanna deal with blowback from something as insignificant as this nor do I want moderators to have to deal with anything either.
When you read “Family Red” you know what we’re talkin about. @CDrew ’s family even started calling it “IAR” (Italian American Red) wine. Sorta like doubling down on the political correctness lol.
I'm glad the bottle you gave me has the authentic name on it, assuming it's the same one you are talking about. So my question is when I do open the bottle, which will be soon after reading your post, am I not allowed to show the bottle in the "Other People's Wine" thread? LOL or not!
 

Ajmassa

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I'm glad the bottle you gave me has the authentic name on it, assuming it's the same one you are talking about. So my question is when I do open the bottle, which will be soon after reading your post, am I not allowed to show the bottle in the "Other People's Wine" thread? LOL or not!
lol No pics necessary. Just hope you enjoy it.
its a good ‘all-purpose’ wine. Good with any meal. Preferred by many older family & friends who arent able to drink the bigger bolder reds.
 

Ajmassa

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I enter the kitchen and see a glass of wine on the table. No bottle.
I asked, “What’s this?”

She says I dunno. Why don’t you tell me Mr. Wino Sommelier”.

I said, “Blind tasting is crazy hard! I have endless respect for somms. But I think I can manage well enough”.

Wine looked clean. Clear. Pleasant aroma. And balanced really well. Dry. Nice tannin. I said, “ok help me out a little. This is definitely store bought. Not one of mine, right?”

Wrong! It IS one of yours”

“Wow. Ok ok. It’s not one of the big reds I can tell. And I don’t have a large selection to choose from. I’m thinking gotta be the Paso Cab.”

Wrong

“The Chilean Syrah?”

Wrong again!

“Chateauneuff du Pape juice pail?”

You suck at this”

“I’m pathetic. So what the hell is it?”

It’s the Italian Red actually”.



Well I’ll be goddamned! Definitely making another batch of this next month.
 

CDrew

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That is no joke. We did a blind tasting of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Barbera at a local winery. I was thinking, no problem. But actually got the Barbera and Zinfandel reversed!🥵

Ya-super hard. Easier to go back to "yep, this is good"
 

Ajmassa

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That is no joke. We did a blind tasting of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Barbera at a local winery. I was thinking, no problem. But actually got the Barbera and Zinfandel reversed!🥵

Ya-super hard. Easier to go back to "yep, this is good"
lol. See? I hear that and think barbera, zin, and Syrah? I got that all day! ! But when push comes to shove it’s not easy blind.
My 1st thought was that couldn’t believe how terrible I did and ate a big piece of humble pie—but I guess in the end that’s a good thing.

2nd thought was hey that wines not half bad!

FWIW (And to put a bandaid on my ego) about 20% this Italian Red Is actually that Paso Cab i initially said. And to keep it real that was actually my true 1st reaction So I could be “less wrong” lol
 

Ajmassa

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I’m gonna test myself here. Without looking anything up I’m gonna describe those varietals how I perceive them with my limited vocabulary and you tell me if I’m on point or way off. Just for sh*ts & giggles.

All 3 in the bold dry red category.

Syrah I view as a bold wine. Less pop than most others. Sometimes even dull. A fat wine by not necessarily heavy. Dry or often even super dry.(maybe that means extra tannic tho) Color is not a vibrant. Not as purpleish. Also can be dull. Like a matte red as opposed to a semigloss purple idk

Barbera has more pizazz. Has some of the same fatness as a Syrah but with more flavor. Sharper. I suppose more acidic. Brighter color than Syrah. More of a deep yet bright purple.

zinfindel is probably the most difficult of the 3. Zin is like the prototype for a bold dry red. Sorta falls right down the middle in literally every category. Sets the mean for comparisons.

