WineXpert WE Selection Luna (avec battonage)

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sour_grapes

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WE Selection Luna Bianca (avec battonage)

I started a WineXpert Selection Original Luna Bianca tonight. I don't really have any questions; this is more sort of a "build thread" to document the process.

I prefer reds to whites, generally, but I do like some whites in the summer. I am hoping this one is ready by next summer (and plan to drink over the next 2 summers). I often hear people opine that they either love or (more usually) hate a big, fat, buttery, oaked white, and will only drink a crisp, steely, white. Now, to my mind, these styles are certainly distinct, but I LIKE them both! They are perhaps two different wines, but who's to say you have to choose just one? ;)

I made a WE Viognier kit last fall, and drank about half of it over this summer. While not the crispest white in the world, I figure I have that end of the spectrum covered for now. (I can always supplement with a commercial Pinot Grigio or Sauv Blanc, if needed.) However, I thought it was time to make a big, fat white.

I settled on WE Selection Luna Bianca. Here is WE's description:

Winexpert's biggest, boldest white wine ever. In the spirit of the great full-bodied Chardonnays of California and Australia, Luna Bianca is lush, golden and rich. Dense, luscious, buttery aromas dance up from the glass. Flavours of tropical fruits blend with the vanilla-oak backing.

This kit came with an incredible 120 g (!) of toasted oak powder for primary. This formed a thick mat on top of the primary. I did not use a muslin bag (because there is no grape pack), so I hope I can rack out of primary successfully with all that wood in there.

I am doing few tweaks. I substituted the expected EC-1118 for ICV-D47. The kit came with an F-pack and is rated at off-dry, but I added about 3/4 of the F-pack to primary. Before adding the F-pack, the SG was 1.102, and after adding it, it crept up to 1.104. I was surprised that the starting SG was so high.

I skipped adding the bentonite, because I plan to up the ante by carrying out battonage on this wine. @cintipam reports that leaving bentonite in during battonage will strip too much flavor from the wine. I find this a little hard to fathom, but also figure I do not need the bentonite, as I plan to age for quite some time.

Pitched the yeast an hour ago. Wish me luck! :b
 
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Paul,

I've got a Luna Bianca going also. I bought the kit at the suggestion of my LHBS. I'm a few weeks ahead of you in the process, however. Tomorrow, I will be stabilizing and clearing the batch.

One thing I noted in your description of the tweaks you made is that you added the FPack in the primary fermenter. The instructions that come with the kit recommend adding it at the stabilization stage, which is what I'm doing tomorrow.

I used the standard yeast that came with the kit. It was highly vigorous during the fermentation stage. You may have made a good call in substituting a less aggressive yeast.

Ron
 
I've got a Luna Bianca going also. I bought the kit at the suggestion of my LHBS. I'm a few weeks ahead of you in the process, however. Tomorrow, I will be stabilizing and clearing the batch.

Cool! Will be interested in hearing how yours progresses!

One thing I noted in your description of the tweaks you made is that you added the FPack in the primary fermenter. The instructions that come with the kit recommend adding it at the stabilization stage, which is what I'm doing tomorrow.

Yeah, the idea (which is relatively well-known on WMT) is that adding the F-pack to the primary will result in a less-sweet and (slightly) higher ABV wine than the kit-makers designed it to be. I am not a big fan of wines that are even off dry. I figure I can add sugar after fermentation if I really decide I need a bit more sweetness.

If I were in your shoes, I would add, say, half the f-pack and make sure that I liked the sweetness level before adding any more.
Also note, however, that I tasted the f-pack, and it is not only sweet, but it is also quite tart! So you may need to add the whole thing to get the desired acid.

I used the standard yeast that came with the kit. It was highly vigorous during the fermentation stage. You may have made a good call in substituting a less aggressive yeast.

The primary reason I subbed in D47 was for its purported good characteristics in battonage. I think you are right: less aggressive may be a side benefit!

Thanks for your comments.
 
Also note, however, that I tasted the f-pack, and it is not only sweet, but it is also quite tart! So you may need to add the whole thing to get the desired acid.

I tasted the tartness that you referred to from the F-Pack after mixing it into the wine. The flavor was that of a sour orange. Hopefully, that tartness will lesson considerably with age. According to my LHBS, this is a popular wine kit. It wouldn't hold that status were it to retain the tartness you and I tasted.

The amount of gas in a kit wine is incredible. I'm always amazed at how much gas I get out of a kit wine. Even after I tired of degassing, I remained suspicious that there was still more gas that could have been removed. I spent over 20 minutes degassing and there was still gas rising when I stopped.
 
Thanks for the update, Ron! Did you wind up using the whole F-pack?

I was just going to update on mine. Just to recap, the kit came with a lot of oak powder/sawdust, which formed a thick mat floating on top of the wine last night. I did not rehydrate my yeast, but merely sprinkled it on top. When I came down to check on it this morning, I could smell that fermentation had started. However, when I looked in the bucket, I could still see where I had pitched the yeast, with some of it still sitting on top of the sawdust!
Enough yeast seem to have gotten through and reproduced, though, because of the obvious signs of fermentation. I gave it a stir this morning and just now, and tonight there is plenty of fizzing going on to accompany the smell.
 
Thanks Paul.
I was re-reading your post and that seems like a very high starting gravity for a white wine kit, indeed.....

Interested on making another white and was thinking about getting a juice bucket, but this kit may be a good option....
 
Paul,

I've been following the instructions that came with the Luna Bianca kit so I used the whole F-Pack. Although, in order to add it, I had to remove 3 cups of wine from the carboy. The F-Pack refilled the carboy back to just below the air lock.

