Syrah begins its journey

lovely syrah grapes, just waiting for the fermenterYesterday morning there were the faintest signs of life: the odd bubble here and there, the islands of grape skins slightly more pronounced than before (or were they?). Now the stuff’s going full throttle, right up to the rim of the fermenter.

The syrah came in with pretty nice numbers, spot-on sugars and pretty good pH. I’ve already added a dash of acid to bring that pH down into more comfortable territory, but all the building blocks are already there: the fruit tasted at perfect ripeness out in the field — maybe the most spot-on I’ve ever tasted in our winemaking — and it hasn’t changed in the winery, either. This looks to be a stellar syrah year if we don’t screw it up.

For fun, to increase flavor for what remained, and to sneak a little more space into the fermenter, I also bled out 10 gallons of syrah juice 24 hours after crush — a technique which also the traditional way to make rosé. I see now I should have done it maybe 3-4 hours afterwards, however, since the color is more garnet than rose, but if we can ride its fermentation to the ground without crashing, that should also make it a mighty flavorful summer quaffer. It’s currently a little stinky (something David and Amy of Westrey warned me about), but I’ll hit it with some nutrient and if that doesn’t improve matters, a little copper should have it seeing things our way.

But man, you should smell it: there’s a rich, deep sweetness to the must (since it’s only just begun to convert sugar to alcohol), laced with smokiness and a whiff of leather. Can’t wait to see it at press in a week or so.

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