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4/21/2021 2:52 pm  #1

Well, It's Not Latah Creek Chardonnay

For those of you who were at ShejiCon IV in 2014, we made a couple of wine expeditions.  One was to Arbor Crest, which overlooks Spokane Valley from the top of a hill, and the other was Latah Creek which is also in Spokane Valley, but not as far east from CJC's and Jane's as Arbor Crest.  Latah Creek has a very nice Merlot (2012) that I'd bought, as well as 3 bottles of Chardonnay. 
Well, I tried my hand at making a Chardonnay a couple of years ago, using a different kit than what I used this year and the results were spectacularly disappointing.  It was very cloudy and too sweet for a Chardonnay.  It was almost like a Moselle it was just that sweet.  This time, the kit is a bit more advanced, and it took longer, as well, and I had my usual issues transferring from the primary fermenter to the secondary, using a siphon.  Well, there's a device called a siphon starter which is a wide tube with a racking cane inside it.  The cane has a rubber seal at the bottom, and you attach your siphon tube to the top of the cane, pull up the cane inside the tube, dip it down into the wine, and then push the cane to the bottom.  It's supposed to force the wine up through the cane and out the tube and continue the siphoning process.  Well, it never fails with me, the tube came off the top of the cane, I had wine spatter all over the kitchen floor, and it wouldn't keep flowing.  I finally got it done, but what a mess and what a bunch of frustration.  (This is supposed to be FUN!!!!)
I researched and bought a wine transfer pump, along with a separate racking cane and ten feet of food-grade plastic tubing in March.  It arrived a few days later, and I did a cursory glance at the contents.  Well, this past Friday, it was time to bottle, so I pulled out the pump motor, and found there were extra bits inside the box, which turned out to be the nipple that the intake tube fits over.  Cannot be repaired, so I asked the company for a return maintenance authorization and explained what happened.  Sorry, Joe, we can't give you an RMA, the pump can't be fixed.  We're sending you a new pump, you can keep the old one for spare parts. 
The new pump came this morning, undamaged, so I started out to clean it, sanitize it, and then transfer wine.  Do you realize that 5.5 gallons of wine is NOT an easy load to lift out of the cardboard box the carboy came in?  So, I pumped it blindly, not knowing how close to the bottom of the carboy I had placed the racking cane.  You do NOT want to pick up any sediment if you can help it.  So, I got what I thought was as much as I could get, and then went on to bottle it.  Heck, even the spigot on the bottling bucket was dripping, but I had it over the kitchen sink, so that helped somewhat. 
I ended up with 22 full bottles of Chardonnay, and one half-bottle.  I corked all 23 of them, put the half bottle in the refrigerator, and will let the rest stand for a couple of days to let the corks re-expand and seal, then they go down into the basement where I have the zinfandel I made last year, and what's left of the merlot I'd made 2 years ago.  The easiest part of the whole operation was corking.  I have a floor corking tool that makes it a piece of cake to insert corks in the bottles. 
We'll know in a few months if this was any good.  I did take a taste of it while I was bottling it, and it had the characteristic tart, fruity taste, almost like a Granny Smith apple.  I hope it turns out well, these are expensive kits.
When I pulled the carboy out of the box, there was probably enough for the other half of that last bottle, plus another full bottle, but I didn't want to chance it, and I'd just cleaned the pump and tubing.  So, it got dumped.  It did look very clear inside the carboy, so perhaps looking at it in the bottles makes it look a little cloudy. 
I don't know what's next on the list to make.  I'm not all that fond of the cabernets.

"Those who can give up essential liberties in order to purchase a little extra security deserve neither liberty nor security." - Benjamin Franklin
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." - Marcus Aurelius

4/21/2021 5:54 pm  #2

Re: Well, It's Not Latah Creek Chardonnay

It sounds like you're having fun, though.   

The date I joined the original board: 12/04/2002

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