RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cole in '09! Last Second Push

Okay everyone! It's down to this evening for voting! Please go check out all the videos of the other great candidates, and then choose mine. Don't forget to check out the Murphy-Goode Winery website to learn all a MG, winemaker David Ready, Jr., their great wine list, and some great games like Liar's Dice!

Good luck to all the other contestants!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bringing the Wine Home, or Out Out Damn Spot!

Over at Andy's Goode Life Blog, Andy has challenged Murphy-Goode Campaigners and other assorted wine enthusiasts to talk more about wine by answering one of three questions.

1. When I drink red wine, I often get the dreaded “red wine teeth,” which is an embarrassing condition to have at a party when I intend on talking, smiling, or otherwise showing my newly wine-stained chompers. And is there any way to reduce this affliction without hampering my enjoyment of reds?

2. What are your tips to avoid “palate fatigue” when tasting so many wines in a session?

3. Why smell the cork?

Being the overachiever I am, I will now answer all 3 questions (pretty easy answers for all of them to tell you the truth.)

1. First of all, it's not an affliction, it's a badge of honor, as if to say, "I have wine and you don't!" However, I do empathize with your predicament. There are multiple solutions, most of which are simple:
A) Chew a Campden Tablet. A little known fact is that red wine stains are simple to remove if you have enough sulfite. Chewing a sulfite tablet which is strong enough to sterilize 5 gallons of homemade wine is sure to keep those pearlies even pearlier. One drawback is that this is probably hazardous to your health.
B) Make sure everyone around has had more to drink than you. Unfortunately for this one, it relies on what other people do.
C)Dim the lights. This way, no one can see your teeth well anyway. This is the recommended method.

2. Vodka

3. Because you're interested in what the bark of a cork tree smells like. There's no wine-related reason though.

I hope my answers have helped everyone learn something about how to enjoy wine today!


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Cole in '09!

Hi everyone! I am now officially running a campaign for the Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent. Please vote for me!

COLE in '09!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Pumpkin Wine is Still Rockin'!

My wife, Kat, and I have been doing a great job of eating at home lately, and we've been doing a really good job of being creative while saving some dough on the food. Kat's creativity has been outstanding! One dinner we had this week was a Mojo Pork Loin. For a side, we were just going to have some saffron rice, as well as some sauteed veggies, including yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini. Well, Kat had the great idea to pour the cooked rice into the sauteed veggies, thereby creating a kind of veggie paella. It was delicious! We had this two nights in a row!

As this was a cuban-hybrid-fusion type dinner, I started thinking that in the Caribbean, gourds, especially pumpkins are used in lots of dishes. Therefore, what could be better to go with this dish than Pumpkin Wine?

Boy, was that a good choice! The wine is still going strong - nice crisp refreshing wine. There is a good noticble pumpkin flavor. The spices (ginger and cinnamon) have mellowed extremely and are very faint. Good round mouthfeel (for a white fruit wine), excellent clarity, perfect acid for spice filled dishes.

This is still by far the best wine I have made! And I need to check my inventory, but I think I still have quite a bit left!

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Hello Again!

They say winemaking is all about patience and time. Well, sometimes it’s tough to decide how long is long enough. You can see from my post below that Cabernet Franc was the next wine up. Well, I picked 100 pounds of grapes from Medley Meadow Vineyards in King, NC, on October 2nd 2006. I bottled the wine in November of 2008! And I tasted a bottle in May of 2009. So far, two and a half years for this one!

How was it? I think it needs more time! The initial pour had a SHARP bite to it, so it needed to breathe for a while. The appearance was actually beautiful – deep dark ruby and garnet, clear as can be! The nose had notes of anise, mint, black licorice and tobacco. Once it breathed (for a very long time!) I tasted again, and it was a very herbaceous, vegetal wine. Mint, green peppers, pine, vanilla, tobacco, earth, and leather – with just the slightest hint of young cherries. It was still a little hot too, strange because the ABV should be around 11.8%.

