First pop of the elderberry wine has occurred and my views are mixed. This was made in 2015 and it obviously needs more time to age – I seem to make wine that need longer than some recipes suggest. The blackberry wine really hit its stride at 18 months rather than the 12 that recipes talk of. This is no worry and the best ingredient in wine making is patience. Elderberry is more like a grape so will similarly need to more like a grape so I may open another bottle at 24 months or even later.
Currently the elder taste is only starting to show through the tannin which is still high and will continue to mellow. With the 2016 recipe I shortened the maceration to 5 days rather than leaving the fruit on the pulp for 7. It had a noticeable difference when I racked and I may shorten this further in 2017 to only 3 days. As elder skins are thick they make up a comparatively high amount of the total fruit. These skins are high in tannin and it is extracted by the rising ethanol as fermentation occurs. Using the cold maceration process and moving the pulp towards a more aquious extraction and pressing earlier should reduce tannin content.
The 2016 vintage seems to have had better fruit that I could forage and a better growing season so I have a better base ingredient from the outset. Currently it is undergoing malolactic fermentation and I will stabilise this with campden and potassium sorbate so that back sweetening can occur and the flavour is complete in the bottle. The 2015 vintage was bottled totally dry to give me some ability to adjust what I was doing but back sweetening it in the glass really helped to bring the fruit flavours forward. In 2017 I may also invest in a heat pad to see if a slightly higher temperature may help maintain fruit flavours.