On Monday, October 1, 2007 – Dad and I drove to Zamora, CA again to get 1/2 ton of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Alexander Vineyards. I can never remember the name of the exit from Interstate 505, but Dad remembered from 2 years earlier that it was State Road 14. At 77 years of age, he’s still got a better memory than I.
Frank was there to greet us at 10:24am. I had originally decided not to buy grapes from him again because I have been so disappointed in the fruit the last 2 years, but he gave me a deal of .30 cents per pound, and no extra charge to use his bin – and since I felt Mom wanted to participate in another crush, I thought I would try again. Frank assured me the Brix were 25.5, and that the fruit would be better.
The pickers were a little late because there had been a chance of rain, but it ended up being a light sprinkle so they harvested for me and we were loaded and gone by 10:45am.
We stopped at the wine store to pick up the crusher on our way home. We arrived to find Anton Pestun waiting to participate with us in the crush – even though he works at Robert Mondavi winery, it was his first time actually participating in the crush process.
We all noticed how many green and apparent unripe grapes there were as we picked out stems and leaves. And Anton noted how large the grapes were for Cabernet Sauvignon – almost twice as big as those at Mondavi. After we got everything cleaned up I took the crusher back and picked up the yeast. We had crushed enough grapes to put 30 gallons in each of 3 of the fermentation tanks. I was seriously disappointed to find Brix at 23. Once again, I got cheated out of good and properly ripened fruit by the same place. TA was at 0.60 and pH was at 4.22. I added 7 grams of SO2 to each tank (a 5g and 2g tablet). This is 3x more than the last vintage, and 1.5x more than the 2006 Syrah, but I intended to take more time before starting fermentation this time.
I left the must alone on Tuesday while we went with Mom & Dad to Darryl Sattui’s new winery and castle in Calistoga (Castillo di Amaroso), and then to V. Sattui winery to get mom some deli meats and cheeses. We ate lunch there and had a nice afternoon.
At 4pm on Tuesday I added 3 cups of sugar to each tank to bring them up to 24.5 brix. I found this information on the web:
SUGAR – If juice has a low brix, it should be brought up before starting fermentation. This can be done by adding sugar. Add 1.5 oz sugar per gallon to increase brix 1 degree. Add 7.5 oz or about 1/2 lb sugar for 1 degree brix increase in 5 gallons. 5 lbs sugar will increase brix about 10.7 degrees. These figures are approximate. Measure with a hydrometer. The brix in each tank is now 24.5
I added 108g of tartaric acid to each tank to bring TA from .6 to .7, and brought the pH down to 3.80. I then left it over night.
Mom and Dad left at 4:30am to go back home. (Sent me an e-mail on Thursday and said they arrived at 2:30pm on Thursday).
Wednesday morning, at 7:30am, I added 6 packets of Pasteur Red yeast to each tank to start fermentation.
Later on Wednesday, I called Frank to express my disappointment in the fruit. He apologized (for the 3rd year in a row). He told me he couldn’t give me any money back, but would make sure I got 1/2 ton of the best grapes they had at no charge next year. I’ll see what the free grapes are like next year.
It’s been cold (45 degrees) each morning so I put the space-heater in the garage to keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees each day. Fermentation is going well and punch-down every 6 hours there has been a crown of 4 inches. The smell is good, but also has a sulphur smell like the Syrah did last year. I hope I can salvage this vintage – it’s a lot of work to go through to be disappoined in the outcome.