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Friday, November 13, 2009

And just like that, the season is done. Kind of sad really. Wish we had three harvests a year. The rose was chilled and racked off the sediment yesterday. The photo to the left is of the Muscat Canelli being pumped out of its tank to another to get rid of all the sediment. Lake County Muscat was much more delicate this year than in the past. Usually it is full of almond and vanilla Muscatiness that just overwhelms the senses. This year though, and this was verified by tasting others', it is very delicate, almost ethereal Pinot Blanc white flowerish with very little musk. It is amazing how much the weather can control these sorts of things, and the delicacy is uniform around Kelseyville too. That being the case, we had to be conservative with what little aromatics we had, and that meant fermenting extremely cold and leaving a tiny bit of residual sugar to help hold onto those aromatic molecules and frame the nose. This is done usually by chilling the fermentation down to the point where the yeast die. After two days and hitting thirty four degrees we felt pretty sure that the little beasties are dead. We should be at around seven grams of residual sugar per liter, which is about 1.5 level teaspoons per liter, and there was some decent acid this year despite the late harvest, so it should all balance out. This is really a miniscule amount. Sensory threshold is usually considered five grams per liter (unless you are Bob Parker and have that Pepsi sweet tooth), meaning that at four grams per liter most people can not sense any sweetness. Amazingly enough, there were different stratified layers of varying sugar in the tank, dryer on the bottom where the cooling jacket couldn't reach and the yeast were living hotter and faster and sweeter on the top where the cooling coils chilled the fermentation faster, leaving less time for the yeast to keep digesting the sugar. Defies what you though you learned about in high school huh? There were probably four distinct layers of different sugar levels just in a ton and a half of juice in a two-ton tank. Managing this is the type of thing that the Germans and Alsatians are masters of, hitting that perfect balance, and timing the end of fermentation at precisely the right moment. But here, in a strange year where some things never got ripe, sometimes you need all the help you can get. Leaving residual sugar is always a gamble, but the sweetness tends to mellow and round out with time. The grapes tell you what they want you to do; you have to listen.

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