I can’t believe it! This is the eighth kit I’ve made in this series of special edition wine kits and the final one from RJ Spagnols’ Restricted Quantities. It seemed like a daunting task when I began this project ten weeks ago but here I am almost to the finish line with only two more kits to go. My goal was to have all kits made by the end of April so barring any unforeseen incidents the deadline should be easily met.
The Tango is now happily bubbling away as I write this in the wee hours of the morning. And just what is Tango?
“Tango is a silky blend of three beloved Argentine white wines: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Torrentes. A perfectly balanced expression of style, notes of apricot and apple with a hint of spice dance on your palate. Graced lightly with toasted oak, this wine has a dramatic flair that will have you and your partner reaching for another glass.”
That’s how RJ Spagnols introduces their Tango. If you would like to read more about Tango along with food pairings and a recipe you should visit the Cru Select Restricted Quantities website.
I prepared the Tango as I did with other kits in this project. It contained two tea bags of lightly toasted oak which I soaked in a cup of hot water for ten minutes before putting them into the fermentor. I wanted to start this kit at a slightly higher temperature than previous kits I’ve made so I mixed in enough hot water to bring the temperature up to 28º Celsius. I’m doing this as an experiment. I want to see what effect fermenting at a higher temperature will have on degassing and the overall character of the finished wine. I expect this to be a fast fermentation. The lag time was short. I checked the wine five hours after I pitched the yeast and it was already well into the growth stage. I’m going to maintain the temperature near the mid twenties throughout the fermentation as I did with the last two reds I made. I’m hoping this will making degassing easier. I’ll soon be ready to degas the reds so I’ll let you know then if fermenting at the higher temperature made a difference.
I replaced the stock yeast in this kit as I have done for all the kits in this project. Again I used Lalvin D47. It has given me good results in previous kits I’ve made. It has fermented dry and so far the wines seem to be exceptional—especially the Pacifica which I think has award-winning potential.
The Trek is waiting patiently to be bottled as is the Pacifica. This is my planned project for this weekend. Next up is the Selection Austria Grüner Veltliner. So you will have to excuse me while I go sanitize my equipment and get ready for my next instalment.
I bottled the Winexpert Limited Edition Shiraz/Viognier last night. My first impressions are favourable. The colour is a medium burgundy. There is very little nose at present but that will change with some time in the bottle. This is not a big, aggressive wine. It’s a refined wine and already quite smooth and easy to drink. I think this wine will show more complexity as it ages. My only concern is that I won’t be able to save any and will never know how it develops.
I added a quarter teaspoon of metabisulphite to the 23 litres of wine before bottling. This is recommended by the wine kit manufacturer if you intend to age your wines for longer than six months which I hope I’ll be able to do. This kit came with a packet of attractive labels which really add an elegant touch. I’m really pleased with this wine and I’m looking forward to see how it develops over the next few months.
This is my third kit in the Selection Limited Edition Series. Here’s how the manufacturer describes it.
“Italian Primitivo is medium red in colour veering to brick, rich, and concentrated, exuding aromas of blackberry, plums, tobacco, prunes and red cherries, with the Italian signature of firm tannins and a long, gripping finish with notes of vanilla and toast. Like most Italian reds it retains acidity to balance fruit character and marry well with food.”
It sounds like my kind of wine. This kit had four packages of medium toasted oak powder. The juice was rich in colour and like all of the kits in this range the varietal aroma was intense. In this kit I substituted the EC-1118 yeast for Lalvin KI-V1116. This yeast is a fast starter. I added the yeast late in the evening on March 31 and now less than 48 hours later the wine has completed half of its fermentation. I started my Hang Ten at the same time but used Lalvin RC212 and it has completed one third of its fermentation. So it’s quite a difference in the two yeast. I am fermenting these wines at an elevated temperature. It’s hovering around 28º Celsius. I intend to keep it at this temperature during the fermentation and stabilizing process. I’m hoping this will make degassing easier.
It’s been a while since I’ve done my last kit in this series but I’m still within the time frame I allotted for myself. My goal is to make all ten kits by the end of April so I’m confident that it will be done.
