Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Need Your Input To Create the Next Best Thing

Would you help us?

We're asking our fans, friends and followers to help us create an exceptional wine. We have a dozen or so different 2009 wines in bulk storage and we'd like your input into which blends to create. I'll provide a brief summary of each wine then a few ideas to get things started.

This weekend, we're welcoming a group of fans from San Diego to come here and concoct some of your blending recommendations (plus their own ideas). Then we'll taste, tweak, then taste again in search of the perfect vino-nectar. I'm thinking of dividing the group into four teams to create a little competition, something like a World Cup of Wine, with the teams being The Spanish, The French, The Italians, The Californians, tasked with blending traditional (and not so traditional) wines from their region. The winners will have the honor of seeing their wine blended as an official Blue-Merle offering, and of course complimentary bottles for their efforts.

The Spanish Wines

Tempranillo (Estate): This is a big, bold, dark wine. It can stand on its own. Some could be blended with a weaker wine.

Garnacha (Estate): Otherwise known as Grenache in France, a lighter red wine.

(Spanish Team Ideas: Trying blending a little Tempranillo with the Garnacha. Try blending wines from other regions with the Tempranillo to create a "Super Spanish Wine."

The Italian Wines

Nebbiolo (Guadeloupe): A big, bold red. This vintage a little salty. The 2006 Nebbiolo we made is one of the most liked of all our wines, but I'm not so sure about the 2009. Should be good for blending.

Montepulciano (Guadeloupe): Generally, this wine tastes good mostly on its own, but the 2009 grapes may also be a little "salty."

Aglianico (Guadeloupe): A very bold wine. Good for blending. Alas, some salt.

Brunello: (San Diego) The Brunello (Sangiovese) from San Diego has its own unique taste. We've blended it already with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot which made it much more palatable to our liking, and could be the basis for creating a fantastic "Super Tuscan" wine.

(Italian Ideas: Blend the Brunello with some of the "French" wines to create a "Super Tuscan." Create a "Super Italian" wine using the Italians as a base, and improved with some of the other varietals in the winery.)

The French Wines:

Mouvedre (Paso Robles): The grape of Bandol. Very fruit forward. Floral. Delicious. But high pH.
Grenache (Estate): The grape of Chateauneuf du Pape, in this case from young vines.

Petit Verdot (San Diego & Paso Robles): There are two batches of Petit Verdot, both delicious. The Paso Robles one is very fruit forward with high pH. The San Diego one (a local vineyard below us which has been the source of our past Petit Verdots which is much adored) is more subtle and lower pH. Both are very, very floral. One idea is to combine the two into a very complex Petit Verdot.

Cabernet Franc (Paso Robles): Another "fruit forward" wine from Paso Robles. May have been slightly oxidized after the fermentation process (whoops!) so the team will be asked to judge if it is worth standing on its own, to be blended or to be dumped. Also, high pH.

Petit Sirah: (San Diego): This PS was picked at low brix (22.5) and is not as bold as previous Petit Sirahs. Given its low pH, it's a good candidate for blending.

(French suggestions: Thinking about pH--high pH equates to shorter aging potential--it may make sense to blend some of the lower pH wines with the higher ones. Not wanting to lead the witness, I expect your suggestions to create the greatest "Merleatage" ever!)

The Californian Wines

Tempranillo/Petite Sirah Blend (Estate): Big, bold, dark, purple, New World wine, with ripe Petit Sirah grapes from the Blue-Merle Vineyard providing hints of persimmon. Currently, it's a 50-50 blend. with the Petit Sirah overpowered by the Tempranillo.

Zinfandel (Estate): This is a high acid wine, with low pH from young 3rd leaf fines. It can't stand on its own, and should be blended.

(Ideas for The California Team: Be creative!)

Final thoughts:

"Good wine is made in the vineyard. Great wine is made by blending."

"The objective of blending is to create something better. If blending lowers the taste of one of the wines, don't blend it."

What would you suggest?


Laura N. said...

Fun! would love to go down there and help him! what a trip that would be.

First thing he should do is dump anything he's even considering to dump -- why take the risk? Sorry, dump the franc - not worth chemical intervention most likely more $$ than worth.

Need to know alcohol levels on these things before I could get more granular. plus need to know how much of each he has to work with.

The PV experiment i would do first to see what really works for combining as a varietal: then see what is left for blending. PV can really help any blend he does.

Off the top of my head, I'd advise to aim for:

the Iberians: Tempranillo on its own; Grenache with a bit of Tempranillo
A Super Tuscan blend: take Brunello already blended and try adding Aglianico - maybe some more PV?
A Super Italian blend: Nebb, Montepulciano, Aglianico and a dash of PS. this should cut the salt.
a Rhone blend: Mourvedre, Grenache and generous PS to knock down the PH of the others
A Mediterranean Blend: Nebb, Mont, Gren, Mourv, Agl, PV, PS

This last would be something like True Red blend from Fenestra, which essentially combines Iberian, Rhone, Bordeaux and Italian varietals. I'm sure this combo could make something really fun and delicious!

Craig Justice said...

Laura, You're hired! The good news is that the Cab Franc is now doing well (it's the Brunello we're worried about). The group (there were 35 people here yesterday) followed your advice more or less. They had lots of fun and blended some awesome wines. Cheers!