2013 Fermentation and Press

I woke up early and when I went to check on the wine, I noticed that a small cap was forming.  This meant that I was starting to get a wild fermentation.  I wasn’t sure if the SO2 was not enough (only 25 ppm), so I decided to inoculate with yeast.  I followed the rehydration procedure, utilizing Go Ferm protect.  The trickiest thing, in my opinion, is the temperature gradient.  I add in must at 1/5 the volume of the rehydration mixture to help bring the temperature down to 10 degrees difference between the mixture and the must.  This takes about 1 hour (waiting 15 minutes between additions).   In the meantime, I chaptalized both musts with a small amount of sugar.  I utilized a 1 brix addition on the Merlot and a 0.5 addition on the Cabernet Franc.  These amounts of sugar addition are minimal (<5%), so the overall balance of the wine is not affected.  If I added up to 2 to 3 Brix, I think it would taste off, but last year’s wines got chaptalized with a good outcome.   I then poured the yeast mixture into the must.  I use BDX for the Merlot and BM45 for the Cabernet Franc.
That night, I had good caps on both of the musts.  Now, I can settle into my 2 punchdowns a day.  I am watching for the 1/3 sugar depletion (so around 14-15) to add the Fermaid K.  This is especially important on the BM45 Cabernet Franc.  My previous experience has shown this to take two days, so I’ll be checking at that time to see what the Brix is.
A few days later, the 1/3 sugar depletion happened and I added ½ the recommended Fermaid K.  These grapes have never had a problem, so I don’t feel like messing with my previous dosages.  This equates to about 10 grams of Fermaid K for the 250 lbs of grapes.  I got the Merlot at 14 Brix, but missed the Cab Franc and it hit 10 Brix before I got to adding the Fermaid K.
Then, 6 days after the initial addition of the BDX yeast on the Merlot, it was down to .996 on the hydrometer and the cap was falling.  I decided to press.  I took a different approach and scooped from the center of the must, keeping the amount of liquid very high.  This allowed me to get quite a bit of free run before I had to press.  I ended up with a  total of 18 gallons.  The day after (7 days after initial inoculation with BM45), the Cabernet Franc was ready to be pressed.  I performed the same operations and ended up with about 18 gallons as well.  For some reason, Cabernet Franc yields a little less juice per lb than Merlot.  The difference isn’t great, but it is noticeable on 250 lbs.
After the pressing, I waited 1 day for the Merlot and inoculated the same day with the Cabernet Franc with VP41 malolactic bacteria.  I did not rack as there were very few gross lees and I have never had a problem before.  I am now settling into the daily stirring of the wine to encourage the MLB to stay in suspension.  I did add OptiMalo, but don’t have much faith in it.  After a couple days, I noticed the tiny bubbles that were indicative of MLF.  It seemed that it was off to a good start.  I keep the wine at about 70 degrees through use of a fermentation chamber.  This is a simple setup with a electric baseboard thermostat and a light.  Once the temperature reaches a certain point, the light shuts off.  I am able to keep the temp pretty much the same at 70 degrees.  Also, it costs very little to heat.