Kit six is the RJ Spagnols Cru Select Hang Ten; a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera. Here’s the manufacturers description: “California brings together the best of vine and sea. Surfing and wine are essential elements of Californian culture. This wine blends together three fun loving varietals captured in famous Californian surfing lingo: “Hang Ten”. Sit back, relax and embody Californian lifestyle with this easy drinking wine that is sure to impress.
Intense fruit flavours of dried fruits such as dates are balanced by smooth chocolate and hints of vanilla. Your experience is enhanced with fermentation on Hungarian oak cubes and Shiraz Genuwine Winery Dried Grape Skins.”
The process for making Hang Ten was identical to the procedures I used in my previous posts so I won’t get into details. Hang Ten is the second kit which included dried grape skins. I just tossed them in loose instead of using the supplied cheesecloth bag. I did this with the Trek and thought I may have problems with the grapes clogging my siphon rod during racking but it wasn’t a problem at all. The skins had settled nicely on the bottom by the time I was ready for transferring to the carboy.
I replaced the Lalvin EC-1118 yeast in this kit with
Lalvin RC212. I’ve used this yeast in all the reds I’ve made so far and I’ve been pleased with the results.
There is one major change I’ve made this time. I used a heating belt on my last kits and it kept the temperature in the low twenties. This was where I wanted it but I did find that degassing was difficult. To make degassing easier, Winexpert instructions recommend that you ferment at warmer temperatures closer to 25º C. I’m fermenting in an unheated basement and I can’t get this temperature with a heat belt so I decided to fashion a heated fermenting box out of a cardboard container.
As you can see it is pretty rudimentary. It’s just a big cardboard box lined with insulation. I’ve got a small thermostatically controlled space heater inside. I monitored the temperature for a couple of hours and adjusted it until I got a constant temperature of 26º C inside the box.
My wines are fermenting this morning and the temperature of the Hang Ten is 26º. So far so good. Yes, I did say my wines. I also started wine number seven last night but that’s for my next post where I’ll also give an update on how my fermenting box is working.
I’ve bottled the Cru Select Piazza and Toro. I’m pleased with both wines. Early tasting shows lots of promise. The Piazza is a golden straw colour. It’s off dry with an acidic bite in its youth. The acidity should subside as it ages. It’s full-bodied with complexity. I can’t wait to try it six months from now.
The Cru Select Toro is a medium bodied dry wine and ruby red in colour. It’s very sharp right now and one dimensional. This one definitely needs plenty of aging. I’m thinking at least a year. I’ll lbe sampling it on a monthly basis to see how it evolves.
The Selection Shiraz/Viognier is filtered and waiting to be bottled as is the Cru Select Trek. I’m hoping to get at these this weekend.
The Selection Pacifica is now crystal clear and ready for its second racking which I’ll be doing today. I’m also getting ready to put on two more today. I’ll be writing about them later but now it’s time to get at them.
It’s been a while since I gave an update but not a lot has happened to report on. The wines have mostly been doing their thing in the carboys without any intervention from me. In the interim I’ve been working on two wines that I’m making from Kamil Juices but that’s a different story and I’ll write about it another time. So here’s the latest on my Ten kits.
The Cru Select Piazza is ready to bottle and I’m planning to do so this weekend. The Cru Select Toro has been filtered and is also ready to bottle. I filtered it once with the Buon Vino Mini Jet using #2 filter pads but I wasn’t pleased with the clarity so I decided to run it through a set of #3 filter pads. This wine is quite dry and the body is a little lighter than I expected but I did filter it twice and it will take a week or so to recover. It needs ageing and I expect it to be a good one. It’s much too young to make any comment on the flavour or aroma yet.
The Selection Shiraz/Viognier has also been filtered and it’s ready for bottling. This wine was brilliantly clear before filtering so one pass through the filter was all it needed. Winexpert uses a different fining process than RJ Spagnols and so far it seems to produce better results. We’ll see if this carries through for the next four Winexpert kits. The Shiraz/Viognier is also very dry with a medium body. This wine is still pretty rough and it’s not easy to determine how it will finish but it shows lots of promise.
