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WineXpert WE Eclipse Kits are kinda meh after 2 Years

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jsbeckton

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I made several WE Eclipse kits about 2-2.5 years ago:

Cabernet
Merlot
Bravado
Zinfandel
Chardonnay

I never used the sorbate but followed the instructions pretty close otherwise. The one exception is that all were bulk aged between 6-12 months before bottling. In addition, all have been aging in a cellar that is set at 60F year round.

Given that I made high end kits and ensured optimal aging conditions I was hoping to have some really solid wine after 2 years but to be honest many of the kits are just ok in my opinion. No significant off flavors or anything, just a bit fruity and maybe even a bit thin.

I’d say that the Merlot and Bravado are better than the others but still not quite what I was hoping for.

Will another year or 2 make a difference or is what I have now pretty much what I’m going to get? Anyone else feel the same about their high end kits at this mark?

Recently I’ve made a few en Primere kits to see if it’s just WE but only time will tell if I like those any better.
 

salcoco

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I would think the Zin and Cab could use a few more years.
 

Venatorscribe

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That's a worry which is always on the back of my mind when blending and fermenting a kit. I've changed the prescribed methodology slightly to ensure better body and taste. I now treat a kit purely as a source of grape juice and ferment it similarly to other fruit and botanical wines that I make. I have stopped adding bentonite and the myriad of other fining agents. I measure the pH and Brix after water addition and correct any anolomies. I don't fully top up to the 6 gallon mark. Normally go to 21 litres or 5.5 gallons. I add a fruit pack ( such as currants) in a nylon bag. And add my oak in a nylon bag. I don't always use their oak - especially if it is more like powder rather than chips). I recently bought a pack of bourbon barrel oak chips. I will add oak in both the primary phase and again 3 to 6 months after when I am storing in bulk. During storage I would rack at least 3 times a year then bottle after twelve months. I attach a pic of my current Malbec kit. But you are right. These kits are not always stunning unless you vary the prescribed recipe. I also think the use of fining agents is stripping out a lot of depth. I can understand why they do it, as that is the only way they can knock something drinkable out fast. Similarly their pre fermentation pH can sometimes be above 4.2. Allowing for early drinking. However at that level of pH the whole mouthfeel becomes rather null.

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Ajmassa

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Maybe aging at 55°-60° cellar temp is universally accepted for maximum years But not ideal for getting our wines peaking sooner.
Non temp controlled fluctuations I think help my wines rather then hurt it. At least for now. Steadyish at 72°, but that can reach 75° and drop to 60° throughout the year. I think this actually speeds up the process a good bit. I’ve read this in a couple articles posted here.
So my wine at 2 yrs and 72° could be equivalent to your wine at 60° for 3+ yrs. (just an estimate. There was an actual “temp:age” diagram in the study. It was posted over a year ago tho).
Just a thought.
 

jsbeckton

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Yeah maybe it just needs more time. What I worry about though is that it doesn’t seem to taste much different at 2 years than it did at 1 year.

I think it’s still enjoyable but when I have a glass of commercial wine. Even $10-15 dollar bottles (retail) I usually think to myself that these are much better than mine which is disappointing.
 

pillswoj

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My Eclipse Lodi Cab changed somewhere around 22 month, it was definitely Meh at 18. Could be given your temperature controlled storage they need a bit longer.
 

Boatboy24

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I pretty much always add tannin to red kit wines - both during fermentation and aging. They also always get barrel aged. Those two things help, but I still think there's no comparison between my red wines from kits and red wines from grapes.
 

GaDawg

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My Eclipse Lodi Cab was made almost as per kit instructions. My only change was I put oak cubes in after clearing for 6 weeks. After bottle ageing for 2 years they are great!
 

jsbeckton

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I still think there's no comparison between my red wines from kits and red wines from grapes.
This is what worries me. I can make beer on par with commercial beer with extract kits. If I can’t do the same with high end wine kits I’ll need to decide if I want to go all grapes or give up this hobby.
 

Venatorscribe

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I pretty much always add tannin to red kit wines - both during fermentation and aging. They also always get barrel aged. Those two things help, but I still think there's no comparison between my red wines from kits and red wines from grapes.
Good point. I do the same. For such a small addition, it has a very big effect on the outcome.
 

sour_grapes

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I pretty much always add tannin to red kit wines - both during fermentation and aging. They also always get barrel aged. Those two things help, but I still think there's no comparison between my red wines from kits and red wines from grapes.
Except that I do not own a barrel, I feel the exact same way!
 

brewbush

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I just recently found and opened an Eclipse Lodi 11 Cab bottle I had in the back of my wine shelf. Only did extra carboy aging for about 1 year and extra tannins. Made it 5-6 years ago. Tasted great! Didn't have that new wine kit tang that I pick up on most of my younger ones.

Definitely need time to age the bigger red kits.
 

Frosty

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I personally like the Eclipse kits especially the Zin and Shiraz. However it is all about personal tastes. My suggestion is to try and figure out what these kits are missing relative to your likes and preferences. Is it oak?
We prefer our reds to store bought 20 to 25 dollar wines.

Are you topping up with similar wine before aging? That helps keep them full bodied.

If these don’t work for you I’m not sure other top end kits will either. Generally l believe they are similar quality. My guess: Either you need to tweak to meet your flavour profile or go to grapes.
 

jsbeckton

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Maybe it’s just me but I have tried extra oak, ferm and finishing tannins and after 2+ years I could pick any of the Eclipse kits out of a lineup against semi-decent commercial wines of same variety. There is just something about them that stands out from commercial wine. I was hoping that after 2 years they would be on par with $15/bottle wine but I just don’t feel that is the case.

Also someone mentioned top up, I never top up with water, always wine of same or similar style.

Maybe more time will help but I honestly don’t think they have changed significantly between 1yr to 2yrs so I don’t have a lot of confidence that will make a big difference.

Meanwhile, I’m sipping on an Oktoberfest that I made that is just as good as any commercial offering so maybe I should still with the suds!
 

pillswoj

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Maybe more time will help but I honestly don’t think they have changed significantly between 1yr to 2yrs so I don’t have a lot of confidence that will make a big difference.
If you have not noticed a change between 1 year and 2 then it needs to age longer, eclipse kits I find change sometime after 18 months but could easily be more then 2 years.
 

GaDawg

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Maybe it’s just me but I have tried extra oak, ferm and finishing tannins and after 2+ years I could pick any of the Eclipse kits out of a lineup against semi-decent commercial wines of same variety. There is just something about them that stands out from commercial wine. I was hoping that after 2 years they would be on par with $15/bottle wine but I just don’t feel that is the case.

Also someone mentioned top up, I never top up with water, always wine of same or similar style.

Maybe more time will help but I honestly don’t think they have changed significantly between 1yr to 2yrs so I don’t have a lot of confidence that will make a big difference.

Meanwhile, I’m sipping on an Oktoberfest that I made that is just as good as any commercial offering so maybe I should still with the suds!
Maybe your taste is too refined for kit wine. We all have our unique taste.
 
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