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Advice sought on making wine from fresh must

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Dr. Francois

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I signed up for 6 gallons of fresh Chilean Cabernet Franc juice. It will arrive on Friday, packed in a bucket and refrigerated. It is non-concentrated (i.e. straight from the press to the bucket, with a little chemistry in between).

This is the first wine I've attempted aside from cider.

I've employed the search function and had a look around the web. While the advice I've found seems sound, I'd rather get advice from the people who've guided me so well in my brewing development. Thus, I kindly ask that you not simply provide a link...I'm asking for direct experience from experienced people.

Here are a few questions on procedure and best practices. Please feel free to answer any portion of any question, or post questions of your own:

1. Since this isn't a "kit," so it will not come with instructions. My plan is to add yeast and let it go until the hydrometer reads 1.010. The must has already been balanced for PH, had nutrient added, and comes with yeast at the bottom of the bucket. I'm considering adding my own yeast, Lalvin RC-212. Are there any other procedures I need to know or follow? Will I need to kill the yeast that ships with the must?

2. Should I add any other materials to the must? Raisins or so forth?

3. Can you get by with 2 rackings? Primary to secondary at 1.010, then secondary to bottling at 0.995?

4. Should I bother looking into malolactic fermentation?

Thank you all very much. I'm a little anxious because I just decided to make wine and I have to pick up the perishable juice on Friday.
 

WIP

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1-When you say that it comes with yeast, has it been pitched? If so, I would go with the yeast they give you. If it is the natural yeast, I would treat it with so2 and let it sit for 24 hours.

2- If they have left the must on the skins for color, you don't need to add anything. The tannins are already there.

3- If you rack carefully, two is enough, but I would throw one more in there just for good measure.

4- ML fermentation does do great things, but IMHO cab franc doesn't need it. Flip a coin.
 

gregbathurst

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All commercial cab franc goes through MLF, I would pitch it. The problem with reds is that the red pigments bind the metabisulpfite so if you don't do a mlf you might get one in the bottle, which is a disaster.

You need to let the wine thoroughly degas before bottling which takes months, so you might need another racking.
 
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Dr. Francois

Dr. Francois

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I've been reading around some more, and it seems like many winemakers skip MLF when they want to preserve the varietal fruit character of the wine. I've read reports of red Zin vintners skipping MLF to retain that great red pepper and jam flavor. Is this correct? Thus, if I want to retain as much Cab Franc character as possible, I'd skip the MLF? Is there a way to avoid MLF in the bottle should I decide to skip the process?

Primarily, I'm trying to make Cab Franc because I can't seem to find it anywhere in the marketplace (there are also very deep family connections to the grape, from France). The best examples I've had were from the Loire Valley. I was lucky enough to buy some Chateau de Brissac several years ago, and I still have one bottle in the cellar. I really like the earthy quality of French Cab Franc.
 

WIP

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Get an so2 test kit and some Stabavin (or equivalent). Just before bottling set your so2 level per your PH and temp. (tables available online) If you have the so2 at the right level, ML bacteria can't work in the bottle.
 

gregbathurst

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cab franc is a difficult variety in the vineyard, so it's not very popular. At out local vineyard they worked all the cab franc over with shiraz, the cab franc is hard to get to ripen well. Partly that is due to the available clones but never an easy variety.

Because the pigments bind the so2 over time, red wines always run the risk of MLF even when the coerrect amounts are present at bottling. that's why it is so rare to get red wines that don't get MLF. Also the malic acid flavour doesn't suit most reds.
 
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