Testing the Cab at Vint Hill and Determining Additions

We tasted our Cabernet Sauvignon from the barrel at Vint Hill Craft Winery this week. The Cab was certainly in the direction of what I wanted. There was fruit on the aroma and taste. There were no hints of vegetative aromas and tastes. There were tannins on the finish. After withdrawing a liter of Cab we went to the lab for analysis and tasting.

Using a liter of the wine simply makes the math easier. Substances added to wine are added based on the metric system. Math calculations using the metric system are easier. One either multiplies or divides by ten or powers of ten. We received the results of analysis done by Virginia Tech University on our wine. The pH measured 4.17 while the malic acid measured 0.047. These results indicated that secondary fermentation was completed and acid additions would need to be done to lower the pH. Tartaric acid would be added to the wine, so we tasted the wine after adding tartaric acid.

Since we had a liter, we measured one gram of tartaric acid and dissolved it in the wine. We tasted the wine and immediately noticed an enhancement in the fruit and a softening of the tannins. We then added a second gram of tartaric acid to the liter and tasted it. The procedure continued until four grams of tartaric acid was added to the wine. The taste profile that I liked best was at three grams per liter.

Our next tasting profile involved adding aging tannins to the wine. Four samples of 100 ml each were drawn from the flask that held the liter of wine. Into each of these flasks 0.01 gram of a different aging tannin was added. We then tasted the wine to get an idea of what the aging tannin would do. Each seemed to enhance tannins at a different time or placement in the mouth. We then blended the wines to determine which of the four aging tannins resulted in the taste we wanted. The aging tannins added included: Tan’Cor Tannin, Tan’Cor Grand Cru, Quartannin and Tanin Plus.

Once again the comment “wine is made in the vineyard” resonates in my head. Yes, this is true, BUT … . The winemaker has a lot to do with the aroma and taste of the wine that consumers will discover when the bottle is open. Every time we added a gram of tartaric acid, the profile of the wine changed. It also changed based on the different aging tannins added. This isn’t the vineyard, this is the lab.

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