2006 Malbec (Columbia Valley) - Frozen in fall 2006, Fermented in Spring 2007

Grape Info
Amount:                            Two 5 gallon frozen pails, ~93 Pounds Malbec Grapes
Cost:                                 $109 per pail
Grower:                            Columbia Gorge Malbec Vineyard (purchased via Brehm Vineyards)
Area:                                 Hood River, Oregon
Date Picked:                   10/26/2006 - Crushed, Frozen Quickly
Date Received:               3/9/2007 - Morning: 8:00am
Brix Level (must):           22.2  (label), 23.5 (reading)
Acid Level (must):          0.73  (label), ~0.87 (reading)
PH Level (must):            3.37 (label), 3.30 +/- 0.05 (calibrated reading)
SO2 Level (must)           0.0 (label), 1/4 tsp per 5 gal (added)

General Notes
- Crushed and Frozen and kept at -5C.

General Plans
This is a bench test run - split 10 gallons of must into 4 fermenters.  When at room temperature, blend all pails together and mix, then test numbers.  Add 1/4 tsp per 5gal of SO2.  Equally divide-up the blended must into four fermenters (6 gallon plastic food grade)

Test Plans
a. Cold Soak (48 hours) + Standard Fermentation + oak after fermentation
    * this is the baseline test

b. Cold Soak (48 hours) + Standard Fermentation + MLF + oak after fermentation
    * See how numbers and taste differ from batch 'a'

c. Cold Soak (48 hours) + Standard Fermentation + oak during fermentation
    * See how numbers and taste differ from batch 'a'

d. Cold Soak (48 hours) + Extended Maceration + oak after fermentation
    * See how numbers and taste differ from batch 'a'


Day 1 (Friday March 9th, 2007)

- Picked up the grapes from the freezer facility on the east side of Portland at 8am.  Pails were
  frozen solid at -5C.
- Brought grapes home, placed up stairs in second bedroom.
- 8:30am: Must Temperature: 32F.
- 8:30am: Ambient Temperature: 72F.

                          pail label                                                frozen pails - defrosting


Day 3 (Sunday March 11th, 2007)

- 12:30pm: Removed anything strange on top of must in pail. 100% thawed at this point.
- 12:45pm: Stirred each pail of must so that I can get a good temperature reading
- 1:00pm: Must Temperature: 58F.  Will wait a while to inoculate, want > 60F.
- 1:00pm: Ambient Temperature: 72F
- 1:10pm: Added 1/4 tsp SO2 per 5 gallon pail, stirred.
- 2:30pm: Readings
    BRIX:    23.5 (juice was 60F and had some small particulates)
    PH:        3.30 +/- 0.05
    TA:         ~0.87
- 3:00pm: Combined both 5gal pails of must into one large 20gal fermenter
- 3:10pm: Fully blended the two pails together by stirring
- 3:15pm: Split the 10gal of must into 4 equal 6gal fermenters with 2.5 gal each (did best to
                   get equal amounts of skins in each fermenter)
- 3:30pm: Must Temperature: 64F
- 3:30pm: Added 1 tsp DAP (yeast food) per 2.5 gal fermenter (1/2 of total planned)
- 3:45pm: Inoculated with yeast [Lalvin EC-1118] 2.5g per 2.5gal.  Sprinkled dry yeast, no mix
- 3:50pm: Added 1.5 oz oak chips (French Medium Toast) - to fermenter "c".
- 9:30pm: Fermenter temperature: 69F.

           four equally filled fermenters                               fermenter temperature

      yeast dry sprinkled on top of must                           added oak to batch "b"

                     TA Test = ~0.87
 (colors using flash don't look quite right)


Day 4 (Monday March 12th, 2007)
- 6:30am: Checked on the fermentation progress.  Small bubbles forming, fermentation
                  definitely under way.
- 7:00pm: fermenter temperature 70F.

                 small bubbles forming


Day 5 (Tuesday March 13th, 2007)
- 12:15pm: Checked on the fermentation progress.  Cap starting to form.  Smell changing
                     from yeasty to pungent.
- 12:15pm: Punched down cap (1st)
- 10:15pm: Cap has formed and is fully floating.
- 10:15pm: Punched down cap (2nd)
- 10:15pm: Fermenter Temperature: 70F
- 11:30pm: Tested PH and TA
                     Batch 'a':   PH: 3.16 +/- 0.05, TA: ~0.95
                     Batch ''b':  PH: 3.16 +/- 0.05, TA: ~0.95
                     Batch 'c':   PH: 3.16 +/- 0.05, TA: ~0.95
                     Batch 'd':   PH: 3.24 +/- 0.05, TA: ~0.90
1:45am: Punched down the cap (3rd)
- 1:45am: Covered all fermenters with a sheet to help keep in the heat

- During the first 48 hours of fermentation, the TA seems to have increased instead of
  decreasing as you would normally expect.
- I found a web-site http://www.winemakermag.com/mrwizard/676.html that talks about this.
  The author believes that this is not uncommon.  The applicable section is about half way
   through the article.
- If the TA values hold for a few more days - I will force MLF on batches 'b', 'c', and 'd', instead
  of just batch 'b'.  Keeping batch 'a' as the control batch.

                        cap has formed                             punching with large stainless spoon

                 punching is complete                                      fermenter temperature

                                             TA test                                        covered the fermenters to raise temp                  
 (colors using flash don't look quite right)

                      PH test, batch 'd'

Day 6 (Wednesday March 14th, 2007)
-   9:00am: Cap fully developed, much deeper than yesterday
-   9:00am: Punched down cap (1st)
-   9:00am: Fermenter temperature: 72F
-   7:00pm: Punched down cap (2nd)
-   9:45pm: Fermenter temperature: 78F
-   9:45pm: Punched down cap (3rd)
- 10:45pm: Added 2nd and last round of DAP (yeast food) - 1 tsp per 2.5 gal fermenter.
- 11:00pm: Tested BRIX, PH, and TA
                     Batch 'a':   PH: 3.14 +/- 0.05, TA: ~0.95, BRIX: 12.0
- 11:15pm: Turned up ambient temperature to try to get fermenter temperature to 85F for at
                     least one day.

- This wine's color is absolutely amazing - deep and dark.  Darker than anything I have made
   to this point.
- Standard Fermentation is half way done... BRIX has dropped from 23.5 to 12.0 in three
  days.  This is right on schedule.
- TA and PH seem to have held steady for the last 24 hours - after significantly rising for the
  first 48 hours.  Will most likely need to adjust slightly with calcium carbonate later to bring
  TA to under 0.7.  The good news is that the must has a proper balance between TA  and 
  PH, unlike my 2006 Syrah, so the PH will still be in line if an addition is necessary.
- The liquid MLF starter that I purchased requires a PH of at least 2.9 and temperature of 60
  degrees (from label).  The potential alcohol is 13.0 percent for this wine, so we should end
  up between 12.5 and 13.0.  This is not too high for MLF either.  I will try waiting until the main
  fermentation is complete before starting MLF.  If MLF starts with sugar remaining - it converts
  the sugar to volatile acids (acetic acid) - which is not wanted.  This is why I want to wait.

                          nice full cap                                       a few inches deep with only 2.5
                                                                                                   gallons of must

                  morning temperature                                        evening temperature
                  BRIX test, batch 'a'                                               PH test batch 'a'


Day 7 (Thursday March 15th, 2007)
-  9:00am:  Punched down cap (1st)
-  9:00am:  Fermenter temperature 79F
-  9:00am:  Turned up ambient temperature to 75F
-  1:15pm:  Punched down cap (2nd)
-  1:15pm:  Fermenter temperature 79F
-  7:30pm:  Placed space heater in room, turned on low.
-  9:00pm:  Punched down cap (3rd)
-  9:00pm:  Internal must temperature 81F
- 11:00pm: Punched down cap (4th)
- 11:00pm: Internal must temperature 82F
- 11:00pm: Raised ambient temperature to ~80F
- 11:30pm: Tested PH (Re-calibrated PH meter @ 7.01, then 4.01)
                    Batch 'a':   PH: 3.34 +/- 0.05
- 11:45pm: Decided to leave the space heater on low over night - trying to keep internal must
                     temperature over 80F and hopefully at least 85F.

