Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Winemaking step #8: blending

After being in barrel for almost 18 months, it is almost time for our 2006 Crushpad Cabernet Sauvignon Ink Grade Vineyard to be bottled. But first, we had to decide on the final steps: blending and fining.

Our Cabernet Sauvignon in its new oak barrel

So last week, we met with Crushpad's Chief Winemaker Mike Zitzlaff who had prepared for us some blending wine samples: a 2006 Cabernet Franc, a 2007 Merlot, and a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine samples for the blending

First we tasted our wine: dark, intense nose of black fruit, thick, with a strong oaky finish. Mike explained that at this point the wine was unbalanced and had too much oak for the amount of fruit — maybe it stayed too long in its new oak barrel. Therefore, the purpose of blending would be to add more fruit to the wine.

Then, we tasted the other wine samples. The Merlot was soft and fruity with blueberry flavors, the Cabernet Sauvignon was ultra ripe and pruny, and the Cabernet Franc was somewhat herbal. We all agreed that the merlot was the best.

Assembling different blends

We started with a 5% Merlot blend: the Merlot had brought its blueberry flavors to the Cabernet but the oak was still very present. The 10% Merlot blend was very fruity but lacked backbone. The 7.5% was a good compromise: good fruit and nice backbone although the finish was still oaky. “Don't worry,&rdquo said Mike, “We are going to use egg whites and this will soften that harsh finish&rdquo.

Egg whites are a traditional fining agent used to reduce the amount of harsh tannin and soften the texture of red wines. The albumin contained in the egg white absorbs tannin particles, thus reducing astingency in wine.

Our wine is now in a tank, blended with 7.5% Merlot. We'll come back next week to do the fining. In the meantime, we're working on the label and trying to find a name. What about Noir d'Encre?

Related posts:
•  Winemaking step #7: barrel tasting
•  Winemaking step #6: after the malolactic fermentation
•  Winemaking step #5: pressing the wine
•  Winemaking step #4: getting ready for the pressing
•  Winemaking step #3: monitoring the fermentation
•  Winemaking step #2: inoculation of the must
•  Crushing at Crushpad
•  2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Ink Grade Vineyard Howell Mountain

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Jim Rudnick said...

Found you via a search on wine! And I'm so happy I did! I too am thinking about using Crushpad to make a barrel but as a canuck, I have yet to solve our importing problems. That said, reading about your CabSauv barrel was wonderful! Hope the wine is as good as it sounds!

Catherine Granger said...

Jim, you should contact them. They just hired a General Manager for Europe, looking to expand beyong the U.S..

GollyGumDrops said...

Ooooo ... I didn't realise they were heading to Europe! Your experience sounds so exciting I'd love to get some friends together and give Crushpad a go.