......how’d I do? 😁 Should I sign up for that sommelier test? 😹
 

CDrew

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A tough call. To me, Barbera is like super Zinfandel. More acidic(in a good way) for sure, great with most foods. Barbera has less than average tannin, and less than average aging potential. THat's ok. It's great with dinner after 3 years and for another 5 years after. Zinfandel has enough tannin to taste "peppery". But, there are enough variations on the theme that Zinfandel can be anything. But in the Sierra foothills here Zinfandel is awesome. Sonoma Zinfandel (dry creek) is also awesome but different. I recently had a Camus Napa '82 Zinfandel that was spectacular. It held up really well for all these years.

Syrah in the end, is my favorite varietal. Big, big, big, wine and the California versions are almost overwhelming. Washington too. It needs some time to mature but in the end great.
 

GR!

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I enter the kitchen and see a glass of wine on the table. No bottle.
I asked, “What’s this?”

She says I dunno. Why don’t you tell me Mr. Wino Sommelier”.

I said, “Blind tasting is crazy hard! I have endless respect for somms. But I think I can manage well enough”.

Wine looked clean. Clear. Pleasant aroma. And balanced really well. Dry. Nice tannin. I said, “ok help me out a little. This is definitely store bought. Not one of mine, right?”

Wrong! It IS one of yours”

“Wow. Ok ok. It’s not one of the big reds I can tell. And I don’t have a large selection to choose from. I’m thinking gotta be the Paso Cab.”

Wrong

“The Chilean Syrah?”

Wrong again!

“Chateauneuff du Pape juice pail?”

You suck at this”

“I’m pathetic. So what the hell is it?”

It’s the Italian Red actually”.



Well I’ll be goddamned! Definitely making another batch of this next month.
Just read through this whole thread and I seem to remember "My palate isn’t too refined- but I can pick out our family blend a mile away." Maybe you are doing it a little better than your ancestors! That being said I think you have just solidified my fall grape making plans. Maybe in a year or two I can send you a bottle for some notes!
 

Ajmassa

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Just read through this whole thread and I seem to remember "My palate isn’t too refined- but I can pick out our family blend a mile away." Maybe you are doing it a little better than your ancestors! That being said I think you have just solidified my fall grape making plans. Maybe in a year or two I can send you a bottle for some notes!
Lol. Don’t rub it in! Actually tho the wines in years past never got this old. Which is a whopping 2 years surprisingly. Was never supposed to be anything special. Just like a neighborhood recipe for decent wine the whole family could drink.
I’m learning that muscat is damn strong for a white. Early on it really took over the wine but eventually mellows out but still lingering for a nice unique taste. That’s the taste I know. But now at 2 years it’s hard to even detect the muscat. Just kinda living in harmony with the rest. Totally different than 1 year ago.
Definitely gonna tweak the blend some. Not sure how exactly yet. It’s a fun wine. Just picking out some version of the blend ya want, throwing all white and red together in a tub and letting it do its thing. And I had fun detailing it here.
And glad to hear you read thru it. im sure we will be tossing notes at each other in a month
 

Ajmassa

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Family Red— Take 2
2020 version

Goin for this one again 2 years later but making many changes. Totally blew up the blend compared to 2018. I wanted to back off the muscat and ditch the Alicante. Muscat was strong juice and took 2 years to fully allow all the flavors to live in harmony. Won’t know how it is in 3 years tho since it’s gone. But that’s kinda the point of this wine. Something fun and allegedly* stress free that can be enjoyed early.

I decided on:
Zinfandel 50% (x4 lugs)
Syrah 25% (x2)
Muscat 12.5% (x1)
Petite Sirah 12.5% (x1)

Blend inspired by @Mac60 ’s zin this year. It’s a whole different wine than ‘18 tbh. But it’s still made in the spirit of the ‘family red’ so that’s what I’m callin it.
Pickup day didn’t go as planned and I had to work solo. Was first use for new C/D stand—- and I absolutely hate it! Stand itself is ok. I just hate the entire setup. So big, bulky, heavy, awkward, high, etc. I know I’m gonna hurt myself eventually. I am determined to modify this to my needs. I have some ideas. Will need to rock n roll again in couple wks so I will try and get it done before then.


