> If you live anywhere near the "heartland" for whatever it is you're trying
> to make, I'd recommend you seek out a consultant.
A consultant? Eek! Where's the fun in that? I've considered taking
a Davis distance learning class, bought the textbook and feel that
I've pretty much got the basics nailed. I agree with you that it
would be valuable to do anyway, but at this point it's not going to
help me for 2003! I also think tracking down a pinot consultant might
not be a bad idea. Luckily I live in San Francisco and have access to
a bunch of folks who do this for a living. I've talked with several
commercial pinot producers and come to this newsgroup when I can't
seem to get consistent answers from them. As far as making "classic
errors," I'm sure I will, consultant or not. BTW, what are the big
mistakes that you still make?
> Unfortunately, it doesn't work as you'd prefer. Sacrificing 90% of your
> yield in no way guarantees that the rest will be any better than what you
> chose to dump.
I'm exaggerating, but my basic point is that I'm willing to experiment
with things beyond the Home Winemaking Basics to try to create
> BTW, it's "eke"; not "eek". I knew that was wrong as soon as I saw it, but
> it took me a while to remember the correct spelling.
> Until you really know what you're doing, why experiment with low grade or
> unproofed (native) strains of yeast? All the evidence I've seen says that
> the differences among yeast strains tend to disappear with age - especially
> in red wines - but it's important to get a clean fermentation going that
> produces as little VA as possible.
> So called "natural" fermentations are a crapshoot, at best. You _might_ end
> up with a good wine, but you could just as easily end up with something that
> smells like nail polish remover.
Good questions. My $0.02: Almost all top pinot producers use native
yeast fermentation - both here and Burgundy. I have yet to speak to
anyone who's put wines through native yeast fermentation and has ended
up with nail polish remover. This opinion seems to be held by those
that haven't tried. Having said that, I'm sure it can and does
happen. My bigger concern is about stuck fermentation - which does
happen much more often with native yeasts. And that was the gist of
my post here. Why not get the flavor/aroma diversity benefits of
multiple yeasts found in native yeast fermentation with the safety of
commercial yeast? Do this by pitching a half-dozen different
commercial yeasts. Make sure they have a lot of food and you get
diversity and a high probability of a complete fermentation.
> Be sure to pick an ML culture too. Personally, I like to inoculate for ML
> just after the yeast fermentation takes off. That's what the Wine Lab
> recommends, and it seems to work. I need to mention that this is done on
> wines that have _no_ added sulfite at crush.
> Be sure to use yeast and ML nutrients and vitamins.
I agree. So far I've not seen anything super-compelling on why ML
should be delayed (although, again, the top producers do let it occur
naturally). I'm probably going to pitch the ML culture during primary
for 2 of the barrels of pinot and let it occur naturally in the other
2 pinot. Note that all of this is going in 1 year old Frech oak that's
already ML bacteria infected from last year.
We've got 2 barrels of chardonnay under way and this week we've got 1
1/2 tons of syrah and a 1/2 ton of pinot coming in.