Monday, December 29, 2014

Cold Carboys and Clearing

I moved fourteen of the FlexTank 2013 vintage Riesling to cold storage for a few weeks.  These fourteen carboys contain wine fermented and cleared for six months in the FlexTank 80 gallon Dexter Tank.  It has not cleared like the batch from the WinePod, which I had transferred to Better Bottle carboys after three weeks.  I might attribute darker hue to extra oxygen permeation through the FlexTank, but the color in the fourteen carboys is not much darker than the WinePod originated carboys. 

I added bentonite to all the 2013 carboys and the WinePod (non-FlexTank batch) cleared on one racking.  I also tried adding a little Polyclar to a few of the FlexTank carboys, which lightened them, but did not aid much in clearing.  I am hoping the winter cold will do the trick.

Taking a look at the 2014 carboys, the color is much lighter than any of the 2013 vintage.  This is owing to less oxygen in the starting juice.  Since taste complexity is a big part of making a good Riesling, the extra oxygenation at the start isn't always a bad thing, but it does leave less room for error during the winemaking process. 

The 2012 and 2013 grape juice was very similar in starting color, with 2013 just a little darker.  2014 is much lighter and brighter, perhaps the lightest hue since 2009.  In fact, I was so fooled by lighter hue in 2009 that I bottled some of the Riesling early, mistaking the transparency and perceived clarity for the absence of yeast.  I ended up with a sparkling Riesling. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Progress on 2014 Riesling

After two weeks, fermentation is proceeding slowly.  I racked the wine, and then measured and drank a glass.  At 12 degrees Brix, it tasted more sweet than a typical mimosa. 


The temperature in the tank was 63 degrees F.  That's about perfect for a very slow Riesling fermentation.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Riesling Fermentation

The WinePod is once again in service.  I added Riesling juice to the tank and pitched the D47 yeast with a starting SG of 1.090 at 60 degrees F.  Judging by color alone, the starting juice is less oxidized than production in recent years.  Could this mean the best batch of bottles yet?  To be continued...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Trademark Registration

It is official now.  "Shier" is a registered U.S. trademark.  I received this certificate in the mail along with a notice about scam artists who mine the USPTO registration database and send fake invoices to anyone who registers a trademark. The scammer letters say "you owe us x amount for registering your mark internationally."  The x amount is typically $2500, which they ask you to wire directly to a Czech or Russian bank.  There were 5 scam letters arriving at the same time as the certificate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Racking 2013 Riesling and Stabilizing and Bottling More 2012

With winter finally easing, and spring approaching, I have a few tasks at the winery.  I placed 50 gallons of wine on a pallet and exposed it to the outside cold for four weeks.  The result was some dramatic clearing with a good amount of tartaric acid precipitating out.  I bottled half of the wine over the weekend, which came to a little more than 10 cases.  The rest should be bottled next weekend.  I also rotated the remaining fifteen (15) carboys from the 2012 Riesling out to the cold for two weeks at a time, and they seem to be holding clarity and crystal precipitate while stored at 55-60 degrees F in the cellar.  I should bottle these before the weather really heats up.  
I tasted the 2012 Riesling from several different carboys.  It has a bit of oxidation in the pallet (a hint of malic acid). I've been worried about the level of oxygen pretty much from the start when using the permeable plastic FlexTanks, but I really enjoyed what I tasted.  It was dry, with a Chardonnay-like quality.  It comes through to my taste buds more like a brandy flavor than apple.

I also racked the 2013 Riesling in the FlexTank and the wine stored in carboys.  After three weeks, the french oak chips were settled on the bottom of the tanks, which made it easy to rack the wine off the chips.  This is my first time giving the wine three weeks on the chips, having previously only given it one or two weeks.  I'm hoping the extra time will bring out the wood's character a little more.  After racking, I went to get my phone to take photos and I realized to my horror that the FlexTank was leaking from the taste valve cap.  Besides the top of the tank, the 80 gallon FlexTank has two holes.  One at the bottom for racking and one about a third of the way up for a taste valve.  I don't use the taste valve, but I found after my first racking that the taste valve cap must be removed and dried carefully or the metal threads will rust.  One issue is that the caps are easy to over-torque when tightening back in place.  I tried rubbing a little silicone gel on the outside of the cap, but the leak kept coming.  I ended up taking the cap off and quickly screwing in a replacement cap from another FlexTank, losing some wine splashing out in the process.  The leak was fixed. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Toasted Oak Chips

The 2013 Riesling is more than halfway finished on its journey to the bottle.  Over the past weekend, I added toasted french oak chips to the FlexTank and carboys.  Before the chips sink and impart their flavor, they give the wine the not-so-appetizing look of a large container of hot and sour soup.  Over the next two weeks, the chips fall away and the wine will be racked clear, but it will keep a slight hint of the oak flavor. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Racking Carboys vs. FlexTanks

Over the weekend, I racked all of the 2013 wine off the lees in the carboys and the FlexTank.  The temperature in New York's Hudson Valley has been in the single digits and in some cases below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. On one of those cold days, the nozzle in the oil furnace that heats the winery became clogged and the furnace shut off.  Fortunately, I have a cold sensor with an alarm system, so a repair was made before any pipes could freeze. The one day temperature drop in the cellar resulted in significant precipitation of acid crystals along the inner walls of the FlexTank.  The polyethylene terephthalate ("PET") carboys showed less precipitation of tartaric crystals but showed significant yeast clearing.  My observation is that the wine appears slightly, but noticeably, darker in the FlexTank than in the carboys.  While I did my best to eliminate any headroom in the FlexTank, and I use a high density thick-walled tank, the FlexTank is breathable and oxygen may be affecting the wine even over short 1-2 month intervals.  The final results won't be available until I pour a glass from a finished bottle, but I am keenly watching any effects of oxygen on wine in the FlexTank.  I'd be very interested to acquire an eighty (80) gallon non-permeable PET tank, but so far it doesn't look like many companies make such a tank.  One company in Vietnam, Minh Hung, makes large 100 gallon-plus PET tanks, but since the risk of plastic decomposing and leaching into wine is significant, I'm still hesitant to buy direct from a vendor in Asia.  Below is a link to Minh Hung's site, which looks very professional: