David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 47 - 50
November 17, 2002 to December 14, 2002 

Thursday November 21, 2002

This week has been slow. Besides starting on my taxes for the corporation and Family, I decided to take a walk around the vineyard. 

Out in the vineyard I saw that most of the leaves have fallen from the vines and that there were a few vines that had sauv blanc bunches on them. So, I sent Caterino out to pick another 180 lbs. This time the sugar came in at 26% so we will not ferment it. I put the 10 gal of juice we achieved into our old upright refrigerator. I turned the temp down to 28 degrees. This will settle the juice and help clarify it enough to filter into the other wine we have been preparing for our Late Harvest Sauv Blanc. Last week I ordered some new filters that are only 7 microns. The filters we were using last week with little success were 2 microns. These 7 micron filters will hopefully be course enough to allow the wine to pass through. After that we will eventually use the 2 micron again. At the end before we bottle we will use our tightest filter, 0.5 micron, to make sure there is no yeast left in the wine. This is called sterile filtering. 

The reason I harvested another 10 gals was because it appeared the wine we put in barrels last week was fermenting again. I since have changed my mind somewhat. I do see and hear some activity, bubbling, but the alcohol and sugar tests have stayed the same They read about 14% sugar and 11% alcohol. I am very happy with these numbers. By adding the extra 10 gals of juice, I should end up with a wine with about 10.5 % alcohol and a sugar of 14.5%. This assumes that the bubbling does not turn into a fermentation and change the present figures. We do expect the new filters tomorrow. After this initial filtering, I do plan on adding some citric acid to help the balance of the wine. Right now at a PH of 3.60, the wine tastes a little flabby. This wine has been a big challenge for me and I love it. 

Wednesday November 27, 2002

I have to make this quick. I am  visiting my 80 year old Mother tomorrow who is as vibrant as ever. I think we have our Late Harvest Sauv Blanc figured out. The final blend should be about 11% alcohol and 14% residual sugar. I have played with adding enough citric acid to change the PH from 3.6 to 3.2 and have been real happy with the taste. SOOO I added enough citric to go to 3.4 for now. I will reevaluate the taste in two weeks. 

Next week I need to talk about Altec corks. Altec is the cork I used from 1996 until the bottling of 1998 ZP2C. If you have a bottle of 1998 Zp2C (the first bottling with our new cork-Neocork) try comparing it to any of out 97's or 98's. I feel there is a difference in the taste with Altec's. Since 1998 we have used Neocork and have been real happy. I will go into more detail next week. 

Thursday December 5, 2002

I know I will get in trouble with my attorney friends, but I must state the facts about my Altec cork experience. Many of my friends are practicing lawyers or have gone to another profession. I admire them and find all lawyers I have met to be very intelligent. I know not all of you have had good experiences with attorneys, but I have. 

I have used Altec corks almost exclusively from the 1996 vintage until the end of the bottling of our 1998 vintage. I did bottle three cases of our 1997 vintage with Supreme cork. And the last bottling of 1998 wines (1998 ZP2C) was bottled with Neocork which we have used since then. 

About three years ago I started hearing that some winemakers were claiming that they could tell a difference in blind tastings between Altec corks and regular corks. I was not surprised since a regular cork would depart some flavor of natural cork into a wine. This is traditional and I have heard that some winemakers do want this corky taste in their wine. I do not. I want my wine to taste just as it was out of the barrel. So I was skeptical. I wanted to use Altec because they claimed that their would be no cork taint from their corks. In 1999 after hearing that my 1997 Zinfandel was rated down for this very reason, I even tried a blind taste between the 1997 Zinfandel I had bottled with Altec and my 1997 Zinfandel bottled with Supreme cork. At that time I could detect no difference. 

Sometime in 2000 I stopped drinking my 1997 wine. I thought then that it was because I just loved my 1999 wines more. Then about a year later I stopped drinking my 1998 wines. Again I thought it was because I liked my 2000 wines more. A year later I decided I did not like my 1997 wines and my 1998 wines and I said that to many of you. I was so happy with my 1999, 2000 and 2001 wines that I did not think much about the 1997 and 1998 wines. 

Since then I have heard that Altec (Sabate) has admitted that there could be some TCA taint in their corks. I am now starting to do some tests on our past bottles with corks supplied with Altec, Supreme and Neocork. I will report on our findings next week.

Thursday December 12, 2002

I have to continue with my Altec story from last week. Yes Altec does have a problem. Yes I feel our wines are different with Altec corks. 

My 1996, 1997 and most of the 1998 wines were bottled with Altec corks. Any natural cork including Altec, which is a composite, does impart a flavor to a bottled wine over time. Some of us do prefer this flavor which can contribute to complexity in wine. I do not want any flavor, that I do not control, in my wine. We do have our 1997 Zinfandel bottled in three cases of Supreme cork (plastic) and all the rest in Altec cork, a composite. I tasted these wines blind as well as many other people. Some preferred the Altec (as did Brendan and Pat) and some preferred the Supreme as I did. Altec produces a better seal thus there was less oxidation. Altec did depart a distinctive flavor to the wine that I thought should not be included in my winemaking. 

As I said last week Altec has admitted to some TCA taint in their corks. This taint can be measured in a lab. I did send many of our wines to be analyzed at $90 a pop. All the Altec corks came in with over 3 parts of TCA. All the other corks had no measurable amounts of TCA. Now the question is, what amount of TCA is OK. 

I have found that any level over 2 ppt is noticeable to me. I have found that some of you think this amount adds complexity. I have heard that some wines can have levels over 300 ppt. I have such a bottle in my possession from another winery. Almost all of you would find this wine unacceptable. So if some of us find TCA in any amount objectionable, I do not want it in my wine. Natural cork is the biggest contributor to this TCA, but it can be transferred through barrels. Fortunately we do not have this problem. 

All our 1999, 2000, 2001 wines were bottled with Neocork a synthetic which should depart no flavor to our wines. BUT I am looking into screw caps which may be the future. More on that next week.


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