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Enjoying Our Way to the Perfect Blend

Queen of Hearts

Mortgaged and I went up to Cambria for the weekend to meet Crazybugger and his boyfriend B for a few days of wine tasting and hanging out. Because it had so long since Crazybugger and B met us in Cambria, Mortgaged and I did not try anything new this trip and instead showed them some of our favorites. I will write my customary review of the tasting trips tomorrow. Perusing the different websites before our trip, I realized that we would actually be in Paso the weekend of one of Mitchella Vineyards’ (one of our favorite wineries – we’re members) annual blending seminars. Usually these events are members only, but Darren and Angela, Mitchella's wine maker/owner and co-owner, were gracious enough to let Crazybugger and B join us.

I am so glad. We had the best time. Darren and Angela set out bottles of their young single varietal wines – Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Grenache – and gave us each small glasses to hold the individual wines, a larger goblet for the blends, a pipette and a sheet of paper with last year’s blend ratios and plenty of places to take notes. Our assignment? Play with the wine, mixing and tasting blends in ratios of our own devising until we reached our favorite blend for Shameless, Mitchella’s GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend and Rambunctious Red, Mitchella’s Cabernet, Zinfandel and Syrah blend. Along the way, we were also encouraged to suggest ratios for possible Cab/Syrah and Cab/Zinfandel blends. As you can see, we all got quite into our work:
 


Angela and Darren walked around chatting with us as we blended in order to determine our preferences. They also kept our note sheets. They will use our notes as a starting point and possibly a tie breaker when they eventually determine the ratio for these blends. It makes a lot of sense really. Get your wine club members, your best customers, to weigh in on their preferences early so you can take them into account when you create the wine while at the same time providing your wine club members with the kind of fantastic, one of a kind, insight into the industry event we eat up. Win, win.

None of the “deputized” blenders were industry folk and many, like myself, claimed to have a relatively unsophisticated palate that lets us know what we like and not a whole lot else. Yet, soon every table was filled with carefully pipetting – oh the O-Chem memories/flashbacks! – wine blenders, measuring the blend with a professional air and then analyzing the final result’s color, nose and flavor with a such seriousness that we all dissolved into giggles – some of them manly, but giggles even so – over and over. We had so much fun and the other wine club members are a kick. In all seriousness, with no flattery intended, the single varietal wines are all so delicious on their own – and I look forward to my next shipment in May that will contain several of them! – that you really couldn’t go wrong with any of the blends. Even so, you could definitely tell how even subtle adjustments in the ratios affected the flavor and other characteristics of the blend and I loved having the opportunity to really experience this for myself instead of just hearing about it.

In the end I preferred a 40/40/20 Cab/Zin/Syrah blend for the Rambunctious and could not choose between 70/15/15 Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache and 30/35/35 Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache for the Shameless. I suggested 70/30 Cab/Syrah on that blend, a 60/40 Cab/Zin blend and asked Darren if he would ever consider a Tempranillo/Zinfandel blend because I adore them and both his Tempranillo and his Zinfandel are amazing. He sounded a little intrigued so we’ll see. Whatever they choose, I know it will be delicious and it will be interesting to see if I came close to guessing at all. After the blending was over, Angela treated us to one of her amazing spreads - delicious Pallea, Cesar salad and garlic bread. It was an absolutely wonderful day! I only wish we didn’t have to drive back to L.A. right after the event.


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