Other red wine kits poll

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What red varietal kits would you buy?

  • Cabernet Franc

    Votes: 27 49.1%
  • Carignan

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Carmenère

    Votes: 7 12.7%
  • Gamay

    Votes: 8 14.5%
  • Grenache

    Votes: 15 27.3%
  • Malbec

    Votes: 31 56.4%
  • Mourvèdre

    Votes: 4 7.3%
  • Petit Verdot

    Votes: 10 18.2%
  • Sangiovese

    Votes: 27 49.1%
  • Tempranillo

    Votes: 15 27.3%

  • Total voters
    55
  • Poll closed .
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I noticed an unhappy trend in the past few years regarding Winexpert and R J Spagnols kits -- the contents of the kits are being obscured. This started with the Island Mist kits going from "Exotic Fruit / Zinfandel" to just "Exotic Fruit", and now I see other kits with "style" tacked onto the name. While I have no problem making blend kits, when I make "Cabernet Sauvignon", I want Cabernet Sauvignon, not whatever the vendor chooses to put in it.

Finer Wine Kits is marketing 100% varietals, which pushed me to try them this fall (good reviews from customers helped with the push). As a new vendor they have a limited number of red varietal kits available:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel​

As time goes on, I expect the list will increase in size.

My curiosity has been piqued. If FWK expanded its list, what are your top 3 kits that you would buy?

EDIT: I focused on what is listed and completely forgot that Sangiovese was offered in 2020, but wasn't sourced this year. I 'spose this is not a bad omission, as this will tell Matteo if Sangiovese is a hot item.
 
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I limited the selection to 3 choices, else we'd have too many picked to produce a meaningful result.

My choices are Gamay, Grenache, and Sangiovese. Additionally, I'd be tempted to make Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, and Petit Verdot to keep on hand as topup / blending wines.

Since my 5 year plan is to not make the same blend twice in a 5 year period, I'd end up making at least one of everything currently marketed plus the poll wines.
 

Jim Welch

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No Zinfandel? Or is that considered a category of one of those listed? I love a fruity (RED) Zinfandel wine! #1 according to my Paleolithic palate!
 

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Cool poll idea. I stuck with 3 as you suggested and went with Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Grenache. Each of which seems hard to find in kit form, or, if you find a kit labeled that way you may not be sure if it is true. So I kind of thought about this as what would I like to see as a 100% varietal kit, likely from FWK.

Then I tried not to overthink about what is possible in terms of what is grown in and around Lodi and the greater central valley of California (where FWK sources from). Another weird thought experiment I tried to avoid is which varietals can be expected to deliver good varietal character whether they are grown in the old world or the new world, on new vines or old vines, whether you are harvesting 5+ tons an acre or less than 2 tons an acre.
 

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No Zinfandel? Or is that considered a category of one of those listed? I love a fruity (RED) Zinfandel wine! #1 according to my Paleolithic palate!
I think he was looking at varietals not currently offered by Finer Wine Kits. They currently offer Cabernet S., Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Pinot Noir as 100% varietals. Plus two blends, a Bordeaux and a Super Tuscan. In the past they have also offered a 100% Sangiovese but could not source that this year.
 
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Yes, Zinfandel is a current offering, so it's not in the poll.

In the past they have also offered a 100% Sangiovese but could not source that this year.
I completely forgot this, as I was focused on the current lists. I updated my first post to state this.

Here's a side question -- in the past I'm made kits and never blended them. This year, for the first time, I intentionally blended kits. Who would buy a varietal such as Petit Verdot simply to have it available in the future for blending into other varietals, and as a general topup wine?
 

Gilmango

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Yes, Zinfandel is a current offering, so it's not in the poll.


I completely forgot this, as I was focused on the current lists. I updated my first post to state this.

Here's a side question -- in the past I'm made kits and never blended them. This year, for the first time, I intentionally blended kits. Who would buy a varietal such as Petit Verdot simply to have it available in the future for blending into other varietals, and as a general topup wine?
They also offered a varietal Barbera last year. I think it was well received (at least from chat in the forum), but not offered this year. I am assuming that was due to lack of availability and hopefully it will be back. Not listed in your poll so all good as hopefully the FWK folks already know it will sell if they can source it.
 

Gilmango

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I purchased one of the last Barbera kits in August. It's looking to be a good choice.

