Rattlesnake Hills Malbec

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crushday

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Looks like you added oak cubes?
Jim, just noticed your question this morning. The French oak cubes were recommended by the Crew brothers who own Wine Grapes Direct. The gave me 150gm for the fermentation.

A couple years ago I fermented some Chardonnay with two heavy oak spirals. Today, it remains my favorite Chardonnay and had another bottle this week. I’ll definitely ferment my next Char the same way.

On the Malbec, time will tell...
 

crushday

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Update and potential fear: I just punched the cap, still nicely organized but getting softer. Must temp this morning is 87 degrees while the cap is 81 degrees. That’s 1 degree above the specified limits of the yeast. Should I be concerned with a stuck fermentation? Gravity reading is 1.023.

Also, when I made the Tempranillo, it was nine days from start to finish. On the 10th day, I pressed. Today is day 8. Planning ahead, I wouldn’t be considering a press until next weekend - likely Saturday. But, looking for collective wisdom. There’s no rush right? The wine sitting dormant on the skins/lees for a few extra days is of no consequence, right?
 
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1d10t

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The upper limit of the yeast probably have more to do with flavor profile than yeast health. They like it warm. But, it is also self regulating on that end. If the temps get out of range they will get less active.
 

stickman

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I don't think 87F is a problem, it probably wont stay there for very long, some people like to take it up to 90F. What seems odd is the cap being a lower temp than the wine, at least that is the opposite of what I typically see. My cap is usually several degrees higher than the liquid below, though you are handling the cap different than I typically do, so that might play a role. Generally I would say there is no rush, with cab blends I go 8 days to 2 weeks, but more and more these days I'd say it depends on the grapes, where they are grown, the level of ripeness, the type of tannins in the seeds etc. You are going to pick up more seed tannin the closer you get to dryness, this can be positive or negative, taste the wine as it's going dry to gain experience with how it develops.
 

crushday

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@stickman Allow me to enter your classroom. Please, tell me what you do differently with cap management. This is only my second go at actual grapes. I am your Padawan learner...
 

CDrew

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I think @stickman does a rack and return method, which is kind of a poor man's pump over. Drain the liquid wine off the bottom, and pour it over the cap to return it. THere were some pics in his thread. I stick with the traditional punch down.

And just for the record, I think your temp is ok. I wouldn't want much higher though. You could use a small fan blowing on the outside of the fermentor pot which would cool it a bit. I've done that to keep temps down even when fermenting in brutes.

Stickman's 2019 thread with pics:
https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/2019-cab.70580/
 

stickman

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Thanks for the kind words, but even after all of these years I'm still learning, you've seen my posts, nothing secretive or magical about what I do. I do some punch downs, but most of what I do would be considered pump overs or "delestage". My comment wasn't about one way or the other being better, just different, I was noting the difference in temperature between the cap and the bulk liquid, in my case the cap is always warmer than the liquid. No big deal, it's just my nature, I was trying to figure out why your cap was colder, maybe if you used an IR gun that might explain the difference. Maybe the punch downs are more effective at releasing the juice, therefore your skins aren't holding as much sugar, so possibly there is less fermentation in the cap; just guessing out loud.
 

crushday

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Let me explain a bit more about how I measured the temperatures. Before I punched the cap, I took a reading. I use Tilt hydrometers which provide both temp and gravity readings, sent to my phone. The reading before the punch down was 81. Because the Tilt is embedded in the cap, this seems like an accurate reading.

After I punched and had the Tilt floating in must the temp was 87. It's plausible that I inverted the readings as I too would think the must would be cooler given that heat rises. I convinced myself the reading was correct considering the cap is like a blanket.

I'll keep learning. I promise...
 

CDrew

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There’s no rush right? The wine sitting dormant on the skins/lees for a few extra days is of no consequence, right?
I think once it's basically done, unless you have special refrigeration equipment, you want to get pressed and away from Oxygen as quickly as possible. You're not looking to make vinegar. I like to press as the fermentation is finishing and not let it sit exposed at all.
 

crushday

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I decided to press this afternoon. I’m working from home and didn’t have much going on.