Was busy in the am and did and afternoon crush. Crushed into a 20gal containers and carried down in buckets. Was a long afternoon and cleanup always sucks. (Especially in the dark). A touch of so2–30ppm since I knew I’d be tinkering— did some tests, and let soak overnight w/ lallzyme EXV.


Realized in another recent thread (Fermenting with stems) that I forgot one important detail in making this authentic in ‘18 — the stems. Family always fermented with them. I was feeling adventurous and wanted to challenge myself. Decided on a whole cluster portion ferment. 30% whole cluster/carbonic maceration style with the clusters on the bottom of the fermenter underneath all the weight of the crushed must. Intentionally taking myself out of my comfort zone with this.
Did some reading and it made sense. (Or at least convinced myself it did) For medium bodied wines brings fruit forward and has em drinking young. Figured this could help balance the fact that I beefed up the blend yet still calling it the ‘family red’. Plus it’s different and fun. Best way to learn is just dive in......

————-Currently 2 days since crush and I fear I’ve made a big mistake going this route. Adjusting less than ideal #s on a ‘bottom of fermentor whole-cluster ferment’ is a helluva challenge. Before crushed must was added the clusters took up 15gal volume. Whole bottom half is untouchable. Fruit clocked in at:
1.114 SG
4.0ph
4.75 ta
Double & triple checked all. Even did the blender/filter deal for acid samples. Adjusted to the best of my ability but not feeling confident for various reasons
Anyway, I will get into particulars later (& seek some much needed advice)—-

No fun fam pics for this one. But my cab is due in a couple weeks & we will have all hands on deck for that.
“2020 Italian Red” crush pics:

F7FAAB4E-9125-4E5C-8728-D365E5C5586D.jpeg5F951416-5F8D-4DAB-B89B-EB3ABA6CC698.jpegA08F6163-7D9A-4F7A-B6FF-3E2678C8860D.jpeg241CB863-AF2E-4A04-A271-999E264354AA.jpeg36FC2B4E-3DA1-4B60-98CA-21AC465B8A93.jpeg8DBBEBC9-B12C-4B98-BB7B-10DBA7EC73AF.jpeg72270819-0E7F-4EA2-8678-4C73441F3FB2.jpeg8381FADB-F8ED-40C4-B5FD-020F48634B18.jpegE0BCC34B-6630-4B3B-A788-998888FE7AA6.jpeg Lots of firsts here. First whole-cluster ferment. First acidulated water addition. And first time using Fermentis HD135 yeast. Inocculated last night seen in that last pic. (Thank you @mainshipfred)
 
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Ajmassa

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No real point in seeking specific adjustment advice. Too many variables and what’s done is done. But if anyone cares to hear my trials and tribulations I’ll gladly explain.
30% whole cluster at the bottom of the fermentor might be the stupidest winemaking decision I’ve ever made in recent years.

There’s a good reason this isn’t common practice for home winemakers—- it’s a MASSIVE pain in the ass!

Picture a 44gal fermentor loaded with almost 100lbs of whole clusters. Volume takes up to 15gal mark. Add 200 more pounds of multiple crushed varietals on top of that. All the juice seeps down into the bottom around the whole clusters leaving the top VERY skins heavy. And the bottom impossible to stir.

Now forget to take measurements of the whole cluster varietal by itself- having no idea what those grapes acids and sugar will do to your already adjusted wine after pressing.

and even when making adjustments you can’t be sure of anything since your only mixing it in saturated skins —- hoping it makes it way to bottom. And I have no idea if I should leave the bottom clusters on the bottom or mix em around when punching. There’s no “step by step” home winemaker guide online for whole-cluster carbonic-maceration, or anything detailed at all on what to expect. All trial & error here. Certainly not boring.

Testing for SG- the juice is so thick the hydrometer will “float” wherever you let go. Even straining it it’s thick. I am confident in my tests— just a pain to get them.
Fermentis hd135 yeast on this skins-heavy ferment sprinkled on top took a while to start. A nice gradual lag phase.