Honestly, I went to winepress, and got some advice from Twitter folks about what to do with this. At this moment, I would not serve this. Two options continuously came up as I asked around about this:

1) Let it continue to age for another 6 months or longer, then taste again. Consensus seemed to indicate it would only improve.
2) Make a Merlot and/or Cab Sauv and blend. Cab Franc is a grape that is most often used in blending with these softer, more fruit forward wines.

Cab Franc is known for its herbaceous, vegetal, green taste. The ones I tasted before I made it had some of that, but still had quite a bit of fruit. But now that I think back on it, I’m not sure how many of those were 100% Cab Franc.

Regardless, my choice for now is to wait a while longer, let it age a few more months, and try again. Hopefully, it will have mellowed a good bit. At that point, maybe I’ll have something to blend it with if necessary.

Fruit was picked on October 2, 2006, at Medley Meadows Vineyards in King, NC (owners are Randy and Vivian Fulk.)
The numbers for the fruit once I got it back to Charlotte: 21.5 Brix, 3.55 pH, and .47 TA (so I had to add a bit of Tartaric acid.)
Grapes were destemmed by hand, and crushed by very thoroughly washed feet! I may have left too many stems in, which would add to the vegetal taste. Pitched yeast on 10/3, pressed a week later. I used medium toast American Oak cubes, adding and replacing them at rackings. I racked just a few times throughout the process. I never fined or filtered. It aged for the last year in bulk in a basement with constant 65 degree temps.

Special note:

I think my ’06 Blackberry may be done already. It oxidized a bit in bulk, so it has a brownish hue to the color. It still has a strong blackberry flavor, though, so it might last a while longer. Now that I think about it, even though this one was made in a red wine style, it may be a good idea to chill it first…

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grape Photos!

Finally! Here are the long awaited photos of the Cab Franc grapes (in middle of veraison) and the vines of the grapes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What's been going on?

Not much!

After my last post, I did make it up to see my grapes and meet the grower. Randy is a great guy. He showed me the vineyard and answered a lot of questions. The grapes were already looking good, and the Cab Franc were in the middle of veraison.

I just emailed him yesterday asking him how the grapes were coming along. He said that he would be picking his Chardonnay this weekend, but the Cab Franc were at least 2 weeks away. That's a hopeful estimate, actually, based on the weather. All the rain we've received in the state lately has been pushing harvest back. Yesterday, we got a single day record for rainfall in Charlotte! But Randy said that if it dried up and we had good, warm, dry weather after that, they should be ready in about 2 weeks. Any more rain could push the harvest back well into October.

The forecast as of today? Drying up and warm for the rest of the week, followed by cooler dry air next week. Keep your fingers crossed!

The Sunday of Labor Day weekedn, I did a lot of work on my current wines. First, I racked my blackberry wines for the first time sine putting them in the secondary. I was able to get them off a lot of sediment, and used about half of my half gallon to top up the 5 gallon carboy of Blackberry. I topped up the half gallon with some merlot, so that will be a good 50/50 blend of the two. I tasted this Blackberry, and boy was it ever tart! It tasted like I had way too much acid in there. I decided not to adjust at this time, hoping that in time the acid would back away some. If that doesn't work, I may have to figure a way out to cut the acid.

The second run blackberry wine was racked as well. This one didn't lose too much sediment, but I still had to top up a bit with some Pinot Noir that I had opened (you can't do any work with wine without drinking a bit of it after all!) I tasted this (before adding the Pinot Noir) and it was very tasty! Perfect amount of acid right now, and it seemed like there was just a bit of sweeteness still. It reminded me of when you have a glass of Kool-Aid where the mix hasn't been dissolved quite completely. It was sharp and refreshing - a light wine like it should be.

I really need to do some analysis on these blackberry wines and check the pH, TA, and SG. Even though the 2nd run blackberry was good, I'm worried that the kool-aid taste means that it didn't finish fermenting. If it didn't, and it tastes good anyway as it ages, I'll just stabilize it and age it with residual sugar.

Next I racked my Carm/Cab. It has cleared, but there were minimum lees still in there. The bottom of the carboy was coated with sediment, but it wasn't really enough to lose much of the wine. As it was, I used about a quarter of the bottle of Pinot to top up. This one really surprised me! The last time I tasted it, I detected what home winemakers call Kit Taste. There's no good description really to explain what kit taste really is. Some people say it's a candy-like flavor. Anyway, this had it, much like my Merlot does. But when I racked it this time and tasted it, there was absolutely no kit taste! (Although, that could be a result of a couple of glasses of Pinot in addition to some tastings of the blackberry wine...) But I thought it tasted wonderful, and I'm really excited about this one.

I wanted to bottle the Carm/Cab, but 2 things got in my way. I've collected enough empty bottled to do this, but most of them still have their labels on them. I went out and bought some steel scouring sponges. But I ran out of time to actually scrub the bottles, so that's still on my list of things to do. Also, when I checked my cork supply, I found I only have 7 corks left. This wine will give me about 30 bottles, so I've just got to wait until the corks I ordered come in. (More on that in a moment.)

Tuesday of this week, I finally picked a bottle of Pumpkin Wine to send to the NC State Fair Wine Competition. The labels got behind schedule, so I had to print my rough draft of the label ona black and white printer and tape it on. No mind though - they say on the entry form that the judges don't see the bottle. One thing they will see however, is the sediment that has formed in the bottle. It's not really so much sediment as it is "floaties" that are suspended in the wine. I believe these are strings of proteins that have bound themselves together and formed visible strings. It's nothing that will harm the wine, or the flavor, but it's going to cost me points for the clarity portion of the judging. Oh well, I'll find out. Maybe the taste will blow them away so much that I'll still win big!

To get ready for my grapes, I ordered online a bunch of stuff. As I mentioned before, I ordered new corks - these are the Nomacork brand, a synthetic cork that should allow longer aging and better ability at cellaring. I also ordered a special yeast called BM45 that's generally only available to commercial wineries. It is supposed to improve the mouthfeel of the wine, and evidently is really en vogue for winemakers right now. In addition to this, I'm getting some Malolactic Bacteria and nutrient for them in order to convert the malic acid in wine into smoother, less sharp lactic acid. Finally, I order some American Oak Cubes to simulate the flavor produced from barrel aging. This should all be here by Monday at the latest!

Other things on the horizon are the 10 pounds of blueberries I have in the freezer, and looking ahead to making another batch of Pumpkin wine in October.

That's all that's been going on lately. I did take a couple of photos of my vineyard trip, but my home computer is pretty much completely dead now. So I'm going to have to upload those to a different computer. I'll post them when that happens.

I'll report back with more news later!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nothin' Much Happenin'

So it's been a while since my last post. That's because, mainly, there hasn't been much new news for the winemaking. The blackberry wines are still in secondary, the Carm/Cab and Strawberry wines are still in aging.

I've got a pH Meter and a Refractometer on they way to me, and I need to order a fermenter, some BM45 Yeast, some MLF, and some Stavin Oak Cubes for the Cab Franc grapes.

Speaking of those, this weekend, I will be up at my parents in Kernersville, and I plan to stop by Medley Meadows Vineyard in King, where I've sourced my grapes from. Randy Fulk, the owner, will be there to show me around the vineyard, and we'll probably talk grapes and wines for a while.

I can't wait to meet my little berries! I'll check on them and see how far along they are in Veraison, and see what Randy approximates as harvest time. There's a cold front moving through the area today and tomorrow, and it's carrying some rain with it, so that could push back harvest a few days, as rainfall will almost immediately affect the Brix and acid levels in grapes.

Personally, I'm sick and tired of this hot weather, but evidently, the grapes generally like it. They ripen better and get sweeter in the dry, hot weather. It might actually have been a little bit too hot as one winegrower recently told me. He said hot days and cool nights are best, but it hasn't even been anywhere close to cool around here lately!

So, we'll see. I'll report back on the condition of the grapes once I've met them!