The Selection Pacifica is now in the clearing process. This wine took a long time to ferment. I did replace the yeast with a slower fermenting Lalvin D-47 but I had done the same with the Piazza and it fermented at a normal rate. It finished at 0.992 making it super dry. Like the Piazza this kit also had a suss reserve pack but that’s where the similarity ends. The Pizza suss reserve was a small packet of thick, sweet syrup. The Selection packet was much larger. Its contents was less concentrated and tasted more tart than sweet. This wine has been really interesting. Right from the beginning when I poured the contents of the bag into my bucket I was intrigued by it’s intense aroma. That hasn’t changed. Pacifica keeps on surprising me. I’ll give you a complete assessment when I’m ready to bottle.
Finally we have the Cru Select Trek. It has gone through it’s clearing process and I filtered it yesterday. I think I’ll also give this a second filtration with #3 pads. Trek is a heavy bodied wine and I’m not certain one filtration did the job. I intend to let these wines age for a couple of years or more so I want to make sure that all traces of yeast are removed. This is the first wine in the series which uses the Genuwine dried grape skins and you can tell the difference. The tannins in this wine are aggressive and I expect you’ll need more than a year of bottle ageing to tame them.
That’s it so far. I intend to do some bottling this weekend and also start two more wines. It will be the Cru Select Hang Ten and the Selection Primitivo. I should have something to report on these by Monday.
My Cru Select Piazza is filtered and ready for bottling. It’s off dry with a light straw colour. It presently has a pronounced acidity that should be nicely balanced by the sweetness and some bottle ageing. I’m looking forward to trying this wine in a few weeks time. I think it’s a winner.
The Cru Select Toro has been stabilized and is presently clearing. It finished at 0.996 and tastes fairly dry. I should be able to filter it this weekend.
It looks like the Selection Shiraz/Viognier has finished fermenting. It is at 0.997 just slightly above what the instructions say it should be but all activity has stopped and I’m sure it’s not going any further. I’ll begin clearing and stabilizing this weekend.
The Selection Pacifica and Cru Select Trek are both ready to be racked into carboys. I’ll be dong this tonight. Both of them fermented well with the Pacifica taking a slower more graceful route while the Trek was loud and aggressive. By their present aroma and taste I think this will be indicative of how each wine will show when finished.
That’s it for the updates on my first five wines. I have three more on the way and have to get prepared for them. I’m going to need more room and have to free up some equipment so I’ll have a busy weekend bottling, transferring, etc. I should have more news after this weekend.
Kit five is the RJ Spagnols Cru Select Chlilean Trek—a blend of Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This wine must have appealed to many wine makers because it was by far the most popular wine kit of the RJ Spagnols Restricted Quantities program. Maybe this alluring description by the manufacturer had something to do with it: “Opening with dark roasted notes of coffee and chocolate with a hint of blackberries, this wine balances the best of four classic varietals. Fermentation on Cabernet Merlot dried Genuwine Winery Dried Grape skins and French oak completes this monumental taste experience.”
if you would like more information about this wine you can find it here. You can find detailed information on all the kits in this series at the official Cru Select Restricted Quantities website.
When you the Trek kit the first thing you’ll notice is a large bag of dried grape skins. You’re instructed to rehydrate these in hot water. When I opened the package I noticed grape stems mixed in with the skins. The stems contain a high proportion of the tannin found in grapes so I expect this wine to display more tannins than the Toro I made previously. I put the skins in a large bowl and poured boiling water over them until the bowl was full. I then put them to one side and proceeded to make the wine.
I used Lalvin Bourgovin RC212 yeast in the previous reds I’ve done but this time I decided to go with the Lalvin K1-V1116. This yeast is recommended for aged reds and especially for wines made from concentrate.
The procedure for making the wine was pretty much the same as I outlined in earlier posts with the exception of adding the grape skins. By the time I was ready to add them to the juice they had plumped up nicely from soaking in the hot water. The kit comes with a cheesecloth bag to contain the grape skins while they are in your fermenting bucket. I decided not to use the bag and dumped them in loose. I’ll get more extraction from the skins doing it this way but I’ll have to deal with those pesky grape skins later as they try to clog my siphoning hose. I opted to accept that inconvenience for the possibility of getting a better wine. After the skins were added I pitched the rehydrated yeast and that was it.
