Sorry I haven't been very active here lately, but I'm currently working on some new content and updating my site. Forgive me for any pages that aren't functioning properly.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Exploring Northeast Bali

With little swell in the water and a few days of free time, Kristin and I decided to take a little road trip north. We traveled up the eastern coast of Bali, leaving behind busy Southern Bali, passing through the port area of Padangbai, and enjoying the beauty of a less visited part of the island. Here are a few photographs from our trip, and read about our visits to Pura Goa Lawah, Tirta Gangga, and Amed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Successful Fermentation - Red Varietals (Part I)

Read previous posts on Successful Fermentation - Introduction, Selecting the Right Yeast (Part I, Part II), Preparing Juice/Must for Inoculation, Indigenous Yeast, Inoculation, Yeast Propagation (Part I, Part II, Part III), Fermentation Monitoring.

While my previous posts are all applicable to red varietals, winemakers must consider several other processes that effect their fermentation. This starts immediately upon reception of the fruit, whether it has been mechanically harvested or hand-picked. While many will argue a strong correlation between quality and hand-picked grapes, I know plenty of good wine that is produced via mechanical harvesting. Mechanically harvested fruit may need nothing more than to be transferred directly into fermentation vessels upon arrival, though often a quick run through a destemmer may help pull out MOG (material other than grapes).

Some wineries opt for sorting fruit upon arrival at the winery. This method is usually reserved for hand-picked fruit, and often deemed too time consuming and costly by most wineries though it can make a difference in wine quality. I personally believe hand-picked fruit should arrive at the winery clean (free of MOG and poor quality fruit); this is really a matter of ensuring properly trained vineyard staff.

Fermentation vessel is the first major consideration in the winery. This is dictated by what equipment is available at a particular winery, the lot size of grapes, and the cap management regime (read about red varietal fermentation vessels here). The most important factor is vessel dimensions; tall and slender vessels have less surface area at the top, meaning more skin contact, and vice-versa.

The second consideration is the state of the grapes:

Whole clusters - Fruit is transferred directly into fermentation vessel. The grapes are allowed to undergo carbonic maceration, intracellular fermentation in a carbon dioxide rich environment that promotes anaerobic fermentation (instead of traditional aerobic fermentation). The presence of stems in the fermenting vessel does two things: imparts compounds from the stems (primarily phenolics) and creates channels through skins allowing more juice movement through the cap and thus higher skin contact. Over time, the weight of the grapes in the fermentation vessel will crush fruit at the bottom and aerobic fermentation will take hold. This method aims at creating a more fruity finished wine with lower phenolic structure (often used with Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, most notably in Beaujolais wines). 

Whole berries - Fruit is gently destemmed but not crushed before transferred into fermentation vessel. The whole berries are allowed to undergo carbonic maceration, while the lack of stems limits the movement of free juice and decreases skin contact. Again, the weight of the grapes in the fermentation vessel will crush fruit at the bottom over time and aerobic fermentation will take hold. This method is used in lieu of whole cluster to avoid compounds imparted by the stems (for instance, with grapes that have insufficiently ripe stems). Winemakers may chose to add some percentage of stems back into the fermenting vessel to gain some of the positives of their presence (discussed above).

Crushed berries - Fruit is destemmed and crushed before transferred into fermentation vessel. This allows high skin contact with juice during fermentation, resulting in more phenolic and flavor extraction. Wines meant for long-term aging will benefit from this method as it promotes more complex tannin compounds that will take longer to soften. This method is the most commonly used, particularly with Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemakers will often use combinations of the above methods. This is usually done by blending finished wines after fermentation or maturation, though some will combine techniques in singular fermentation vessels. Experimentation is my favorite part of winemaking. It really comes down to the type and quality of grapes one has, and the wine style desired. Winemakers need to develop a strong understanding of the fruit they work with, trial different methods, and determine what is best for each lot. I have tried a whole number of different methods such as whole berries through cold soak (to be discussed in Part II) while promoting skin breakdown through cap management during aerobic fermentation or adding back stems or whole clusters into whole and/or crushed berry fermentations.

