2023 Merlot

October 2023

This fall’s plan for the barrel wines is to make 3 batches: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. The CS and CF will be barrel aged, and next fall we’ll make 2 blends. The current thought, that will be adjusted by bench testing in a year, are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Cabernet Franc 30%, Merlot 10%
  • Cabernet Franc 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 10%

This will make two distinctly different wines.

This wine will be glass aged and used for blending. If there is any leftover following blending, we’ll probably blend it into the 2023 Chambourcin.


Ingredients

Fruit 8 lugs Lodi Central Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Maceration Enzyme 8 ml ScottZyme Color Pro
Nutrient 10 tsp Fermax
6 tsp YAN
Acid 3 tsp tartaric acid
Fermentation Oak 4 cups American oak chips
Sulfite as needed
Yeast/Starter 2 tsp Renaissance Avante, 1/2 tsp Fermax, 3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Renaissance Bravo, 1/2 tsp Fermax, 3 Tbsp sugar
Aging Oak
Glycerin
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Method

Crushed 4 lugs (144 lbs) of grapes, which will be fermented in two batches of 1 and lugs respectively.

The intention was that CS #1 will be fermented with Bravo and CS #2 will be fermented with Avante. Made starter for each yeast with 1 cup water (~95 F), 3 tsp yeast, 1/2 tsp Fermax, 3 Tbsp sugar.

[I made 6 starters, 3 Avante and 3 Bravo, with one of the Bravo being a smaller amount of yeast as it’s for a 1 lug batch.]

10/28/2023
SG —
Checked the SG and pH on both batches prior to inoculation. The SG on both is good, although different.

The pH is very high on both, 4.07 and 4.13, respectively. Since they are so high I added 2 tsp tartaric acid to the large batch and 1 tsp to the smaller.

Added 2 tsp Fermax to the large batch and 1 tsp to the smaller.

10/29/2023
#1 SG 1.103
#2 SG 1.108
Fermentation took off, as expected. I realized I did not add Color Pro or oak, so I added 3 ml Color Pro  to the larger batch and 1 ml to the smaller. Added 1 cups oak chips to each fermenter. 10/30/2023
SG —
Added 1 tsp YAN to each fermenter at the morning punch down. I have not checked SG as it probably has not dropped enough to matter. 10/31/2023
SG —
Yesterday I checked SG — 1.012 and 1.010. YIKES. While neither batch appears ready for pressing, everything is lined up.

We pressed 9 gallons combined from both batches. The overall SG was 1.004, which is fine. Not optimal, but fine.

11/05/2023
SG 1.004
Racked the wines, consolidating carboys. pH is 3.77, which is a bit high, but this wine will be blended with the CS and CF, which have lower pH, so it’s unlikely to be a problem.

Filled a 23 liter carboy with Merlot, and blended the remaining wine with CS to fill a 19 liter carboy roughly 2/3 CS, 1/3 Merlot.

11/12/2023
SG 0.996
Racked the 23 liter carboy of Merlot into a 19 liter and 1 US gallon jug as I need the 23 liter for a different batch. I’m going to use the Merlot for barrel topup, so it made sense to use this one. 12/24/2023
SG 0.996
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Notes

Yield ?? bottles
Alcohol ??.?% ABV
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