Elderflower options

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Re: Elderflower options

Postby tonyhibbett » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:13

Improved technique. Holding on to the stopper as it comes out greatly reduces the amount of liquid lost.
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Re: Elderflower options

Postby tonyhibbett » Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:42

Holding the stopper, as opposed to letting it fly, reduces the amount of wine lost. However, some bottles have rather a lot of sediment which is not completely flushed using this technique. In such cases, I pour out some of the wine into a glass to flush the remaining sediment, pour the contents into the wine being used to top up, and let the sediment settle.
So 4 bottles of still required to top up 18.
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Re: Elderflower options

Postby tonyhibbett » Sun Nov 27, 2016 09:19

There is a fair amount of tartrate crystals in the bottles, which did not happen with last year's batch. This is probably due to the large amount of tartaric acid I added this time, particularly at the end. It would seem that it does not integrate very well at that stage. A recent cold spell is probably responsible too. It bears out the rationale for leaving the wine for a year before disgorging so that any crystals formed during cold weather would be ejected along with the yeast.
To remove the crystals I will have to disgorge a second time, which will release more pressure and require more topping up. Alternatively I can leave them in as they do not affect the flavour, readily sink to the bottom and, unlike yeast, do not make the wine cloudy.
I had the same problem with a batch of still wine which also had a high proportion of orange juice. The initial acidity of the must is ok, but the citric acid in the orange gets consumed during fermentation, so more acid must be added to correct the deficiency. I guess I'll not be using orange juice for sparkling wine again.
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Re: Elderflower options

Postby tonyhibbett » Thu Dec 01, 2016 13:31

Taking advantage of the cold weather, I placed 8 bottles upside down outside overnight. The temperature fell to -1 c. It proved very easy to disgorge both yeast and tartrate crystals by holding down the bottles, removing the wire, gently easing the stoppers out 5 mm with a jar opener and finishing the job by hand. Very little wine was wasted. I had intended to use the still elderflower wine for topping up, but it tasted unpleasant after only 6 months in bottle. Fortunately the sparkling wine tasted fine, although there was the same bitter taste as the previous batch. Part of the character of real champagne comes from adding a mixture of sugar and brandy to top up after disgorging. I used 5 g of sugar per bottle and some apple brandy, with some white wine as required. This transformed the flavour into something quite special and removed the bitterness, so well worth the effort. The elderflower flavour and aroma are undetectable. To preserve this, the wine must be consumed young.
Many of the wire muzzles broke so I tried some of the ones I had repaired, but this is rather a waste of time.
There are 10 more bottles to process, so I made up 350 ml of the topping up mixture
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Re: Elderflower options

Postby tonyhibbett » Mon Dec 05, 2016 14:04

Finally removed all sediment from remaining bottles. The topping up mixture increases the cost by 50 p per bottle and the alcohol by 1.5%. Including the fermented priming sugar's contribution, the total is now 14%, which is close to the duty limit of 15% defining a fortified wine and well above typical champagne. All trace of elderflower is undetectable so labelling poses a problem. Essentially it is a sparkling orange wine. In order to preserve the elderflower aroma, it would be better to add an infusion of it at the topping up stage.
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