Because of the inclement weather, we decided to focus our attention on indoor activities. The early Spring has led us out of the cellar and into the vineyard, prolonging some of our normal seasonal cellar tasks. One of those tasks is wrapping up the blends on the Rieslings so they are ready for bottling. But today is just as good of a day as any.
While many people believe that the best part of being a winemaker would be tasting wines all day, I can assure you, creating the blends can be pretty nerve wracking. Let's start with the basics on the Rieslings from the 2011 vintage.
The first past is to taste each tank of Riesling and take notes on aromas, flavors and finish. Then, we need to decide if there were any tanks that would provide the basis for a "reserve" bottling (we don't do this every vintage, the last being 2009). The 2011 vintage has three candidates that made the cut. So each of these tanks has to go through a series of trials in different percentages to determine how those aromas and flavors impact each other.
Next up, the single vineyards candidates. We have three single vineyards that we are working with which are in seven different tanks - two Nutt Road, two Patrician Verona, and three Hobbit Hollow. So we start with Nutt Road and start with a series of blends of those two tanks (25/75, 50/50, 75/25). Once we establish how each of those taste, we are better able to predict the influence of one vs. the other. Thus, we can come up with a blend of 90 to 10 if we really liked the direction of the 75 to 25 tank blend. Then we have to repeat this for the rest of the single vineyard wines.
The Dry Riesling was next on our list. This blending process was a little more rigorous because we were pulling samples and blending trials from all nine of our tanks of Riesling. With multiple passes and trying to identify a more firm, rigid structure to be a part of the 2011 Dry Riesling yet trying to preserve the balance in the glass can be a little more maddening. Granted, we are spitting all the wine during this tasting, but you find yourself constantly challenged to find just the "right" blend.
Last, but not least, would be our house-style Riesling. This is usually what one would define as semi-dry to semi-sweet. The vineyard blend each vintage is different along with the different levels of residual sugar. Again, the nine different tanks are selected for this trial with each tank varying in their aromatics, flavors, and finish. Numerous passes are made and tanks that seem to "fit" a little more with the traditional style of this wine are usually selected. Multiple breaks are usually needed to refresh the palate so we are making the best decisions. In all cases, we let the final cut sit a night or two so we can return and be assured that the blend is where we want it to be.
Now that we have all the blending trials wrapped up, we're looking forward to putting all the pieces together and getting these wines into the bottle over the next couple of weeks. Be on the lookout for more bottling updates.