So how good are the Grape Skin Kits??

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cpfan

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As a result of some chitter-chatter in an Introduction thread (Hi Kev), I found myself finally looking at the Dec2011-Jan2012 Winemaker magazine. You know, the one with the article "Top 100 Wine Kits". The article that never lists anybody's favourite kit. :p

Now I know there's lots of problems with this list, but just for interest's sake, here's the Top Ten....
  1. RJS Cru Select German Muller-Thurgau
  2. Vintner's Cellar Select Series Port
  3. Winexpert Selection Estate Lodi Ranch 11 Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. RJS Orchard Breezin' Spiced Plum Pinot Noir
  5. Winexpert Selection Estate Stag's Leap Merlot
  6. RJS Orchard Breezin' Tangerine Lemon Sauvignon Blanc
  7. Wine Kitz Specialty Blackberry Port
  8. RJS Cru Select Brunello
  9. Vineco Ken Ridge Classic Strawberry Cabernet Franc Ice Wine
  10. RJS Cru Select Nero D'Avola

So, some quick comments from me...
  1. Vintner's Cellar? Where'd that come from?
  2. Two mist wines in the Top Ten. Both RJS OB.
  3. Winning brand...Cru Select with 3.
  4. Winning company...RJ Spagnols with 5.
  5. Two ports and an ice wine.
  6. Four reds, and one white.
  7. Number of grape skin kits....zero.

Question....So how good are the Grape Skin Kits??
  • Well I suspect that not many grape skin kits are submitted to the contest. The first ones are three Cellar Craft Showcase kits at 13-14-15.
  • I also suspect that many of the kits that are submitted are not aged for very long. This is likely to punish the grape skin kits more than the others.
  • Grape skin kits are more likely to set sediment after a few months (I think), so some may have set sediment in the bottles that were judged.
  • The En Primeur kits have a 'problem' with wine diamonds, and I don't know how the judges would treat that.

I think that the grape skin kits that are well loved here are still very good. They just don't show it in this kind of competition or this Top Ten ranking.

How does this affect me? Well, I've always liked the Cru Select kits, maybe I need to make some more of them.

Steve
 
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Kev

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Here is the link to the top 2006 kits, so you can see how things have changed over the last 5 years.

http://winemakermag.com/stories/kit/article/indices/25-kit-winemaking/683-the-top-100-kits

Novelty wines do seem to be more popular than i expected. I have not started anything other than the wine kitz chocolate port. Maybe that is my next step? A fruit enhanced wine?

I assume those are some kind of F pak, as I am told fermented fruit, does not taste anything like the fruit.

To get back to the topic, kits with skins, do seem to be getting a lot of press. Have forum members got any experience to back that up?

Kev
 

Wade E

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I have made a few of non skin kits and 95% of the time I was very dissapointed with the exception of a few kits like the W.E. Stags Leap Merlot and RJS Cru Select Chilean Malbec which actually now is in the Winery Series and also now has a grape pack. Almost every othe has let me down miserably and that includes a few of the Mosti All Juice bucketswith no water added! I have yet to be dissapointed with the RJS Winery Series, When I say this I am not saying that RJS is better then the others, Im just saying its the kit I stepped up to and stayed there because when you cant improve on perfection! I will say Ive tried 2 bottles of aged Mosti Megs and they were just incredible but I cant afford that. I will also say I tried a bottle of Cellar Craft Amarone and didnt like it but loved the RJS EP Amarone!!
 

cpfan

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Kev:

Your reference to the 2006 WineMaker mag is quite interesting for me. Things I noticed...

  1. Top kit is Vineco's Ken Ridge Showcase Amarone. I knew one gentleman who submitted this wine to this competition.
  2. In 2006, there were few grape skin kits, and they probably weren't aged very long. One of those made the Top Ten...Cellar Craft Showcase Washington State Merlot. I wanted to make this kit but couldn't get my hands on one.
  3. Cru Select Brunello in both the 2006 and 2011 Top Ten.
  4. Vintner’s Cellar Supreme Amarone - I didn't know this brand back then, and I still don't. I wonder if the same guy submitted the wine both years.
Steve
 

robie

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When it comes to judging red "kit" wines, I wonder if they throw out the mouth feel category altogether, since kit wines are almost always thinner than their "made from fresh/frozen grape" counterparts? Otherwise, they would all be rated "thin".

