Viognier...here we go again? What should I do different?

Discussion in 'Wine Making from Grapes' started by NorCal, Aug 2, 2019.

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  1. Aug 2, 2019 #1

    NorCal

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    The plans for Chardonnay grapes this season fell through. A late call to the Viognier vineyard owner was fruitful (pun intended). So, @4score and I are going to go for it again. We will get a macrobin (1,000 pounds or so) do the crush/press and each leave with our own juice to make wine out of.

    Last year was a real struggle for me as the wine had quite the Sauvignon Blanc bite to it, which is not my cup of tea. I went through some acid reduction activities to make it the wine I wanted it to be. The 4Score crew liked the flavor profile and left it as is. Not better or worse, just different. Both won silvers at the CA state fair.

    Last year I was at 23.7 brix, 3.5 pH, I used D47 with fermentation temp at 70 degrees and Beta for MLF. I did not measure TA, which is what I believe drove the acidity which I did not like.

    This year, I want to taste a nice, soft wine that is aromatic and light fruity pear flavors. This mirrors a Viognoir made by one of the best commercial winemakers in our area. I am going to hit him up on his suggestions, in order to achieve this taste profile, but would like your recommendations as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
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  2. Aug 3, 2019 #2

    DoctorCAD

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    IMO, a viognier should not be made sur lee. Lots of commercial viogniers taste too much like a Chardonnay to me. I prefer the clean and crisp taste instead of the buttery taste.

    Oh, and zero oak.
     
  3. Aug 3, 2019 #3

    NorCal

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    Thus the difference in our palates. My goal is to make it in the style you described the commercial winemakers making it, except not golden/oaky Chardonnay, but more fruity and smooth. It took a lot of coaxing to get it to that place last season. I’d like to change some things on the front end to minimize the heavy handedness on the backend.
     
  4. Aug 3, 2019 #4

    Boatboy24

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    I like a light, floral Viognier with fruit, but a hint of acid. I've used both QA23 and BA11 yeast. They were very different wines, but they were also from different hemispheres. My preference is no sur lie, no oak. Then again, I like my chardonnay that way more often than not too.
     
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  5. Aug 3, 2019 #5

    mainshipfred

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    @NorCal, first of all I'm going to be making my first Viognier this year from Virginia grapes and I like the flavor profile you are describing so please let us know what your commercial guy recommends. But more so, and this may go off on a different tangent, this TA thing is something I could never get a handle on. It's known that pH and TA are inversely proportional but when we make acid adjustments to lower the pH it is done using Tartaric acid when this is not the only acid in wine. Now if we were to use some of the other acids like citric, malic, succinic, sorbic or others I could see how TA would make a difference and have an influence on the taste. On the other hand, but similar, I don't know how the different chemicals or method of reducing the acid level plays on the percentage of the removal of the different acids. I know this goes back to the science/art thing but it has always puzzled me.
     
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  6. Aug 3, 2019 #6

    jgmillr1

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    One of the local wineries likes to use some PVPP on certain white varietals they make to reduce a bit of astringency they get during the crush/press. I'm not sure if viognier falls into that camp but could help.

    Acid management like you did last year is a major lever.

    The other (somewhat unloved) option is to backsweeten a small amount, like 5g/L. At that level you won't perceive the sweetness but it balances acid and enhances the fruit aromas.
     
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  7. Aug 3, 2019 #7

    cmason1957

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    One other thing that may be done to enhance the flavors is to add a small amount of another varietal to the wine. I believe that happens much more often than we know in the commercial wine making.
     
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  8. Aug 3, 2019 #8

    Boatboy24

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    Fred: maybe we should do an @NorCal @4score experiment this year and make two different Viogniers from the same grapes...
     
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  9. Aug 3, 2019 #9

    jgmillr1

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    True. The wine only needs to be 75% the listed varietal per TTB rules.
     
  10. Aug 3, 2019 #10

    mainshipfred

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    I'm already able to get some Petite Manseng for you but still working on the Viognier. My one source was reluctant but agreed to 100 lbs. I do like your idea though, @NorCal and @4score can't have all the fun.
     
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  11. Aug 3, 2019 #11

    Boatboy24

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    Sweet! I'd love either some PM or Viognier! Happy with either.
     
  12. Aug 3, 2019 #12

    NorCal

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    Hmmm, then do a dual bottle swap and judging?
     
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  13. Aug 3, 2019 #13

    NorCal

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    Some great suggestions! That is why I love this forum. Blending partner, slight backsweeten, be prepared to do a better job stabilizating the wine if I have to deacidify, PVPP, different yeast. Thanks
     
  14. Aug 3, 2019 #14

    mainshipfred

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    That's a good idea. Grapes coming from 2 different regions should make a difference also. Viognier is a grape that does well in Virginia.
     
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  15. Aug 12, 2019 #15

    NorCal

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    I was reading this Viognier article that @4score sent me and it is funny that both our locations were specifically named for Viognier.

    The best recipe for Viognier grapes is a cool climate with a long enough season to gain full ripeness without bloated sugar levels. It’s much better to get ripe flavors at 23 °Brix than to have to wait till 27 °Brix, and better to have natural acidity than to have to add in your own. There are places in coastal California and the Sierra Foothills where nature serves up good conditions, as well as sites in Virginia and elsewhere; and there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of acres in other places, mostly warm ones, where Viognier grapes get unbalanced and have to be retrofitted in the winery. Truly cool places like the Finger Lakes in New York State or Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley in California cannot get Viognier ripe.

    Full article
     
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  16. Aug 12, 2019 #16

    mainshipfred

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    Good find, looking forward to the competition. Still haven't decided on the yeast but I'll definitely to a cold fermentation.
     
  17. Aug 13, 2019 #17

    NorCal

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    @4score and I had a yeast discussion yesterday. We used D47 last year, this year, on a recommendation, we are going to use Rhône 4600. Mine is going through mlf, @4score was talking about skipping.
     
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  18. Aug 13, 2019 #18

    mainshipfred

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    Been doing a little research on the yeasts. Rhone 4600 and QA 23 are two of my goto's for whites. But I was also thinking of 71B. Whatever I finally decide on it will be fermented using 3 different yeasts, MLF I really haven't yet considered.
     
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  19. Aug 13, 2019 #19

    NorCal

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    3 yeasts. You are serious!
     
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  20. Aug 13, 2019 #20

    mainshipfred

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    Everything I make is with 3 yeasts. I either keep them separate or blend them after press depending on how many carboys I have plus this fall I'll have a 25 liter barrel dedicated to whites.
     

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