My grape wines are under control. VA is off the reds which are ready for MLF (if it has not started its their own). The Fiano has settled and needs a final racking.
I also have small quantities of cider and “citrus-’plus’” wine going. Since I have accesses to quality preservative-free apple juice year-round, I work on perfecting my sparkling cider. I am also making an experimental half-gallon of citrus “plus” wine after cutting some Tangelos during pruning. No reason to waste it. The “plus” is for a touch of orange zest and pineapple juice. Plus a few other things….
There is one more ferment I want to carry through this winter: mead.
I’ve had good results with spiced sweat meads last year and have decided on a recipe I want to try on a larger scale. Twenty pounds of Orange Blossom honey will make a five-gallon carboy.
Last year, I made two gallons of mead with my son. We used two different honeys and made four-half-gallon lots, each a little different.
This year, my son has finals, so he sat this session out while my friend Jeff came over with his wife for mead making and dinner.
Interestingly, this year’s honey is not as floral as last year’s. It’s more nutty, more “malty”. I’m going to talk to the beekeeper if this is due to different weather from year to year or if he is collecting and blending from different hives each year.
Because of this difference, I tweaked the spice blend a bit, increasing the amount of orange zest (which I chose to make from a blend of different oranges for complexity).
I prefer to pasteurize my mead must because it lets me steep the spices and get a sense of where the mead is heading. Since the spices were not as prominent during the pasteurization as they were last year, I decided to open up the teabag and let the mead ferment with the ingredients.
Both are acceptable and each gives somewhat different results. The former allows a bit more control, though.
We finished the night with a very nice pot roast, a 2005 Paso Robles Syrah from Adelaida and a custard with last year’s spiced orange blossom mead. Everyone remarked how the ginger was distinct in the mead. So I also increased the ginger root this year, given the aromatic composition of the must.
I’m curious how this will carry through to the mead.
When finished, this lot should make 50 half bottles (375 ml) of spiced sweet mead.