2018 Vieux Chateau du Roi

October 2018

This is a medium body red blend. Winexpert does three levels of this French blend — this is the Selection kit, which is their high end. I’ve done this one in the past — it produces a pleasing wine. Not as heavy as I often like, but a good general red.

I checked my records — this is my third time doing this kit … or, well, kits with this name. The first kit I made in 1996 had this name, sold by WineArt (which I believe was purchased by Winexpert). The second in 2011 was from R J Spagnols, and this one is Winexpert. In reading my notes, I see that I didn’t care for the 2011 incarnation. I also note that in 2011 I identified that I liked the R J Spagnols kits less than Winexpert.

Although R J Spagnols’ dessert wines kick butt.

This doesn’t mean I’m writing R J Spagnols off. Kits have improved in the last twenty-two years, so I’ll cut them slack.

Kit Winexpert Selection Vieux Chateau du Roi kit
Bentonite 30 g
Yeast Lalvin EC-1118 yeast (included in kit)
Oak 30 g Premium Oak Dust
30g French Oak Chips
Sulphite 4 g
Sorbate 5.5 g
Kieselsol 12.5 ml
Chitosan 150 ml

Added 2 cups hot water to primary – stirred in bentonite.

Added grape bag, rinsing the bag well with water (added to primary). Filled to 5.5 gallons with water. Stirred for 2 minutes, reversing direction every 30 seconds. Tested SG.

Directions say to add oak before checking SG. That is stupid — it just makes a mess in the test jar (which in my case is a wine thief).

Added oak dust, stirring for 1 minutes, reversing at 30 seconds.

Sprinkled yeast on top.

SG 1.090
Racked to carboy. 10/07/2018
SG 1.000
Racked. The wine has been stable for several days, been dropping heavy sediment, indicating fermentation is done. SG is good so time to move on to the next step.

Added sulfite & sorbate, stirred for 4 minutes.

Added kieselsol, stirred for 2 minutes. Racked back into carboy.

Added chitosan, stirred for 1 minute. This surprised me, as there were 2 packets. Directions mention the possibility of 2 package of kieselsol, but not chitosan. 10/14/2018
Racked. Had enough sediment buildup to merit it. Added 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite.

Topped up with almost a full bottle of commercial pinot noir. As I said, sediment was heavy.

Added 1/4 tsp Kmeta. Bottled. 11/25/2018
SG 0.995

Yield 25 bottles
Alcohol 12.9%
Winemaking Notes Diluted the kit to 5.5 gallons instead of 6.
10/13/2018 Tomorrow I add the chitosan. According to the instructions, 4 week kits need 14 days for clearance before bottling, 5 week kits need 20 days, 6 week kits need 27 days, and 8 week kits need 41. I think this is a 6 week kit — instructions don’t say and I threw out the box. However, these time frames are minimum values, so I’m thinking I’ll bottle in early December, which is about 6 weeks from now. Extra time in the carboy doesn’t hurt.
10/18/2018 I checked online, this is a 6 week kit, so the settling time before bottling should be 27 days (4 weeks). I’m still planning to bottle in early December, so we’ll be looking at 7 to 8 weeks settling.
11/25/2018 The color is dark purple — this is a very dark wine. Yet the flavor is fruity, a mixture of cherry and blackberry notes. It will be entertaining to see what it tastes like at the one year mark.
02/29/2020 At this point the wine is very drinkable. The fruit is dominant and I’m glad I didn’t add additional oak. While that would also produce a nice flavor, I appreciate the fruitiness this one has.