Barrel Tasting and Blending

As you read this on Thursday morning, we'll be sitting with our winemaker in San Francisco barrel tasting both of our 2008 pinots and discussing any last minute adjustments we want to make to the wines.  This last step - the blending - while only one of the many decisions in the winemaking process, is also one of the most important.  Many of the world's great wines are blends of multiple varietals.  Bordeaux are usually a mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, and sometimes carmenere.  Rhones are usually a blend of syrah, grenache, and mouvedre - and sometimes viognier.  How much of each varietal that the winemaker chooses to put into the final bottling is often a big factor in the quality and success of the wine.

Lesser known is the fact that most single varietal wines are also blends.  In the U.S., a wine labeled as pinot noir, for example, may derive up to 25% of its juice from other varietals without having to be labeled as a blend.  So wines that are specifically labeled as 100% pinot or cabernet suavignon are often a blend of grapes from different clones or vineyard blocks (different physical locations within the same vineyard).  Even a single vineyard designated wine need only derive 95% of the grapes from that specific vineyard.  As you may recall from our harvest video, our Doctor's vineyard was fermented as 75% Calera clone and 25% Dijon 115 - all pinot grapes, all from the same vineyard.

We last tasted our wines in late February.  You can refresh your memories by viewing our videos of the Doctor's tasting by clicking here and the Annahala tasting by clicking here.

With Doctor's we loved the dark fruit forward taste and smell but were concerned about the lack of mid-palate structure.  With the Annahala, we had to make the decision to put the wine through a reverse osmosis cleansing process to remove the smoky overtones.  What other flavors and structure may have been stripped by that process will be determined this morning.

Sine the last tasting, our wines have benefited from three additional months of barrel aging.  Our first task will be to gauge how the wines have matured since our last tasting and to see whether our concerns from February are still evident.  From there, we will start experimenting with blending options to get to our desired end result. 

Our hope is to be minimally invasive, but our overriding goal from Day 1 has been to deliver wines that reflect both their terroir and our personal tastes.  We intend to accomplish that goal this morning. 

Wish us luck and look for updates starting next week!