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Pinot Noir Words of Wisdom

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stickman

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Just wondering if anyone has experience with Pinot Noir from grapes fresh or frozen. My wife doesn't drink much wine, but this year she requested a Pinot Noir, and who am I to refuse? Most of my experience is with Cab/Bordeaux type blends; have not yet made a pinot. I have read a lot of information on the web, and the general consensus is that this grape is finicky to grow and convert to wine.

This Friday 20 pails of frozen grapes are arriving, 10 Pinot Noir, 8 Sangiovese, and 2 Syrah. So far, I'm not planning anything crazy, the pinot will be fermented with RC212, and I was expecting to do a standard sequential ML. I might consider doing a co-inoculation, just not sure if I want to experiment with this batch.

The pinot Noir numbers as reported:
Brix 23.6
TA 8.1 g/l
PH 3.32
YAN 369 ppm

I'll re-measure Brix, TA, and PH once I get them thawed. Given that the YAN is fairly high, I was only planning on a couple of small doses of Supervit and Superfood, primarily for the vitamins and micro nutrients, though I know RC212 gets hungry.

Three days cold soak is automatic during thawing, not sure if I should deliberately extend it. Lallzyme EX-V is on hand.

More than 10 years ago I talked to an assistant winemaker at a winery that uses these grapes, and at that time, they were doing an extended skin contact between 20 and 30 days post fermentation. I tasted the wine and it was very good.

I'm planning to hold fermentation liquid temperature to not exceed 82F, maybe 87F cap temperature, though I have read about some arguing for higher temps.

Aging will be in a 30gal flex tank, I have Mercier French oak medium toast staves on hand.

Any experience or handling considerations would be appreciated.
 

Boatboy24

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There was a good article on making Pinot in Winemaker earlier this year. I've been wanting to do one, but there's so much bad PN out there, I've been intimidated to try. Maybe next fall - the cellar is getting full and I might not cry too much if I have to dump a batch.
 

ceeaton

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I purchased a Chilean juice bucket and a lug (18 lbs) of grapes this Spring. Used RC 212, did a MLF using CH35 (not sure why I didn't use CH16, oh well). My starting numbers were pH 3.65, TA 3.5 g/L, SG 1.086 before grape addition (old pH meter used). Don't know the YAN but I just yawned. I adjusted with tartaric acid to pH 3.33 (overshot). I did two additions (split total in half, one addition at fermentation onset, other around 1.060 as I noticed a H2S aroma starting up).

Just went up and measured it (cold stabilizing in my garage below 40*F) and got a pH of 3.40 and TA of about 8 g/L (didn't let it warm up too much so the readings may be off a bit, used new pH meter). The aroma is quite nice at this point (could smell it even in the cold garage when I took the airlock off to get my 15 ml sample), has nice color (used Lallzyme EX-V, some Opti-red and Booster Rouge). Added 1 oz of Hungarian M+ cubes when I pitched the MLB. Later added a French M+ Winestix which has been in there for about three months.

First PN I've ever attempted. I can tell it will be at least a nice drinkable wine, just weighing options as to how much longer I leave that Winestix in there, as I can taste the oak and don't want to overdo it and hide some of the nice fruity characteristics the young wine is exhibiting at this point.

So that is what I've experienced, not wisdom at this point, but maybe after I do 20 more PN's.

Good luck with your new adventure!
 
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Johnd

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There are pros and cons regarding every MLB inoculation timing, dig on the net long enough and you can talk yourself out of any of them. I've typically done it sequentially, but just completed my first co-inoculation, with good success. My reason for giving it a go, was that I had some high Brix must, and would have some ABV's approaching 15% after AF was complete, an inhospitable environment, but not impossible.

I pitched after AF was underway for a couple days and never looked back. Pressed on schedule, racked the wine off of the gross lees two days later, two weeks after that, the cabs were done, the PS two weeks later. The Merlot is still poking along.

I'm not advocating either timing, both have worked for me thus far. Co-inoculation was much easier and finished earlier in the process, maybe I just lucked out........
 

stickman

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Just curious, why keep the fermentation temp down?

Also, why co-inoculate? Winemakers with way more experience than I have say it is too risky.
I'm just trying to stay within the temperature range given by Lalvin for RC212 and keep the fermentation stress free and clean. I found a pinot Noir fermentation guide provided by Laffort, but it looks more like an additive sales sheet than anything else. Surprisingly they indicate rather cool fermentation at 72F to 77F.

I agree with Johns comments on co-inoculation, many pros and cons either way; I will probably stay with sequential for now. What I like about the co-inoculation concept, is that adding the ML culture early provides significant competition to any spoilage bacteria that may have survived the initial sulfite addition. It's kind of like planting a lawn, you put the grass seed down before the weed seeds germinate.

View attachment pinot-noir winemaking.pdf
 

Johnd

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I'm just trying to stay within the temperature range given by Lalvin for RC212 and keep the fermentation stress free and clean. I found a pinot Noir fermentation guide provided by Laffort, but it looks more like an additive sales sheet than anything else. Surprisingly they indicate rather cool fermentation at 72F to 77F.

I agree with Johns comments on co-inoculation, many pros and cons either way; I will probably stay with sequential for now. What I like about the co-inoculation concept, is that adding the ML culture early provides significant competition to any spoilage bacteria that may have survived the initial sulfite addition. It's kind of like planting a lawn, you put the grass seed down before the weed seeds germinate.
As we talk about all of the time here, we all have different taste in wine that should guide our production techniques and processes. I haven't done a pinot from grapes, but if I did, my taste in wine would lead me to make it as big as I could, cold soak, enzymatic extraction, heat spike in the upper 80's, vigorous punchdowns, as much time on skins as I could get, some good time in an oak barrel, you get the picture.

I wouldn't produce a pinot that exhibited the light, delicate characteristics and subtle nuances that some folks just love about pinot, because that's not what I like.

Depending upon either what you prefer, or upon what you desire to produce, it seems that should guide your processes. Cold soak, no enzymes, delicate yeast, lower and controlled fermentation temps, gentle punchdowns and extraction, less time on skins, would yield a much different wine than the one described above. Maybe a wine that's lighter, fruitier, more aromatic, lighter tannins could be produced.
 

JohnT

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I have made several batches of pinot over the years.

A good pinot is a great thing. The grape tends to run a lot lower in color extraction than, say, a merlot. At first, I was put off by the lighter color (being a fan of big and bold), but I have to say that Pinot it MEANT to be lighter!

IMHO, pinot has a much more delicate taste and flavor. Where I first was disappointed in the color and body, I ended up thinking that extended maceration would have actually made the wine less enjoyable. Again, this is strictly my own opinion.

Each batch I have made was with a hot and fast fermentation lasting usually 6 days. I found that the result also like a good oaking to make the wine even more complex.

In short, I would forego any more cold soak than needed to thaw, grip-it-and-rip-it on the fermentation (allow temps even into the high 80's), keep the RC-212 well fed, rackoff the gross lees ASAP, and give it a good long oaking..

--- again this is just my opinion ---
 

Redbird1

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I have made several batches of pinot over the years.

A good pinot is a great thing. The grape tends to run a lot lower in color extraction than, say, a merlot. At first, I was put off by the lighter color (being a fan of big and bold), but I have to say that Pinot it MEANT to be lighter!

IMHO, pinot has a much more delicate taste and flavor. Where I first was disappointed in the color and body, I ended up thinking that extended maceration would have actually made the wine less enjoyable. Again, this is strictly my own opinion.

Each batch I have made was with a hot and fast fermentation lasting usually 6 days. I found that the result also like a good oaking to make the wine even more complex.

In short, I would forego any more cold soak than needed to thaw, grip-it-and-rip-it on the fermentation (allow temps even into the high 80's), keep the RC-212 well fed, rackoff the gross lees ASAP, and give it a good long oaking..

--- again this is just my opinion ---
I've always read that whites should be fermented cooler and slower in an effort to reduce blowing off the more delicate flavors, so it seems a bit counterintuitive to have a hot and fast fermentation on a wine with delicate taste and flavor. Perhaps reds behave differently than whites. Can you share your reasoning for the grip-it-and-rip-it approach?
 

mfzona

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If you want it dark, you need really extended maceration on the skins. Color extraction is tuff with this thick skinned grape. If you don't mind color in between rose and your merlot, you can ferment just like any other red.
 

