2021 Rhone Blend

November 2021

Eric & I are plowing ahead with our plans to make a Rhone-style wine this fall. While we had intended to do it with fresh grapes, that didn’t work out. So … we are making as close to a Rhone blend as possible. This should be interesting.



Note: I was going to create a separate label for the “fined” version, but decided it was too much hassle. I simply wrote an “F” on the label to the right of the description.


Note: This batch of wine is made using 3 kits, so all ingredients are tripled, e.g., a Forte kit normally contains 2 grape skin packs, so 6 are listed below.

Fruit Finer Wine Kits Forte Syrah
Finer Wine Kits Forte Petite Sirah
Finer Wine Kits Forte Merlot
Yeast 3x Lalvin Bourgovin RC-212
Nutrients 3x Nutrient packet A (must)
3x Nutrient packet B (yeast starter)
3x Nutrient packet C (must)
Maceration Enzyme 3 tsp ScottZyme ColorPro enzyme (this is not included in the kit — I purchased it to use with fresh grapes, but am using it here since I have it)
Grape Skin & Seeds 6x grape skin packs AND 3x seed packs
Muslin Bags 6x bags (for grape skins)
Fermentation Oak 3x 1.5 oz packet toasted oak chips
Aging Oak 3x 1.5 packet toasted oak cubes
Fining Agents kieselsol & chitosan (kits included 3, but I used only one as a test on 1 carboy of wine)
Glycerin 8 oz + 4 oz
K-meta as needed

Prepared the yeast starter by putting all 3 yeast and yeast starter nutrient pack B in a 1.5 liter wine bottle. Added 2 cups water and shook to mix. Placed a towel over it to keep stuff out. This will be used tomorrow.

Poured the concentrates into the fermenter; the Merlot was partially frozen. Rinsed each bag 3 times using a gallon of water each. Added a total of 13.2 gallons of water to the must. I started stirring with a drill-mounted stirring rod after the 7th gallon while Eric poured. Given the amount of must and the thickness of the concentrate, this amount of stirring was required.

Added Scottzyme ColoPro enzyme. When I saw the skin packs, I was positive the enzyme will help with color extraction.

Prepared the skin packs — each was dumped into a separate muslin bag, which was tied and dunked in the must. The skins are very dry.

Added wine nutrient packet #A, grape seeds, and fermentation oak. Stirred again, ensuring the skin bags were well soaked.

The must temperature is 60.0 F. This should be ready to inoculate tomorrow. Checked the SG — 1.092. This within the indicated range (1.090 to 1.110), but is disappointing. If it doesn’t increase, we will chaptalize to 1.100.

SG 1.092
Temperature of the must rose to 64.4 F, while the room is at 62.3 F. I was hoping for 66 F, but this should be close enough, and with the room that cold, the must temperature won’t go up.

Checked the SG — after resting all night, the SG is up to 1.101, which is the target I was hoping for.

Swirled the starter to mix. Inoculated by carefully pouring the starter down the inside of the fermenter.

SG 1.101
Racked the wine. Pressed the skin packs. Moved to three 19 liter carboys, a 3 gallon carboy, and a 1.5 liter bottle. 11/19/2021
SG 0.999
Racked the wine, adding 1 tsp K-meta. Filled the barrel. 02/10/2022
SG 0.999
Topped the barrel with 1.75 bottles. 07/16/2022
SG 0.999
Topped the barrel with 1.0 bottles. Added 1 tsp K-meta 08/14/2022
SG 0.999
Racked the barrel and homogenized with 2+ other gallons (unoaked wine).

Drained dregs of barrel and small containers into 19 liter carboy. Added 1/4 tsp K-meta, kieselsol, and chitosan. Filled carboy from homogenized wine. This will set for 2 to 4 weeks, then will be racked and bottled.

Added 1/2 tsp K-meta and 8 oz glycerin to the homogenized wine. Bottled.

It’s interesting that the SG dropped near the end. I’m puzzled about that.

SG 0.996
Racked the reserved carboy that was treated with K&C, adding 1/4 tsp K-meta. Reserved 3 bottles for making Port, and added 4 oz glycerin to batch. Bottled. 11/27/2022
SG 0.996

Yield 57.5 bottles unfined wine
22 bottles fined wine + 3 bottles reserved for Port
Alcohol 14.3%
11/21/2022 Cleaning up my winemaking notes. I found a lot of things I missed, such as noting when I inoculated. I need to proofread my notes better.
11/27/2022 The wine treated with K&C had a bit more sediment than I expected, and tasted very good at bottling. In April/May of next year we’ll pop a cork on the treated and untreated wine, and do a blind comparison.
04/02/2024 The wine is coming up on 2.5 years old, so it’s time to taste test:

Unaerated: The color is pure ink. I used Color Pro on skin packs, and it was a heavy dose. It has a strong aroma, and a “generic red” smell. It’s good, but not distinctive to any varietal. The taste displays fruit, with tannin in the middle of the tongue in the aftertaste. Like with the aroma, it’s not associated with any varietal. In fact, it doesn’t taste like a Rhone, even though two of the grapes are Rhone grapes. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t match the intended profile.

Aerated: I get less nose than the unaerated. The fruit isn’t quite as forward and the tannin aftertaste is missing. In its place is a sensation of acid on the cheeks and gums — not unpleasant, just obvious. Most of the time I prefer aeration, but for this one I prefer the unaerated.

The average person who likes red wine but isn’t really into the details will like this one.

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