2019 Malbec/Merlot/Zinfandel Second Run

October 2019 – I purchased 180 lbs each of Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel. Before the grapes arrived I decided I would do a second run from the pomace of each.

The original intention was to ferment and age each second run wine separately, and blend before bottling. This required that I purchase 3 more 5 or 6 gallon carboys. However, when I purchased my wine press (used), the purchase included a 25 liter (6.6 gallon) and a 54 liter (14.25 gallon) demijohn. So I had the choice to use the 54 liter demijohn or spend an additional ~$150 on 3 carboys. Being frugal, the decision was easy.

I fermented each second run separately then combined them at pressing time.

Based upon reading about pressing, I realized there were flaws in what we did decades ago. We pressed the heck out of the grapes and put it all in 1 container. However, like with olives, the harder the pressing, the harsher the extract. So … I drained the free run juice from each batch and pressed hard enough to get a total of 5 gallons of wine. This went in the 54 liter demijohn (and an additional 1 gallon jug). Then we pressed hard and got additional ~7 gallons … which meant I had to buy additional carboys anyway.

Oh, well, I’m not going to complain.

Note: I’m using the name Squeezins’ for the hard pressed wine. I initially performed a light press on the pomace, then hard pressed the remainder, and kept the hard pressed wine separate. The harder the press, the harsher the wine as a lot of solids are exacted at that time, although the solids settle out.

The result (as of August 2020) is 2 supposedly identical wines that taste very different. The Squeezins’ is heavier and has more body, and since it’s not barrel aged, it’s fruitier.


Grape pomace from 180# Malbec pressed at SG 1.008
pomace from 180# Merlot pressed at SG 1.012
pomace from 180# Zinfandel pressed at SG 1.008
Water 5 gallons hot tap water for each grape
Sugar 13 lbs 4 oz for each grape
Yeast Red Star Premier Rouge remaining in the pomace
Acid Blend 3 tsp for each grape
Fermentation Oak Malbec has 8 oz French oak chips, medium toast that was in the original batch
Merlot has 8 oz American oak chips, heavy toast that was in the original batch
Zinfandel has 8 oz American oak chips, heavy toast that was in the original batch
Fermax 3 tsp in each batch
Sulfite added as needed, see below
Fining Agent


The same method is used for the pomace from each grape:

Put 5 gallons hot tap water in the fermenter. Stirred in 10 lbs sugar until it dissolved. Stirred pomace into the water.

Zinfandel was first. When I checked the SG, it was oddly low. Adding 10# sugar should push the SG up around 1.090, but the reading was 1.054. I stirred the heck out of it to ensure distribution but got the same reading, so I added another 3 lbs 4 oz. My guess is there was more juice left in the pomace than I realized, so it diluted the sugar water. In any case the SG is high enough to continue.

The SG reading is odd, like the Zinfandel. The 10 lbs of sugar I added initially should have pushed the SG up around 1.090. My initial reading after stirring heavily was 1.052, so I added 3 lbs 4 oz more sugar.

Stirred Fermax and Acid Blend into each batch.

Malbec 1.075
Merlot 1.078
Zinfandel 1.076
These are fermenting like crazy.

Checked pH in all 3. Like the first runs, the pH is high, around 4.0. Stirred another 1 tsp Acid Blend into each batch when punching down the caps.

Malbec 1.035
Merlot 1.033
Zinfandel 1.012
Pressed each batch, just hard enough to get 5 gallons volume. These went into the 54 liter demijohn with a bit of overage in a separate gallon jug.

Pressed the remaining pomace hard, putting this in a 5 gallon carboy and two 1 gallon jugs. I call this batch the Squeezins’, which is what a friend named Vinny called it many moons ago.

The overall SG for the both the free run and the Squeezins’ is identical.

SG 1.002
I’m seeing no activity in any container.  The SG dropped just a bit, but that may be temperature related. I don’t typically adjust for temperature as the differences are trivial.

Added 3 pkg Lalvin EC-1118 to the demijohn, 1 pkg to the extra free run gallon, and 1 pkg to the 5 gallons Squeezins’, plus additional Fermax

SG 1.000
Still no activity. I’m going to give it another week, then add sorbate to ensure no further fermentation, then add bentonite. 11/24/2019
SG 1.000
The SG will not drop. No activity in any container. Racked everything to remove sediment. 12/01/2019
SG 1.000
I purchased a barrel! It’s a used 14 liter barrel, about 10 years old.

Racked the second run into the barrel, leaving about 1.5 liters of top up. The former owner said to expect about 1/2 liter per month in evaporation.

Added 6 oz of Hungarian medium toast oak cubes.

SG 1.000
Topped up the barrel with 375 ml. Evaporation is less than expected. However, the barrel is in a cool cellar, so this is probably normal. 01/18/2020
SG 1.000
Racked the Squeezins’.

I got a surprise on this one — acid crystals in a layer on the bottom of the carboy.  This proves that human rules lose to Mother Nature when she decides. The pH never got below 3.8 — red wines supposedly should be 3.4 or less. Yet there is enough acid in the wine to drop tartrate crystals, so acid was over saturated. Take all “rules” with a grain of salt.

BTW – I started with a carboy, a 4 liter jug, and a 1.5 liter bottle of wine. When done racking the 1.5 liter bottle was a bit over half full.

I used that to top up every carboy that was below what I considered an optimal level. When done I had a 375 ml bottle of Squeezin’s left. Tomorrow I’m racking the first run Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel. Whatever doesn’t fit into a standard container goes into a bulk “top up wine” mix. In the end, a bottle or three of anything doesn’t have that much effect on a 10 gallon batch, as long as all wines are in good condition.

SG 1.000
Racked the barrel of second run. When I topped the barrel I used up all but a bit of my smaller bottles of second run and Squeezins’. The level in the barrel must have dropped more than I realized. I expected to put 1.5 bottles in … it took about 2.25.

Tasting indicates the oak is good, the cubes have been in the barrel for 3+ months, so I removed them.

When the racking was done I drained the barrel into a 750 ml bottle to let it settle. It will be interesting to see how much wine I get out of that.

I have NO idea what happened (well, I do) but the SG dropped from the 1.000 it’s been holding at to 0.992. I’m not complaining, as that’s what I originally expected, so I’m just pleasantly surprised. Now I need to check the Squeezins’ to see what it’s SG is. If it drops, I’ll also be pleased.

SG 0.992
Racked the barrel of second run. Topped it with a bottle of Apothic red. 08/08/2020
SG 0.992
Racked the Squeezins’, adding 1/4 tsp K-meta. Bottled 08/22/2020
SG 0.992

SG –


Yield 25 bottles Squeezins’
Alcohol 11.4%
03/28/2020 The Hungarian oak cubes have been in the barrel a bit over 3 months. Since the taste is about right, I removed them.

I rinsed the cubes and am drying them on a towel, then I’ll bag ’em. From what I’ve read I can re-use them, with the understanding that a lot of the oak character has been leached out. When I want less oak character in a wine, I’ll soak the cubes briefly in sulfite, drain, and add to that wine.

04/15/2020 I figured out what happened in the barrel, why it blew the stopper several times. The fermentation restarted! Duh! Of course that’s why the SG dropped from 1.000 to 0.992. Both the barrel and the Squeezins’ (in carboy) restarted, and essentially being the same wine, they both fermented to the same final SG.

3 Responses

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