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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 9 – How long will my wine last?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

How long will my wine last?

All wine ages differently. Certain varietals benefit from aging, others are meant to be consumed quickly. Generally, the more tannic the wine, more it will benefit from aging. Other factors influence a wine’s potential to age as well. If the winemaker chooses not to add sulfites to the wine (not recommended), the wine will not age as well and should be consumed within a year. If the proper level of sulfites are added, the wine stored at an appropriate temperature (55-62 degrees Farenheit), and not exposed to light, it should be able to age for many years. Some varietals that benefit from aging are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Some varietals that do not necessarily benefit from aging are Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cayuga.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 3 – What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

The Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Most wines will benefit from some form of bulk aging. Young wine tends to be a bit harsh, raw, and green and it needs some time to settle and round-out. Many wines, especially reds, will get better if aged in oak barrels. Oak barrels will impart unique flavors in wine and will also create subtle chemical changes over time. From vanilla and tobacco to tea and spice, different types of oak barrels will impart different flavors in the wine. However, all natural oak barrels will allow for micro-oxidation to take place – leading to reduced astringency, better color, structure, stability, and tannin integration, and a richer, more complex flavor and mouthfeel.

Yet as is true in most instances, better wine requires more work – and barrel care, maintenance, and ageing is no exception. Detailed instructions on how to inspect, swell, care for, and maintain an oak barrel can be found in our handy .pdf file here –> Barrel Care PDF. Once you have the basics down, we will go over some common questions about the aging process – starting with, “How long should I age my wine in a barrel and what styles are best for barrel ageing?”

The length of time a vintner ages their wine in a barrel depends on several factors. Is the barrel new or has it been used before? How large is the barrel? What style of wine is going into the barrel? New barrels will impart more flavors than used one will. A rule of thumb is that after a single use the oak extraction of a barrel will decrease by 50%. After the second use it will decrease by another 25%, and once the barrel has been used four times it is usually neutral – meaning it will not impart any oak characteristics into the wine.
Barrel size is also an important factor when determining how long to age your wine. Smaller barrels will impart oak flavors much more quickly than larger barrels. For example, while a 59 gallon barrel will hold nearly ten times the volume of wine as a 6 gal barrel, its surface area is only about twice as much. This means that the wine in smaller barrels has significantly more contact with the wood than wine stored in larger barrels and can be oaked five times more quickly.

Lastly, different varietals and styles of wine will require different aging times. A Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend, for example, can usually be aged 1-3 years in oak. A New World-style Pinot Noir, however, probably shouldn’t be in a barrel for longer than 10 months. A buttery, creamy Chardonnay needs to be checked often while the ultra-tannic Nebbiola can stay in oak for over four years. However, remember that not all wines will benefit from barrel aging. Most German whites such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling rarely receive the oak treatment. Also, Beaujelea nouveau and many cold-hearty hybrids made in this style are often aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels.

So finally we can address the question on how long to age your wine in an oak barrel. The answer is up to the winemaker. Remember that winemaking is an art – and each artist will have their own inspirations and palates. My advice is to taste and to taste often. If using smaller barrels (less than 30 gallons), I would be topping off and tasting every month until the oak profile is where I want it to be. Larger barrels will take much longer to impart oak flavors, but still have to be topped-off monthly, so why not take a taste while adding wine to the barrel? Please note that it is much easier to add oak flavor to a wine than it is to remove it, so I recommend erring on the side of caution.

What about the wine going into the barrel? Should it be racked or filtered beforehand? In most cases your wine should be racked and stabilized before going into a barrel for bulk aging. For reds this means making sure your primary and malolactic fermentations are finished, the wine has been racked off its lees (we advise at least 2 rackings – once after primary fermentation, and then again as it is being transferred to the barrel), and it has been properly sulfited. Filtering your wine before it goes into a barrel may be a bit of an overkill, but one of our winemakers uses a course filtration before bulk aging and his wines are exceptional. However, there are unique winemaking techniques used by different vintners for certain styles. For example, in sur lie aging white wine is aged on its fine lees for an extended period of time. Obviously you would not want to rack or filter wines made in this style before starting the bulk aging process. Yet in most instances a wine should be clean and stable before going into a barrel. Additionally, the winemaker should not have to rack wine once it is in oak– save that step for when the wine leaves the barrel.

