The hits just keep on coming…

Ferments underway in the cellar.

Ferments underway in the cellar.

It’s been some week. The Fiano is slowing down. As of this posting, the Montepulciano will be in a carboy. But more on that long story later.

I floated a hydrometer in the Finao and it zeroed out. As it’s still gassing, the wine is obviously not dry yet. The Montepulciano registered 3° Bx on Thursday and continued to set a cap every three hours.  But….

….It’s been a struggle.

It took three attempts to start the ferment. I had sulfided it and added lysozyme at crush to prevent any spoilage species from taking over during the seven-day cold soak. I had kept the must between 10°C and 15°C for a week. Cellar temperature was around 19°C. I had to warm the must to make the third inoculation “take”.

Unfortunately, as the ferment got going, it also got stinky. My previous post discusses interventions available to treat sulfides in wine. It seemed that the must needed more nutrients. As I added the final dose of SuperFood Plus, the distinct sewer gas smell of H2S started to dissipate.

Then, Friday morning, more bad news. As I lifted the lid to do another punchdown, I noticed a hint of vinegar and nail polish remover. Acetobacter. Great…

I guess I should have know by the little fruit flies flying around the cellar. These little guys seem to gravitate to overripe, spoiling fruit and fermenting wine; perhaps serving as vectors.

I need a more cost-effective source of inert gas.

I need a more cost-effective source of inert gas.

There are several things one can do to salvage a wine in this situation: A healthy dose of SO2 and Lysozyme can do the trick. If the wine needs MLF, no fear, the enzyme dissipates or can be precipitated with bentonite.

The first thing to do, though, is to get the wine off the skins and get it into an anaerobic environment. Acetobacter aceti is an obligate aerobe. It absolutely must have oxygen. Racking the wine into a closed, topped vessel is a very good start.

It was late on Friday when I knew that punchdowns were not going to help. Too tired to rack, I flooded the fermenter with inert gasses to create an anaerobic environment over the cap.

I had found a good deal, online, on “Private Preserve” – a wine preservation system of a combination of inert gasses used in wineries. In retail, it is available for around $10 per can. I found it for $7 per can. I’m glad I ordered a case. Until I find a cheaper source of inter gas, this is going to be my go-to for all inert gas needs – bottling and otherwise.

Baptism by anthocyanin.

Baptism by anthocyanin.

I used four cans and put the lid on the fermenter.

The next morning, I was pleased with my (self-proclaimed) ingenuity. The smell of acetic acid and ethyl acetate had greatly diminished.

I prepped a carboy and racked the wine. As I checked the free run wine, I was encouraged to find the VA was minimal. The pomace also smelled quite clean during pressing.

In a few days, I’ll rack the wine off the lees and check it for signs of volatile acidity daily and, if it is still there, I hope it’s minimal.

If it’s not, the decision to be made at that time (and it will be largely speculative) will be whether the wine is infected, or just tainted. In either case, I suppose the safe thing to do will be to dose the wine with SO2 and lysozyme, just in case there is a live Acetobacter culture in the wine.

What I still have to find out is how long it will take for lysozyme activity to dissipate, or what period of time I should allow for it to kill off the infection before I precipitate it out with bentonite.

It’s undeniable that if the wine has heavy VA, I am looking at a lot of manipulations and added risk of ruining the wine further. Then, I will be S.O.L. for the year.

I could use a break with this wine, though….



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles.
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