Monday, March 14, 2011

Vintage 2011 Continues

We have picked the Pinot Noir which came in at 13.5 Baume and pH 3.5
There were small patches of botrytis which were easily handled so it was not a bad result for a difficult year.
I am trying a new red wine yeast this year. It is an Italian strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and was supposed to be a fast fermenter that brings out the flavour of red grapes.
It worked well on the Tempranillo and is fermenting the Pinot Noir quickly too.
The ferment gets quite hot, around (30+deg C), which helps extract plenty of colour from the skins. Light coloured Pinots are always an inherent problem. But to prevent it getting too hot meant punching down the cap (mixing the skins that float to the top of the fermenting wine, due to the carbon dioxide being released, back into it) a few more times a day than normal including a late one just before bed and an early one before breakfast. I will let it sit a while in the sealed tank after fermentation finishes in an effort to extract more colour.
The malolactic fermentation culture and oak chips have already been added to the wine at this stage.
I have always used a wine yeast culture for fermenting wines ie. commercial strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

This yeast quickly dominates the fermentation while repressing wild yeasts. This ensures a reliable and predictable fermentation.
However different S. cerevisiae yeast strains can have differing physiological and fermentative properties. This means the actual strain of yeast selected can have a direct impact on the finished wine so it's good to try different ones.
Yeasts are normally already present on grape skins ie. the grey bloom. Fermentation can be done with these endogenous "wild yeasts", but this procedure can give unpredictable results, which depend upon the exact types of yeast species present.
A lot of wine makers experiment with wild yeast fermentation. They are said to produce atypical flavour profiles and/or increased complexity in wines. With my relatively primitive production set up there would be a risk of wine spoilage using this method.
But one day it might be one worth taking.

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