Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brewday: 2009 Riesling

Sunday was the Riesling crush. Just as with the Pinot Gris, I'd ordered the grapes from Doug Schaad of Schaad Vineyards down in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in Oregon.

Remember that storm the PNW had little over a week ago? Apparently things were tough for Doug and his son, who were up harvesting Pinot Noir before dawn on the 16th and didn't stop until it was done. Which apparently was worth it, the next day the rain made truck access to the vineyard impossible.

It's going to be a weird year for Chehalem Pinot Noir. A long dry sunny summer was great for the grapes. Wineries in the area were reporting harvesting at 26 or more brix, one even reported 28! (1.116!) At that sugar level these will be some high-octane wines, and it's going to take skill to keep the alcohol from overpowering the fruit. It could be a great vintage, or terrible, depending on the vintner. We'll have to wait and see!

Well a week later the Riesling was harvested. Rieslings are usually lower sugar, with high TA and low pH. No exception here, though the O.G. was a bit low. The grape clusters were a bit "rain attenuated" due to the weather, meaning there were rainwater drops within the clusters which diluted the pressed juice. Oh well. It was 20 brix at pressing, (1.080 for the homebrewers out there), so it should end around 10.5% ABV. I don't really like crazy dry Rieslings either, so I'll probably back-sweeten it a bit to near-dry and I may blend some of it into some of the Pinot Gris.

This time I only bought 100 pounds, so I got it home in a full 5 gallon carboy and two growlers. Sometimes having too many growlers works out. Took TA and pH readings, did the sulfite calculations, added 2.5 campden tablets. The must went into the lagering fridge overnight, where my Baltic Porter is currently hanging out at 36 degrees. This allowed the cold to drop a lot of the solids out of the must, as you can see here. I then racked off into a 6.5 gallon carboy and pitched two packets of Lalvin Narbonne, rehydrated with 14gm of GoFerm.

It's taken off finally, after lagging a day. But Riesling ferments should be long (up to three weeks or more) and cold so I'm not too worried. My little fermenting room is holding around 60 at night and 64 during the day, and it's the best I can do. Next year I'll make sure no lagers are going and use the fridge, set at around 55. I am also going to do reds next year, Pinot Noir and maybe Marechal Foch, and I'll have to find a way to heat those up to 80...

So it will sit and chug along for a couple weeks, then I'll rack it and begin settling it. Hopefully it will be in the bottles within six months.

Riesling is one of those varietals that is clearly terroir expressive, so I look forward to doing a head to head next year between mine, an Eroica from Chateau Ste. Michelle and one from Germany or the Alsace.

Everett Cellars Riesling 2009
  • 20 Brix
  • Initial TA .75
  • pH 3.0


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