David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow July 17 - July 30, 2011

Sunday July 24, 2011

Pat is away again visiting a friend from Modesto. I am sure they are having a great time. So I am free to do what I want.

I opened several new wines this week after tasting a few Zinfandels in the last several days starting last Sunday for pizza. I tried a Washington Cabernet. I ordered several high end Cabernets to check them out. I was not impressed with this first one I tried!! It had no fruit and obviously had been left on the skins too long............remember only my opinion. Maybe the wine will come around but for the high price I paid I would not buy again. I opened our 2007 Cabernet to compare...................., what a difference, fruit.......but like I have said some so called experts expect no fruit in Cabernets.....It is traditional to make a wine with low acid and aged in oak too long. I respect the past ways but why can't we have fruit in a premium Cab? Don't get me wrong, I know some producers are making Cabernet that tastes more like a milkshake with no acid with apparent fruit. There is a wine for everyone.

Yes we are aging some of our wines longer two, but our wines have acid. On August First we will start offering the 2010 wines that are being aged 6 months longer. You will have a chance to order them as "Futures" to be released next February. Some of these wines will not be offered because they will be only for Dave's Wine Club including the 2010 Estate Zinfandel and the My Zin. Actually I have decided to drop a little acid out of these two wines and eventually we will offer to the Club a bottle of those two wines, one bottled in July and the other wine bottled in January aged 6 months longer and with a little less acid. The PH on these two Zins will be raised from 3.4 to 3.6 resulting in less acid. These two Zins in 2009 had a PH of 3.7 so the 2010 wines will still have good acid. As I have said 2010 wines will age a very long time because of high acid and great extraction.

Monday July 25, 2011

As I said yesterday I have been checking out PH readings in our bottled wines. During fermentation and while in the barrel before bottling we usually see PH readings around 3.7 naturally. Last season was a high acid year thus lower PH's than in most years. High acid will preserve a wine for longer periods but will take longer to come around. Our Zinfandels last year saw PH reading more like Bordeaux so they will age for a long time. As I said I lowered acid in two barrels of my two 2010 Estate Zins which will be bottled in January. I added 300 grams of potassium carbonate and we will check the PH on Wednesday.

I brought my hand held PH meter into the kitchen so I can check PH readings in wine that I taste around dinner time. I got some interesting readings last night. We have been inundated with several requests for our 2009 Block 6 Zinfandel that we sent exclusively to Dave's Wine Club members. I have some for myself but otherwise it is sold out. I wanted to see what the fuss is about so last night I opened it compared to my 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel also aged 16 months. The Block 6 seemed smoother and a little more complex on the finish. I enjoyed them both. I then checked the PH and was amazed to see the Block 6 come in at 3.8 PH and the Old Vine come in at 3.55, much more acid. Is that why the Block 6 is so popular, lower acid. I then checked the 2008 Ultimate Cuvee against the 2009 Ultimate Cuvee. I was even more surprised to get a PH reading of 4.0 on the 2008 and 3.8 on the 2009. Lastly I checked the 2010 Petite Sirah which is one of my favorites of the wines bottled two weeks ago. The reading was no surprise coming in at 3.5 PH. I will continue to check more wines every time I open new bottles.

Saturday July 30, 2011

I try to keep alcohols around 15% but sometimes they are higher than I want. I had a customer question the high alcohol of 15.9% on the bottle of 2008 Block 4. He would prefer less. The Block 4 section of our vineyard contains about 50% Zinfandel and Zinfandel bunches contain raisins which makes sugar readings hard to calculate. The Block 4 section is a field blend and thus it consists of many different varietals ripe at different times. That makes the section hard to calculate sugars.

Below is an excerpt to a past reference to our alcolyzer. It is the instrument we use to calculate alcohols during fermentation.

............Sunday August 29, 2004: As discussed last year, we use an Alcolyzer to calculate alcohol during fermentation. By using this alcohol reading and estimating sugar in the tank, we can come up with a close number for final alcohol. This method is not perfect! It is only an approximation, but it helps. I had to adjust the musts on Friday and Saturday and Brendan is coming back today so we can adjust again today if necessary. I want alcohols under 15% overall. I don't mind some over, but I don't want any over 15.5%. The potential readings on some fermenters were up to 16% alcohol. Harvest is always a challenge..........

In 2001 and 2002 I produced Block 4 under 15% alcohol and I noticed less of that unique mocha, spicy character. Since then I have aimed for 15.5%, sometimes the final wine comes in higher. The PH on the Block 4 is usually at least 3.7 and can be as high as 3.9. That is also something I will be checking to see if the unique taste is more prominent at higher PH's.

By the way you may search anything in my diary. There is a search box at the top of my diary page. Try "Zinfandel Bunches", or "Block 4" or "Alcolyzer".

I want to talk about PH readings again. I have been obsessed in the last week or so. Every evening after opening new bottles of wine I have tested PH's.

Last night I checked many Block 4 bottles. The 2008 mentioned at top of today's diary entry had a reading of 3.9 while the 2009 Block 4 came in at 3.75. I also tested our 2005 Block 4 which read 3.7 also. The newly bottled 2010 Block 4 aged 10 months was at 3.5. On Monday most of you will receive an e-mail announcing the sale of our "Futures" for some of the 2010 wines aged 16 months to be bottled in January. A few of those wines mentioned in my July 25 entry will be adjusted to 3.7 PH. Also the 2010 Block 4 aged 16 months will be adjusted. This will be an interesting experiment. I love making wine!!!

I also love spending money. Every year I purchase more equipment. Usually I purchase one piece but this year I am having more fun by purchasing 5 new toys:

1) New destemmer.........Two months ago I had an opportunity to purchase a used destemmer. It is a little larger than the one we have used for over 10 years and is much easier to clean so Matt is happy.

2) Elevator........To make it even easier to sort grapes I also purchased an elevator. This is so neat!! It has a hopper that holds a half ton, the size of our picking bins. The hopper is down low so it will be easy to load the grapes with our forklift bin turner. Then it has a ramp which can slowly move the grape bunches 10 feet up to the top of the destemmer. If we see something we don't want we can easily remove it.

3) Punch down device...........A few weeks ago, I was leafing through some of my old issues of "Wine Business Monthly" and saw a Pulsair device that got my interest up. After doing some research, I decided I had to have it. The device works off of air. We will be able to insert a wand into our one ton fermenters and pulse air down under the cap of skins in the fermenter. After a minute or so of strong injections at 4 seconds apart the must in the fermenter should start circulating. I know Matt likes punching down these fermenters by hand but I don't. I am hoping Cindi and I can use this instrument on Sundays to give Matt a few days off during the months of September through November.

4) Air compressor........The Pulsair sounds great but after doing more research, I found out I needed a new Air compressor to do the job right. We have been using a large 5 Horse Power air compressor purchased at Home Depot 10 years ago but we have been having trouble with it  and I heard it wasn't strong enough for us. Also it did not have the best filter system to use on our bottling line and use with the Pulsair. Gee, I didn't realize how much a good air compressor costs AND how much electrical work is needed to work it. Well it is only money so we now have in place a 10 HP air compressor, 6 times the cost!!

5) Nitrogen Generator..........Air is great to use with our new Pulsair but Nitrogen is better. Nitrogen is 99% pure and would be much better for our wine making. In past years we have rented nitrogen containers which is needed to run our bottling line. Now that we need air or pure nitrogen to run our Pulsair I decided to purchase a Nitrogen Generator to make our own nitrogen.

I know..........it will take many years to recoup this outlay of capital but I don't like paying taxes and I want to help the economy with purchases of equipment that will be deducible. I also want to make the best wine I can!!


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