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Norton Grapes Harvested 2010

We harvested our Norton grapes on Saturday. It took about an hour, and the crop was a little bigger than I first anticipated. Afterward we sat on the back porch and enjoyed some of dad’s famous smoked pork. It turned out excellent. The shoulders had a good half inch of a red smoke ring on them.

As for the grapes, I was only expecting around 200 lbs of grapes, but we harvested a whopping 400 lbs!!! This should produce around 20 gallons(ish) of wine

I am excited to work with this batch, because of how the numbers turned out. The pH came out to 3.4, and the Brix/Sugar was at 25.4. This will be a very high alcohol wine, close to 14%. It is the acid that has me wondering, because it came at a very high 1.1%. Normally red wines are around .7. To correct for this, I added some calcium carbonate (a chalk like substance). It is a naturally occurring mineral that is active ingredient in Tums and other antiacids. Which is why I used it. It will chemically neutralize the acid content. I added enough to bring down the TA (total acid) to .9%. While this is still high, later the wine will undergo malolactic fermentation, and will bring the TA down again to around .8. Finally, I will blend this with some of the Shiraz to bring the acid down even further into the best range of around .7%.

For the yeast, I decided to again use the Bourgovin RC 212 from Lavin. It is a good strain of yeast for making big bold red wines.

With the pH being at 3.4, it should rise a little to around 3.5 with the TA dropping. But, having this low pH value, should keep the wine hopefully to a wonderful claret/ruby color. It is hard to say, as I only have one batch to go from, and it was harvested last year at 3.7 pH.

I chilled the wine for a day at 65 F, and it sulphited to 50 ppm. Then dumped in the yeast. Now, I do not make a yeast starter, I have had quite good success just sprinkling the yeast packets into the wine directly. This gives it just a little slower start, but gives the wine more time on the skins without much fear of oxidation. And to be honest, wines fresh crushed needs a little oxidation to help with the tannins.

Right now the must is being kept at around 76 degrees to ensure a good start on the fermentation, then I will drop it down to around 72-74 degrees for the remainder. If it ferments like the Shiraz, in about 8 days it will reach 1% sugar, and time to press and combine the two 20 gallon open fermenters into three 8 gallons closed ones.

Each year the crop will continue to get bigger, and I plan to have some really nice micro-oxidation secondary tanks next year.

With the pH being at 3.4, it should rise a little to around 3.5 with the TA dropping. But, having this low pH value, should keep the wine hopefully to a wonderful claret/ruby color. It is hard to say, as I only have one batch to go from, and it was harvested last year at 3.7 pH.

I chilled the wine for a day at 65 F, and it sulphited to 50 ppm. Then dumped in the yeast. Now, I do not make a yeast starter, I have had quite good success just sprinkling the yeast packets into the wine directly. This gives it just a little slower start, but gives the wine more time on the skins without much fear of oxidation. And to be honest, wines fresh crushed needs a little oxidation to help with the tannins.

Right now the must is being kept at around 76 degrees to ensure a good start on the fermentation, then I will drop it down to around 72-74 degrees for the remainder. If it ferments like the Shiraz, in about 8 days it will reach 1% sugar, and time to press and combine the two 20 gallon open fermenters into three 8 gallons closed ones.

Each year the crop will continue to get bigger, and I plan to have some really nice micro-oxidation secondary tanks next year.

Recovered Comments:

  • Rick

    Do you always add the calcium carbonate before you begin fermentation? I just bottled 7 gallons of Nortons from last year. After malolatic it was still around .8% TA but it tasted great. Is it appropriate to add the calcuim just before bottling? How does adding before fermentation this affect the final product?

  • Jeff Beavers

    The reason it is added before fermentation is so that it wont effect the flavor as much. Adding the mineral after fermentation will leave a slight mineral flavor/texture in the wine. If you do add it after fermentation do it in very small amounts to adjust for less than .2 g/l acid to help reduce the flavor imparted from the calcium carbonate. Finally, any addition CaCO3 (Calcium Carbonate) will need to be removed by cold stabilization. Drop the temperature down to 30-35 degrees for 2-3 weeks to a month and the tartaric and calcium carbonate crystals will drop to the bottom of the carboy. Rack while the temperature is still very low else the crystals will dissolve back into the wine. If you dont, its ok but it will form sediment later on, but since it will drop the acid even more, its well worth doing it.

    As for amounts, add less than what you think you will need, because it is not a precise science on how much will neutralize the acids because of the acid profile in each grape is different from one variety to the next. I do recommend adding a the CaCO3 to a small batch of the overall wine so it will neutralize all of the acid in that small batch, and then merge it back with the rest. If you dont, it will greatly effect the tartaric acids first, then the malic. You dont want to take the chance on it removing too much tartaric acid and then going through malolactic fermentation and removing even more acids. This way you will get a better overall acid reduction.

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