JohnT

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I've always read that whites should be fermented cooler and slower in an effort to reduce blowing off the more delicate flavors, so it seems a bit counterintuitive to have a hot and fast fermentation on a wine with delicate taste and flavor. Perhaps reds behave differently than whites. Can you share your reasoning for the grip-it-and-rip-it approach?
I do not know if I agree with ALL whites having a cold fermentation. It all depends on what you like. I prefer my wines less fruity and hot fermentation will result in wines that are a lot less fruity. Chardonnay, for example, I prefer to be dry and not fruity, but a Riesling I like cold ferment to keep the fruit tones.

Same is true with pinot noir. With a hot fermentation, IMHO, the resulting wine still has a delicate flavor, but just not as fruity. To my tastes, this works well.
 

Redbird1

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I do not know if I agree with ALL whites having a cold fermentation. It all depends on what you like. I prefer my wines less fruity and hot fermentation will result in wines that are a lot less fruity. Chardonnay, for example, I prefer to be dry and not fruity, but a Riesling I like cold ferment to keep the fruit tones.

Same is true with pinot noir. With a hot fermentation, IMHO, the resulting wine still has a delicate flavor, but just not as fruity. To my tastes, this works well.
Makes sense. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!
 

stickman

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Thanks for the responses, like most topics in winemaking, it's a mixed bag. I looked at some additional information online as well as in books that I have here, and it appears that most of the so called "reserve" pinot gets a cold soak as well as some extended maceration, somewhere between 18 and 30 days total skin contact. Many of the fresh grape fermentations have 20% to 30% of the juice drained to increase the skin to juice ratio, not really an option with frozen must. Barrel aging seems shorter on average than typical, maybe 9 to 12 months for lighter styles, and 12 to 17 months for reserve. Being the first Pinot, I'll probably be a bit cautious, but I'll post pics and make some decisions along the way. One way or another we will have fun. For the moment I can relax, the shipment has been delayed until Wednesday next week.
 

berrycrush

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I did 100 pound Chilean Pinot this year, my first time too. I broke them up into 6 primary fermenters with three different yeasts and two styles: destemed and whole-cluster, so I end up with six one gallon jars plus some extra. Whole cluster ferments a bit slower then the detemed, Assmanhausen yeast is the slowest to start. The most noticeable thing about Pinot is its acidity, way higher than Cab and Merlots, color wise they are still pretty dense, you can see in the pictures. MLF has mixed results, some completed and some not fully. I plan let them age in the one gallon jars, no oak at all.

See pics at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/99052380@N06/albums/72157667724200816
 

sdelli

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I made a California Pinot Noir from fresh grapes a couple years ago. Turned out fantastic! Just remember with this variety. Less is more! Don't get carried away into your deep winemaking ideas. Let it be... Use a neutral barrel if possible. I used RC-212 then mlf then 8 months in a nuetral barrel.
 

stickman

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Well this is just the first peek at the must during the thaw. I've got the garage heat turned up as it's been quite cold lately, pails have been thawing since Thursday night, they're at 50F now. Added 30ppm sulfite and will check temperature in the morning, add enzyme and get yeast going.

IMG_0743.jpg
 

sdelli

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Looks great. What are you fermenting in?
 

stickman

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I'm doing two different batches, the Pinot Noir will be in the stainless vat, and the Sangiovese Syrah 80/20 blend will be in two Brutes. I added the Lallzyme EXV and Lysozyme earlier this morning, and added the 4 gallon RC212 yeast starter (using RC212 on everything) around 3:00pm. I'll dump the pails into the fermenters sometime tomorrow, the garage heat is set and maintaining 70F, expecting -13F outdoors tonight. I'll post some pics once everything is dumped tomorrow.
 

heatherd

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I agree with those who say that they make pinot with restrained amounts of oak.

I've made two batches of pinot, one with oak and one without. I really like the one without better. I prefer to taste the delicate aspects of the wine. My two cents, but everyone's palette is different.

If I were making pinot for my spouse I would find out whether they are drinking pinots with more or less oak. I would taste the commercial ones that they prefer to get a sense of the oakiness.
 
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