Some questions I am mulling over:
1. Ideal way to proceed with punchdowns/stirring?
2. after pressing a lot of sugar will be released into the wine—- should I go back into the brute with skins or go to glass?
3. Why tf did I do this?
 

GR!

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No real point in seeking specific adjustment advice. Too many variables and what’s done is done. But if anyone cares to hear my trials and tribulations I’ll gladly explain.
30% whole cluster at the bottom of the fermentor might be the stupidest winemaking decision I’ve ever made in recent years.

There’s a good reason this isn’t common practice for home winemakers—- it’s a MASSIVE pain in the ass!

Picture a 44gal fermentor loaded with almost 100lbs of whole clusters. Volume takes up to 15gal mark. Add 200 more pounds of multiple crushed varietals on top of that. All the juice seeps down into the bottom around the whole clusters leaving the top VERY skins heavy. And the bottom impossible to stir.

Now forget to take measurements of the whole cluster varietal by itself- having no idea what those grapes acids and sugar will do to your already adjusted wine after pressing.

and even when making adjustments you can’t be sure of anything since your only mixing it in saturated skins —- hoping it makes it way to bottom. And I have no idea if I should leave the bottom clusters on the bottom or mix em around when punching. There’s no “step by step” home winemaker guide online for whole-cluster carbonic-maceration, or anything detailed at all on what to expect. All trial & error here. Certainly not boring.

Testing for SG- the juice is so thick the hydrometer will “float” wherever you let go. Even straining it it’s thick. I am confident in my tests— just a pain to get them.
Fermentis hd135 yeast on this skins-heavy ferment sprinkled on top took a while to start. A nice gradual lag phase.

Some questions I am mulling over:
1. Ideal way to proceed with punchdowns/stirring?
2. after pressing a lot of sugar will be released into the wine—- should I go back into the brute with skins or go to glass?
3. Why tf did I do this?
As for #3 - Wasn’t it for the sheer enjoyment of the process? :D
 

stickman

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I wouldn't panic, just let the fermentation go for several days, check brix on the fermenting portion, and when you get down to maybe 14 brix or so start working the grapes at the bottom, something like a baseball bat, or put the boots on and jump in if you have to. Continue fermenting in the Brute and press when you feel like you have the extraction you desire. This will probably end up being the best wine you've made to date.
 

Ajmassa

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As for #3 - Wasn’t it for the sheer enjoyment of the process? :D
Lol. Yes! And I wanted to do something different. Just thinking out loud as I go. No regrets!


I wouldn't panic, just let the fermentation go for several days, check brix on the fermenting portion, and when you get down to maybe 14 brix or so start working the grapes at the bottom, something like a baseball bat, or put the boots on and jump in if you have to. Continue fermenting in the Brute and press when you feel like you have the extraction you desire. This will probably end up being the best wine you've made to date.
Thank you for that. I kinda jumped into this blind. Just that little bit is helpful to have even as a reference point. Much obliged sir. And would be very very cool if you are right about this wine!

Fermentation is slow starting, which is nice. I’m used to the first cap coming on strong and reforming minutes after punch while the 1st half of AF blows by in 2 days.
I sprinkle pitched yeast Sun night. Nutrients Tuesday morning. Mal tues night. 1st SG drop was today. 1.114 at crush. Adjusted to 1.104, (shorted target slightly). Today it’s finally moving now 1.096. Also 1st strong cap today too. Super thick. taking a while to form again. Mixing also getting easier now.

I added enzymes for the whole thing at crush. But from the looks of things I assume whole berries aren’t affected and all the enzymes are working on the crushed skins which have already broken down a lot.

I’ve got a mix of sludge and whole cluster/berries now. My thoughts are *theoretically it will be harsh tannin, deep color & a heavy wine w/good acid and good abv now, then after press the acid will end up low, abv will creep up high, color will calm down, tannin will balance out.
Just going with it for now. No idea how it ends up, but it’s certainly gonna be fun getting there!82FB7913-5297-474C-805C-4DAE16C98D4E.jpegED0C5FA0-B02B-4702-B88B-9A635416B486.jpeg


Hard to see in the pic. But after most recent punch there’s clusters scattered now. Majority still on bottom but things mixing well enough so the difference from top half and bottom half isnt as severe now if that makes sense.
 
