Each week I make sure to give my wine a Carbon Dioxide - CO2 cover (i.e., dry ice) in order to displace any Oxygen that may have found its way into my containers of clearing wine. Until recently I was under the impression, like many winemakers, that SO2 (sulfur dioxide, aka: sulfur or sulfites) protected wine from oxidation - it is useful at crush for that purpose but less so afterward. When air (oxygen) invades the ullage or headspace of a barrel, tank, carboy it interacts with wine constituents to make a good wine go bad. Perhaps, you've had a wine that was supposed to be fruity, white, and delicious, but instead you found something different - carmel tasting, nutty, and browning -- these are the very noticeable effects of oxidation. Good for Sherry...bad for a nice Seyval!
Yesterday, with CO2 in one hand (not literally, it's very cold) and a wine thief and glass in the other, I ventured down to the cellar to Taste and Cover. While Jill waited comfortably upstairs I went down to steal samples, slurped a little, and laid down a nice billowy cloud of dry ice on the wine; then, back upstairs to see if she could identify and evaluate the wine quality. Here is what we determined:
1. Marechal Foch (Press-Fraction) - We hadn't tasted this one for a very long time so when I took the first sip I was surprised. It lacked the traditional Fochiness (read: vegetative, herbaceous, heavy earthy quality) and was medium bodied, moderately oaky (American), and nicely fruity. BIG SURPRISE - it was good!
2. Malbec (Chilean) - A year ago our wine club purchased grapes from Chile and has been aging in the cellar ever since. This has been a particular rascal to work with and I attribute much of this to the product we had to begin with. Nonetheless, the Malbec is giving us a nice dark, fruity, lightly oaked wine to enjoy. On the downside, we still need to remove some of the dissolved carbon dioxide from solution (e.g., it needs to have a good burp!).
3. Zinfandel (California) - Last Fall while working at the nearby Fireside Winery they offered me several bucket fulls of fresh-crushed Zinfandel they purchased from California -- I happily accepted and fermented it to its current lovely state. Deliciously drinkable with hints of hippies and patchouli oil! Very drinkable!
4. Chambourcin - These grapes came from Baxter Vineyards in Nauvoo, IL last Fall. Beautiful hued purple/black wine with light notes of oak. Might have a slight fault as we think we might be detecting volatile acidity. Still good though.
5. Wild Grape - Picked these last Fall and didn't start it until late Winter - it's cold stabilizing right now. The early acidity was pretty high but after a few weeks of chilling it is really tasting pretty good. The wine has interesting earthy quality reminiscent of wild grapes -- Go Figure!
6. Frontenac Gris - This wine is a bit uninteresting. Seems to be lacking something: a personality perhaps and we're currently considering a short contact with some French oak to help it find its way.
7. Traminette - True to its Gewurztraminer heritage, this Traminette is floral, fragrant and spicy! This is one of our favorites this year! Can't wait to put this into a bottle and horde it! Delicious. Delicious. Delicious.
Moving on...In preparation to the establishment of our winery (the formal commercial one) we anticipate hosting a Wine Fest to dispense of our wines to friends, families, and wine lovers sometime in July. Stay tuned!
Peace and Happy Tastings!