frozen wine must

A Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon - wine - winemaking - how to make wine

Known as the king of red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys the same regal status in California as it does in its native home of Bordeaux, France. Californian Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be more fruit-forward and mellow, with rich dark fruit notes. The most common aromatic and flavor components found in this varietal are plum, black cherry, blueberry as well as warm spice, vanilla, black pepper, and tobacco. Aside from being known for its dark color and full body, it’s known for often being over 13.5% in alcohol content. The average alcohol content of a Cab from California floats around 14.5%. At Musto Wine Grape we carry a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from multiple AVAs in California, as well as all of the yeasts, nutrients, and equipment you’ll need.

What kind of yeast should I use when making Cabernet Sauvignon?

*Note that full expression of the desired characteristics for any of the following yeast strains is based on proper care and feeding if the yeasts, along with using quality fruit and good winemaking practices. It is also strongly recommended that Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K are used as well as temperature management throughout the entire fermentation. As always, if you need assistance with any part of your winemaking process, do not hesitate to reach out to us at sales@juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812-1137 to speak with someone who can assist with any product recommendations, procedures, or problems.

BM45 yields a big mouthfeel, notes of cherry liquor, rose petal, jam, plum, berry as well as earthy and spicy elements. It offers color stability and helps to minimize vegetative characteristics.

BDX is an all-around great choice for berry, plum, and jam characteristics. It has a moderate fermenting rate and offers good color retention. By re-enforcing existing tannins, it develops structure in the wine. Because of this, we advise to not use with unripe fruit.

RP15 emphasizes the berry aspects of the fruit, along with color stability, increased mouthfeel, and agreeable tannins.

D254 yields a big mouthfeel and rounds tannins as well as intense fruit. It has a focus on berry and jam characteristics, but more so of dried fruit than fresh. It’s also great for color stability and adds body to blends.

D80 offers big volume and fine grain tannins. It is great for encouraging more positive tannin intensity to a blend.

Where do you source your Cabernet Sauvignon from?

We offer Cabernet Sauvignon from multiple AVA’s within California and Washington:

Lanza-Musto Vineyards in Suisun Valley, CA (Valley, 169, 15, and Koch)

Mettler Family Ranch in Lodi, CA

Napa Valley, CA

Washington State (Clone 33)

Sonoma County, CA (Chalk Hill)

Amador, CA

King’s River, CA

Paso Robles, CA

Central Valley, CA

Is there a certain winemaking procedure specific to Cabernet Sauvignon?

You can follow our Red Wine Grape Procedure which you can find here, if you are using juice you can find the procedure here and if you are using frozen must, here. The procedure is standard for making red wines, but using the proper yeasts and nutrients specific for Cabernet Sauvignon and consistent monitoring will have the biggest impact on your final wine.

Where can I buy grapes, juice, or must?

At Musto Wine Grape Company, all red grape varieties are available in 36lb cases, in frozen must by request, or in 6-gallon fresh juice pails. For Sterile Juice options that can be shipped year-round and without refrigeration click here.

Finally, if you need the best options and equipment suited for you and your winemaking goals, email sales@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812 – 1137 to speak with one of our Musto Crush Crew members who can help. We are here to provide all of the winemaking products you need to make the wine of your dreams, as well as the customer support to ensure your success!

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 15 – How to work with Frozen Must

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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! 🙂

Simplifying Your Life with Frozen Musts

Life gets hectic. We totally understand. As the Fall and Spring wine grape harvest seasons approach, not everyone can just suddenly stop their normal life and shift into winemaking mode. Kids, vacations, work, weather and a myriad of other obligations can impact the ability of a winemaker to start a particular year’s vintage. And let’s not forget about those grapes – unfortunately they don’t seem to care much about your schedule. They ripen and arrive when it’s convenient for them, not for us. Fortunately there is a way to work with grape varietals anytime you choose by using frozen must.

Frozen must is exactly what it sounds like – fresh grapes that have been crushed and destemmed on site into must and then immediately frozen. Working with frozen must is very similar to working with fresh grapes, but there are some differences that winemakers should be aware of. With frozen must there is no need to take your crusher/destemmer out of storage and lift those heavy boxes of grapes into the machine. This part of the process is done for you already. If you were working with fresh grapes, the resulting must would be adjusted and then the winemaker would start the fermentation process. Yet by freezing this must we are basically halting the winemaking process by putting this must into a deep freeze – then the winemaker can thaw the must and continue the process when it is convenient for them.

frozen must 1

Besides the convenience of making wine around your schedule ( with less equipment and less preparation/cleanup), there is another helpful benefit when working with frozen red varietals – cold maceration! During the freezing and thawing process the prolonged skin contact at cooler temperatures can maximize color extraction. Additionally, the tannins extracted during this time are water soluble and will be softer than the harsher, alcohol soluble tannins imparted during primary/post fermentation maceration. Now that we have touched on the benefits of using frozen musts, let’s transition to working with it.

When you receive the pails/drums of frozen must, we need to get the must thawed and up to fermentation temperatures safely. All of our musts are sulfited to 50ppm – this will help to control any oxidation that may take place during the thawing process and also help to limit the formation of bacteria in the grapes. However it is still possible for some freezer-burned or moldy grapes to be present – remove any grapes that look questionable. Some winemakers like to slowly bring the must up to temperature over the course of several days, while some recommend getting to pitching temps as quickly as possible. A slow temperature rise will prolong cold maceration and its benefits, but remember that the must is susceptible to unwanted bacteria and other bugs until primary fermentation starts. We recommend keeping the pails at room temperature – they should thaw out in 2-3 days.

It is important to stir the must as it is thawing. During the freezing process it is common for the natural sugars and potassium bitartrates to settle at the bottom of the pail (very much like the frozen Italian ice cups you can buy in the supermarket. The best part is the bottom of the cup where all the sugary, sweet goodness has settled to). Stirring the must with a clean and sanitized utensil daily will help homogenize it so that it thaws evenly. Once the must is at pitching temperature, empty the pails into your primary fermenter and treat it just like you would freshly crushed-destemmed grapes. Remember to get all the juicy bits and tartaric crystals from the bottom of the pail! We recommend taking pH, TA, brix, and S02 readings and adjusting accordingly. These readings can vary based on the temperature of the must and how well it has homogenized during the thawing process, so it is best to wait until the grapes are at room temperature. While we will always recommend using commercial yeasts to help with a steady, clean fermentation, it is very important to use these types of yeasts when working with frozen musts.

So there you have it – using frozen must can simplify a winemaker’s life by making it easier and less hectic. Isn’t that what we all hope for during the harvest season?

(A big thanks goes out to Robert Herold for his original article Winemaking From Frozen Must which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Winemaker Magazine)

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.