To Blend or Not to Blend…
Wine Making Notes: Tipsy Rose
My wine journey continues with a new challenge, blending. I should probably back up a little and explain how I found myself with this new set of challenges and decisions. If you have been reading along my journey (and, thank you, by the way), you already know that it was never my intention to continue making wine. I imagined that I would have gone through the process, learned, and taken that experience back to the shop, where I would then share it with all of you. Well, life is not always what we plan; sometimes it is much, much better!
I found myself approaching my second harvest in early 2017, excited to try my hand again at some Grenache, but we were not finding any grapes. Nicole was searching high and low, but it just was not available. This is why a lot of wine makers secure long-standing contracts. I am too small for that, buying only a half ton of grapes does get me much leverage. In the end, we found Syrah, another wonderful Rhone varietal, so we bought it. The grapes were beautiful, so while I was a little disappointed, I was still excited about making my barrel of wine. Then, at the eleventh hour, Grenache! We found some, so we bought that, too, and that is how I found myself here, faced with the dilemma of blending.
I am not a strictly single varietal supporter, some blends are amazing. Who doesn’t love Hermitage? Or Chateauneuf de Pape? ok, point made, but I am admittedly no Yves Cuilleron, so let’s keep that in mind. That said, when you have to blend, some Syrah and Grenache do play nicely together, so this is not a terrible position to find oneself in. I tasted both individually, and found the decision a hard one. They were both whole cluster fermentations that took about three weeks to go dry, the grapes all looked great when I started, but while I loved the Syrah, the Grenache was a little flat. What to do? I had not planned on two reds this year, so my inclination was to put them together. If I blend 50/50 will I lose what I love about the Syrah? It has cool signed of the whole cluster ferment that I am excited to see develop. I don’t want to dilute those. I feared ending up with two barrels of wine that I was not excited about. That said, the Grenache needs something. It is light, but it has sme interesting brightness.
When in doubt, call in the experts—thankfully, I know a few wine makers with way more experience, so I made as many as I could find taste for their advice. The advice was varied, and in the end, I listened to Tremayne Smith. I am not sure why, but what he said made the most sense to me (and, he makes amazing wine—Barebones, get some, asap). I tested out the combination of just 10% of each into the other, and the flavor worked, each one serving the other purposefully and (I hope) elevating the final outcome of each one, but yes, I have two wines instead of one, both blended, but 90% roughly single varietal. And, now they rest for a bit, and I pray to Bacchus. I better call Chris and tell him that I need two labels instead of one!
The best part of the week of winery work, was the time spent with friends out in Napa Valley eating, drinking great wine, and talking about the work. I am excited for the 2018 vintage, learning so much from what I see the best of Napa doing. Everyone is celebrating a beautiful canopy right now, and the weather is perfect. The conditions look great for a fantastic harvest, and I am already excited to get back out there and make wine in the fall.
In the meantime, please come in and grab Tipsy Rose! I have 2016 Grenache Red, 2017 Viognier, and 2017 Rosé—grab one of each & get 10% off!