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Ajmassa

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if you do pick that boots on and jump in, I sure hope we get pictures of that. (Or it didn't happen)
My old yellow rubber concrete pouring boots wouldn’t do the trick. Would probably need to break out my old overall fishing waders!

Though I think my little DIY wooden punchdown tool will be able to handle the task. Unless Olivia wants to jump in. Had her hand destem & crush a small amount in ‘17. Little different in an active fermentation. But no frozen digits this time! I will try to convince her. But a 13yr old is MUCH different than a 9yr old!

#ThrowbackWednesday. 3 generations.
0F7A5DDD-3056-4060-B8EE-5CC6D7932209.jpeg
5D198961-D236-4047-909F-06868DC6B8EB.jpegA6C74E57-22C7-4FFE-8270-50347EEAD8E0.jpeg8C01F721-B11C-45D9-8EE8-8DDECE0AA53B.jpegA903E189-0751-44FB-B19B-887D1EBB56D5.jpegD1BFD234-7209-4427-979F-ABC15957F6BC.jpeg
And full circle— Around 1993 I’m guessing. That’s me in that badass sweatshirt working the crank and stomping.
F41C1453-FCFF-4B39-9908-029EAB58B9C7.jpeg5DD04392-9079-4135-A88D-4B1C4B4D1D86.jpeg3022468D-8337-4DD6-9A8F-904734E5CD9A.jpeg
 
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sour_grapes

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I wouldn't panic, just let the fermentation go for several days, check brix on the fermenting portion, and when you get down to maybe 14 brix or so start working the grapes at the bottom, something like a baseball bat, or put the boots on and jump in if you have to. Continue fermenting in the Brute and press when you feel like you have the extraction you desire. This will probably end up being the best wine you've made to date.
I like Stick's general suggestions. I vote 4x4!
 

CDrew

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I'm stoked for you @Ajmassa, this is how you learn to make wine. You did a good thing. Your family will enjoy this for years. And that's cool. I wish I was doing it! Heck, I'm just trying to learn to make a delicious wine to have with dinner every night. But you've gone off the reservation. Very cool.

I sort of agree that as garage and basement based amateurs, without professional equipment, advanced techniques are difficult to pull off. You've done something interesting, and I can't wait to hear how it goes.

Would really like to hear details about the yeast from @mainshipfred . ANd thanks for the vintage pics.
 

Ajmassa

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I'm stoked for you @Ajmassa, this is how you learn to make wine. You did a good thing. Your family will enjoy this for years. And that's cool. I wish I was doing it! Heck, I'm just trying to learn to make a delicious wine to have with dinner every night. But you've gone off the reservation. Very cool.

I sort of agree that as garage and basement based amateurs, without professional equipment, advanced techniques are difficult to pull off. You've done something interesting, and I can't wait to hear how it goes.

Would really like to hear details about the yeast from @mainshipfred . ANd thanks for the vintage pics.
Just having some fun with it. My thought process wasn’t “oh this will make the wine so much better!” - even though it might. But it might not too. Real winemakers with loads of experience make these decisions based on a gajillion variables ya know?
This was impulsive. Mulled over the idea of using stems which led to whole-cluster which led to a poor mans carbonic maceration. I justified my reasoning hoping it might lead to making an otherwise big wine morph into a fruit forward early drinker. So figured what the hell why not?

my dad was picking my brain about the ferment and I explained what I was doing. He compared it to when I was taught how to swim. Tossed me in the pool— choices are figure it out or drown lol. (Btw I figured it out. Even got a plaque for breaking a freestyle league record!) Certainly some growing pains but when/if I were to do this again I’ll be more informed and better prepared.

And I dig the yeast so far. Around 14 brix° last night. Moving at a comfortable pace. Temp steady increasing peaked this morning at 78° Crushed a portion yesterday. Was a damn fiasco lol.
 

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