If that's the case, grape pack kits wouldn't have as big an advantage. Mouth-feel aside, grape packs help make a better wine in the long run, but they have to be a little older.

Also, since WineXpert had pretty much eliminated grape packs/skins for awhile until this year's limited edition, I would further think mouth-feel could not have been a big issue for the judges.

All just my guess, though.
 

cpfan

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When it comes to judging red "kit" wines, I wonder if they throw out the mouth feel category altogether, since kit wines are almost always thinner than their "made from fresh/frozen grape" counterparts? Otherwise, they would all be rated "thin".
It's my understanding that kit wines are not judged separately. The judges do not know the source of each wine. For example, all Merlots, regardless of source, are judged as one competition.

Also, since WineXpert had pretty much eliminated grape packs/skins for awhile until this year's limited edition,
No grape skins in the WE limited editions, again this year. WE now has grape skins in some of their Selection International kits. And the Crushendos weren't dropped that long ago. I would think that they would be just getting ready to be consumed and judged. But that may go back to my point that many of these wines would have been submitted for judging too young.

Steve
 
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milbrosa

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I don't have a lot of experience, only 12 or so kits so far, not counting the four I've got underway right now. But my limited experience has already convinced me that my preference for red wines is for kits that come with grape packs.

The only W.E. kit I've ever made that I would rank as outstanding was a Crushendo kit (the 2008 Super Tuscan). Two of the W.E. Limited Edition kits (no grape packs) I made were close seconds, but not quite in the same league.

A Mosti Amarone kit with raisins was my second best kit ever.

A Mosti AllJuice 6 gallon bucket Petite Syrah was the most disappointing wine I've ever made. Thin and watery, no body. Worse even than the first couple of lower priced kits I started with.

Considering my limited experience, it's quite possible I just got lucky with the Super Tuscan that had the crushendo grape pack, and that I screwed up the others somehow. But regardless, I simply won't buy a red kit now unless it is a higher quality kit that includes a grape pack. I like wines that have plenty of body, depth, richness, and while I know that the grape variety has a lot to do with that, my perception is that the grape packs also help develop those qualities I like.
 
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Wade E

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Millbrose, just curious which lower priced kits were better then the Alljuice Petite Syrah. A Petite Syrah is really a wine that needs big tannin and only from graopes or at least a grape pack could produce that! Just wondering if you were comparing that to a cheaper say Pinot Nior kit which is a amuch thinner wine so a cheaoper this wine would not be as noticeable. I know what you mean, I was dissapointed in a few bottles given to me and have tried a few of their Renasiance and even the cheaper one right below that and found them better then the Al;l juice. I wuill say my B-I-L made the Pinot Noir in the All Juice bucket and it was fantastic.
 

milbrosa

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The two lower-end kits I was thinking of in particular that were much better than the more expensive Mosti All Juice Petite Syrah were:

Winexpert World Vineyard Vintner's Reserve Chilean Merlot
Mosti Mondiale Vinifera Noble Chilean Carmenere

Those were both 10 liter kits with no grape packs. While neither of them ranked very high on my appreciation list (they were my first two kits which is perhaps a factor), they both had considerably more body, color, flavor, and better mouthfeel than the All Juice Petite Syrah.

The best 10 liter kit I've ever made was a WE World Vineyard Vintner's Reserve Spanish Tempranillo. That wine was really good, despite not having a grape pack.
 

robie

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It's my understanding that kit wines are not judged separately. The judges do not know the source of each wine. For example, all Merlots, regardless of source, are judged as one competition.


No grape skins in the WE limited editions, again this year. WE now has grape skins in some of their Selection International kits. And the Crushendos weren't dropped that long ago. I would think that they would be just getting ready to be consumed and judged. But that may go back to my point that many of these wines would have been submitted for judging too young.

Steve
Both comments are good points. The crushendos would be ready about now. So, its, not the limited editions that have grape packs? I don't usually buy WE kits, so I didn't know.

I really never knew how they judged kits. However, it is interesting that a kit would ever beat out a fresh/frozen grape wine of the same varietal. I am not an expert for sure (for sure!!!), but I think I would judge most red kit wines as being thin, when compared to a nice, juicy fresh grape wine.

Seems thinness alone would drop the score on a red kit, compared to a fresh grape wine. I also would guess that I could tell you which is a kit and which is fresh, but, again, never been there to try it.

I'm not trying to be a snob about this, it just seems obvious to me.

Thanks
 

robie

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I made the limited edition WE Brunello about 20 months ago and it had no grape pack. Today, it tastes OK, but it is thin as water. Had I made/bottled it later on, I would have ran it through my barrel, which would have eventually made a difference in its thinness.
 

milbrosa

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Yes, "thin" is the very first reaction I have on viewing and tasting every single non-grape pack kit wine I've made so far. It looks thin when you pour it, it feels thin when you drink it, and it tastes thin to the palate. This negative (IMO) quality completely overrides every potential positive attribute of the wine for me. I can't, without the application of strong will and dedication, get past the highly objectionable thinness of the non-grape pack wines in order to evaluate other characteristics.

That is why I will never again buy a wine kit that doesn't include a grape-pack.

I have not yet made wine from fresh grapes so I can't compare it, but I can compare the non-grape pack kit wines with the grape-pack kit wines I've made. The latter are have body, delectible viscosity, and are bursting with flavor. The former lack those attributes.

I would love to have the opportunity to sample similar styled kit wines made with grape packs alongside well-made wines from fresh grapes of the same variety in a blind taste test to see which I preferred and whether I could detect which one was from a kit and which was from fresh grapes. That would be a fun.
 
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robie

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The kits with grape packs are thicker than the ones without; wine from fresh/frozen grapes is going to be thicker than the grape pack kit wine.

Yep, there is a lot of difference making wine from 100 pounds of grapes versus 6 gallons of juice and 5 pounds of grapes.

For the kits, grape pack or no, you can add something like TanCor Grand Cru during aging and it will help with the mouth feel.

I am like you, I stick to the red kits with grape packs. Pinot Noir and summer wines are the only exceptions.
 

milbrosa

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This is the first I've heard of TanCor Grand Cru. From what I read about it, it appears to be tannin. I've got a bottle of LD Carlson Wine Tannin, made in Slovakia from chestnuts. Will this have the same effect as TanCor Grand Cru?
 

Wade E

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Maybe, maybe not. Tannis can be sourced from many things and each has its own properties. TanCor is a post fermentation product so keep that in mind.
 

ibglowin

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Tan Cor is a mixture of grape and oak tannins. Like Wade said its a post fermentation product.
 

milbrosa

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I'll pick up some TanCor Grand Cru next time I'm at FVW. And then I'll search the forum to see how to use it. Hopefully it can be added at the last racking before bulk aging.
 

Kev

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Crushendo

While in the Winexpert store today, I asked what happenend to the Crushendo grape paks I have read abount.

He said these kits took too long to age to be good (1-2 years), and that was not well accepted. The new forumulation they brought out this year ( Chilean Malbec Shiraz and Petit Verdot, for example, are ready to drink in 6 months. We will see, I have done one of each.

I would like to do another heavy red with a crush kit. I don't think dried skins would be as good.

Though I mostly do WE, I guess this takes me to the RJS Cellar classic. Any sugestions?

I have WE, Wine Kits and RJS stores nearby.

Kev
 

milbrosa

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Some Mosti Mondiale and the Cellar Craft Showcase Collection kits also have grape packs.

Too bad to hear that Winexpert has dropped the Crushendo kits. The Winexpert Selection Estate 2008 Castellina di Siena Super Tuscan is the best wine I've ever made. I just started drinking it within the past 6 months. If Winexpert is no longer going to produce any kits with grape packs, then I won't be buying any more of their kits.
 

cpfan

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Too bad to hear that Winexpert has dropped the Crushendo kits. The Winexpert Selection Estate 2008 Castellina di Siena Super Tuscan is the best wine I've ever made. I just started drinking it within the past 6 months. If Winexpert is no longer going to produce any kits with grape packs, then I won't be buying any more of their kits.
milbrosa...

You're a bit behind the times. The Crushendos were dropped what seems like a LONG time ago. Is it two years ago yet? At least one full year.

Some Selection International kits with grape skins came out last year. Those are the ones that Kev mentioned.

Kev...

Are there any Vineco stores in your travels? They sell Ken Ridge Founders Series kits with Harvest Crush grape packs. They also should be selling Cellar Craft Showcase kits by now.

web-site http://www.vinecowine.com/
KRFS brochure http://www.vinecowine.com/userdocs/817VC_KR_Bro_v5_AE10-0319LR.pdf
cc Showcase brochure http://www.vinecowine.com/userdocs/CC Brochure_Showcase.pdf

Steve
 

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