OK, so I learned my lesson here!  You must RECALIBRATE your PH meter EVERY time you
  use it - even if you have not used it for just a few hours.  The last two times I checked PH I did
  not calibrate the unit, and the results were way too low.  However, I did calibrate it for the
  original PH test on the unfermented must.
- The PH has actually climbed 0.04, which is in line with a totally standard main fermentation. 
- Normally one would expect TA to fall between 0.05 and 0.10, and PH to rise slightly.
- I will test TA tomorrow using a different method.  I am now questioning the validity of the
  test-tube kit I bought (turns a color - read based off of chart).
- Fermentation has peeked in the last 24 hours.
                fermenter temperature                                    internal must temperature

                added space heater                                           re-calibrated PH test


Day 8 (Friday March 16th, 2007)
-  7:15amPunched down cap (1st)
-  7:15am:  Internal must temperature 83F
-  7:15am:  Turned up ambient in room again with space heater - still trying to get a few more
                    degrees out of the must.
-  5:00pm:  Turned off the space heater
-  5:00pm:  Internal must temperature 88F
-  5:00pm:  Ambient temperature 98F (only for a few hours)
-  5:15pm:  Tested BRIX and PH (Re-calibrated PH meter @ 7.01, then 4.01)
                    Batch 'a:  BRIX: -1.0, PH: 3.46 +/- 0.05  
                    Batch 'b':  BRIX: -1.0, PH: 3.45 +/- 0.05
                    Batch 'c':  BRIX: -1.0, PH: 3.43 +/- 0.05  
                    Batch 'd':  BRIX: -1.0, PH: 3.43 +/- 0.05    
-  6:00pm:  Took wine sample to mainbrew for TA test.
                    Batch 'b':  TA: 0.65 - 0.75
- 10:45pm: Punched down cap (2nd): This is the last punch down - cap has diminished and
                     BRIX are <= 0.0.
- 11:00pm: Placed plastic wrap on top of the must in each of the four fermenters because
                     BRIX is below 0.0.  I will press batches 'a', 'b', and 'c' tomorrow.  Batch 'd' will go
                     through extended maceration, so it will stay under the plastic for a little while

- Time to press (BRIX at or below 0.0.  I will either borrow Curt's press tomorrow, or rent one
  from mainbrew.
- So, it seems that my gut feel about the expensive little TA tests was right.  They still show a
  TA of around 0.9 - 0.95 for the same wine that shows 0.65 - 0.75 with sodium hydroxide test.
- Mainbrew will call the manufacturer of the TA test kit to ask for explanation.
- So it would seem that everything is back on track!  We have a normal TA, normal PH, good
  extraction of color... and all of this was without any additives.
- Will test PH and TA of each again at pressing tomorrow - if TA is 0.75 or below, I will only do
  MLF on batch 'b' as planned.

             BRIX test - ready for press                                               PH test

       plastic wrap for oxygen protection


Day 9 (Saturday March 17th, 2007)
2:00pm: Rented ratcheting basket press from mainbrew
- 8:00pm: Pressed batches 'a', 'b', and 'c'.  Left batch 'd' with plastic wrap over it for extended
                  maceration.  All 3 batches pressed 1.5 gallons.  Each has free-run in 1gal jug    
                  pressing in 1/2gal jug.

