I recently picked up a “four week” kit, Valpolicella – from one of my favorite shops. The Kit is “Fontana” branded. Who exactly disctributes the “Fontana” brand of wine juice kits? They are distributed by ABC Cork of Ontario, Canada. This ten litre concentrate kit is billed as a “premium” kit on the box – I’m not sure I’d personally call a 10 litre kit “premium,” but it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed Volpolicella, so I thought I’d give this one a go.
There is very little information about this kit from the ABC website, but it says that Canada is the country of origin. Which is interesting to me – I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a “Canadian” Valpolicella before. But let’s get on with the kit itself:
The instructions for the most are pretty good – a couple of niggly things that I have an issue with include the fact that they don’t explain that you really ought to stir everything up before taking a specific gravity reading. After stirring, my SG on this kit was a respectable 1.082.
The next minor issue with the instrucitions is that they advise to use cold water when topping up to the 23 litre mark – I prefer to use hot or very warm water before adding the yeast.
The instructions also tell you to add Bentonite to 4 litres of water in the Primary fermeneter before adding juice – this is not the way I normally add Bentonite, but following their instructions, the bentonite that was provided seemed to dissolve quite nicely.
The kit also includes a packet of Levocell “BB” yeast strain, a product of “Universal Colloid,” Italy. I couldn’t find out anything about this particular strain or its producer. But at least I know something about it – its name – which is more then what you’ll get with some kits.
At $65.00 (Canadian Retail) for 23 litres of wine, it appears to be a good deal. Of course, we’re in the preliminary stages, and at this point have no idea what the finished wine will be like.
One other notable proble with the kit is that it with the clarification agents, there is one that is totally unknown, and simply marked “Clarifier.”
Step 3 – Day 21 – calls for adding the Kiesosol (which is marked) and then adding “Clarifier” three minutes later. Who knows what this “Clarifier” is, exactly? However, I’ll follow the directions to a “T,” and let you know how it all turns out.
Personal Comments: Pros:
- Oak powder included
- Instructions are easy to follow – but see note above regarding measuring SG.
- Plastic poly log bag included, which will store ingredients as well as markable to track information, racking dates, etc.
- No labels included
- Yeast strain not really known.
- Lack of information as to where juice originated
- Above noted issues with instructions.
It is doubtful that the cons I’ve listed will have anything to do with the finished product you might have. However, for those who are anal about instructions, I do think they could be improved a little bit, as well as more information provided about the juice in the box, the yeast strain, and what the “Clarifier” is.
For about 30 bottles of wine though, at 65.00 – why not give it a try? And even more so if you purchase it where I did – from “Wines To Go,” in Alliston, Ontario.