Sunday, February 18, 2007

Out with the '05... in with the '06...

A busy weekend of work. The 2005 Chez Ray has been sitting with toasted oak staves in 3 and 5 gallon glass carboys for about a year. This weekend, I've racked (siphoned) all the 2005 wine into empty wine bottles and topped them with corks. Potassium metabisulfite was added at about 1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallon batch. Potassium sorbate was also added to the sweet wines at a level of about one tablespoon per 5 gallon batch. The sorbate stops yeast from reproducing, thus reducing refermentation risk with the sweet wines. The fermentation yeasts were mixes of D254, D80 and AMH (Assmanshausen).

The wine bottles will sit upright for a few days, to let the compressed air (from corking) slowly release through the corks:

Here are some of the bottles standing at attention...

After a week, I'll lay them on their sides for aging.

Meanwhile, the emptied carboys were put immediately to new use. First, I removed the used oak staves from the emptied carboys. Ummm, they smell delicious, now fully soaked with wine...

Then, one by one, I got the carboys of 2006 Chez Ray ready. I poured clean wine from the tops of the wine buckets that were pressed last week into empty, rinsed carboys... leaving the gross lees behind at the bottom of the buckets. Here are some of the newly filled and labeled carboys, and a couple of buckets of pressed wine still waiting for clean carboys to be readied:

I inserted two new, handmade toasted oak staves into each carboy to provide oak for the aging process.

Meanwhile, I collected the gross lees together into a single bucket. As the yeast sediment settles in this bucket and the clean wine migrates to the top, that clean wine will become the 2006 Chez Ray Kitchen Sink Blend.

For the record, I code each wine bottle by writing in permanent marker on the cork before inserting. Codes reflect the grape variety and year, thus:

P5 = Pinot Noir - Carneros District - Sonoma County CA
Z5 = Zinfandel - Russian River (Windsor), Sonoma County CA
M5 = Merlot - Carneros - Sonoma County CA
M'5 = Merlot - Carneros - Napa County CA
F5 = Cabernet Franc - Russian River, Sonoma County CA
CS5 = Cabernet Sauvignon - State Lane, Yountville district, Napa County CA
CR5 = Cabernet Sauvignon - Rutherford district, Napa County CA
PS5 = Petit Sirah - Lodi CA
Z'5 = Zinfandel - Lodi CA (fermented with stems)
Z,5 (underbar) = Zinfandel - Lodi CA
B5 = Botyrised Chardonnay (Sweet) - Yakima Valley - Prosser WA
MU5 = Muscat (Sweet) - CA
BL6 = 2006 Blueberry (Sweet) - Shelton CT
BK5 = Blackberry (Sweet) - Westport CT

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