2022 Tempranillo

October 2022

We are doing something different this fall.

Mostly due to space reasons, in the past I’ve made field blends, e.g., select different amounts of varietals, ferment them together, and hope I chose well. This isn’t as risky as it sounds, as I research grape varieties and select ones that work well together. In recent years I make enough to have a batch that fills each of the 54 liter barrels I own.

This year we are making two varietals, Grenache (Rhone, France grape) and Tempranillo (Spanish grape), and each will be barrel aged for ~1 year on its own. We are also making a field blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Mourvedre (all Rhone grapes), which I’m dubbing the 2022 Rhone Blend. This wine will be carboy aged for the same period.

Next fall we will bench test adding small amounts of the Rhone Blend into the Grenache and Tempranillo.

We performed bench testing at bottling time, trying 100% Tempranillo plus blends with 5%, 10%, and 15% of the 2022 Rhone Blend. We really like the Tempranillo as-is, but also like the 5% blend. More than 5% of the Rhone Blend overshadowed the Tempranillo instead of complementing it. 

Our solution? Do both. We bottled 3 cases of straight Tempranillo, using one of the labels we planned for it:

Then we bottled 4 cases of of the 5% blend, using the other label we planned for the Tempranillo:

Fruit 8 lugs (288 lbs) Tempranillo
K-meta 2 tsp
Maceration Enzyme 3 tsp ScottZyme ColorPro enzyme
Nutrient 16 tsp Fermax
Acid 12 tsp tartaric acid
Fermentation Oak 8 cups medium toast shredded American oak
Yeast Batch #1: Lalvin RC-212
Batch #2: Renaissance Avante
Aging Oak 2 oz medium toast Hungarian oak cubes
Glycerin 14 oz glycerin

When crushing the grapes we found moldy grapes in the bottom of 6 of the 8 lugs. I had to completely toss a few clusters, and tossed part of at least a dozen clusters. I was VERY unhappy with the quality of the grapes. Post-crushing, I added a healthy dose of K-meta to each fermenter (fermenting in 4 lug batches), and did it again when I got home.

At home each batch received 1-1/2 tsp ScottZyme ColorPro, 4 cups shredded oak, and 6 tsp tartaric acid (based on results of pH test strip).

Made 2 yeast starters with 1 cup 95 F water, 1 tsp Fermax, and 2 tsp sugar. Starter #1 received 3 packets Lalvin RC-212, while Starter #2 received 4 tsp Renaissance Avante. The starters were put in wine bottles, left on the kitchen counter for 4 hours, then moved to the cellar next to the fermenters.

I didn’t bother checking  SG at this point.

SG —
Stirred the batches and checked SG. Batch #1, which will receive Starter #1, has SG 1.096. Batch #2, which will receive Starter#2, has SG 1.090. As with the Grenache, I was surprised at the difference, but it’s not a complete surprise. I checked the SG three times in different spots in both batches, getting the same results, so I’m confident the readings are accurate.

For the purposes of my notes, I’m averaging the readings and calling it 1.093.

Added the respective starters to each batch.

SG 1.093
Starting today I do punch downs 3 to 4 times per day.

During the first few days I don’t bother with SG readings, as it’s a PITA. The good news is the wine is fermenting well with no off-odors.

SG —
Added 2 tsp Fermax to each fermenter prior to the morning punch down. I checked SG and both were around 1.070, about 1/3 of the way through fermentation. The exact reading is not important — I just need to know roughly how far along the ferment is. 10/11/2022
SG 1.070
I got a scare this morning — Batch #1 that has RC-212, I got a whiff of H2S! RC-212 can produce H2S if the yeast is stressed by low nutrients, and this is the one thing that must be addressed quickly in winemaking. I added 1 tsp K-meta and stirred the heck out of it.

I checked the Grenache Batch #1 and didn’t detect anything, but added an additional 1 tsp Fermax as a preventative.

SG —
I checked the wine at each punch down for H2S — it looks like I caught it early and it’s fine.

Pressed the wines, combining both batches. We cranked the basket press handle until we could not turn it, but did not use the ratchet.

The pomace was added to a Finer Wine Kits Tavola Merlot, which is detailed in 2022 Merlot Kit / Tempranillo Pomace.

SG 0.995
While I had not intended to rack for 2 or 3 weeks, I messed up in the allocation of carboys and had to rack and redistribute as I need certain carboys for tomorrow night’s pressing of other grapes.

Racked all containers into a Brute to homogenize. Added 1 tsp K-meta, then racked into 54 liter demijohn and other containers.

SG 0.995
Racked and homogenized the carboys, adding 1 tsp K-meta (18 gallons of wine). Filled the barrel. 11/05/2022
SG 0.995
Running 2 weeks behind topping schedule, doing it after 6 weeks instead of 4. Topped with 2 bottles of wine.

Compared the barrel wine to the topup — the barrel wine is slightly darker, noticed only in side-by-side comparison. Overall the wine is thinner than I prefer, and doesn’t have the color the previous 2 years’ wines do. However, the barrel wine has slightly more body, so a year in the barrel should do good things.

Added 2 oz oak cubes. Given how last years’ wines developed a most pronounced oak flavor after bottling, we decided to go low on oak.

SG 0.995
Topped the barrel with 1.5 bottles of wine. 01/14/2023
SG 0.995
Topped the barrel with 1.5 bottles of wine. 03/23/2023
SG 0.995
Realized I haven’t added K-meta recently, so added 3/4 tsp to the barrel, and scant 1/4 tsp to the carboy. Made solution of 6 Tbsp water with 1/4 tsp K-meta, and added 1 Tbsp to each 4 liter jug. 04/07/2023
SG 0.995
Topped the barrel with 750 ml wine. 04/23/2023
SG 0.995
Topped with a bit under 750 ml of the Rhone Blend. As with the Grenache, the only topup I have is in a 12 liter carboy, which I did not feel like subdividing. Since I’m probably going to blend in some of the 2022 Rhone Blend anyway, I used that. 06/17/2023
SG 0.995
Topped with 750 ml of the Rhone blend. Added 3/4 tsp K-meta to the barrel. 07/19/2023
SG 0.995
Topped with 750 ml of the Rhone blend. 08/23/2023
SG 0.995
Topped with 1.75 liters Rhone bend. 09/27/2023
SG 0.995
Topped with 750 ml Rhone bend. 10/26/2023
SG 0.995
Bottled. From taste tested we elected to bottle 3 cases as a straight Tempranillo and the remaining 4 cases blended with 5% of the 2022 Rhone Blend. 11/10/2023
SG 0.995

Yield 36 bottles Tempranillo
48 bottles Tempranill0 95% / Rhone Blend 5%
Alcohol 13.3%
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