Continue to Red Varietals Part II to read about cold soaking, cap management, and additives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Candi Mendut & Monastery

Also view: Candi Borobudur, Candi Borobudur - Photographs

Situated in a perfectly straight line on Java's Kedu Plain, historians believe a ritual relationship must exist between the ancient temples of Borobudur, Pawon, and Mendut. After visiting Borobudur, Kristin and I had to skip visiting Pawon due to time contraints and continued eastward to Mendut.
Mendut sits just three kilometers from Borobudur and was built prior to Borobudur under the Saliendra Dynasty. Like it's sister temples, it was abandoned for centuries until it was rediscovered in the mid-1800's. Nothing compared to the massive structure of Borobudur, Mendut is a single tower reaching 26 meters high with two chambers; the first houses reliefs of gods flying to heaven, while the second larger chamber houses statues of three major divinities of Buddhism (Vairocana, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani that liberate visitors of the karma of the body, speech, and thought, respectively).
Mendut monastery, just adjacent to the temple, was established about a decade ago. A small lotus pond greets visitors at the entrance and a stupa-lined path leads between buildings before dropping down to an open walkway that terminates at a massive stupa fronted by Buddha. Unfortunately, we couldn't fully explore since we arrived during meditation time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wine Proteins & Stability - Part II

See previous posts: Wine Proteins & Stability - Part I, Importance of Nitrogen in Winemaking.

Evaluation of protein stability should only be conducted after all other winemaking procedures have been completed, just prior to bottling. As mentioned in the previous post, processes such as acidification, malolactic fermentation, fortification, and cold stabilization (will be discussed in a later post) can lead to precipitation of wine protein complexes (largely due to shifting pH levels). Since proteins react with phenolic compounds in red wine during fermentation, protein stability is usually only an issue in white and rose wines.

Protein stability evaluation is not an exact science, and thus involves predictive techniques. These can include heat testing, heat-and-cold testing, and bentonite testing. Most winemakers err on the side of caution, resulting in wines that will be over-fined to ensure stability in their finished product. This is a method common to many wineries that I have had good success using:
  •  Filter sample through a sterile filter (0.45 ยตm). If the sample is still cloudy (i.e. from tank sitting on lees), you may need to centrifuge it prior to filtering.
  • Fill one test tube with filtered sample as a control.
  • Fill a second test tube and heat to 80° C (180° F) for two hours (many wineries like to do so for six hours instead, while others heat at lower temperature for up to 24 hours; I believe two hours at this temperature sufficiently precipitate proteins).
  • After sample is heated, allow it to return to room temperature. Giving the sample several hours or overnight is advisable to allow precipitation; if this is to be done, refrigerate both the control and heated sample but make sure to allow both to return to room temperature prior to reading.
  • Compare the two samples. Ideally, this should be completed with a turbidity meter (nephelometer); protein stable samples are deemed those with an NTU <1.0. Visual comparison with a bright light can be completed in lieu of a turbidity meter but my not adequately assess stability.
If a haze does appear, the wine should be fined to remove excess proteins. There are several different types of bentonite available today, and most wineries have their favorite. A bentonite fining trial should be conducted by preparing samples at varying addition rates (addition rates will vary depending on varietal, location, type of bentonite, etc.). Then, complete the heat stability test again. I often find that bentonite fining in a controlled environment like this results in over-fined wine in the cellar, so I advise choosing a slightly lower rate than determined in the trial. Of course, heat stability should be re-tested once bentonite fining is completed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Candi Borobudur - Photographs

Here are a few more photographs of the stunning Borobudur temple site in central Java. Enjoy by clicking to enlarge; see more photographs and read about the temple in Candi Borobudur.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Candi Borobudur