- Tasted batch 'a'.  Very fruity - seems like a lot more flavor than my first 2 batches.
- Tasted batch 'c'. Very tannic - most likely from the oak treatment during fermentation.
- Will wait to test TA and PH until after 2nd racking.

              basket press read to go                           inside shot of clean basket press

               wood blocks for press                                  1gal jug with funnel and tube

      clean stoppers, airlocks, and caps                                pressed skins

               6 filled and labeled jugs

Day 10 (Sunday March 18th, 2007)
- 9:00am: added SO2 to batches 'a' and 'c'.  Batch 'b' does not get yet because of MLF.
- 9:15am: added 3/4 tsp per gallon of potassium sorbate to batches 'a' and 'c'.
- 9:30am: added 25 ml per gallon of liquid MLF starter (Wyeast Labratories - pure oenococcus
                  oeni) to batch 'b'.
- 5:00pm: added 0.2 grams per gallon of lecuofood to batch 'b' (MLF food)
- 5:15pm: turned up heat in room with batch 'b' (MLF) and batch 'd' (ext. mac).  Want 75F.
                  Currently only 72F.

         1gal + 1/2 gal to undergo MLF                             Closeup of airlock under
                                                                                                   notice pressure

gross lees at bottom


Day 11 (Monday March 19th, 2007)
- bought a CO2 injector from mainbrew.
- punched down remaining cap in batch 'd'
- tasted batch 'd' - fruity with tart/tannic bite.
- blasted a CO2 blanket over batch 'd'
- ambient temperature 76F in room for batch 'b' undergoing MLF.  Shows slight pressure - not
  much CO2 being produced at this time.


Day 12 (Tuesday March 20th, 2007)

- 6:45pm: punched down remaining cap on batch 'd' (a few bubbles released when punching)
- 6:45pm: tasted batch 'd' - much less fruity than yesterday.  Dry and tannic.  I don't think
                  yesterday was the "softening" of tannins - I believe yesterday's fruity taste was
                  remaining (not new) - and the softening is still to come. We will see :).  Maybe we
                  will end up with a load of nasty juice. :)


Day 13 (Wednesday March 21st, 2007)

- 9:00am: blanketed batch 'd' with CO2
- 8:30pm: cap has fallen completely in batch 'd'.  Nothing to punch down.
- 8:30pm: tasted batch 'd' - a little more tart than yesterday, but much more balanced tannins.
                  I wouldn't say that it has softened - but it tastes much better to me.  Interesting how
                  different it has tasted quite different over the last 3 days.
- 8:30pm: blanketed batch 'd' with more CO2 - trying to decide if tonight is pressing night.
- 9:00pm: decided it is time to press!  I think it has truely softened today.  Called Scott.
- 9:30pm: pressed batch 'd' - received 1gal jug + 1/2gal jug + two 750ml bottles.
- 9:30pm: didn't add any sulfite yet - will wait until racking off the gross lees in 2 to 4 weeks.
- 1:00am: stirred the lees for batch 'b' (MLF). 
- 1:15am: time period between bubbles in airlock - 10 minutes.
- 1:15am: noticing tiny bubbles forming on the surface of the wine in the neck of the jugs.  This
                  is a sign that MLF has started.  Not too bad - took only 3 days.

- Seems that batch 'b' has finally started MLF!  This is great.  Need to double check bubble period in the morning.  Hopefully bubbles have not just been introduced when I stirred the lees.


Day 14 (Thursday March 22nd, 2007)
TODO: monitor MLF in batch 'b' - verify if it has started or not
TODO: smell all batches to make sure there is nothing odd is going on


April 15th (5 weeks)
- Racked into new 1 gal jugs.  Mixed in any bottles of same type.


August 1st (6 months)
- Racked, Sulfited (1/4 tsp per 5gal), and Tasted.  Amazing differnece between batches.
- standard ferm batch is a little light on flavor - quite fruity, slightly tannic, but not sour.
- MLF batch is much less fruity than the standard ferm.  Can't say it is any better though.
- Oak ferm batch.  Wow... this stuff is good.  Much more flavor and tannins.
- Extended Maceration batch.  Again... Wow, this is also good - but differenet than oak ferm.  Just much deeper/better flavor.


General TODO's
a. think about cold stabilization and if we want to do it for this wine.
b. decide when to rack batches 'a' and 'b' - thinking 2 to 4 weeks from their pressing.
c. add oak at next racking for batches 'a', 'b', and 'd'.  NOT 'c'.