RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

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!