Posted by Brian Loring
November 5: The must has now been cold soaking for five days, and we've been regularly taking Brix and pH readings and making water and/or acid additions as necessary to the fermenters. We're starting to see the readings more closely match our expected results.
In the early stages, we often see smaller drops in Brix level (a measure of the sugar content) day-to-day than would have been expected from the amount of water added. What's happening is that some dehydrated berries are "soaking up" and releasing more sugar. Therefore a 5 percent water addition might drop the overall Brix level by only 3 percent. Once the grapes are more macerated, you start to see expected and actual results match. At that point, you can be pretty sure that you're getting fairly accurate measurements of true sugar and pH.
We’ve also added nearly the same amount of water as gallons of juice that were bled off when we crushed. So we’ve decided that instead of shooting for 27.0 Brix, we’ll settle for sugar levels that are a bit higher. We’re also near the limit we set for ourselves—we add a maximum of 15 percent water—when we make Pinot Noir.
Why 15 percent? It’s just what feels comfortable to us. While we realize that we’re just adding back in water that was lost due to some slight dehydration, we still don’t ever want to dilute the wine. And given that we did bleed off some juice when we crushed the Mourvèdre, we really haven’t added more (net) than a couple of gallons of water in this case. But it still “looks” like a 15 percent add to me, so we’re re-adjusting our target.
Sometimes even rational thought can’t overcome a gut feeling. This is the part of winemaking that is very personal, and can’t be taught or learned. It’s the “art” portion of the equation, and what makes your product unique.
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