Fragolino

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Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Sun Oct 11, 2015 13:55

This is an Italian wine, originally made from the fragolo (strawberry) grape, so-called on account of their wild strawberry flavour. The vine was banned from commercial production in both Italy and France on the grounds of the inferior quality wine produced. I have 3 in my vineyard and they reliably produce many kilos of black grapes, but I have to agree that the quality of wine is poor and the strawberry flavour seems spurious. I later discovered that fragolino is in fact a slightly sweet sparkling white or pale red wine. This makes sense. Champagne was originally a poor quality, pale red, rather acidic wine which was transformed by making a virtue of the fact that it tended to re-ferment in the bottle.
So I took a bottle from last year, chilled it, topped it up to 1 litre with some nondescript wine, added 10 g of sugar and gave it the Sodastream treatment. Bingo! The sugar brought out the strawberry flavour while the chilling and the co2 gave it the required lift.
I have some elderflower champagne maturing, using proper weight bottles, etc. The process is long-winded, complex and potentially dangerous, but I think I'll give this year's crop the full Monty because I believe it's worth it.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Tue Oct 13, 2015 13:23

I harvested the smallest and youngest vine and got 5.6 kilos, which is very impressive for a 3 year old from a cutting. This translated into almost 4 litres of pink juice. The sugar level was just 15%, which seems to be the max for this variety, so I topped it up with 350 g of sugar and will now wait to see if it ferments naturally.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:09

Bubbling away. As usual I added warm water (half the volume of juice extracted) to the pomace and let it soak overnight with Rohapect. This time all of the colour was still in the skins so the result was an amazingly deep red. It also extracted another 500 ml of juice. I topped this up to 5 litres with apple juice and sugar, which should make an interesting red apple wine!
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:37

The white version is far superior to the red. It is already clear and ready to drink as a medium dry. I have loads more grapes to pick, up to 15 kilos, which I will use to make a blanc de noir, which is also much easier than red.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Tue Nov 17, 2015 14:18

The red pomace and apple wine has now cleared and definitely confirms that fermenting the skins is actually detrimental to the flavour of the wine, even with the apple juice added, the end result is poor. This goes to show that not all black-skinned grapes produce good red wine but can make good white wine.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Wed Dec 23, 2015 13:52

The second batch of the white version has now cleared, but the sg is 1005, which is too high for safe bottle fermentation so I used the Sodastream for a trial 1 litre with a good result. Interestingly the semi dry wine carbonates better than a dry one. This is not altogether surprising as the system is designed for sweet fizzy drinks. It seems that the sugar content helps it absorb and retain more co2, probably due to the liquid being 'thicker'.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Tue Dec 29, 2015 15:30

I now have a second brew ready which is 50% apple as I didn't have enough of the grape juice left to make a gallon. The flavour is good but much degraded by the apple, which is a shame as this one is dry enough for bottle fermentation.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Thu Dec 31, 2015 16:31

Since the white wine in my 2 gallon cask had been there for 3 months it was high time to bottle it. Too late. The new oak flavour had once again overwhelmed the wine, although not as much as last time with the elderflower. I have read that using barrels of less than 9 gallon capacity for white wine is inadvisable as it oxidises too quickly. This was certainly the case of an even smaller cask which I filled with my riesling, while the wine in the 15 gallon cask was fine. It's all to do with the ratio of wine in contact with the wood surface, which decreases as the barrel size increases. It's not so critical with red wine, so the obvious way forward is not to put white wine in the small barrels, except for sherry.
In time the new oak flavour gets leached out of the wood with successive brews, but in this case it seems it might take year. I have a 30 bottle Winebuddy cabernet sauvignon kit, delivered in error, but kept anyway as it was very cheap on offer at £16 and I wanted to try and make it into a decent wine with extra ingredients. A simple way to do this would be to halve the volume of water and sugar, effectively doubling the fruit content from 20 to 40% but reducing the volume to say 14 bottles, most of which could go into the 2 gallon barrel, which holds 11.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Sun Feb 07, 2016 13:23

The fragolino in the cask had started to re-ferment after a month. At first I assumed this was malolactic, but a sample showed the sg had in fact dropped to 1095 and therefore perfect for bottle-fermented sparkling wine, as originally intended. I found a scoop which holds precisely 8 g of sugar which I added through a small funnel to each of 12 champagne bottles, which I filled directly via the barrel tap to within 8 cms of the top and started to foam. Each bottle was sealed with an open-ended stopper, secured with a wire cage and metal cap and laid on their sides in the rack. The wine has already benefited from a month in oak, so the final result should be very good.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Mon Feb 22, 2016 14:58

There is no sediment in the bottles, so if fermentation had continued, it would be very slight. This means that the wine will be sparkling but there is no need to disgorge the sediment. However it also means it will be somewhat sweet, which is actually no bad thing as I believe real fragolino is on the sweet side, which brings out the 'strawberry' flavour.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:43

The wine was only slightly sparkling but medium rather than sweet. It was received very well at a lunch party (and better than the sparkling elderflower) and the consensus was no strawberry flavour.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Mon Nov 28, 2016 13:09

The crop this year was much lower. In fact they were the only grapes in the vineyard to survive the severe attack of downy mildew. There were barely enough grapes to make 5 litres and I decided to make this batch a sparkling rosé by leaving the skins in for 24 hours. As the last batch was only slightly sparkling I decided to take no chances this time. I got a starter going using yeast slurry from the first fermentation and added it 24 hours later to the finished dry wine, along with 60 g of sugar and 15 ml of glycerine, bringing the sg to 1000. After 24 hours the secondary fermentation had begun. I gathered 6 champagne bottles, 6 open ended plastic stoppers and wire muzzles. However one of the bottles (Bollinger) had a very narrow neck, too small for a stopper. I tried a 24mm beer crown cap which fitted perfectly. It is common commercial practice to use 27mm crown caps for bottle fermentation as it is easier and cheaper, provided you have the right tool. Most cappers are for up to 26mm caps, for beer bottles.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:43

As there was little evidence of secondary fermentation, I added a teaspoon of sugar which erupted in bubbles, so ready for bottling. There was just enough to fill 6 bottles, given the 2 inch airspace required as a buffer.
Meanwhile it's time to disgorge last year's batch, which seem to have acquired some sediment, possibly due to malolactic fermentation. I have a free standing metal wine rack which only accepts standard wine bottles. Champagne bottles are too wide to fit. However, when placed on its side, the champagne bottles fit perfectly well upside down. I put this outside, where the temperature is currently 5 c. Overnight this will drop further and minimise the internal pressure, ready for disgorging.
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Re: Fragolino

Postby tonyhibbett » Wed Nov 30, 2016 14:45

The temperature fell to -2 c. Suspended particles had formed in the wine, possibly ice and/or tartrate crystals. It was hard to shift the plastic stoppers so I used a jar/bottle opener to get them started. Only 4 of the 8 bottles turned out to be sparkling, but this was enough to demonstrate that chilling to -2 c results in minimal loss when disgorging without freezing the necks. The amount of sediment was very small and almost black, suggesting that this was a result of some malolactic fermentation, rather than yeast. The flavour of the wine is excellent.
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