Thanks, Pav. I'll have to chew on these things for awhile, no pun intended. I'm back to trying to keep "tendencies" in mind - "all other things being equal, [X] seasonal variation in milk tends to yield [lower][higher] total solids and protein, so adjust accordingly" and so on.
I'm finding my acid curves are in general too sharp. I presume doing a pre-maturation of 0.2%, adding in the balance of the starter - in this case, an additional 1% b.e. - and doing it at 80F (when it takes considerable time to eek out those last 8 degrees F) can all add to an upfront lower pH than I might have expected, but still not sure why I'm getting 6.35 in the vat at drain, 5.04 terminal press pH after only 6.75 total hours under press, and that includes the first 3 flips. I use warming mats loosely wrapped around the mold during the press - perhaps a contributor?
Next time I'm going to do a prematuration at 0.2%, and only 0.78% in the vat, so the total is 0.98%; will add the batch starter at 85F or so; and otherwise watch my targets better. I can't recall anything from before, instructive in this way...in general for both my tommes and the rebs, would like a long, slow ripening and gentler acid curve generally. My memory agrees with Sailor's comment, slow and steady wins the race with these alpines. So any thoughts on this, much appreciated, guys.
ps: forgot to add, on the other hand, it occurs to me that with MA4001 and these low terminal pH's (this one at 5.04, the last, 4.96), and a good 4 gallons crammed into the tomme mold - Pav, I'm pretty close to your longer-aged potential, so will try, with these. Just want to do it all consciously, nothing by a happy serendipity. I've done lost my sea legs!