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Slight cooked wine flavor. Any remedies?

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DaveMcC

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I have 23 gallons each of Malbec and Old Vine Zinfandel and another 10 gallons of Cab Sauv. finishing primary and ready to rack.
The Cab and Zin are doing fine, but the Malbec is my problem child. At the end of primary (.997 and stuck there for a few days), I have a slight "cooked" off flavor which I believe happened with a too high primary temp. The temperature during primary in that batch reached 95.7 F (yes, too high, I think). I am flooding the 30 gallon primaries with CO2 to blanket at this point. It has been 11 days since inoculation. Should I go ahead and rack, wait a couple days to settle and then start MLF, or is there something else I can do at this point? I'm waiting on the MLF bacteria to arrive 5 days from now.
 

jgmillr1

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I'd get those grapes pressed ASAP. (I'm assuming these are grapes and not juice?). I'm not big on the extended maceration thing though for my prefs.

If it's juice (wine) now, then I'd wait for the MLB. Excessive racking will introduce oxygen when you can't add sulfites to defend it.

However, this all depends on what your primary looks like. At the <30gal level, I'm guessing you're doing it in a 50gal Brute? If so, then I'd get the wine into carboys.

The goal for you now is to minimize oxygen pickup and spoilage while you get MLF done. Small batches are very prone to oxidation from a large surface contact with air. If you can provide more details of your setup and equipment, more tailored advice can be offered. Cheers
 

DaveMcC

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My plan was to press into the carboys and let settle for a couple of days then start MLF. Should I add the ML bacteria in the carboys from the pressing, or rack off the gross lees in a couple of days and start it then? Or are you saying to do the MLF in the primaries as they are now to reduce oxygenating and then press? I think what you are saying is that I can leave in the primaries since I can blanket them and wait for the MLB to arrive and then press. Correct? I would press into carboys and start MLF at that point, also correct?

My zin and malbec are both reading about 3.85-3.88 pH consistently. Have not measured TA yet. Thanks for the quick reply. I plan on pressing into carboys but need to decide whether to do that now or wait a few more days. Skins on all 3 varieties are settling with clear wine on top. S.G. is all below 1.000 on all three, about .998 to .996. Still a lot of skins in suspension on all and a cap still forming on the zinfandel. I have the two larger quantities (23 gallons each) fermenting in open top 30 gallon food grade white plastic barrels with lids and the 10 gallons of cab in two 6 gallon buckets also with lids.

20201124_143815.jpg

I have a CO2 tank and low pressure flow regulator and flood the containers before putting on the tops. They fit pretty well, but not on too tight. I was punching down 3x daily until a couple of days ago.

Thanks, again for any advice. Much appreciated.
 
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jgmillr1

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I would go ahead and press the grapes into your containers and then add the MLF once you get it. This was my process this fall too. No need to rack again off the lees. I left my wine on gross lees for a month after MLF before racking a couple times and getting into barrels.

Some winemakers will co-inoculate the MLB and yeast at the outset of fermentation. There are threads on the pro's and con's of this approach. I prefer the sequential inoculation once alcoholic fermentation is done. If you are performing extended maceration, then you should be able to sequentially add the MLB to the must at the end of fermentation. I press before adding it so I don't have any experience with that, positive or negative.

As far as the "cooked" aroma, I'm not sure what would be causing that. Young wines can have rough or yeasty aromas that soften with aging and settling. Lots of time on Malbec skins could produce quite a tannic wine! If you think it is H2S then that should be addressed with copper sulfate or reduless without too much delay.
 

DaveMcC

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Thank you much for that advice. I am pressing now and getting my carboys filled. I will add the MLB around Thursday or Friday.
Once that has finished, I'll measure and evaluate and adjust if needed.
 

jgmillr1

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No problem. There's a lot of experience in this forum with fermenting just about everything any way you can think of. When you have questions, you'll get good answers. And when you solve a problem or run an experiment, sharing your results are very appreciated too. Cheers
 

DaveMcC

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Very glad to have a resource like this.

I am not exactly new to wine making. I grew up in northern CA and made my first batch of wine from some fox grapes I stumbled upon (small, berry-like fruit of V. labrusca) in 1987 and having decided to teach myself how to make wine, found a wonderful local wine and beer-making supply shop in nearby Northampton, MA with knowledgeable staff, supplies, and equipment. A section of riddling rack, sourced from a NY winery and purchased at the shop, is still my part of my conversation-piece dining room furniture. I made a few more batches of wild labrusca, and then left the craft for quite awhile.

While I worked in Africa in the 80s, in The Gambia, I learned about palm wine, when locals climb the trees to harvest the naturally fermenting sugary juice at the top of the tree. When "in season", local shacks pop up and people come from miles around to the coastal area to fill their containers of the bubbling, yeasty, oddly tasty and very alcoholic drink.

In the 90s in Malawi, I participated in the "chaka cha mowa" or "beer festivals" with local brews made from corn mash. Everyone in the village, young and old, partake and the festivals go on for a few days. But, I digress... I guess the point is I've been a student of fermented beverages for quite awhile.

Fast-forward to a few years ago when I planted a micro hobby vineyard of Chambourcin, Baco Noir, Carmenere, and Cabernet Franc. Last year, the Chambourcin did well and I used the harvest to produce half of a Zinfandel/Chambourcin blend which won a bronze in the American Wine Society amateur competition.

So update on MY wine. Pressing done and all the fresh wine is now safely in carboys. Periodic tasting of free run juice yielded pleasing results and I know with settling, MLF, and time it will get even better. I think my samples of the Malbec that caused concern were taken from the top and perhaps more oxidized than the bulk of the ferment.

I think this is a lesson, likely a very familiar one to everyone on the forum, to not overthink and worry too much about the process, although keeping the eye on the ball is required. It can be nerve-wracking for the novice, and I suspect for commercial wineries also when tons of money and investment are on the line. I can't remember where I read it, but I have to remind myself of the adage that grape juice, in the presence of yeast and time, wants to become wine. Our job is to stay out of its way and protect it from negative and undesirable influencies.

Again, very happy to have this place to ask questions since I am still learning, especially as I ramp up production from "hobby" to "serious hobby" to dreams of small commercial winemaking.
 
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AaronSC

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Hi DaveMcC,
I'm from Adams, not far from Northampton -are you in Western Mass? One of my alternate futures (which could still happen, I guess) was to return to the land of my nativity and plant cold hardy grapes in Berkshire county.

Sounds like you have a pretty cool vineyard! When I lived in the Finger Lakes region I made a blend of 50% Chambourcin/50% Baco that was a huge hit! I named it Anita's Red after my grandmother. She loved it and had a glass every evening :)
 

DaveMcC

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Hi AaronSC, I knew Adams well.

The MA connection was in Amherst from 84-87 and then again 91-95. Grad school at UMass. I am now in the piedmont "upstate" region of South Carolina. Growing V. vinifera grapes here is challenging, although there are quite a number or excellent wineries now in GA and NC.
I LOVE the description of your Anita's Red. My Chambourcin/Zinfandel blend is named "Red Varietal Encounter" and featured a painting from the artist Phillip M. Garrett, a good friend who now resides in Santa Fe. Here's the label I created.

Horse Tale Final.png
 

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