While aging wine in a barrel can seem like a daunting process, in most cases it is worth the extra effort. Just remember to taste often to avoid over-oaking, make sure the barrels are topped-off monthly, properly manage your S02 levels, and be patient – it will be time well spent.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

Italian Juices will start to arrive the Week of 10/10

Fresco Juices and Other Italian Juices will start to arrive the Week of 10/10

Please give us a call at 877.812.1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com to schedule your pick up. 

Mosti Mondiale’s flagship refrigerated fresh grape juice product, Mondiale Fresco, has served the home winemaking community since 1989. Sourced from both Italy and California, Mondiale Fresco marks the beginning of a new winemaking season based on traditional practices that have crafted wines of significant character. With over 30 fresh varieties to choose from, Mondiale Fresco is proud to be the only product to offer home winemakers their own vineyard in one unique package. 

Mosti Fresco Juices are PRE ORDER ONLY.  If you have not pre-ordered yet please give us a call at 877.812.1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com

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Mosti Fresco Fresh Juice Instructions

Mosti Fresco Varieties:

  • ALICANTE (CALIFORNIA)
  • AMARONE (ITALY)
  • BARBERA (CALIFORNIA)
  • BAROLO (ITALY)
  • BOURG ROYAL (CALIFORNIA)
  • CABERNET FRANC (CALI)
  • CABERNET SAUVIGNON (CALIFORNIA)
  • CASTEL DEL PAPA (ITALY)
  • CHIANTI (ITALY)
  • LAMBRUSCO (ITALY)
  • MERLOT (ITALY)
  • MONTELPULCIANO (ITALY)
  • NEBBIOLO (ITALY)
  • NERO D’AVOLA (ITALY)
  • PETITE SIRAH (CALIFORNIA)
  • PINOT NOIR (CALIFORNIA)
  • RUBY CABERNET (CALIFORNIA)
  • SANGIOVESE (ITALY)
  • SHIRAZ (CALIFORNIA)
  • VALPOLICELLA (ITALY)
  • ZINFANDEL (CALIFORNIA)
  • GRENACHE ROSE (CALIFORNIA)
  • ZINFANDEL ROSE (CALIFORNIA)
  • CHENIN BLANC (CALIFORNIA)
  • GEWÜRZTRAMINER (CALIFORNIA)
  • MOSCATO (CALIFORNIA)
  • PINOT CHARDONNAY (CALIFORNIA)
  • PINOT GRIGIO (ITALY)
  • RIESLING (CALIFORNIA)
  • SAUVIGNON BLANC (CALIFORNIA)
  • SOAVE (ITALY)
  • TOACAI (ITALY)
  • TREBBIANO (ITALY)
  • VINHO VERDE (CALIFORNIA)
  • MALVASIA AROMATICA (ITALY)
  • MOSCATO ITALIANO (ITALY)

Our Italian juices are prepared in multiple ways for multiple winemaking opportunities. We have our Italian Fresh Juices, Mosti Fresco Juices, and Original All Juice Sterile Juices. All of our juices are handled with utmost quality and care.

Other Italian Juice Opportunities:

Italian Juices Are Coming!!

Fresh Italian Juices: Our Mosto Imperatore Italian juices have arrived! Create the best wines Italy has to offer. We have all the specialty varietals and blends – Amarone, Barolo, Brunello, Chianti, Dolchetto, Lambrusco, Montelpulciano, Moscato, Nebbiolo, Nero D’Avola, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, and Valpolicella.

Winemaking Instructions 1

Winemaking Instructions 2

Sterile Italian Juices: Mosti Mondiale’s 23L Original AllJuice is a true 100% pasteurized fresh grape must product. Experienced winemakers looking to complement their skills and patience will become instantly rewarded with the introduction of fresh grape must. Italian Varieties: Castel del Papa, Lambrusco, Montelpulciano, Nero D’Avola, Trebbiano, Moscato, and Il Toscano (Chianti)

Sterile Juice Descriptions

Sterile Juice Instructions

Please give us a call at 877.812.1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com to schedule your pick up. 