The problem with polls like this is there are SOOOO many good choices, but the software allows only a limited list.
I got one of the last ones as well and very pleased so far, but still bulk aging. From watching their latest video, where they talked about new items coming, including some which may not be available year round, I do think that we will see more varietals in the future. New blends too - they mentioned a Rhone blend in the video, and an Amarone one in the forum today.
 

franc1969

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I noticed an unhappy trend in the past few years regarding Winexpert and R J Spagnols kits -- the contents of the kits are being obscured. This started with the Island Mist kits going from "Exotic Fruit / Zinfandel" to just "Exotic Fruit", and now I see other kits with "style" tacked onto the name. While I have no problem making blend kits, when I make "Cabernet Sauvignon", I want Cabernet Sauvignon, not whatever the vendor chooses to put in it.

Finer Wine Kits is marketing 100% varietals, which pushed me to try them this fall (good reviews from customers helped with the push). As a new vendor they have a limited number of red varietal kits available:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel​

As time goes on, I expect the list will increase in size.

My curiosity has been piqued. If FWK expanded its list, what are your top 3 kits that you would buy?

EDIT: I focused on what is listed and completely forgot that Sangiovese was offered in 2020, but wasn't sourced this year. I 'spose this is not a bad omission, as this will tell Matteo if Sangiovese is a hot item.
The 'style' also covers hybrids in the mix, like a Ruby Cabernet , or minor grapes blended to match what people think of as 'cabernet'. It also can allow for random grapes in the field. I do not know if labeling on a concentrate is the same as for a wine. >75% Cabernet Sauvignon is "Cabernet Sauvignon" no matter what else is in it, when a California wine...
 
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>75% Cabernet Sauvignon is "Cabernet Sauvignon" no matter what else is in it, when a California wine...
True. But I'm not buying wine, I'm buying grape juice & concentrate. The former is a finished product while the latter is one I use to make a finished product.

I've worked for Fortune 1000 and Fortune 100 companies for 35 years. I place no trust in corporations, as they are fickle beasts with no conscience. I place my trust in a few, select people who have earned that trust.

@Matteo_Lahm? I've read his posts and watched his videos -- he hasn't triggered my BS Detector. So I took a leap of faith and invested in his products -- time will tell if my trust is warranted or not.

I have a triple batch of FWK Super Tuscan in process. He couldn't get Sangiovese, so this kit is a mixture of Bordeaux and Rhone grapes. He worked with his supplier to produce a profile that fits the Super Tuscan profile. This is publicly stated, and I took the leap of faith that he's right. The key point is that the make-up is in the open -- I'm going into this with an understanding of what I purchased. When I purchase a "-style" kit from a major vendor, I have no idea what I'm buying.

Does this make sense?
 
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@winemaker81 Very interested in your polls although my votes seem boring and mainstream once I saw the numbers. But I really like Cab Fanc and think Malbec is way under-represented in kits.
Some thoughts I’ve had about these kits. When the FWK kits came out I was intrigued by the multiple ways they were doing things differently than the other big kit producers but also by the Lodi connection. I lived there some years ago and my appreciation for wine really blossomed during that time.
Anyway, I hope they keep going with what they are doing. It certainly has make an impression with the people on this forum. My first FWK was the Sangiovese in May of this year. I did it with the double skins and it is still bulk aging. When I read that it wasn’t going to be available when the Forte series came out I went back to the LP site to see if any was left and got one of the last kits from the original offering.
 
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This poll would get very different results if we were discussing fresh grapes. There is a couple of fundamental differences between the 2 worlds, outside of fresh vs. processed.

First is "quantity". With kits we're typically talking 23 liter / 6 gallon batches. [I'm leaving 1 gallon kits and 3 gallon specialty kits out of the discussion] If I choose Petit Verdot, I'm getting 30 bottles of a wine that is not normally made as a varietal. On its own, it's not a taste everyone likes so if I choose it, I have 30 bottles to deal with.

OTOH, my 2020 grapes allowed more selectivity -- I purchased 8 lugs (36 lbs each) Merlot, 4 lugs Zinfandel, and 1 lug each Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot (Vinifera Blend). The grapes were fermented in 4 batches -- 2 Merlot, 1 Zinfandel, and 1 Vinifera Blend. From this I made 2 blends:
  • 66.7% Merlot, 33.3% Vinifera Blend
  • 40% Merlot, 40% Zinfandel, 20% Vinifera Blend
To get this level of discrimination I'd have to make 16 kits: 8 Merlot, 4 Zinfandel, and 1 each of the others. This is more than double what I am getting from my grape blends, and I do not have capacity for that.

