Sunday, February 08, 2009

Time for Racking off the Gross Lees and Starting Malolactic Fermentation

A week after the 2008 vintage wine was pressed, all of the gross lees have settled to the bottom of our Chez Ray pails, and the wine can be racked (essentially, decanted) from the five-gallon pails into glass carboys. (We call them "carboys", but they're really the old three- and five-gallon glass water cooler jugs from the old days.)

To "rack" the wine off its gross lees, you simply pour the juice through a funnel into a carboy, stopping just before the gross lees (the yucky stuff on the bottom) makes its way to the funnel. Voila, clear racked wine.

At this point, it is appropriate to begin malolactic fermentation, which is a bacterial fermentation that helps to convert malic acid to lactic acid, softening the wine and leaving it more stable for storage.
For the 2008 vintage, I used Enoferm Alpha malolactic starter, mixed with Acti-ML as a nutrient solution. After mixing, I spooned it evenly across the freshly-loaded carboys.

I will let the carboys sit for a few weeks in warmer room temperatures to give the malolactic fermentation a chance to begin, then move them to the basement for longer-term storage.

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