2021 Barbera

August 2021

I purchased a Finer Wine Kits (FWK) wine kit from Label Peelers to get a permanent 10% discount on the FWK, choosing a Barbera as I have nothing like it in the cellar. I don’t really need another red, but decided to secure the discount. I may not buy their reds in the future, as I purchase fresh California grapes, but have an interest in the white kits.

The FWK can be purchased as juice-only, or with 1 or 2 skin packs — packages of dried grape peel that are fermented with the juice to add body and complexity. I chose to go without skin packs to make a quicker drinking wine.

There will be 2 different posts for this one. This one, which is my normal wine making note, plus a blog that describes in great detail exactly how I make the wine.

The other blog includes a critique of the kit and the FWK process. At this time I expect my critique to be positive — FWK and Label Peelers produce excellent how-to videos, and my reading of the instructions provided with the kit matches the videos in quality.

Kit Finer Wine Kits Barbera
Nutrients Yeast starter nutrient packet
Wine nutrient packet #1
Wine nutrient packet #2
Fermentation Oak 1 packet, no description of species or toast
Yeast Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212
Sorbate N/A
Fining Agent Kieselsol & Chitosan, provided in kit
Glycerin 6 oz

Prepared the yeast starter by putting the yeast, the yeast starter nutrient pack, and 1 cup water in a wine bottle. Shook to mix and put an airlock on it to keep stuff out.

I’m impressed that FWK included a yeast other than EC-1118. That’s a good yeast, a real work horse, but it’s not specifically a red grape yeast.

Reconstituted the juice/concentrate using the usual method. Poured the concentrate into the fermenter, rinsed the bag with water and added to the fermenter. Topped to 23 liters and stirred well. Added wine nutrient packet #1 and fermentation oak.

SG 1.094
Added the yeast starter. The instructions stated to pour it down the inside of the fermenter, so the colony stayed more together. Supposedly the yeast reproduces faster as a larger group.

When I checked the SG, it had dropped a bit, so I checked in 3 places, getting the same result each time. The difference is not surprising; I expect the wine continued to blend overnight.

SG 1.091
Checked the SG in the morning to determine if it was time to add the second yeast nutrient packet. The target is 1.060, but if it’s below 1.070 I’d do it. The instructions say the packet can be added 2 days after pitching.

Wow! 1.035 was far lower than I expected! Added the packet and sniffed for H2S. So far, none detected, although I’ll be sniffing at each stirring and may do so daily during the first week in the carboy.

SG 1.035
I was going to rack last night, as yesterday morning the SG was 1.015, but we had a power outage. It didn’t last long, but I did not want to get into racking and have the power go off again.

Racked, filling a 5 gallon carboy and a 4 liter jug.

SG 0.998
Racked, degassed, added kieselsol & chitosan. Topped with a bottle of Montepulciano, as I’m too lazy to mess with multiple small containers. 08/30/2021
SG 0.996
Racked, added rounded 1/4 tsp K-meta. Added 1 oz medium toast Hungarian oak cubes. Topped with 1/3 bottle Montepulciano. 09/14/2021
SG 0.996
Racked, added rounded 1/4 tsp K-meta. Added 6 oz glycerin and bottled. 01/17/2022
SG 0.996

Yield 30 bottles
Alcohol 12.9%
At Bottling Saved a glass before adding glycerin, to compare against the modified wine. Base wine is a bit fruity with a sour aftertaste — this is not bad, I like it. This will be a good wine for hearty foods. At the end there was a couple oz of wine among the cubes, this was mixed with an equal part of modified wine. The oak taste is a bit unpleasant, especially tasted along side the base and modified wines. This is good evidence that stirring during bulk aging homogenizes the wine.
01/21/2022 I poured 2 glasses, one plain and one using an aerating pouring spout. Both glasses have a nice, fruity aroma. I didn’t detect much difference.

Non-Aerated: initial taste is fruity with a sour finish on the back of the tongue. Oddly enough, it’s pleasant.

Aerated: This wine doesn’t have a lot of tannin to soften, but the fruit is enhanced and the sour taste is softened. To serve this wine, I will use the aerator.

No doubt, this wine is young and will improve with age, but it’s very drinkable now. The hard part will be not touching it, as it’s nice now.

03/04/2022 As with the first tasting, I poured 2 glasses, one un-aerated and one aerated. Unless otherwise noted, this will be my tasting SOP. As with the last tasting, both have a fruity aroma, and I don’t detect any significant difference between them.

Non-Aerated: Fruity up front, and the sour finish is diminished.

Aerated: A bit more fruity up front, even less sour finish than the non-aerated. This wine has a stiffer, heavier spine than I expected. To explain — I expected a quick drinker, fruity and non-tannic, while having a decent body. While it is a quicker drinking wine, it’s got more depth than I expected. I suspect the follow-on  tastings will be surprising.

Given when I bottled it, it may have been in bottle shock the last time. This is not the same wine, 6 weeks later.

03/24/2022 Note: I do not look at previous notes before recording impressions, to keep this as honest as feasible.

Non-Aerated: Initial taste is fruity but not sweet. While some fruity wines give an impression of sugar, this one does not — it tastes like what I expect Barbera grapes taste like. There is still a pleasant hit of sourness in the aftertaste.

Aerated: Not as fruity as the non-aerated, and there’s definitely some tannin there, but it tastes like it’s the backbone of the wine, a stiffener, not an up-front flavoring. The sour aftertaste is not as strong as the non-aerated.

08/14/2023 Seventeen months have passed since the last recorded tasting, I’m down to 7 bottles of this wine.

Non-Aerated: The nose is muted as is the flavor. It’s got fruit, but honestly it’s disappointing for a 2 year old wine. Granted, it’s a concentrate-only wine with no skin packs, but I’m not impressed.

Aerated: Once again, aeration proves its value! This really opens the wine up. The nose is a little stronger, but it’s still not all that strong.

However, the aerated wine is fruitier, with a nice backbone of tannin keeping the fruit from being overpowering. It’s got a bit of a sour aftertaste, but at this point it’s more of an accent, and not a flaw. I’m not going to conserve my remaining bottles, but I will miss it when it’s gone.

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1 Response

  1. August 12, 2021

    […] This blog is a step-by-step description of making a Finer Wine Kits (FWK) according to their directions. This is a how-to combined with a critique of both the kit and the instructions. I am also maintaining my normal wine log in a separate post. […]

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