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Zinfandel - what's different?

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Obelix

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Hi,

Last year, in my first attempt to make wine - I crushed 300kg of Shiraz.
I read various booklets, instructions, articles, and received a lot of good advice through this forum which resulted in a pretty good wine.

This year, I got an opportunity to buy Zinfandel. Western Australia doesn't have much Zin planted yet, so I'm quite excited about it.

Wondering if I need to do anything different with Zinfandel?
Zin tastes differently from other wines - having that special "ting", and but wondering if that's achieved by some variation in the process.
The only difference, I read about so far is that some people squeeze some juice early into a Zin Rose, then add the skins back to the original mass to achieve more tannin. (?)
 

Boatboy24

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Obelix

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Thanks Boatboy. That will make it simpler :)
Already have the Syr yeast and will use it. Seems to be exactly what I need.
Hopefully the typical taste will come out OK.
 

CDrew

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Zinfandel can be a little on the light color and body side. So if you want a "big" style Zinfandel, you might want to use the pectic enzymes after crush and before fermentation. Several of us here have used Lallemand LallzymeEX to good effect, but I'm sure there are alternatives. Your idea about a higher skin to juice ratio sounds promising too, and I may have to try that next year.
 

askins3097

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Zinfandel can be a little on the light color and body side. So if you want a "big" style Zinfandel, you might want to use the pectic enzymes after crush and before fermentation. Several of us here have used Lallemand LallzymeEX to good effect, but I'm sure there are alternatives. Your idea about a higher skin to juice ratio sounds promising too, and I may have to try that next year.
I know people that add a lug or two of Alicante grapes to their Zinfandel. I never asked why but I’m assuming it’s to help add color and body.
 

Boatboy24

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I definitely go w/ enzymes, but I do that on all my reds. I generally like a 'bigger' style Zin and will blend some Petite Sirah (15% or less) in to beef it up. I usually think its just fine on its own, but the PS makes it more to my liking.
 

Obelix

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Thanks, will read up on pectic enzymes. Not familiar with the role and purpose of it, but I definitely want it "big".

Interesting comment on Zin being light bodied - all Zins I tried are big bodied and tasted great, except where the taste was overwhelmed by the oak.
 

Obelix

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BTW - I have a proper press which can squeeze a last drop from the skins. Last year's shiraz is very full bodied because I may have overdone it a bit. It seems appropriate to replicate the same wit Zin then.
 

Obelix

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OK, read on the Peptic Enzymes and it seems desirable.
However, I can only buy a Pectinase priduct. The LallzymeEX I can only buy in $240 quantity, so not really practical.
Wonder if Pectinase will do the trick, but not too keen to risk the whole batch. Unless I find the LAllemand product at a reasonable price in the next few weeks, may give it a miss this year, and learn from the outcome.

re: blending syrah
It's a month of a difference in ripening time here. BTW, I'm curious on how the Zin would turn out on it's own.
 

4score

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My experience with Zin -

The only time I had a stuck ferment. I have heard Zin may be more prone to that than many other varieties.

Zin is known for "brix creep" - the sugar levels you measure at crush will really increase over the next 48 hours - again, more than most varieties. We had to water back.

But, that being said, a great grape variety and one I think I need to crush again!

Good luck.
 

Obelix

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Yes, haven't seen a bottle of Zin with the alcohol content less than 14% with some bottles from the US bought her with a 15.5% alcohol content.
Dalmatian's Crljenak is generally around 14.5%. so fully expect a high alcohol content. Have a yeast to match it :) Hopefully won't get stuck.
 
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NorCal

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@4score beat me to it. Zin is an easy wine to make as the flavors will cover flaws, but I’ve heard (and experienced) that it's prone to sticking. The grapes that I’ve gotten didn’t need any special treatment, as the extraction was just fine without additives. The one year we did use an enzyme, the wine was quite tannic and needed a few years in the bottle to tame.
 

