Who here ages their wine in lees?

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skyfire322

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As the title mentions, I'm just curious to see if you age any of your wines "sur lie", and which ones you've tried it in?
 

Ajmassa

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I do not do this since I basically do all reds. But your post just reminded me I need to rack my Chilean reds. It's only been six weeks since I racked, but they have dropped out a significant amount more.
I guess technically that wouldn't be "lees" since it's not from yeast, but I still don't think I want that in the carboy much longer. I've never heard of aging on lees or sediment with reds, just whites.
 

stickman

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I also do mostly reds and I've been routinely aging on the lees. I generally rack the wine twice early to remove the lees to prevent sulfur odors, but I don't throw the second racking lees out, I hold them for about 4 months until the wine is stable, then add them back.
 

Ajmassa

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I also do mostly reds and I've been routinely aging on the lees. I generally rack the wine twice early to remove the lees to prevent sulfur odors, but I don't throw the second racking lees out, I hold them for about 4 months until the wine is stable, then add them back.

Interesting. What are you looking to gain by doing this and is there risk involved? And would my current sediment be considered "lees"? They were racked and pressed week of 5/14. racked 3 days later and racked again after MLF 6/17. Currently sitting on a decent amount.
"Fat whites" you like huh? I'm biting my tongue on about a dozen different wisecracks.
 

Trick

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I am doing a sur-lie aging test for a cheap Chardonnay kit. I will split the 6 gal into two 3 gal carboys after the fermentation together, one for quick fining and clearing and the other one will go through an eight-month sur-lie aging process with a strict stirring schedule + two month clarification. No sorbate, hope very little fining agent as well. Expecting to see the difference from the two batches.
Sur-lie is not typically used for red since the protein of the lees will take the tanning out. However it helps to take the bitterness out from white.
The side by side comparison is the only way to tell the difference for me. My palate is very dull.
If the result is okay, I will expand the practice to some more expansive white kits in the future. (I guess Chardonnay is still the best candidate for this practice.)
 

stickman

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Interesting. What are you looking to gain by doing this and is there risk involved? And would my current sediment be considered "lees"?
Yeast lees can provide a sense of sweetness, richness, and complexity. They also consume oxygen which is the reason why they are removed early, a small amount of oxygen in the wine early helps promote color and tannin binding. Once the color is stable, maybe after 4 months, the lees can be safely added back, provided the lees have been stirred regularly during storage and still smell clean.

As with all winemaking decisions, there are risks and compromises, the compounds released by lees that provide richness etc. are also nutrients for microbes, so sulfite levels need to be watched. You have to look at your lees to determine what they consist of, large tartrate crystals wouldn't be considered yeast lees. You can bring over light lees by racking 24hrs after stirring.

This is just what I do here; I'm certainly not proposing this for everyone, as I don't think every wine would necessarily benefit. Being able to play around with this stuff, and the fact that there isn't one absolute way to do things, is part of what makes winemaking interesting and so much fun.
 

Ajmassa

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Ummm, yeah, I see your point there.... :slp

Are you sure it was wisecracks you were envisioning at that time?

Witty. But we were talking about a different "wit".
Let's keep it clean now. That was my fault for setting up the alley oop.
When you say "fat whites" (don't smirk) do you mean like whites with certain big red characteristics? Dry and big mouthfeel? I don't do or drink many whites for this reason - or lack thereof. With exceptions.
@stickman, going with sur-lie on reds sounds like a fun thing to experiment. So many variables dictating decisions makes me hesitant. Sounds like something that shouldn't be tried without a great deal of experience and just a full complete comprehension of everything involved.
-what varietals this can benefit?
-how long to keep it in there?
-batonage or no batonage?
-when is the lees deemed not suitable?
-need a defined palate for decisions?
I hope to be confident in making those types of decisions myself one day. (i'm not actually looking for those questions to be answered btw. Lots of good articles online I saw)
 

sour_grapes

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When you say "fat whites" (don't smirk) do you mean like whites with certain big red characteristics? Dry and big mouthfeel? I don't do or drink many whites for this reason - or lack thereof. With exceptions.

Well, some of what you say, but not everything, resonates. YES to mouthfeel. A sort of viscosity, thickness, and languor. Not as acidic as a "lighter" white. Not necessarily bone DRY, i.e., there can be some perceived sweetness even if the residual sugar is nil. Buttery qualifies as fat, but is not a necessary condition. Higher ABV is generally attendant. Complexity helps, but is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition.

HTH.
 

Landwaster

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We ferment the crush, rack into carboys, and add ML. That first rack gets rid of all the "gross lees". Then we let them sit (stirring every week) until ML is complete, rack and sulfite.

We also do a barrel. Crush, ferment, rack into a tub for just a day or two to let things settle out, then rack into the barrel. Stir and top up while ML runs its course and then sulfite. We don't do a second racking until it's time to bottle.

We also take the real sludgy bottom-of-the-fermenter gunk and let that settle out in a small carboy, and rack every once in a while until it looks good. My personal impression is that these small "sludge" batches actually taste the smoothest. I'm guessing it's all in the lees.
 

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