David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 42 - 43
October 17, 2004 to October 29, 2004 

  Thursday October 21, 2004
I have a new toy. Actually it could be a big tool. It cost me $3500 (including all the tests kits for a year). On average, 7 cents per bottle for one year. It gives me my last tool to make great wine. This new gadget will check Malic. Malic acid is always a concern for those of us who do not sterile filter. A second fermentation could occur in the bottle if all the malic acid is not depleted. Almost all wineries add a little malic bacteria to their wines to encourage this conversion of malic acid. This new instrument called Vinitest analyzes the amount of malic acid left in a sample of wine. In the past, I have sent samples of our barrels to a lab for a test. These labs have more expensive instruments which can accurately test for malic. But, these tests cost $18 a shot and since I have 200 barrels to test, it makes it impractical to test all the barrels. In past years I have paid for tests in only a few barrels. Since most of our barrels are similar (Old Vine Zin, Carignan, Cab etc.) coming from a certain area of the vineyards, I have felt relatively confident that a test in one barrel of each group is enough. 

Now that I have this new Vinitest, I can do more timely tests in the winery. Each test costs $2. After all the malic acid is gone from a barrel, 50 parts per million of SO2 can be added to stabilize the wine. There can be some unwanted bacteria form in the barrel if SO2 is not added as soon as the secondary fermentation of malic acid completes. By testing many barrels, I confirmed that most of our 2004 wines have completed fermentation. Thus yesterday Brendan added SO2 to half the barrels. The Block 4 and Old Vine Zinfandel barrels have not completed malo lactic (the depletion of malic acid), so I have had to add more malo lactic bacteria. I have left the temperature in the winery at 72 degrees to help the fermentation. 

I want a change because I do not like WAR. bUT i CAN SEE THE OTHER SIDE. wAR IS HELL. wE NEED TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY. I am concerned about my country. I know most of you may think I am crazy, BUT I think the Presidents since Reagan have been less impressive; The NFL's best management could compete with our congress and administrations. I understand this could be a generation thing, but since Our presidents have been becoming more my age, I feel I almost could make decisions as good as theirs. Of course that would be inconceivable. Could you imagine someone greeting our nation in a tank top? Since I hate war, I am hoping who ever wins, that, That president may agree with me, That we need to end this war gracefully. 

Wednesday October 27, 2004

There is bad news, for all you Late Harvest Sauv Blanc lovers. One of my barrels of our 2004 late harvest has started to ferment again. It is encouraging that the other barrel has not started back up again, but I figure it probably would soon. The other possibility is that the barrel with the fermenting wine had some bacteria in it and that created the start of fermentation. That brings me to the subject of another new toy I just purchased: An Ozone/Oxygen System. 

I am sure some of you are wondering why I would I purchase a machine that makes Ozone. This machine will produce ozone in small amounts necessary to purify just about anything. These machines are used all over the world in many applications, including beverage, water treatment, food processing, aquarium, air treatment to mention a few. Ozone is a natural occurrence through lightning. The ozone layer protects us from solar rays. This machine produces ozone water as lightning does: by splitting the O2 molecule through a high voltage discharge at 6000 times per second, in a totally controlled environment. Ozone is a better alternative than chemical treatment, especially for our environment. The amount of ozone actually created is very small which puts out no hydrocarbons. In fact a chlorine application produces more harmful gases than this machine. The system costs $10,500 or 20 cents a bottle for one year. I know you are thinking that I have bought a lot of new toys recently. Hopefully our prices will not have to go up much. 

Brettanomyces is an ongoing problem in most wineries. Most French wines contain Brett. Brett can add complexity to a wine, either good or bad. The volatile phenols produced in red wine by Brettanomyces are characterized by descriptors ranging from "barnyard" and "leather", to "clove" and "strong spice", to "smoky - B.B.Q.", to "phenolic", "medicinal", "band aid" and even "animal". It is a yeast strain and its growth can be stopped with sterile filtering, but filtering does not take out what is already there, although I here that Heavy filtering could take out Brett. Brett grows most effectively in old barrels. The only way to guarantee a clean barrel is to ozone it. The ozone will purify the barrel and then if a brett free wine is put in the barrel, no further growth will occur.

Some of my older wines do have a little brett. I don't feel the amount is offensive yet. I don't want to filter, so by using this new ozone machine I can assure a brett free environment for my future wines. I have always enjoyed young wines, but for those of you who want to age my wines for over 5 years this machine will help keep the wines fresh.

That brings me back to my 2004 Late Harvest Sauv Blanc. We are going to give this wine one last chance. Steve is now setting up to sterile filter the wine again. This time we have treated one oak barrel with ozone and I have bought a stainless steel 60 gallon barrel to replace the other oak barrel. Of course stainless especially after being treated with ozone is the best way to preserve wine. The wine will be filtered into these sterile barrels. I have already ordered screwcap half bottles which should be here by the end of November. If still stable, we should have some Late Harvest wine for sale by December.

Thursday October 28, 2004

Yesterday I mentioned that Brettanomyces is an ongoing problem in most wineries. Many desirable Bordeaux wines contain a great amount of it. The WineSpectator has given high scores to some of these wines. So Brett can be a good thing. Brett will not harm anyone who tastes or smells it. I don't think I need it. Here is a great article that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Brett.


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