Alright, time for an update. The issue with the bentonite floaties in the Jack batch went away on its own in a couple of days; the floaties dropped as I stirred a bit more. The wine started clearing beautifully, and it was racked off the the sediment around Day 45 as required. I have to rack this wine again around Day 80, so we now have some down time on this batch.
As for the Tim batch, it was racked off the sediment as well, but a few days late, as it took some time to degas, and I followed the 20 day clearing from after the degassing had been done. Tim is now bulk aging for 50 days, and will be bottled shortly before Christmas.
The real activity has been with the control batch. After 14 days of clearing, then 8 more days of rest, it was time to bottle. As someone who generally bulk ages my reds, this seemed like a really short time frame. The instructions had me examine the wine in good light to check for clarity:
It was nice and clear, but as previously decided would happen to all the batches, I went ahead and filtered it.
I got exactly 30 bottles out of the batch, so I definitely have some Mexican carboys mixed in with my Italian ones. Since I was concerned about this, I put the other two batches into Mexican carboys when I racked them, so total top up shouldn't change much from batch to batch and muck up my findings.
But what matters at this stage is the taste test! Naturally, this is still an extremely young wine, and so has that green "kit" taste that they all have at this stage. However, this kit tasted better at bottling than a cheapie wine kit (my first--a Paklab Onyx V Australian Shiraz) tasted at 18 months. Ergo, I have pretty high hopes for this kit once it gets some age on it. The oak profile is lower than I expected with 4 packets of oak, but it is there. I have found that some kits get more oaky as they age, so I'm curious to see how this develops.
I also plan to break into a bottle of the Control when I bottle Tim and compare, then do the same when I bottle Jack, although that time I'll have to open a bottle of Tim and a bottle of Control. Goodness sake's, I have a lot of wine drinking in my future.