Citizen Keen

Competition in the American Wine Blog Awards is apparently tight, which leads us to wonder if there’s something we might be missing, something no respectable wine blog should be without, something that says we’re serious about being the go-to URL for all your vinous bloggy needs. Ah, yes. How could we have forgotten?
Why Paul Masson didn’t run these outtakes as the final ad is a mystery; they’re among the most compelling work in Welles’ entire oeuvre.

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Science meets art

Paper chromatography results
Gosh, what’s the correct answer? Find out after the fold!
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Fermentation has begun!

Whit and I checked the Merlot late last night and it looks like we have ignition! The cap was just tentatively beginning to rise, and when Whit punched it down, the yeasts bubbled happily through the grape goo.

Then, this morning, I checked the Franc to discover that it has also decided to follow in its brother’s footsteps, so we’re firing on both cylinders. That means a steady regimen of punching down the cap, keeping track of sugar levels and temperature, and coming home every day to a house filled with beautiful fragrance.

Life is good!

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Let’s do the numbers

Garagistes under glassGot the numbers back from ETS, and as we guessed from the taste of the grapes, the Merlot should have been picked earlier. The upshot is that we’ll need to strap the Merlot to the treadmill and tone it up a bit, adding some acid to drop its pH into healthier territory and sharpen its fruit, and perhaps add some water to pull the potential alcohol down into balance.

The Franc looks a lot better, but like the Merlot, will need to be monitored through the ferment because of their low yeast assimilable nitrogen content (or more colorfully, YANC). That potentially soporific term essentially characterizes how much nitrogen the yeast have to feed on to keep themselves fit and healthy through the ferment. From a paper by the Food Science and Technology department at OSU:

If the levels of fermentable nitrogen are too low, the total cell biomass produced will be low, the yeast fermentation may be slow, and the fermentation may stop or `stick’ before all the fermentable sugar is utilized. Yeast under nutritional stress due to nitrogen deficiency may also produce hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg) and other sulfur compounds with offodors

So we’ll definitely be adding some yeast nutrient and tasty-sounding di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) to both of these ferments to keep the yeasts happy and healthy.
The complete numbers and some more comments after the jump…

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Road trip for Franc and Merlot

Mmmm - the gods seem pleasedAt about 7am Saturday morning, Hal and I set out with Laura’s truck and trailer to find America – and barring that, ripe Cabernet Franc and Merlot. We’d packed plenty of tie-downs and enough plastic sheeting to Cristo a garage, having learned in previous years that you can’t have too much grape-wrap.

The morning was drizzly in Portland, but as we passed the Dalles, the weather lightened and the low autumnal sun began to slice across the hills, giving them the soft suppleness of suede. As we crossed the Columbia at Biggs and scaled the bluffs overlooking the water, the view downriver was both calm and majestic. It’s a 3-1/2 hour drive each way to the vineyard, but that glance over your shoulder in the early morning light always makes it easier.

Bins formerly full of ripe grapesJust out of Sunnyside, we pulled into the vineyard, where, as advertised, it was indeed sunny. The grower had already stacked the Franc in small white picking bins, ready for weighing. We’d always rather taste and test the grapes before they’re picked, but this grower just does what he does and you hope for the best.

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