The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Syrah Day

Today I’m finally getting around to taking care of the 2010 Syrah we just brought down, plus I need to stir and check the progression of the MLF on the 2011 Syrah.  My Hands-on Winemaking class did the initial test for lactic acid in all four batches of the 2011 Syrah last Sunday, and all showed a strong positive level of lactic acid production.  When we tested the malic acid levels, all batches were around 75 mg/L except batch #1, which was fermented with ICV-D80.  It showed >500 mg/L malic acid.  When I tested it today, it still showed that level!  Just to double check (and I had one extra lactic acid test), I double checked that the lactic acid was positive, and it was definitely around 100-120 mg/L lactic acid.  I then checked batch #2, and the malic acid levels were still around 75 mg/L.  Since the first 2 were showing the same results as a few days ago, I skipped the last 2 batches and just gave them a stir.  I’ll test malic acid levels again in about 2 weeks.

Then I moved on to the 2010 vintage of Live Oak Vineyard Syrah.  I got out my handy-dandy (yes I love this thing!) Vinmetrica SC-100 sulfite analyzer, and in less than 2 minutes knew there is basically NO free SO2 in the barrel.  Yikes!  Doing a quick calculation from The Winemaker’s Answer Book, I estimated I should add about 7.5 grams of Kmeta, which is about 1 1/2 teaspoons.  After stirring this in, I need to take a little volume out of the barrel so I can put in a pound of medium toast Hungarian oak cubes.  The 5-gallon carboy was partially full, but since I didn’t want to deal with this on Monday I added marbles to the Better Bottle to top it up into the neck to minimize air exposure.  Which means now I need to get the marbles out so I can put the extra wine from the barrel in.  Since my hand won’t reach down the neck of the carboy, I racked the wine out, dumped out the marbles, then pulled the wine from the barrel and added this back to the carboy.  Yes, a bit of probably needless wine shuffling, but it happens.  At least I did think to dump in about 2 ounces of medium toast French oak chips into the 6-gallon carboy as I was filling it.  Now we’ll let that oak hang out for a few months and hopefully the syrah will come around the way we want it!