Behold the moment that you’ve all been waiting for! Well, at least what I have been waiting for. Last weekend I decided it was go time. Time to bottle my 13 gallons of 2010 Eagle Point Grenache wine and let the chips fall where they may.
But before sealing the deal with a cork, there were a few final steps that I needed to perform. First, a final racking and assemblage were in order. Now you might ask, why are you blending all 3 carboys since they consist of the same varietal?
Very good question. First, upon tasting, I noticed that the wine in my 3 gallon carboy seemed a bit more reductive than the two 5 gallon carboys. Second, when I performed my tests on free sulfur, I wanted to make sure that all 3 vessels were essentially reading the same ppm. Basically, I did not want to perform this test 3 times. And finally I wanted to rack as much of the wine off its lees, as you can see at the bottom of the carboys.
After I racked and blended my 3 glass carboys, it was time to test for how much free SO2 I had left protecting the wine. The test, and the resulting number or parts per million (ppm), would allow me to make calculations toward adding the requisite amount of sulfur to protect the wine once it was bottled.
I purchased this eration-oxidation kit from an online wine supply site called More Wine!. In addition to providing just about anything a home winemaker could need, More Wine! Also provides fantastic videos, wine making manuals and step by step instructions for certain tests and procedures. It is truly a fantastic winemaking resource, and I highly recommend it to anyone of you out there interested in making wine for the first time.
Measuring free SO2 by aeration-oxidation is a relatively easy and painless test which takes about 20-30 minutes to perform. If you are interested in the specific materials needed and how to perform the test, please click here.
My test results indicated that I had 16ppm free SO2 in my wine. Since my pH was quite high I decided to bottle with approximately 40ppm free SO2. I wanted my wine to be enjoyed soon and over the next year or so, however with a pH of 3.9 I wanted the wine to be sufficiently protected against premature oxidation.
So I made the necessary adjustments and added just enough SO2 to equal 24 ppm.This 24ppm + the 16ppm already existant would bring me right up to where I wanted to be. Ultimately, at bottling time I would be closer to around 30 ppm anyway.
The following day my good friend Wes came over to help me get the bottling underway. After picking up corks, bottles and a good ol’ fashioned hand corker (thank you Homer!) at Oak Barrel Winecraft we were cookin’ with gas!
Wes started by rinsing out our bottles with distilled water, while I set up our “bottling line”. The goal was to work as quickly as possible in order to mitigate the amount of time that this young Grenache was exposed to oxygen.
I was responsible for filling the clean bottles, using a plastic hose, and a nifty bottle filler that shuts off when the desired fill level of a wine bottle is reached. Here I am in the zone and showing how it’s done about 24 bottles into it.
Once the bottle was filled, Wes grabbed a cork, and with a one, two punch inserted the cork snuggly into the wine bottle.
And voila! Like an artisanal assembly line, Wes and I bottled 60 bottles of wine in just a couple of hours and change. It was really great to have a friend help out with these final steps. Not only was it more fun, but it cut my bottling time in half.
After all of our hard work, and to enjoy the fruits of our labor, Wes and I celebrated with a super Mexican lunch from Gallego’s in Berkeley.
I chilled down our bottle for about 15 minutes in the fridge, as I wanted to mitigate the sensation of alcohol (close to 15%) with the spicier qualities of our lunch. The lush cherry nuances and subtle rose hip aromatics worked great though. Stylistically, Wes said it reminded him of a fresh beaujolais. I found it to be akin to a Jurassien Trousseau that got lost, wandered south, and set down roots in the southern Rhone! Regardless, the fact that I made this wine myself and with the help of my friends made drinking this first glass very special to me.