This was all done two nights ago so the wine is now well into its fermentation. I’ve been stirring it at least three times a day. I want to keep those skins nice and wet and make sure that I’m getting the best extraction from them.
The Selection Pacifica is bubbling away. Slow but steady. I’m fermenting this at a lower temperature (20º C) than the Trek (27º) so I expect the fermentation to be slower and take longer to finish. The first kits I made are just about ready for filtering now. In my next post I’ll update all five wines that I’ve made so far.
My fifth kit and second from the Winexpert Limited Edition is the Pacifica.
“Pacifica White showcases bright fruit, excellent structure and a long layered finish running out from a veritable fruit salad of flavours and aromas. Complex pear and honey notes, grassy citrus and grapefruit, ripe apple, fig, melon, peach, and pineapple all mellow into spicy, honey, butter, butterscotch and hazelnut flavors that linger beguilingly.” So reads the intriguing description given by the manufacturer. Let’s get it going and see what we have.
My cleaning and sanitizing has been done so I’m ready to open the box. Again it seems that Winexpert has played it safe by using Lalvin EC-1118 yeast. I mentioned in a previous post that Winexpert was a bit more adventurous with yeast in recent years but it seems that now they are sticking with the tried and true. I’ll be changing the yeast as I have done in all of the kits I’ve made in this series. If you decide to do the same beware that some yeast can be tricky to use and need more monitoring. Also the wine kit manufacturer may not guarantee its product if you use a yeast other than that supplied with their kit.
The Pacifica also includes a bag of finishing blend to be added later on during the clearing stage. If you read my Piazza post you’ll remember that it also had finishing blend. The Pacifica finishing bag contains quite a bit more liquid than the Piazza but the wine is described as off dry so I assume it is less concentrated than the Piazza finishing blend.
I have to comment on the labels included with this year’s Winexpert Selection Limited Edition wine kits—they are awesome! By far the most sophisticated and eye-catching I’ve seen except for maybe on some commercial bottles. Good job Winexpert!
I’m using Lalvin D-47 again in this wine kit. I really liked how it performed in the Piazza. I use two packets and rehydrate it using Lallemand’s guidelines. As I’m pouring the juice into the primary fermenting bucket my senses are awakened by an intense grape aroma. It smells like freshly squeezed white grapes and the juice is super clear. It will be interesting to see how much of this character is carried over in the finished wine.
I’ve topped it up to 23 litres with bottled water and have given it a vigorous stirring. The temperature is at 26º Celsius so now it’s time to add the yeast.
That’s it. Another one bites the dust. Next in line is the RJ Spagnols Chilean Trek. My next post will about the Trek and I’ll give you an update on this one.
I stabilized my Piazza last night and added the finings. This kit also had a small packet of Süss-Reserve so I added this after the sorbate and sulphite. The wine finished at a very low gravity—0.992—so the Süss-Reserve packet still left me with a fairly dry wine.
This wine had a large amount of dissolved gas and it took a lot of stirring to get rid of it. I fermented the Piazza at a lower temperature (18ºC) than the directions instructed. I did this because I replaced the EC-1118 yeast that came in the kit with Lalvin D-47. This yeast requires a lower fermenting temperature than the EC-1118. Lower temperatures also make degassing more difficult because carbon dioxide gas dissolves better in cooler liquids. So if you decide to ferment your wine at a cooler temperature be ready to do battle with the CO². I did get all the gas out and my wine is now clearing.
I checked the Toro’s gravity and it’s at .998. I’d like to see it drop some more so I’ll keep it for another week before I stabilize and clear it. The Selection Shiraz/Viognier is at 1.000 and still pretty active so that has another week to go before I look at it again.
I’ll be putting on my fourth kit tonight which will by the second white. It’s the Selection Pacifica from Winexpert. I’ll make a post tomorrow and let you know how it went.