Smells like a miracle (or something….)

The miracle of "native" fermentation.

The miracle of “native” fermentation.

In order to feed my wine making addiction (after the #%@*!ing raccoons destroyed 70% of my crop), I brought in some fruit from Santa Clara Valley this past weekend. In addition to my new love, Fiano, I bought 100 lbs of Sangiovese.

I have some grafts in my vine nursery awaiting planting, but I wanted to experiment with the variety. The fruit I bought is a small-berried “piccolo” clone. While the “grosso” and “piccolo” classification is not exactly accepted nomenclature, the small berry variant tends to be preferred, by virtue of the pulp-to-skin ratio notion.

And so I got the small berry plants. But as the intrepid reader might observe from reading the entry on the Wikipedia linked above, the low pulp-to-skin notion has not been borne out in practice.

But back to my account of “The Miracle In My Basement”:

After soaking during the drive back to LA and sitting in my cold room, the sugar levels in the Sangiovese bumped up to just under 30° Brix. A tad high….

I watered it back to about 23.5 and planned to recheck the sugars and then pitch yeasts this morning.

There is a distinct aroma that emanates from the cellar when a ferment is starting. I knew the Sangiovese had started going the moment I opened my basement door.

Oh! Oh! A native, a wild fermentation!!!!  Oooooo!!!….

Um….. No.

It could be that the bees swarming around the crush pad at the vineyard carried some S. cerevisiae from a nearby winery, but I annihilated those with bisulfite that I put in my transport buckets as they were filled.

It is unlikely that something “wafted” over and into the fermenter in my cellar. All my wines are under airlock at this point. Besides, I practice a “scorched earth” policy in my cellar: Everything not intended to be wine is sprayed with sanitation solution.

It is most likely that, because I have a tiny fermentation area (see here and here), some Vina Madre with some active yeasts spattered off a tube and into the Sangiovese.

When you have multiple wines going, you learn to multitask. In this case, while I waited for the Sangiovese to soak up after water addition, I was trying to suck off as much Vina Madre off the lees as I could. For this, I use a 100 mL syringe and some aquarium pump tubing. As I withdrew the tubing out of the first jug, it flicked off the mouth of the jug and some spatter flew in the direction of the Sangiovese.

If I were to let the Sangiovese go without pitching a commercial yeast and then do DNA analysis on the dominant species in that ferment, it would very likely find a perfect match to the Bourgovin RC 212 I use in most of my reds.

A Miracle!



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.
This entry was posted in Making Wine, Nihilistic Contrarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

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