I’m making a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux style blend this year. As part of that I’m fermenting 2 batches of Merlot, one with American oak as a fermentation oak, and one with French oak. They will probably get blended together, but this is an experiment to see if it’s worth paying a bit more for shredded French oak.
Note: Originally the two Merlot batches were tracked in separate logs, but I’ve combined them as they progressed the same and it’s easier to keep track of things in one log. The designations “Batch #1” and “Batch #2” are:
Batch #1 has American oak.
Batch #2 has French oak.
This log tracks the fermentation and pressing of this wine. Post-fermentation I have 3 records to track:
Unoaked Merlot 1 — I’m reserving 4 liters, which will remain unoaked, and bottled separately. This wine is for comparison purposes in future years, and will continue to be tracked in this log.
Meritage — One barrel contains only free run wine, a blend of 2/3 Merlot and 1/3 Vinifera Blend. This wine is tracked in a separate log.
Meritage Plus – The second barrel contains everything else, and is roughly 40% Merlot, 20% Vinifera Blend, and 40% Zinfandel. This wine is tracked in a separate log.
Note: I’m using the name “Meritage”, which is copyright by the Meritage Alliance. This group was founded to create and protect a name for Bordeaux-style wines that does not violate French law regarding the use of the name “Bordeaux”. Commercial wineries pay a fee to the Alliance to use the name. I’m not commercial, my wines are not for sale, and will never be tasted by anyone other that family and friends, so I don’t feel bad about using the name. If I went commercial, I’d join the Alliance.
I bottled the the 1 gallon samples of the Merlot, Zinfandel, Vinifera Blend, unoaked Meritage, and unoaked Meritage Plus with a simple label:
|Grape||B #1: 144# Merlot from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley, CA
B #2: 144# Merlot from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley, CA
|Enzyme||B #1: 2 tsp Scottzyme Color Pro
B #2: 2 tsp Scottzyme Color Pro
|Fermentation Oak||B #1: 1 lb shredded American oak, medium toast
B #2: 1 lb shredded French oak, medium toast
|Yeast||B #1: 2 packages Red Star Premier Rouge
B #2: 2 packages Red Star Premier Rouge
|Nutrient||B #1: 12 tsp Fermax
B #2#: 12 tsp Fermax
|Sulfite||potassium metabisulfite added at various points (see below)|
|The two batches fermented identically.
Crushed & destemmed the grapes. Grapes at 52 F, have to warm up to 65 F before inoculation.
Added Scottzyme Color Pro for improved color extraction and fermentation oak to each batch. As stated above, Batch #1 has American oak and Batch #2 has French oak.
|Temperature rose to 67 F in the afternoon. Added 12 tsp Fermax and yeast to each batch.||10/11/2020
|Added 6 Tsp Fermax to each batch.||10/14/2020
|Drained the free run wine. I reserved 2 gallons of each batch, which will continue to be tracked in this log. The remainder is part of the Meritage blend.
Medium pressed the pomace. This is moved into the Meritage Plus blend.
American and French fermentation oak made a difference, the American is a bit fruitier. Eric & I both prefer the American, although the wine is so green at this time that things could change after aging.
|Racked. I messed up, as I was keeping the batches 1 & 2 wines separate, but mixed them up during racking. Plan B, just blend the two batches and don’t worry about it.
I reduced the Merlot to a two 4 liter jugs and one 1.5 liter wine bottle. The remainder is moved to the Meritage blend as these are free run wines.
Both Merlot 1 & 2 are tracked in this log, from this point forwards.
|Racked. I reduced this batch to a single 4 liter jug. The remainder is moved to the Meritage blend, as I only want 5 bottles of the unoaked Merlot. Since I goofed, mixing #1 & #2 batches, there’s no need for more bottles.||02/25/2021
|Racked, added K-meta, bottled.||09/28/2021
|09/28/2021||The wine is a bit tannic at bottling time, which surprised me. The Zinfandel is as well, but the Vinifera Blend is not. Odd.|