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Italian Wine

Montepulciano 2020 By Joseph A. Picone, DMD

montepulciano

Montepulciano 2020 By Joseph A. Picone, DMD

I had the pleasure to obtain 10 (36lbs) cases of Montepulciano grapes from Musto Grapes (Frank Musto) on October 10, 2020. Making wine using the many varieties of first class Musto sourced grapes has been an Annual fall event for the Picone family and our friends for the past 30 years or so. Over the years, I have made Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Malbec, Reisling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, and White Zinfandel to name a few. Each having their own unique qualities to enjoy. Frank and his crew are great in providing all the resources and guidance needed for the first-time wine maker all the way to the seasoned-pro. I was fortunate to have taken a one semester class years ago at Naugatuck Community College on Wine Making given by Bob Herold which together with Frank’s support team has allowed me to create some delicious wines over the years.

I would like to share my experience with you on making this year’s Montepulciano 2020.

The grapes were outstanding. The Brix reading on the refractometer was 25. The clusters were full and the berries were a beautiful deep purple. The boxes were well packed with few if any leaves. We crushed the 360lbs of grapes and immediately added some potassium metabisulphite to kill any wild yeasts. My crusher is also a destemmer, so all the stems were separated from the must during this process. The pH of the must started at 3.70 which wasn’t surprising due to the high Brix reading. I added an appropriate amount of Tartaric acid to bring the pH to a more desirable 3.41 the day of crush. 25 ml of Color Pro enzyme was added at this time as well.

At approximately 24 hours post crush, the Must was inoculated with 35 grams of yeast BM 4X4 in a solution containing GoFerm yeast nutrient. The temperature of the Must at the time of inoculation was 60 degrees F. The yeast solution was well constituted throughout the must. Periodic punching down of the “cap’ was done every 6-8 hours throughout the primary fermentation time.

At 48 hours post crush, the Must temp was 66 degrees F at the Brix reading was 23.5. Fermaid O was added.

At 72 hours post crush, the Must temp was 75 degrees F and the Brix reading was 20. Fermaid K was added.

At 96 hours post crush, the Must temp was 82 degrees F and the Brix reading was 16. I added oak chips to the vat.

At 120 hours post crush, the Must temp was 78 degrees F and the Brix reading was 8.

At 144 hours post crush, the Must temp was 72 degrees F and the Brix reading was 4. 0.9mg of Malolactic culture VP41 was added to the Must and thoroughly mixed in.

At 168 hours(7 days) post crush, the Must temp was 70 degrees F and the Brix reading was 3. The Must and remnant skins were carefully pressed using a bladder press. The raw yield was approximately 27.5 gallons. The Must was placed in cleaned and sanitized demijohns utilizing airlocks to allow CO2 to escape while fermentation progresses, albeit very slowly. The residual skins were heavily consumed during the fermentation leaving behind very little structure. The color extraction was excellent and provided a deep rich purple wine. More Oak chips were added to each of the glass carboys/demijohns.

The slow fermentation in the demijohns went uneventfully and at 2 months, careful racking was accomplished and an appropriate amount of Potassium Metabisulphite was added to help kill off any more yeast cells(30ppm).

At 6 months post pressing, another racking was accomplished without the addition of any sulphites.

At 9 months, I have just begun bottling and I am very pleased with the wine. It is a crystal clear, deep purple, medium to full body, somewhat fruity flavored wine. I expect it to pair well most any dish but have enjoyed it with pasta, pork, veal, and chicken thus far.

Sincerely,

Joseph A. Picone, DMD

Thank you Joseph for sharing your Montepulciano winemaking experience! If you would like to make Montelpuciano emails sales@juicegrape.com or call 877-812-1137.

Winemaking with Italian juices

Let’s make wine from Italian juice… at home!

Many winemakers wait all year for their annual Italian juice pickup at Musto. Despite the fact that they may be able to find some of these juices from California, they look forward to knowing that they will be able to make wine that hails from Italy itself.

There’s so many juices to choose from:

  • Amarone- cooked cherries, dark plums, cherry liqueur
  • Barolo- tannic, rose aroma
  • Brunello- cherry, blackberry, tannic
  • Chianti- red fruit, dried herbs, herbaceous
  • Dolcetto- plum, blackberry, cocoa
  • Lambrusco- fruity, blackberry, bright red fruits
  • Montepulciano- red plum, thyme, baking spices
  • Moscato- sweet, fruity, aromatic
  • Nebbiolo- rose, cherry, leather
  • Nero D’Avola- cherry, plum, licorice, tobacco
  • Pinot Grigio- lemon, lime green apple, bright and crisp
  • Sangiovese- tart cherry, strawberry, plum
  • Trebbiano- peach, lemon, apple
  • Valpolicella- cherry, cinnamon, chocolate

For winemakers who don’t have access to a crusher, destemmer, or press, making wine from Italian juices is a great way to get the joy of making your own wine with less steps and less mess.

