Winter Update 2015

47 days after the pressing, I racked all of the wine on 11-14-2015. I had been observing the bubbles on the air lock (evidence of malolactic acid fermentation) and they seemed to be there for a good month following the pressing. I wanted to do this one week prior, but I accidently purchased the wrong chemicals, not potassium metabisulfite. I went to the store and exchanged it and was able to do the racking on the 15th.

The process was simple, clean a barrel, sanitize it, then rack a full barrel into it leaving the dregs at the bottom. Repeat 5 times. I let the racking cane rest on the bottom, so it’s possible that I took some lees with the racking, but those will be cleaned up next time. Here is the racking plan, and the new barrel assignments:
4 —> 6 Free Run+
5 —> 4 Press Run
2 —> 5 Free Run
3 —> 2 Press Run
1 —> 3 Merlot

Since all were only 95% full, I had to top them up with the carboy of cab I had as well (even in the merlot). I racked the port carboy into another carboy and added a growler to top it off. I added ~1/2 a quart of grappa as well. I added about 50-60ppm SO2 to everything. I figured at this point, time is on my side, so I don’t need to worry about going a bit too high.

Currently, I have:
4 kegs of Cab
4 gallon of Cab in carboy.
2 growlers of Cab
1 keg of Merlot
1 6 gallon carboy of port
3 monkey head of port
So … 67 gallon of Cab, 15.5 gallon of Merlot, 6.75 gallon of Port, or 89.25 gallons total.

One new and cool thing I did this year was collect all the waste, stuff that went straight down the drain last year. Since I have no visibility into what I’m racking, it could be half a gallon, or three, I just don’t know. I poured the dregs of all of the kegs into one 6 gallon carboy and it fit nicely. It looked light purple and crappy and I almost just tossed it. But after a few days it settled with a very hard line showing about 40% sediment, and 60% good looking wine. It was turbulently poured and not fully topped off for a couple days, so it might have lost a little quality. I’m keeping it separate for the time being, but I might use it to top off later, or just bottle it separately. The bottom line is that I got about 3 free gallons of wine that I would have otherwise dumped.

Also, I bought bung stoppers, so I can ditch the airlocks (too easily knocked off, water evaporates, can’t tip kegs, etc). I put them on, and then burped them 3 hours later and they sprayed wine all over the walls. I guess the racking caused some of the CO2 to become unstable and escape after the racking. Also, it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to cause that to explode. Maybe wait a month or so before switching to those ….

That’s it for now, do some rackings in the coming months, add oak, monitor SO2 and that’s it ….

Update 4-10-16
I did a racking today in about 3 hours.  It was my first use of my new pump.  The pump was certainly helpful, but I’m worried it’s too rough on the wine.  I’m trying to run it at the lowest setting available.
3 —> 1 Merlot
2 —> 3 Press Run
4 —> 2 Press Run
5 —> 4 Free Run
6 —> 5 Free Run+

I poured all the excess into a single carboy.  It settled for a few weeks and there’s a good inch of white sediment at the bottom which was effectively removed from the 5 kegs.  I also blindly added about 40ppm of SO2 to everything, that should bring the levels up pretty high to 120ppm minus whatever’s been consumed.

Update 6-11-16
I did a third racking today in about 3 hours.  I used the pump again and everything went pretty well except I overflowed/geysered one of the kegs (don’t tell Leah).  I still have the worry about the pump being rough and over aerating the wine.  I collected the dregs in a 5 gallon carboy again and it’s much cleaner; there isn’t any apparent sediment in it meaning nothing notable dropped out of the wine in since the last racking two months ago.  I think the wine is clean enough to bottle now.  I also did an SO2 test, with a new set of titration chemicals, and found the SO2 levels are around my guess of a ceiling for the max I’ve previous added.  I guess time (and the pump) did little to dissipate the SO2 … good to know.  The levels are high, so I won’t be adding any more SO2 to this batch of wine.  Here is the transfer schedule and SO2 levels.
5 —> 6 Free Run+ 135ppm
4 —> 5 Free Run 120ppm
3 —> 4 Press Run 130ppm
2 —> 3 Press Run 130ppm
1 —> 2 Merlot 110ppm

Bottling is 2 months out, all that’s left to do is to figure out what to do regarding blending. Until next time ….

Update 8-11-16
Leah and I did a double blind taste test a few days ago with 100% cab, 100% merlot and an 80/20 blend.  We successfully guessed each of the three wines, and actually preferred the merlot, blend and cab, in that order.  Since there is relatively so little of the Merlot, we decided to fully blend the two wins this year for an 80/20 ratio.

The blending was a little harder than I thought.  I cleaned and sanitized the empty key (#1), and two carboys and racking canes.  Then, for each of the cab kegs, I took out 3 gallons and put that in #1.  I then took out five different 3 gallons from the merlot keg (#2) and put it in the other kegs.  The last pull out of the merlot keg was about 5 gallons, so my measuring, I guess, was off a little bit.  So the 80/20 ratios might not be perfect.  Also, the random 5gal carboy I have has already been mixed around enough, so I’m just going to assume it’s blended.  I took an SO2 reading on #6 and it was 120ppm, which is negligibly lower than the weighted average of the previous readings (it and 20% Merlot). This is still quite high, so I’m not worried about contamination, and won’t add any new SO2.  Here are the new kegs:
6 Free Run+
5 Free Run
1 Half Free / Half Press
4 Press Run
3 Press Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *