Pinot Noir was the upstart grape of recent years. Long deemed too difficult to grow and make – quality Pinot Noir became the goal of serious growers, winemakers and consumers. While Merlot faded, Pinot Noir advanced. Grapes from Oregon, California’s south coast, Russian River, and Carneros began to excel. Each region reflects its unique terroir and the wines have proven wonderful, and not so difficult to make. Perhaps the notion, “wine is made in the vineyard” does have merit.
We are excited to help you explore Pinot Noir this season. From our White Salmon Vineyard, you have the opportunity to make Pinot Noir in several forms–sparkling wine, rosé, or as a rich complex red wine. The pricing is reasonable, and the wines are beautiful. The sparkling and rosé will be sold as juice. The Pinot for red wine is sold as grapes.
Sparkling Pinot Noir
The two ingredients that make classic bottle fermented sparkling wine expensive you can replicate yourself: labor and time. You just need to be attentive and make a clean wine. A ‘Champenoise Winemaking Recipe’ is located on our Brehm Vineyards website. Enartis is another source for sparkling wine info.
Pinot Noir grapes for sparkling will be harvested at 20.5° – 19° brix. The grapes will be pressed as whole bunches under low pressure. Yields will be lower than standard white juice. SO2 will not be added during pressing.
The lightly colored juice will have bentonite added. We usually wait until the wine is finished and getting ready to bottle to add bentonite for protein stability. With sparkling juice, the bentonite is added to help the wine maintain bubbles.
We will chill and settle the juice before filling into pails & drums. The juice will have a light brown color when it arrives – do not panic. These are oxidized phenolics which will fall out near the end of sugar fermentation. The juice should be fermented at cool temperature with a bayanus type yeast: EC1118 or DV10.
Acid is a critical component of the wine’s character. Acidity higher than normal still wine is desirable. Depending on your preference, you may or may not want to complete malolactic fermentation. I typically do a malolactic fermentation with cool climate grapes, such as White Salmon Vineyard. As in all white wine, cream of tartar needs to be eliminated with cold storage or chemical addition. Enartis laboratory has a product, Micro M, that may be added to prevent malolactic fermentation.
Once the wine is clarified, it is re-fermented with the addition of: sugar, yeast, and ingredients that prevent the spent yeast from adhering to the bottle after fermentation in the bottle. The recipes will lead you through crown capping heavy duty champagne bottles, storage of the wine, and riddling. The moving of the yeast from the bottom of the bottle to the cap on the bottle (riddling) is easy. The expelling of the yeast is exciting and fun. Try making sparkling wine. It is straight forward, and the rewards are great!
An easier route would be 5 gallon stainless steel soda containers with a carbonating stone. This is the easy route to bubbles with all the fun involved, but without the bready/yeast character. This can be your Prosecco. Make your friends happy!