Also view: Candi Borobudur - Photographs

I have wanted to visit Borobudur ever since my first trip to Indonesia. For one reason or another, it's just never worked out until last weekend. Kristin and I stayed the night in Jogjakarta and awoke well before sunrise for the hour's drive to the village of Malelang. Located here is one of the ancient wonders of the world, the ancient temple (candi) Borobudur.
Borobudur is a shrine to the lord Buddha and a pilgrimmage destination. It was designed as a single stupa, with a square base measuring nearly 120 meters on each side. Its nine platforms takes visitors on a journey through the three levels of Buddhist cosmotology; Kamadhatu (world of desire), Rupadhatu (world of forms), and Arupadhatu (world of formlessness). One enters through the east side and winds through corridors and up stairwells following nearly 1,500 different relief panels until reaching the upper platform, which is home to 72 small stupas, small bell-shaped enclosures each housing a statue of Buddha (most of which are headless due to looting and years of degradation). These surround the enclosed central stupa that reaches a height of 35 meters.
Little historical information is available regarding Borobudur. Archeologists and historians estimate the temple's construction to the early 9th century during the reign of the Buddhist Sailendra Dynasty. Amazingly, the temple site was abandoned for centuries; the reason and timing of its abandonment are not clear, but is believed to have begun when the Mendang Kingdom relocated to east Java after a series of volcanic eruptions from the twin peaks of Mount Merapi and Mount Sumbing, flanking Borobudur. The emergence of Islam during the 14th century also contributed to its abandonment, though folk stories of the massive structure remained.
It wasn't until the British capture of Java in the early 19th century that Borobudur was rediscovered. Buried under jungle growth and volcanic ash, the massive structure was not fully unearthed for decades. During this time, Borobudur became a popular site for looters, who took sculptures, relief panels, statues, and images (most notably, the Siam King Chulalongkorn took boatloads of artifacts; many of these are now on display in Bangkok Museum). Restoration efforts began at the turn of the century, culminating with the master restoration plan created by the Indonesian government and UNESCO in 1975. The eight-year project cost $7,000,000. Since then, tourists have been flocking to Borobudur from all over the country and the world; it is now the most visited destination in Indonesia.
Unfortunately, the crowds bring problems and further restoration is constantly required. Unlimited numbers of unguided tourists lead to vandalism, whether purposeful or accidental. Not to mention, a bombing by Muslim extremists in the mid-80's that badly damaged the site. Environmental factors are also constantly posing danger to Borobudur. Heavy rains, unstable soils, and the prevalence of earthquakes destabilize the structure. Volcanic activity from the nearby mountains, most notably the major eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010, also poses a major threat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

End of Bali's Dry Spell?

Bali has had several weeks of small-scale swell, unusual for the months of May and June. Today should mark the beginning of a medium swell that will bring fun waves to the island, coupled with light winds and bright sunny days. I've pulled out my 6'4'', hopefully there will be enough size to need it.
Despite the recent lack of swell, there are always some waves on offer. Whether that means exploring new places or joining the droves at the usual spots, it's all about having fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Jogjakarta (or Yogyakarta, depending who you ask) is a bustling city of 400,000 residents and the capital of the Yogyakarta Special region in central Java, Indonesia. The city is renowned as the cultural center of Java, due not only to the presence of the two ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, but also due to the flourishing arts scene and strong emphasis on education. From gamelan to contemporary music, from batik to underground art, from puppet shows to theater, Jogjakarta offers visitors a broad variety of entertainment. Students from all over Indonesia travel to the area to attend one of over two dozen universities found here, including three that are state sponsored. The shopping around Malioboro is second to none in Indonesia (just ask my girlfriend Kristin about that), not to mention the wonderful street food available.
Kristin and I had a lovely weekend exploring the city, but had no chance of seeing everything in just two days. We did have a chance to visit a batik art studio and gallery, where we got a crash course on the basics of batik and enjoyed hundreds of beautiful batik paintings.
In an effort to save our legs and take a break from the day's heat, we hopped on a couple becaks when we were cruising around the city. A becak is a large tricycle with a carriage in front for carrying passengers. I even gave the driver below a much needed rest; just afterwards, something got lost in translation and he drove us the completely opposite direction of our destination. He ended up dropping us off at an angkot (shared bus) stop to catch a ride back to the Malioboro area!
Back on Jalan Malioboro, traffic suddenly stopped. Out of nowhere, a large military procession marched down the street, treating us and other passersby to a show as they made their way to the presidential palace. Hopefully, we'll be able to revisit Jogjakarta in the near future to enjoy the rest of what the area has to offer.