I transferred the shiraz early on 4/3. The directions say to rack in 10 days, and then add oak cubes, so it will be time to do that on 4/13, assuming the SG is correct. It was dry at the transfer; I believe the SG was at .999 at that time.
The shiraz kit arrived today, and I decided to start it this afternoon. It’s a Winexpert Eclipse kit. This one includes oak powder, oak cubes, and wine skins, so it will probably be the boldest wine I’ve made so far.
The SG was 1.08 at 68 degrees, which means it will probably end up with 11.2% ABV. That still doesn’t seem like too much, but the instructions say the SG should be between 1.08 and 1.10, so it’s not unexpected.
I’ve once again attached the brew belt, and am using the lid with the primary fermenter. It’s been working well like that, so no reason to change now. I especially want to make sure tannins are extracted well from the wine skins for this kit, so I’ll leave the brew belt connected during the entire primary fermentation.
The instructions for this kit say to wait 7 days before moving on, so I’ll measure the SG on April 2 and go from there.
Today I bottled the blanc de blancs. According to the instructions I’ve been following, I boiled two cups of water (about 2 1/4 cups, actually, to allow some steam to escape and get down to 2 cups). While boiling, I added 1 3/4 cups of sugar. I let that cool, then added 6 tsp. of yeast nutrient to it.
Meanwhile, I sanitized all the equipment and rehydrated a packet of EC-1118 yeast. That’s the same yeast that came with the chardonnay kit, so I thought it would probably be better to stick with it. I transferred the wine from the carboy to the primary fermenter, and slowly added the simple syrup and yeast during the transfer. I wanted to allow everything to mix together naturally and slowly, so I thought doing it during the transfer would work well.
After the transfer, I stirred the wine for a few minutes. Then, I bottled it and capped the bottles with crown caps. The bottles are now sitting on their sides in the wine rack. They are supposed to stay there for two months, and then it will be time to start riddling. Riddling will probably take another month or so. After that, it will be time to disgorge, add dosage, age for about a month, and then, finally, time to drink!
For my records, next steps with the blanc de blancs are:
- 5/23, begin riddling
- 6/23, stop riddling, allow to sit inverted
- 7/23, disgorge, add dosage, cork, and age
- 8/23, ready to drink, although allowing it to age longer will improve it tremendously
We opened a bottle of the Eclipse Zinfandel today. It’s still clearly a bit young, but has improved drastically over where it started.
There are lovely notes of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and bell peppers on the nose. There is an intense sweetness up front in the mouth, which doesn’t seem to be balanced out by the acid or tannins yet. I understand that sorbate makes kit wines sweeter than commercial wines, so maybe I’ll try to find a way to eliminate the sorbate in other kits. Even so, the wine tastes very good: fruity with just a bit of tannic punchiness. It will be interesting to watch how this one develops, and I hope that it balances out over time.
I have another 120 bottle rack, ready to be filled with bottles of homemade wine. The blanc de blancs will take one of the four spots, and for the other three, I think I’ll try a shiraz, a merlot, and a riesling. Probably in that order.
The chardonnay is clarifying nicely. It should be ready for combination with sugar and extra yeast in just a few days. I’ll probably let it sit for another week, just because I want to be sure it is clear. That also gives me the opportunity to add the sugar syrup and yeast on the weekend. I don’t think waiting an extra three days will be harmful at all.
I only got 24 champagne bottles, so I’m going to be extra careful not to suck up any of the lees at the bottom of the carboy. I imagine that there will be an extra bottle or three worth of wine even after filling the champagne bottles. With that sort of yield, there’s really no reason to try to get every ounce of wine.
Per the online instructions I’m following, I’ve added two campden tablets (which I believe is equal to 1/4 teaspoon) and the chitosan to the chardonnay. I’m now supposed to wait until it’s clear (10 days or so), and then add the extra sugar syrup and yeast. I’ll check back in on the 18th to see if it’s clear, and check daily after that if it’s not yet clear.