Like you, I pitched the yeast over the oak powder. But prior to doing so, I stirred the oak into the must so that it was saturated with the juice. The yeast took off fermenting with visible activity in the air lock in 8 hours and was rapidly fermenting in 24 hours. The yeast I used was the Lalvin EC-1118 that came with the kit. Lalvin EC-1118 is an aggressive yeast as I pointed out in a former posting on the subject, so you can't compare your experience with mine. Theoretically, you should experience a longer fermentation process. My wine was down to a specific gravity of 1.000 after only 5 days; having started at 1.086.

Since we're taking different approaches to making this kit, my experience could serve as a control for your tweaking experiment. We'll have to swap a few bottles after we're through so that we can note the differences.

Ron
 
Like you, I pitched the yeast over the oak powder. But prior to doing so, I stirred the oak into the must so that it was saturated with the juice. The yeast took off fermenting with visible activity in the air lock in 8 hours and was rapidly fermenting in 24 hours. The yeast I used was the Lalvin EC-1118 that came with the kit. Lalvin EC-1118 is an aggressive yeast as I pointed out in a former posting on the subject, so you can't compare your experience with mine. Theoretically, you should experience a longer fermentation process. My wine was down to a specific gravity of 1.000 after only 5 days; having started at 1.086.

Yes, I had also stirred the oak in to wet it. My fermentation is taking off nicely. This morning, there was a foamy, frothy, sawdusty cap in the bucket!

I am surprised at how different our starting specific gravities were. As I said, mine was 1.102 before adding the f-pack.

Exchanging bottles sounds fun! However, you may want to reserve the right to cancel when you find out it will cost $25 to ship $4 bottles of wine! :(
 
Just an update: SG down to 1.010. Summer finally arrived in Milwaukee (so temperatures went up), and so the fermentation went a bit more vigorously than I would have preferred. But I have high hopes!
 
Good morning, Paul.

How is your progress with the Luna Bianca? Two months later, I imagine this one is sitting in a Carboy on a shelf. Doing a 2/3 FPac in the primary and 1/3 in the finish - how's it smell and taste? Compared to Ron's LB by the numbers?
 
Good morning, Paul.

How is your progress with the Luna Bianca? Two months later, I imagine this one is sitting in a Carboy on a shelf. Doing a 2/3 FPac in the primary and 1/3 in the finish - how's it smell and taste? Compared to Ron's LB by the numbers?

Thanks for asking. This is indeed sitting quietly, still on the lees. I stir them up every so often, which is not as often as I intended! The smell is fine -- nothing significant to report. I have not tasted it yet! Maybe you convinced me to do that tonight!
 
Thanks for asking. This is indeed sitting quietly, still on the lees. I stir them up every so often, which is not as often as I intended! The smell is fine -- nothing significant to report. I have not tasted it yet! Maybe you convinced me to do that tonight!

Sounds like the perfect start to the week.
 
Okay, here is a partial report. I am very encouraged. I took a nice taste, but the wine is (a) at room temperature, and (b) a little carbonated, so it is a bit hard to judge.

The wine, which is, of course, VERY young, is nearly drinkable. Grapefruit is the biggest taste note, but it is a very mellow grapefruit. The bready notes that I am looking for are very subtle and remain in the background. There is a pleasant bite to the wine, partly the carbonation, and partly acid. Also, note that it is totally dry at this point; may backsweeten just a tetch eventually. I am also getting a little apricot and a little apple. SWMBO thinks it is already as good (other than the carbonation) as the Viognier we have been drinking all summer. (Different profile, of course, but just as a point of reference.)
 
Okay, here is a partial report. I am very encouraged. I took a nice taste, but the wine is (a) at room temperature, and (b) a little carbonated, so it is a bit hard to judge.

The wine, which is, of course, VERY young, is nearly drinkable. Grapefruit is the biggest taste note, but it is a very mellow grapefruit. The bready notes that I am looking for are very subtle and remain in the background. There is a pleasant bite to the wine, partly the carbonation, and partly acid. Also, note that it is totally dry at this point; may backsweeten just a tetch eventually. I am also getting a little apricot and a little apple. SWMBO thinks it is already as good (other than the carbonation) as the Viognier we have been drinking all summer. (Different profile, of course, but just as a point of reference.)


Sounds like a winner. It's amazing how different a degassed wine will taste from its gassy former self, though. Will time tend to the CO2 or will you be doing something else?
 
Sounds like a winner. It's amazing how different a degassed wine will taste from its gassy former self, though. Will time tend to the CO2 or will you be doing something else?

I am set up to do vacuum degassing, but I guess I don't see any reason to do so at this point. I think I will leave it gassy as long as I am doing battonage, then rack it and degas it before backsweetening plus a little more aging.
 
SWMBO thinks it is already as good (other than the carbonation) as the Viognier we have been drinking all summer. (Different profile, of course, but just as a point of reference.)

That's saying something for such a young wine. I'm already liking my SEL Viognier that is approaching eight months old, can't imagine how good yours is getting since it is much older (like 18 months by now?).
 
That's saying something for such a young wine. I'm already liking my SEL Viognier that is approaching eight months old, can't imagine how good yours is getting since it is much older (like 18 months by now?).

No, my WE SEL Viognier is only 13 months old. My 18-month rule is for reds. I have only done those 2 whites, but my intention was to ferment them in the summer and start consuming them the following spring (as the weather warms up). My hope is that each batch lasts over 2 summers, but my Viognier is already more than half gone!
 
avec battonage

@sour_grapes @rustbucket
I am keenly awaiting the results of your two fermentations and to learn the differences in outcome between avec battonage and sans battonage!

I am partially of French (Corsican) decent and utilize battonage while making my apple wine. I have not been disappointed thus far please keep us posted and keep up the good work on your most excellent endeavor.
 

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