Obelix

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re: The one year we did use an enzyme, the wine was quite tannic and needed a few years in the bottle to tame.
Thanks, this is very interesting to hear. We'll see how it goes without it this year and improve the next one if necessary.
Hopefully won't stuck - the yeast is resilient to high temperatures and high alcohol level. Will monitor the BRIX daily and see if it needs any intervention.
 

tradowsk

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Instead of using pectic enzyme, you could try a cold soak or extended maceration to get more color, body, tannin, etc. out of the grapes while having more control of the process.
 

Obelix

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Thanks, that's a good idea.
I read about it in some texts, and it says it needs to be done in a stable and controlled temperature.
My primary is done outside, under the carport, and the temperatures here can be very high.
 

Johnd

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Thanks, that's a good idea.
I read about it in some texts, and it says it needs to be done in a stable and controlled temperature.
My primary is done outside, under the carport, and the temperatures here can be very high.
I know that growing conditions can differ drastically from year to year, but your wine from last year was just huge for a shiraz, big and very jammy, indicative of very well ripened fruit. The color was amazingly dark and inky. If you have similar conditions this year approaching and at harvest of your zinfandel, you may have to do very little to get a very well extracted wine, you'll have to make that judgement at harvest. This is where the "art" of winemaking comes into play, figuring out what to do with the process based upon the fruit you are looking at and tasting.
 

Obelix

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Thanks John. Appreciate your kind words. Means a lot :)

Well, that's what I'm hoping for too. The fruit last year was perfect. Hopefully this one will too.

This year is slightly cooler and wetter than the last one .

I'll be checking BRIX and tasting wine daily. Last year I had no idea, and acted on instinct on when to press.
This year I'll know a bit better but will do the same. BRIX and tasting daily and press when it tastes good.

So far, I understand the Zin making won't be much different from Shiraz which is a relief.

If it goes pearshape, I can still visit the same vinyard and buy Shiraz again two weeks later.
 

ceeaton

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My primary is done outside, under the carport, and the temperatures here can be very high.
According to what I've been reading you will get better extraction of color and tannins at the upper end of the temperature range for reds. Here's the first article that I pulled up from a "red wine fermentation temperature" search:

http://winemakersacademy.com/effects-fermentation-temperature-wine/

If you get too hot under the carport you could always rotate a few sealed frozen water containers in your must while you are fermenting to help hold the temperatures down a bit, though it sounds like you had no issues with your Shiraz batch from last year.
 

Obelix

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Thanks Ceeton - in Australia it's always a worry.
Having said that, Western Australia typically has the highest temerature on the continent, but this (and the last) year, we had much more bearable temperatures in low 30s C.
I guess, the low 30s C will be good for the extraction. It was certainly good last year :)
That's why I hope it wont' get stuck. The usual high alcohol content of Zin should be OK with the selected yeast. Won't allow the natural yeast to take hold.
 

Obelix

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Yesterday I crushed 17 boxes of Zinfandel - appx 20kg of grapes per box. At least that's what it was sold as. Could be slightly less. But at $15 per box, I find it very acceptable.
The BRIX is 23, and the Ph 3.4 - seems perfect.
Temperatures are around 28C-30C. It will go up later on in the week, but I don't see it over 35. Hopefully it won't get stuck.

Today, I extracted 25L of juice to separately ferment Rose Zin, and also to make the rest exposed to more skin. Really keen to get that intense fruit flavour, so typical for Zins.

I decided to re-use this 12 months old Syrah yeast which I kept in the fridge tightly sealed.
I was a bit apprehensive, but I added 80g instead of calculated 60g, and it reacted with the Go-Ferm yeast food and has gone very active after I added some juice into it.
Once in the must, iIt reacted with the must very quickly, and the whole thing is very active already.
May try it again next year. Why waste a yeast which performs so well? Obviously test it in a timely manner...
 
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