Throwback Thursday: Adventures in Winemaking

New Due Gatti label

I found this post from May 2008, 11 years ago. It about my first vintage which I called a Super-Teaneck. Teaneck is where my parent’s porch and my cellar are located. It’s a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. My best guess and I confess it is a real approximation is that the wine is 51% Sangiovese and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon. I bottled the wine today with my bottling machine and corker. Unfortunately, I used too much wood. My small (26 lit) barrel is made of new American oak. Italians would say that my Super-Teaneck tastes like a “vino da falegname” or a carpenter’s wine. I hope the wine will improve with age. If it doesn’t many friends will be receiving Christmas presents of cooking wine. My winery is called I Due Gatti. I must say that through this process, I have gained even more respect for wine makers and all of the small nuances that make the difference between “Two buck chuck” and a fine wine as well as all the wines in between. I began my wine making odyssey last year by buying grapes at Corrado’s – a paradise for home winemakers in Clifton, New Jersey, http://www.corradosmarket.com. Corrado’s sells grapes and juice. They also sell everything under the sun that you might need to make wine. Last year I bought grapes and hand pressed them. This year I was too late and had to buy pressed juice. The grapes are shipped in from California.

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I go to Corrado’s about once every three weeks. I am endlessly forgetting to buy something I need for my wine – yeast, Potassium Metabisulfite, bottles, corks, labels, capsules. I am now the proud owner of a press, a filter machine to rack the wine, a bottler and a corker. Next year I might spring for the de-stemmer. These are the most expensive bottles of cooking wine that I have ever made but I do recommend a little home-wine making for all.

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I love Corrado’s because it is filled with Italians who miss the old country even though they have been here for 40 years. Max, a lovely Sicilian, always helps me to find what I am looking for and often dissuades me from buying the latest and most expensive equipment. His approach is a more organic one, although like many Italians he wouldn’t define it as such. He doesn’t believe in all the filtering and yeast. For my second vintage, I have followed his advice. I will be bottling again in about three weeks. I look forward to my next trip to Corrado’s.

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I also found a post I wrote in 2009 about my first vintage and here are some excerpts from it. I have been sipping a bit of this first vintage from I Due Gatti, the name of my little winery. They are terrible. I have higher hopes for my second vintage but I do have a lot of this first vintage in the basement. Hard to know what to do with it. I met a number of people at a conference this year in New Orleans who said they have never had good homemade wines. Perhaps it is the yeast that I used, a cultured yeast not an ambient one that has made all the difference. Whether it be the yeast or the overripe grapes from California, the storage of the grapes before I pressed them, insufficient or inaccurate racking, a too small oak barrel for aging, something just missed the mark. The whole experience has been enlightening but I confess the wine leaves much too be desired.

Since I am now in the middle of my sixth vintage, I am curious as to how it will turn out.

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