Saving a thin Cab

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

Skyhawk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
126
Reaction score
1
I did a bucket of Cabernet Sauvignon a couple months back and fermented it with a frozen skin pack to completion. Everything checked out fine as far as SG (1.092), pH approx. 3.35, and a nice dark color. Once racked to a secondary, it dropped clear within days and had the dreaded "clear/thin" color and taste. No filings were used. Even my Lambrusco without skins turned out 10x darker and meatier than this Cab. At least if this Cab had more balance and taste, I could call it a "Sauvignon Rose".

An ol'timer friend of mine suggested that I oak it well with dark cubes or chunks and throw in a bunch of dried elderberries, so that's what I did today. I racked a 2nd time and added 150g of dried elderberries and 35g of dark toast cubes to the 5 gallons. It was fermented with some light chips already (30g for 2 weeks), but they didn't impart much oak to this wine. My friend believes there is no problem letting this all bulk age together for a couple months, and thinks that I could have added more elderberries than I did.

Really? Anyone try this to save a terribly thin wine?
 

cpfan

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
4,867
Reaction score
193
I have only done one bucket of juice. A Lodi Gold Pinot Noir. We used oak cubes from the start. Light coloured, thin and over-oaked. To us, a disaster. Dumped most of the wine because it was undrinkable, and made a kit - MUCH BETTER, even the better 4-week ones.

Steve
 

Wade E

Premium
Joined
Jul 3, 2006
Messages
33,224
Reaction score
277
I was not thrilled with the fresh bucket of juice from Lodi either and did not dump but rather did something else with it that I dont want to say on a wine forum. Mine was a Chenin Blanc white that was fermented to dry in very coolm temps over what took 2 months and there was still no flavor. I have tasted many of fresh juice buckets wines from friends and to me the only 1's that are good are the Chilean 1's. As far as that Cab goes I would taste it frequently as that sounds like it may get overoaked over that time period unless the oak runs out of flavor and just throws off some more color after that.
 

Skyhawk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
126
Reaction score
1
While I appreciate your advice regarding doing kits instead of fresh grape juice, I make between 20 and 30 juice pails a year, and true disasters have been extremely rare for me, at least during the last 20 years or so. I make a couple of premium kits each year, so I'm also familiar with the quality of wine made from them.

As far as oak cubes are concerned, I use them (or spirals) because unlike the powder or fine chips in kits, cubes take a couple months to release their oak tannins and flavor. The trick is to test the wine every week or two and rack once the desired level of oakiness has been reached (similar to what you do with a newish barrel).

It's funny you mentioned Pinot Noir. I have 2 batches made so far from juice buckets this year, and both have turned out very, very good. I only got the second one again because the first turned out so well. Oddly enough, the Pinot is from the same vendor that the Cab came from! :rolleyes:
 

Tom

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
11,356
Reaction score
99
I'm with you skyhawk.
I make between 30 and 40 buckets of juice. last years Chilean Red Zin was thin. I think I will add body before I bottle.
I agree with Wade, The Chilean and Italian juices I feel are better than CA.
 

Skyhawk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
126
Reaction score
1
Perhaps it's the "Lodi" juice, and you guys should try juices from sources other than the central valley? Then again, I haven't tried Lodi juices so I have no idea.

Technically, even the best of the best of the best wine kits were made from lowly grape juice. And as with kits, you obviously get what you pay for at least some extent. We have juices here available not just from other California regions, but from famous grape growing regions in nearly a dozen countries - including places like Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, and even Chile. Availability changes from season to season, and year to year, making it a great adventure and a fun way to add lots of variety to your cellar.
 

cpfan

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
4,867
Reaction score
193
Perhaps it's the "Lodi" juice, and you guys should try juices from sources other than the central valley? Then again, I haven't tried Lodi juices so I have no idea.
Skyhawk:

Where I used to live, that was the only juice readily available, and a couple of my customers bragged about it a lot. Sounds like you are lucky wrt selection. Now that I have moved, I need to research availability again.

Technically, even the best of the best of the best wine kits were made from lowly grape juice. And as with kits, you obviously get what you pay for at least some extent.
I don't think wine kits are made from 'lowly grape juice'. Unless I'm mis-interpreting your comment. The major kit companies are owned by major wine industry conglomerates and are BIG buyers on the world juice market. But yes, you generally get what you pay for. Vineco/Winexpert/Spagnols/Cellar Craft high-end versus Costco kits. Brehm versus Lodi Gold.

Steve
 

Skyhawk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
126
Reaction score
1
What brand do you use?
It's been branded by the local retailer here. But here's the surprising part, the Pinot is just another Californian wine. According to the vendor it's from Sonoma, but the actual vineyard is unknown or not supplied by the distributor which is unfortunate because Sonoma is a huge area with hundreds of wineries, each with distinctive micro-climates.

Another new local vendor I've just started with sells Mendocino grown grapes and juice exclusively for excellent prices ($45 20L or $125 60L), and these are working nicely so far. I've had results that were no better with 23L sterile pails from Southern Rhone for $88. Good things do come from California too.
 

Skyhawk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
126
Reaction score
1
I don't think wine kits are made from 'lowly grape juice'. Unless I'm mis-interpreting your comment.
Sorry, I meant that as an expression directed at your initial generalization of grape juice not being as good as kits (yet kits come from juice). But yes, you do get what you pay for ... mostly. And when you luck out with something cheap that provides good results - take advantage of it! But you never know unless you try, and I'd hate to see people discouraged to experiment with fresh juices because of one or two anecdotal failures.
 

Wade E

Premium
Joined
Jul 3, 2006
Messages
33,224
Reaction score
277
Believe me, Im not putting down fresh juices, the best wine Ive ever tried was a fresh juice made by a friend of mine. I will be trying more juice buckets later this year as i just have the funds right now to do some Chilean juices which is really where I wanted to start but so be it. The juices are typicaly cheaper and I for 1 like that part, the only down side of that is that they are a hit or miss game from year to year.
 

smurfe

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2005
Messages
3,625
Reaction score
13
I am guessing this wine is either not oaked or very lightly oaked? I think the idea of the oak cubes is indeed fine. I makes all juice wines this way. I never use the oak chips or dust that may come with them. I use the cubes or more lately the spirals as I bulk age everything. The Elderberries are a fine idea too and I have to lean on your side to go lighter with them. They are pretty potent buggers.
 

Tom

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
11,356
Reaction score
99
I been using fresh juice from CA, Italy and Chile for a number of years. Yes the juice varies from year to year. So does wine from the same vineyard. All grape growing is directly related to the weather. That being temp and rain.
Generally you still can get great wine from fresh juice. Remember its alot different than making a kit. In kit wines the mfg. does most of the work for you and "tweaks" it so the wine is consistant year to year.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top