Monday, July 19, 2010

Bottling Pinot Grigio

On Sunday my wife and I bottled our 2009 Columbia Gorge Pinot Grigio. This was the end of a long, and slightly stressful, winemaking process. I've had problems with making white wines in the past, and they all revolved around oxidation.  I purchased the Pinot Grigio juice from Brehm Vineyards back in December 2009.  It arrived as a bucket of frozen juice, so after thawing, it stayed cool during the initial fermentation.  It also helped that at that time of year, the house stays around 65o F.  It fermented through the Christmas holidays in a carboy to reduce oxygen exposure. The color of the juice took me by surprise, as it was more of a bronze color, not anything I had seen before with white grape juice. But, after fermentation it turned the normal clear yellowish color you'd expect. The original numbers on it were a specific gravity of 1.09, or about 23o Brix, with a pH of 3.30. This should yield a wine of about 14% alcohol by volume. I used D47 yeast for the wine, as that was the yeast recommended by Brehm Vineyards. During the aging process, I introduced some Biolees, to enhance fruit flavors and round out any harsh edges.  Throughout the aging process, I used nitrogen gas to try to sparge the oxygen from any head space in the carboy, and kept the wine sulfited.

Bottling took about an hour and a half, if you include all the cleaning before and afterwards. The first step was filtering the wine, I used "sterile" filters in my Buon Vino Super-jet, and luckily, this time, that went without incident. Then, I tried to use Nitrogen to "push" the wine into bottles, but that didn't work out as I didn't have all the necessary clamps on-hand. So, it was back to the old auto-siphon method of bottling the wine. After the wine was in the bottle, we just used a Vacu-Vin to remove the CO2 still present in the wine, and corked them. Labeling and shrink-caps will be done later in the week.

The wine looks, smells, and tastes fantastic. I get smells of melon, flowers, minerals and apple. The flavor yields more tropical fruit, with a nice crisp finish that lingers for a good while. I am quite happy with how this one turned out, so much so I may try to enter it into some wine competitions. I originally purchased a 5.25 gallon bucket of the juice, and ended up with only 21 bottles of wine.

I think the next piece of equipment I invest in will be an Enolmatic bottle filler. It uses vacuum to move the wine out of the carboy into the bottle, so I would think that will remove the CO2 from the wine (if there is any still there) as part of the process, as well as it would make the whole process a lot less work.