The second fundamental different, which follows from "quantity", is the mind set of "blending vs. not blending". Sure, a lot of grape winemakers make only strict varietals. But a lot of us blend, even if it's a small quantity of something like Petit Verdot to improve color and complexity in a varietal.

How many kit makers blend wines? I mean as a planned thing, not "dang! I need to top this carboy, and this wine is compatible." My expectations is not a lot.

@Old Corker sparked this line of thought with his comment about his choices being "boring and mainstream". Personally, his choices are very understandable when considering that 6 gallons of Mourvèdre is something most kit winemakers don't have a use for.
 

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Yes, Zinfandel is a current offering, so it's not in the poll.


I completely forgot this, as I was focused on the current lists. I updated my first post to state this.

Here's a side question -- in the past I'm made kits and never blended them. This year, for the first time, I intentionally blended kits. Who would buy a varietal such as Petit Verdot simply to have it available in the future for blending into other varietals, and as a general topup wine?
Curious what kits did you blend and what %'s? Also...what method did you use to blend? I've got blending on my future Vintner To Do list :)

Cheers!
 
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Curious what kits did you blend and what %'s? Also...what method did you use to blend? I've got blending on my future Vintner To Do list :)
We made a field blend -- Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Merlot. Our original intention was to make a southern Rhone blend and an Italian blend from grapes, but our plans were scotched as the grape delivery date changed to my younger son's wedding date.

Plan B is 3 FWK Super Tuscan kits to fill one barrel, fulfilling the Italian blend plan (although the grapes are all French :p ), and to blend FWK Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Merlot to make a (more or less) northern Rhone blend for the other barrel. The 54 liter / 14.25 gallon barrels require at least 16 gallons to allow for topup, so short of buying at least one more kit, a field blend (blind blending) is mandated. We (elder son, niece, & I) are adventurous so we agreed to wing it.

My preference is grapes, not kits, but if the FWK turn out as I hope, I'm not adverse to doing a percentage of my reds as kits.

The FWK Chardonnay kit I started is dark, but if it tastes and smells good, I'll consider making more white kits -- I'm primarily a deep red drinker, but like lighter reds, whites, and fruit wines on occasion. My current plan is to fill a 19 liter carboy with Chardonnay after the first of the year, and sparkle the remaining gallon. If this works out, I'll possibly sparkle another gallon of the Chardonnay, and consider making a Muscato and/or Riesling to sparkle a gallon or 2.
 

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Thanks for setting up the poll, Bryan. I was talking to the people at FWK and asked them about Amarone and if there was any chance of that being offered. I was told that there are a number of other varieties being considered and that the acceptance so far has been great. I would also like to see Nero D'Avola, but this is not a hugely popular Sicilian wine. My favorite wine is Brunello di Montalcino, which is 100% Sangiovese but only from that part of Tuscany, so I doubt if they could put a kit of that together. They seem to use everything they grow near Montalcino and sell out most years.
 

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@Old Corker sparked this line of thought with his comment about his choices being "boring and mainstream". Personally, his choices are very understandable when considering that 6 gallons of Mourvèdre is something most kit winemakers don't have a use for.
I enjoyed your whole post, but this last part made me laugh and respond, as I took my first leap into wine from grapes this Fall (after making 6 kits), by picking enough Mourvedre for 10 gallons of lightly pressed first run, and 5 gallons of second run wine. Honestly, I just like Rhone varietals and with no Grenache or Syrah available to pick I rolled the dice on Mourvedre from Brentwood (where picking Zinfandel or Petite Sirah might have been the safer choice). Hope it works out. I do have a FWK Syrah Forte on the way, so perhaps I will even bottle some of the Mourvedre with some of the Syrah at some point next year.
 
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I’ve begun thinking about doing some blends with the FWK batches I have aging now. I’ve done a fair amount of Amarone and Super Tuscan from RJS and WE. And I’ve got two double batches of FWK Bordeaux going now so I’m certainly not blend averse. But all of @winemaker81 dicsussion about blends has me thinking it might be fun to do some custom blending and see how it goes. I’ll probably have to order some more though (dammit). I have a double batch of Cab Sauvignon and two singles of Sangiovese now along with some non-FWK kits that might be used. It would be fun if I can get some family members to participate during the holidays. Although they are wine drinkers and not necessarily wine geeks. 🤔
 

oppyland

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I went with Malbec, Sangiovese and Tempranillo because these are wines I currently like and would like to make. Frankly, though, I'd like to make all of them at some point! I'm sure that would be challenging from the kit maker's point of view, since I imagine it wouldn't be very cost-effective to make a kit for a small number of buyers.
 
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