Posted by Brian Loring
November 6: When I lifted the lids of the fermentors this morning, I noticed a couple telltale signs that the must was starting to ferment. There were bubbles forming around the edges of the fermentor, and it smelled like it was starting. I know that saying “smelled like” isn’t very scientific, but once you’ve been around a winery during harvest, you start to recognize things like that. It’s hard to put into words, but a must that’s still cold-soaking smells more "grapey," and when fermentation starts, it changes to something sweeter and sharper; something more high-toned. Probably due to the CO2 that’s being given off.
Given that our numbers (Brix, pH) have stabilized near our desired levels, I decided that it was a good day to inoculate with yeast. We could have let the fermentor continue with whatever "native" yeast was starting the fermentation, but we like to know for sure which yeast is doing the work. Of course, I’m pretty sure the yeast was Assmanshausen (AMH), which is the native yeast in our winery. But in this case, that’s specifically the yeast I didn’t want. I’d decided to use yeast called "Syrah," purchased from Vinquiry, based upon a recommendation from Jeff Cohn at JC Cellars. That yeast has a higher alcohol tolerance than AMH, and Jeff says it does good things for Mourvèdre.
In addition to using a pure, commercial yeast strain, we also use some yeast nutrients to help make the yeast happy. If certain things aren’t present in sufficient quantities in the must, the yeast won’t metabolize the sugar as well, often resulting in sulfide production. Think of it as eating something that doesn’t agree with you, which then causes you to have some intestinal distress. We’d rather give the yeast what they need up front so that they don’t produce any hydrogen sulfide later on.
R M Kriete — November 22, 2008 12:03pm ET
Serge Laporte — Canada — November 22, 2008 5:13pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 22, 2008 7:10pm ET
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