2019 Malbec

October 2019

I purchased 180 lbs of Malbec from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley CA. This is the first fresh grapes I’ve done in twenty years, and the first time for west coast grapes.

Grape 180# Malbec from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley, CA
Pectic Enzyme 60 drops liquid
Yeast 2 packages Red Star Premier Rouge
1 package Red Star Premier Rouge
Yeast Nutrient 2 tsp, initially
Fermentation Oak 8 oz French oak chips, medium toast
Fermax 10 tsp
Sulfite potassium metabisulfite added at various points (see below)
Fining Agent 5 tsp bentonite
Acid acid blend added at various points (see below)
Aging Oak 4 oz medium toast French oak cubes
Carbonate 6 tsp Calcium Carbonate
Cherry Juice 10 quarts
Sorbate 4 tsp

Crushed & destemmed the grapes, let rest. Grapes are cold, need to warm up. 10/19/2019
SG 1.093
Added pectic enzyme, yeast rehydrated with 2 tsp nutrient, and fermentation oak. 10/20/2019
SG 1.093
Added Fermax, punched cap down. Was not visibly fermenting the way the Merlot was, so added another package of rehydrated yeast.

SG is higher than yesterday, chalked it up to inaccurate testing due to must not well mixed. Double-checked today’s figure, got same result.

Tested TA and pH. Results on TA are inconclusive (I suck at acid titration) but pH is high, above 4.0.

Cap is punched down daily, will not check SG again until Friday. Added 1 tsp acid blend per day for 3 days to increase acid without shocking the yeast.

SG 1.104
Drained free run juice and pressed lightly. Moved to carboys. Pomace used for second run wine. 10/27/2019
SG 1.008
Racked. Stirred wine to reduce CO2 and added 5 tsp bentonite and 3/4 tsp K-meta, as I have about 12 gallons. 11/11/2019
SG 0.992
Racked, added 1/2 tsp K-meta and 5 tsp acid blend as pH is still around 4.0. Total volume is a bit over 11 gallons. 11/24/2019
SG 0.993
Drew samples and added the equivalent of 1/2, 1, 1-1/2, and 2 tsp acid blend per gallon. Tasting indicated 1-1/2 tsp/gallon will produce the best flavor, although the pH is still around 3.8. 01/11/2020
SG 0.993
I screwed up. The wine is too acidic. I’m going to test again in a month, at which time I’ll rack it and probably add an acid reducing agent.

Note to self — when adding acid, go in baby steps.

SG 0.993
Racked. Added 1/4 tsp K-meta and 1/2 tsp calcium carbonate to each carboy.

Added 2 oz medium toast French oak cubes to each carboy.

SG 0.994
Racked 1 carboy. Tartrate crystals were present, so the calcium carbonate did its job.

Added 2 tsp sorbate and 1/4 tsp K-meta, along with 5 quarts cherry juice. This covers the off flavor previously noted.

SG 0.995
SG 1.013
Bottled the Malbec/cherry carboy.

1 gallon of Malbec remains, which will be bottled “as is” to see how it develops.

SG 1.013
Added 5 quarts of cherry juice, 2 tsp sorbate, and 1/4 tsp K-meta to the second carboy and bottled it. 06/28/2020
SG 1.013
Bottled the remaining gallon + 1.5 liter bottle. The bottle was labeled “Zinfandel” but the notes state that it has 750 ml Malbec + 375 ml Squeezins’, so it’s more Malbec than anything. 09/15/2020
SG 0.994

Yield 61 bottles Malbec-Cherry
7 bottles Malbec
Alcohol 10.8% Malbec-Cherry
13.5% Malbec
Residual Sugar 3.3% Malbec-Cherry
0.0% Malbec
06/28/2020 The wine is still very green, although the addition of cherry juice makes it much more drinkable. Chilled, it’s tasty. It needs aging, although I expect this one will go rather quickly.
09/15/2020 Bottled the remainder to free the containers. While I considered aging it to use as a control vs. the cherry version, I’ll probably use it up sooner than later.
12/21/2021 It’s taken 2 years, but the Malbec-Cherry has mellowed to the point where I’m ok with it. It will never be a favorite, but it’s acceptable. The funny thing? Others like it FAR more than I do!