Clay and cold filtering Viognier

Adding bentonite in solution to our Viognier to settle the sediment.
Adding bentonite in solution to our Viognier to settle the sediment.

Since we have the week of Thanksgiving off of school each group was to add bentonite to their carboy as it binds to the solid particles that make the wine cloudy and drag them to the bottom.  After taking a sample of the wine for a last ETS lab analysis we measured off the 100 ml of bentonite (in solution) into a syringe and added it, stirring briskly to ensure good contact between the particles and the clay solution, but not so much as to lose wine from the top of the carboy.

Stirring the lees to help them bind with the bentonite.
Stirring the lees to help them bind with the bentonite.

It has been a long, intense quarter, but sometimes horns blast and bells ring when we learn something in one class and it is applied to another.  Our most recent lectures in Soils have been related to how clay particles, with their negatively charged surfaces, play a key roll in binding cations (positively charged ions – think fertilizers) in soil.

We had to add a Viognier wine from a different vineyard to top off our carboy.
We had to add a Viognier wine from a different vineyard to top off our carboy.

Bentonite added to our wines will play a similar roll in our wines, but it will bind with the sediment left after the fermentation process.  By the time we get back to the wine after Thanksgiving the bentonite will have cleared the wine so we can rack it to another container, leaving behind the solid materials and making the wine lovely and bright.  There is nothing imparted to the flavor or aroma of the wine.

The wine will sit in the walk-in until we are back on the second of December to rack it off.

Sealed and secured in the walk-in until we get back on December 2.
Sealed and secured in the walk-in until we get back on December 2.

Once it is racked, we will add back a small portion of the original juice we began with to balance the flavor profile of the wine.  Until we do a taste comparison, we don’t know exactly how much of the one liter of juice we will want to use; then we bottle!  Six gallons won’t make a ton of wine, but enough to learn with.  As a group we will present our wine, the process and decision-making that went into it and the fermentation graph with some of the photos we took along the way.  Our peers get to judge this wine and we are graded accordingly.  Oh, there is also a one-page essay summarizing the same information due about the same time.  It is my hope to have this presentation and essay basically complete by Friday evening so we don’t have to worry about it until we put the finishing touches on the wine and bottle, completing our photo journey as well.

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