I pumped the wine out of the fermenting pot and got about 11 gallons this way. I then loaded up the press and got 3 more just letting it run through without pressing. After I actually pressed I got 4 more. That’s a total of 18 gallons.

The 1 gallon jugs are what I filled from the press. Before I was to add them to the secondary fermenter, there was a noticeable line where I could tell lees had settled in the pressed jugs. You can see the line in the picture. I pumped the wine out right above the line on each and was able to condense to 5 gallons of clean wine from the press that I added to my secondary fermenter. Everything is under airlock.

I had two bricks of pomace but only took a picture of one. In total I have roughly 6.5 gallons of pressed skins.

I simply poured the lees down the drain and filled up my fermenter.

I’m happy with this project. Wine should be amazing in a couple of years.

8594F6FB-0D70-4244-B576-3D0B42F86410.jpegC22E6B7F-6902-49DA-97EB-33E0E841C583.jpegE9648719-F225-4A7E-A61B-EBE0CD515C03.jpeg4E70A8AE-BF14-4EEF-B440-E2EB3675E9FC.jpeg
 
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CDrew

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Nice color extraction. The losses with the lees are unfortunate, but part of the game.

18 gallons is a nice amount. You can bulk age in a keg or Intellitank, or 3 carboys.

Looking good though, should be great in the end.
 

Johnd

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Nice job, looks great!! Little tip for you next time around, try using two fine strainers (one nested inside the other) between your press and funnel. They’ll sift out a significant amount of sediment / lees before the wine gets into your vessel. When the top one starts getting clogged, pull it out (leaving the second in place), clean it, and replace it under the one you left. That way you can keep the flow going as your wine drains from the press. Also, there’s really no need to have separated the lees from the wine in your little vessels, you’re going to do it again in 2 - 3 days anyway, and they’ll be way more compacted by then.
 

crushday

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@Johnd As with everything, life is a classroom. I learned so much today - what went well and what I would definitely do different. The two fine strainers is a brilliant idea. I will add that to the process for sure.

First time using a self-priming pump. I used a stainless hops strainer as a free run tube. Worked really slick from the primary to secondary and also to extract the clean wine from the lugs.

I'm very thankful to have great mentors on WMT!
 

Boatboy24

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Fantastic color on that. Agree with John on the strainer. All in all, looks like you had a great afternoon and will have a really nice Malbec on your hands.
 

mainshipfred

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Probably too late now but if you would remove, loosen and repress the skins you will find with not so much pressure you will be able to extract additional wine. A bit of work for the little you get but with 6.5 gallons of skins I would venture to say you would get an additional 3/4 gallon. I press 3 times and at the end the skins are pretty dry. The wine looks great though.
 

crushday

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Probably too late now but if you would remove, loosen and repress the skins you will find with not so much pressure you will be able to extract additional wine. A bit of work for the little you get but with 6.5 gallons of skins I would venture to say you would get an additional 3/4 gallon. I press 3 times and at the end the skins are pretty dry. The wine looks great though.
Yep, too late Fred. That’s a really good idea to try next time. Thanks for the tip!
 

crushday

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Here’s a couple pics of where the wine will for the next couple of months. I approximate the conical has 15 gallons, right to the brim. You can see the floating Tilt hydrometer. You can also see little bubbles coming to the surface. Gravity reading was .997 this morning. The three gallon carboy has about two gallons - all together, a little short for three 6gal carboys. I’ll be hitting Steve up for a headspace eliminator! In May I’ll move everything to carboys for a year or so. This wine will see a barrel in July 2021.

C867E0EC-CC72-4C8F-A689-0E21E23905C6.jpeg3D9538DE-A34B-44DE-9015-B6BFC060B289.jpeg96A56910-867A-4844-8015-7A09676DB7ED.jpeg
 

wxtrendsguy

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This is the point and going forward you want to get rid of any head space. Top that carboy and conical.
 
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