Harvest Update: 8/25/2016

ARRIVING to Hartford, CT Early Next Week:

harvest calendar

8/29/2016:

LODI

  • Costamagna Chardonnay
  • Lodi Gold Grenache
  • Valley Beauty Barbera
  • Smiling Baby Merlot
  • Valley Beauty Zinfandel

9/1/2016:

LANZA – Suisun Valley

  • Sauvignon Blanc

CENTRAL VALLEY

  • Cry Baby Muscat (42lb)
  • Muscat King (42lb)
  • Cry Baby Thompson Seedless (42lb)
  • Lugano Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Lucerne Old Vine Zinfandel

JUICES from LODI

  • A Mix of Varieties

 

 

Call 877.812.1137 or email sales@juicegrape.com for more information

Mini Harvest Report

It looks like Mother Nature is excited to get her winemaking on because the grapes are ripening early and fast! Download our E-Book for the ENTIRE list of wine grapes and juices we will be bringing in this fall HERE –> MWG_2016 Harvest Menu E-Book

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Mini Harvest Report:

Central Valley & Lodi: Brix are in the high teens. We are expecting to have grapes in Hartford, CT as early as September 7th.

Suisun Valley, Paso Robles, Contra Costa, Amador, Sonoma, and Napa: The whites will be harvest on September 1st and should be to Hartford, CT on September 7th. The red grapes are maturing well. The Brix are creeping up there. We think that we are still on track for a September 15th harvest date, with the grapes arriving in Hartford, CT as early as September 20th.

Juices: California juices will start arriving on September 7th. We hope to see the Italian juices sometime in the first week of October.

Prices: The grape and juice prices will be available by August 16th. Please give us a call at the office to secure your order.

We look forward to working with you this fall. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at 877.812.1137 or sales@juicegrape.com

Red Wine Essence Aroma Kit

red wine_essences

Every “Wine Wednesday” we have decided to work on some type of wine education. This Wednesday we decided to focus on the aromas in Red Wine.

So the first question is – Where do wine aromas come from? Well they initially come from the grape and the terrior. Have you ever heard the quote “you can’t make great wine from bad grapes, but you can make bad wine from great grapes”? This couldn’t be more true. The grape is the starting point for the wine and its aromas. That being said, different grape varieties have different aromas associated with them. For example, most red wines have notes of dark berries and other plants. Specifically, Cabernet Sauvignon usually has aromas of black currant, mint, and violet. Each wine grape has a different aroma starting point which is impacted by where the grapes is grown, the yeast that is inoculated, oak, and any other additives that are introduced into the wine during the fermentation and aging process. Red wine aromas are complicated but pleasing representations of the vineyard & winemaker’s work.

When tasting wines many people have difficulty describing the different aromas they smell. The kit that we used challenged us to identity specific aromas and describe them. First, we smelled each essence and guessed what it was. We had some interesting descriptors…bubblegum, salt water, and aftershave just to name a few. When the actual aromas were revealed sometimes we were right and sometimes we were way off. But being challenged to describe what we smelled and training our sense of smell will only help us when making our own wines. This will also help us at wine judging events, winemaking events, and even when identifying faults.

All in all it was a great learning experience.

Stay tuned for more updates about our wine education courses (we will be adding a new aromas/faults class soon) and Spring Harvest Updates! Cheers!

Winter at Cassidy Hill Vineyards

Winter time in the vineyard is very important. What happens at the beginning of the year sets the tone for the vintage to come. Cassidy Hill Vineyards in Coventry, CT was kind enough to send us some photos of what is going on in their vineyard this winter. As you can see there is a lot of snow but once the snow melts they will get back to pruning. It looks like it’s their vineyard dog’s favorite activity, don’t you think? :) Notice the close up pictures of the vines. There is an example of a non-pruned vine and what the vine looks like after they went through and pruned.

Pruning can be a very tedious task. The grapes are only harvested off of 2nd year wood. Therefore, off of each spur you prune down to one cane. Off of each cane you prune down to two buds and each bud will grow into a new cane. Each cane will then have 2 clusters. It sounds simple enough but many vineyard managers will tell you it can be difficult and time consuming. The next time you drive by your local vineyard take a look at what stage of life the grapes are in. Are they dormant? Have the vines been pruned? Do you see bud break? Just because it isn’t harvest, doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done in the vineyard.

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