Barrel tasting and blending our 07’s by valleyfog
August 23, 2008, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Tasting notes | Tags: , , , ,

In July, I went into the winery for one more barrel tasting and to do a little blending. Crushpad always makes extra barrels of wine from each vineyard for topping and other purposes. That means that there are usually different variations of the wine, like different clones or different barrel treatment. Last year, someone had made a single barrel of Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir in 100% new French oak. For that wine, it was too much oak and was not drinkable on its own. I actually got to add a very small percentage to my 2006 Hein, which needed more oak at the time of bottling. This year, I had the luxury of blending small amounts of other different clones. Most large-scale winemakers blend because they can – they have multiple barrels to play with. I only have one of each vineyard and they are in totally different appellations. But, I did have the ability to blend in a small percentage, usually around 5% of another wine from the same vineyard.

Wentzel and La Encantada samples for tasting and blending

Wentzel and La Encantada samples for tasting and blending

We’re making two barrels of Pinot Noir for 2007 – one from Anderson Valley, the other from Santa Rita Hills. The Anderson Valley is from Wentzel Vineyard. At a several hundred foot elevation that overlooks Goldeneye in Anderson Valley, this organically farmed vineyard is owned by Roland Wentzel. It is about 10 acres and was planted between 2000 and 2002 to clones 115, 667 and 777. I tasted our 07 Wentzel with our winemaker Chris Nelson and this wine is really showing well at this stage of the game. It has a medium to dark ruby color with darker fruit dominating the nose and palate. We blended in another clone of Wentzel, I believe it was a 115. It had brighter, red fruit notes and delivered just a touch of candied fruit and also provided a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this wine is going to be a great fruit forward, yet balanced, representation of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Winemaker Chris Nelson playing mad scientist

Winemaker Chris Nelson playing mad scientist

The fun thing about making two different barrels is just that – you can really see the different representations of a varietal like  Pinot Noir. Our 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills (Santa Barbara County) and has a base of 115 clone. It shows more smoke and spice on the nose, some good tannins and a deep ruby color, leaning towards crimson. The vineyard is owned by Richard Sanford (of Sanford Pinot Noir fame). Richard and his wife started their own winery, called Alma Rosa, and also make a single vineyard Pinot Noir from this vineyard. Chris and I played with some different blends, adding in varying percentages of 667 and 777 clones from other La Encantada Pinots. I think we tried four or five different blends, keeping a control sample to our left…or was it to our right…things were getting blurry after a while! In the end, we went with a blend of 8% 777 and 2% 667. The 777 added the spice and more acidity, while the 667 added some more tannin and structure. The result was sweet cherry, spice, floral notes and a hint of cola. The La Encantada has great structure and I think will be a wine that will age well.


2 Comments so far
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Hey Bri,

This is really interesting reading.

Comment by Dave

Very nice writing Brian! Glad to see you are sticking to the truth that you guys are not really morning people. Sorry, could not resist (your loving sister…)

Comment by Maura

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