The Vignoles was truly interesting. The juice was so acidic it almost tasted as if there was no sugar, but the hydrometer reading showed about 23 Brix (23% sugar by weight).
Each morning, Nick drank a large glass of grapefruit juice. The smell of Vignoles reminded him of his breakfast drink.
Vignoles is an extremely fruity variety with aromatics that take your nose in many directions, from funk to fruit salad. He was advised to use a slow-fermenting yeast, one that could be stopped easily enough before completion. This was because Vignoles is not a candidate for dry table wine—it’s ok as a sparkling wine, but even then, a dry sparkler can mask as much as 2% residual sugar.
Nick selected the Epernay II yeast. His only worry was that daytime temperatures might not cooperate, and for a few days after he got fermentation started, they didn’t. He spent a great deal of time cooling the tanks with water—a great deal of time. Every evening for about four straight days, he ended the day almost entirely soaked with water, despite the protective high rubber boots and rain jacket that he wore.
It took a few weeks for the fermentation to get the Vignoles down to 2% residual sugar, which was where he wanted to stop it. That gave the wine about 11.5% alcohol, and with all that fruit, plus acidity in the finished wine well above .8% by volume, with a finished pH of 3.2, this was indeed like grapefruit, or pineapple juice with a kick!
To stop the fermentation Nick opened the doors and let the cold air in which luckily by mid October had settled into the region. Then, he racked the wine and dosed it with sulfur dioxide. The cold air didn’t hurt the other wines, as they had long ago finished fermenting and were resting.
He was pleased with himself that night at home, sitting with a glass of wine, a chunk of cheese and some bread for a late dinner after work, and then the phone rang at about 9:30—Riesling tomorrow!
This is what he was waiting for. The locals knew as far back as the 1980s that Riesling was the future for the Finger Lakes wine industry. Nick certainly knew it. He couldn’t wait to get into his first production of Riesling. He had decided to produce a version that would be drier than most in the region. In fact, he had decided to do a few trial blends with small amounts of Gewurztraminer in Riesling to add a touch of the Old World Alsatian taste to the Finger Lakes product.
Nick slept restlessly that night.
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
September 2010. All rights reserved.