So how can you start making your own wine from Italian juices? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way!

  1. Choose an Italian variety that speaks to you.
  2. Come to Musto Wine Grape and pick up your pail of juice.
  3. Bring it home, pop open that lid, and add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite to it. Add pectic enzyme if you’re going to (5 drops per gallon of juice). Give it a stir.
  4. Allow it to come up to room temperature – we’re talking 60 degrees or so.
  5. Choose your fermentation vessel: will you keep it in pails or ferment in a carboy or demijohn? Make sure everything is clean and sanitized. *Be sure there is enough room to account for fermentation foaming*
  6. If you are going to add fermentation tannins or additives (like oak dust, Booster Rouge, Booster Blanc) you can add that now. *Note: do not add tannins such as FT Rouge within 8 hours of adding enzyme*
  7. Pitch the yeast once the temperature has reached at least 60F. Yeast strain choices will vary depending on the juice you choose – ask a winemaker at Musto Wine Grape for a strain recommendation for the varietal you’re making. Follow the yeast starter directions explicitly. Be very careful of temperatures, never adding yeast if there is more than a 18 degree difference between the yeast starter liquid and the juice.
  8. Carefully monitor the fermentation by checking Brix levels daily. Add yeast nutrients as needed if you choose to do so.
  9. If you are adding malolactic cultures to your wine, you may also chose to do this at 1/3 Brix depletion. If using a malolactic nutrient (Opti-Malo Plus) with the bacterial culture, hydrate the nutrient in a separate container from the bacteria and add to the must directly before the addition of the bacteria. Follow all directions on the bacteria and nutrient packets explicitly.
  10. When the fermentation is complete, rack off the lees and continue aging. Many Italian wines are aged with oak – if you choose to do this, you can do so in oak barrels or with oak alternatives (such as chips or staves).

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And there you have it! Delicious Italian wine that you made in your own home. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a glass of wine you made with juice from a reliable source.

Feeling inspired? Come down to Musto Wine Grape and pick up some Italian juice. But don’t wait too long – we are fast approaching the end of harvest time. Pick up everything you need and and be on your way to kicking back as you sip on a glass of homemade Italian wine. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make Frank’s Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo to accompany it!

Trebbiano: Blended Uses for Italy’s Blending Grape

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Trebbiano is a thinner skinned white grape from the very center of Italy, Umbria. Trebbiano accounts of roughly 1/3 of white wine grapes planted in Italy. Known for its fruity punch and bright acidity, Italian winemakers have been using this grape as a key component in white wine blends for hundreds of years. Trebbiano is also used in Italy to make premium quality balsamic vinegar. The Italians are not the only culture to have a unique use and high value for the Trebbiano grape. France uses Trebbiano (known there as Ugni Blanc) for the production of Cognac and also as a blending grape for wine production. 

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              Trebbiano is an excellent blender for white wine production as it has a soft aroma that can easily compliment other white grape varietals. Subtle hints of citrus and minerality can easily meld with other more dominant white wine grape aromas upon blending. The flavors found in the aroma will carry through to the palate; lemon, wet stone, grass, and apple.  For the winemaker, using yeasts such as Alchemy I or K1-V1116 will help to produce a stronger aroma and fruit flavors. Both yeasts should be used in a temperature controlled environment, as to not generate too much heat during fermentation, burning off important aromatic esters. This grape would complement more bold white grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, or Gewurztraminer. It would be wise to ferment each wine in the blend separately and then blend post fermentation. Trebbiano can help increase quantities and balance out a stronger flavored or more acidic white wine. The use of fermentation aids such as Opti-White and Booster Blanc will also help to promote and retain the important varietal aromas. We always advise to use a complete nutrition program throughout fermentation, including the use of Go-Ferm, Fermaid O, and Fermaid K. This will help avoid any stuck fermentations and off aromas. 

              If you are looking to make a classic, refreshing stand-alone Italian white wine or blend, Trebbiano could be one of your best options.  It’s mild fruity flavor and aromas are enjoyable on their own or within a blend. Musto Wine Grape is proud to source fresh Trebbiano juice directly from Italy. Try some this season for a refreshing taste of Italy.

Musto Wine Grape brings in Italian juices from Italy every October. If you’re interested in making wine from Italian Juice please email sales@juicegrape.com for more details.

by the Winemakers at Musto Wine Grape

The Italians have arrived!!

Our Italian Wine Grape Clones has finally arrived from Contra Costa. Located below Suisun Bay and East of the Oakland Hills, Contra Costa is the premier growing area for Italian varietal wine grapes. Many of the vines grown in this area are considered ancient. The Mediterranean climate produces wines with bold features and good color. The soil is deep and sandy, making the grapes fight for their water, only increasing the intensity of the fruit. Think big bold reds, with leathery notes, and supple tannins. Quantities are limited, make sure to call ahead so we can secure your order. Ciao!

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