“Wake up,” Nick told himself, “you are going to meet the queen.”
Even back then, in the late 80s, everyone in the Finger Lakes wine business knew who the queen was. Too bad it took so long for the rest of the world to catch up; if it had found out sooner, Nick might have been able to hold out a little longer and make a great success of his little winery.
Of course, on that first morning of his first juice run for his first Riesling, Nick was still full of hope and optimism. There was no other description for what he felt. He had serpentined the alcohol rules and regulations, he had been schooled in the conservative ways of banking that proved only the stingy stay wealthy, he had been awakened to the cruelty of large wineries and the cruelty of the weather, he had been subjected to the interrogations of clueless tourists, he had been tried by financial deprivation, and he had been made to change plans through no fault of his own. This morning he was going to meet the reason for it all.
The grapes came in at approximate total acidity of .9 %, pH at 3.1-3.2, and sugar between 21-22 Brix (generally the % by volume). The juice he picked up was the most tasty of all the juices thus far—the only one that had less of a grape juice quality to it and more of the profile of what the wine might be like: austere, yet giving; aromatic, yet subtle; full, yet delicate; and filled with the promise of a future.
Waiting in the winery was a batch of Steinberger yeast (DGI 228). Known for its ability to ferment under cool conditions, slowly, to draw out the aromatics and fruit, as well as for its ability to tolerate at least 13% alcohol, sulfur dioxide, plus low pH. He used the yeast on Gewurztraminer for similar reasons, but the yeast seems to have been developed specifically for all that Riesling has to offer.
Nick picked up the juice without incident: no lost tank, no state policeman on the road to look unfavorably at his low tire pressure, no spills, no mistaken ripening stats, no dead pump in the winery, no problems with the yeast, no problems with getting fermentation started, a perfectly cool yet clear autumn weather pattern so that he didn’t have to cool the fermentation by watering the tank, and a perfectly quiet few weekdays in the tasting room, giving him time to do the necessary fermentation work on the Riesling and racking work on other wines in the cellar.
Riesling was the promise and now that promise was in Nick’s hands to mold, certainly not to mess up.
When Theresa called that night she could hear in his “hello” that something good happened that day, and she became so excited that she could feel the promise, too, even though she was beginning to wonder whether or not Nick had what he needed to get this winery off the ground. She believed in him—no problem there—but she also saw how much of an uphill trek he had before him. She wanted to be there to help, but financially could not drop the commute and the income that it provided, the income that Nick quickly made to evaporate into the promise of a future.
The future was Riesling, for the region and for Nick. For now, the future was slowly bubbling away, almost foamless, which is another benefit of DGI 228.
His ideal was to craft a finished Riesling between 11-12% alcohol, a 3.2-3.3 pH and .75-.80 total acidity, and no more than .75 residual sugar. He could then decide if it needed some of that Gewurztraminer to give it a push or if it could stand on its own. He rambled on about all the stats while Theresa listened, happy to hear in his voice, well, happiness for a change.
NOTE: there may be longer lag time between posts of Nick’s story. I have a project on which a great deal of time must be spent. Hope all four of my readers will bear with me.
If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.
Copyright Thomas Pellechia
October 2010. All rights reserved.