The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Pitching Yeast on 2011 Syrah

We did a 3-day cold soak on our 2011 syrah, mostly out of convenience.  I get a little nervous doing more than 2 days, and I don’t think I’ll soak this long again before pitching the yeast.  Besides the cost of putting 10 pounds of dry ice into the buckets every morning, the must does heat up pretty fast anyway, and adding that much dry ice every day will induce a semi-carbonic maceration.  That is not totally a bad thing, especially since the syrah I’ve made from the past 2 harvests were a little on the acidic side, and carbonic maceration can help decrease acidity and bring out fruitiness.  However, it’s not a true carbonic maceration, as the grapes are not in a sealed container excluding any air, and they aren’t really starting to ferment in their skins.  Either way, I’m ready to get these grapes fermenting with some yeast!

First, we set up our yeast starters.  We have 4 cans of must available, so we decided to use 4 different yeasts:  ICV D80, Pasteur Red, ICV D254, and CLOS.  We set up mason jars with about 1/2 cup water at 104 degrees and added about 15 grams of Go-Ferm and 5 grams of yeast in each jar.  We let that sit for about 30 minutes while we went to test the initial brix, pH, and TA of the must.  After 30 minutes we added 1/2 cup of syrah juice that we pulled off of the must to each jar, and let that sit for another 15 minutes.  We could see the signs of life as the jars showed faint signs of foaming.  We then stirred each jar into their respective cans with a stainless steel paddle.

Check out the gorgeous color that is already extracted!

We tested the TA with Accuvin quick tests, which I have found to be very accurate, and quick!

Initial readings before pitching yeast:

#1: brix 24, TA 7, pH 3.46

#2: brix 25*, TA 7.5, pH 3.49

#3: brix 25*, TA 7, pH 3.44

#4: brix 24, TA 6.9, pH 3.44

*initially #2 was 23 brix and #3 25 brix, so we mixed some must back and forth before the yeast was pitched to adjust the brix levels.  It seemed to work!  These readings are pretty much perfect, everything fell in place for this year’s harvest.  Should be an exceptional vintage!

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