Quantcast

Sur Lie

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

s0615353

Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
246
Reaction score
18
I received a twice used spirit barrel from a local distiller, so I am going to try out aging a Chardonnay sur lie for the first time. I understand that aging on the gross lees is not desirable, but when exactly does the wine have only “fine lees.”

Basically, I am asking if I should rack the wine into the barrel when it’s below 1.010, or after complete alcoholic fermentation?
 

Americanhooch

Trying not to screw up too bad
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
15
The "gross lees" typically refers to the residue that is made up of bits of skins/seeds/other stuff that might be in the juice in addition to the first dead yeast cells. The fine lees are just the dead yeast cells.

You'll probably get more experienced answers from other folks, but I'd probably go by the look/feel of the fermentation rather than SG to determine the point. If it's not bubbling heavily and it's had time to settle, it won't be mixing the gross lees material back into the ferment and the heavy stuff will be at the bottom, so racking at that point would probably get it off the gross lees.

If you think it's at that state, maybe do a racking into a carboy and check back in a couple days to see if anything gross lees-esque has settled. If it's just the fine stuff, probably time to get it in the barrel.

Regardless, good luck!
 

stickman

Veteran Winemaker
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
1,646
Reaction score
1,538
Traditional barrel fermentation is also an option, grapes are pressed and juice allowed to settle overnight, the clean juice is put into the barrel for fermentation and ML, and then left on lees for 12 months or so, stirring once or twice monthly (or not stirring) depending on taste preference. You can rack the wine if it starts to get funky, but often it is not racked until a few months before bottling. You want the lees present during barrel aging, not only for richness, but also because they help protect the wine from oxidation.
 

s0615353

Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
246
Reaction score
18
Traditional barrel fermentation is also an option, grapes are pressed and juice allowed to settle overnight, the clean juice is put into the barrel for fermentation and ML, and then left on lees for 12 months or so, stirring once or twice monthly (or not stirring) depending on taste preference. You can rack the wine if it starts to get funky, but often it is not racked until a few months before bottling. You want the lees present during barrel aging, not only for richness, but also because they help protect the wine from oxidation.
It seems like from your description that the wine stays on the gross lees for very long period of time. From what I read this is not a desirable thing, do you have any experience with this?
 

stickman

Veteran Winemaker
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
1,646
Reaction score
1,538
Admittedly most of my experience is with red wine, though I have made white wine several times throughout the years. My point was to provide options and not to push in a certain direction, but more general about traditional barrel fermentation of Chardonnay as discussed by professional winemakers. Rarely are there any procedures in winemaking that are absolute, so something desirable or not depends on what you're trying to achieve, the type of grapes used, other steps in the process etc.

With white wine, you're making a selection at the beginning of the process that determines how much pulp and other solids, if any, will be included during the fermentation. This selection step affects the process later, for example, pulp brings in natural yeast nutrients reducing H2S risk, but also potentially brings in vineyard sulfur increasing H2S or other sulfur risks. My point here is that there are many competing factors and what works in one cellar may not work in another.

If you want to work with lees conservatively, after fermentation, stir the wine completely then rack 24hrs later, this allows the heavy material to settle so primarily light lees are carried over. This can also be done during aging if you feel it is needed based on your taste. There has always been a lot of conflicting information written about winemaking. You really have to react to your particular situation. You can increase or decrease the amount of lees and contact time on future batches as you gain experience.
 

Latest posts

Top