Over the last seven vintages, we have been using less and less SO2. In fact, we have even started to make wines without adding SO2. (Isabel’s Crazy Sh.. was made without any SO2.)
We went to nearly zero SO2 until after malolactic fermentation last year. This year we went to zero until malos are done.
That said, at bottling, we are often amazed at how the SO2 shows. Our forthcoming 2008 El Dorado Syrah (sourced from Lightner and Wylie vineyards) tasted great the day it was bottled.
Four days before bottling, we measured free SO2 which was zero. We moved it up to about 20 PPM of free for bottling. We do this for stability reasons. 20 is really low – most wineries would move it to 50 PPM, some to 80PPM for bottling. Total SO2, at bottling was 35 PPM. Again, this is very low. I know many wineries that add 50 PPM before fermentation.
Day two after bottling – SO2 starts to show. Day 4, I recheck all my numbers thinking I over added – I didn’t. From past experience, over the next month, the SO2 will integrate and then the wine will suddenly stop being masked. This month always causes me stress – I worry about the wine and start to think more about making wines free of SO2. Perhaps this year, we will release our second SO2 free wine.