Posted by Brian Loring
November 2 (continued): Since we had to allow the Mourvèdre to hang on the vine so long in order to get the fruit ripe, we ended up with higher sugar levels and lower acid levels than we'd optimally like. We therefore need to add some water and acid, or we'll end up with a finished wine that has too much alcohol and not enough structure.
The physical process of making additions of water and/or acid is rather simple. We use a 5-gallon bucket to approximate the amount of water and a plastic beer cup to measure out the tartaric acid. We don’t go to any great lengths to make our measurements exact because there’s so much error already built into the sampling process. We know we don’t have a perfectly representative sample of the must, especially early on when the grape skins aren’t broken down very much. We’re also guessing at the volume of liquid in the fermenter. As long as our additions are within the ballpark, we’ll be OK. A tiny bit more or a tiny bit less might actually be just the right thing.
I know some people are asking, “Why do additions at all? Why not pick the grapes sooner when the sugars aren't as high?” The answer is that you won’t get the same results by picking earlier—even though the final “numbers” end up the same.
If you like the results, that’s a personal palate preference, but picking earlier so that you don’t have to add water or acid won’t give you the same flavor profile. We choose to wait until the fruit gets to our desired level of ripeness so that we get the flavor profile that makes us happy. Some winemakers prefer to pick sooner. There’s no right or wrong answer. The differing approaches add to the overall amount of choice that consumers have, which is a good thing!
R M Kriete — November 14, 2008 3:13pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 14, 2008 4:28pm ET
Jordan Harris — Niagara, Ontario — November 15, 2008 10:19am ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 15, 2008 11:47am ET
Steven M Ruths M D — Santa Barbara, CA — November 15, 2008 10:48pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 16, 2008 12:41pm ET
Steven M Ruths M D — Santa Barbara, CA — November 18, 2008 10:08am ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — November 18, 2008 11:59pm ET
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