Sunday, June 24, 2012

2010 Vintage Cautions and Explanations

Original posting, October, 2011: WARNING, my 2010 Chez Ray reds were, for the most part, unmitigated disasters.  Virtually every one had elements of vinegar in the outcome - some mere hints, some dramatic vinegar flares.  There were two things I did in 2011 that were different from prior vintages:

1) For aging in plastic pails, I intentionally replaced the plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) barriers which I had successfully used in the past with wax paper, thinking that this was a more organic way to go, likely to generate less unintentional toxins in the resultant wine.

2) I neglected (ok, ok, FORGOT!) to sulfite the wines after malolactic fermentation and before longer-term aging.

I blended the least-vinegary of the red wine batches together in a blend I am calling Chez Ray Salvage 2010 (code SV10).

The rest of the buckets remain in cool storage as near-vinegar.  They are near-vinegar because they sport 13-14% alcohol levels, which is well-above vinegar levels as best I can tell.  If someone has a good suggestion about how to transport these wines back to wine-dom, or push them ahead to full-blown vinegar-dom, I am all ears!  They will certainly be some of the costliest vinegars I will ever enjoy!

Although I cannot with certainty blame either the use of wax paper as an air barrier or the lack of sulfites prior to aging, I will CERTAINLY avoid both for the future.
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Update, June, 2012:  The SV10's show good fruit and layers, but a distinct vinegar overtone.  I have found I can fix that by adding between 3/8 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per 750ml bottle.  The amount of baking soda needed to "fix" the more vinegary wines becomes intolerable for consumption.  But for SV10, the trade-off is workable.

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